Military lit fest: More hits, no misses | columns | Hindustan Times
  • Wednesday, May 23, 2018
  •   °C  
Today in New Delhi, India
May 23, 2018-Wednesday
-°C
New Delhi
  • Humidity
    -
  • Wind
    -

Military lit fest: More hits, no misses

IMLF was groundbreaking even intellectually. Apart from recounting the rich war history, right mix of modern challenges spiced up the fest.

columns Updated: Dec 17, 2017 16:07 IST
Col Avnish Sharma (retd)
The first International Military Literature Festival (IMLF)  was aimed at showcasing the might and marvel of the nation’s military in all its elegance.
The first International Military Literature Festival (IMLF) was aimed at showcasing the might and marvel of the nation’s military in all its elegance.(HT File)

The year 2017 shall end at an unprecedented high for the armed forces. Going by the latest trends, the lingering shortage of officers may as well be history in the near future.

Shivansh Joshi, a 17-year-old boy from Ramnagar in Uttarakhand, backed out of an engineering course at NIT Tiruchirappalli to join National Defence Academy (NDA). Barnana, the son of a labourer earning ₹100 daily, shunned a white collar job abroad to serve the nation. Chandrakant, son of a botany professor, worked his way through NDA and Indian Military Academy (IMA) to join the elite special forces, hoping to lead yet another surgical strike. Barnana passed out with a silver medal and Chandrakant earned the Sword of Honour and a gold medal.

Back home, flourishing lawyer Baljinder Bholy and history lecturer Jatinder Kaur succumbed to the obsession of their son, Gursahib, to join NDA despite a lucrative legal heritage and academic guide. Hordes of youngsters are clamouring to get admission into Maharaja Ranjit Singh Armed Forces Institute and Mai Bhago Institute. Who knows, Punjab might regain its erstwhile status of ‘Sword Arm of the Nation’. Ironically, Shivansh, Barnana, Chandrakant, Gursahib and a majority of others do not belong to a martial background; they want to opt for a career that does not conform to a dynastic mindset, all just to don the uniform.

The first International Military Literature Festival (IMLF) that was held last week could not come at a better time. The flagship event was aimed at showcasing the might and marvel of the nation’s military in all its elegance. Most importantly, to my mind, it highly impacted young minds.

I can say with conviction that the occasion was a winner, hands down. Over 1,200 schoolchildren had an experience of a lifetime. Ruchi, a Class-10 student, said, “Sir, I am in a dilemma whether to join the service or become an army wife. I suppose one is better than the other and I shall give a shot at both of them.”

Kuldip, my cabbie who drove me to the venue, was exuberant. With tears in his eyes, he said, “Sir, my father was in the Sikh regiment. He always instilled discipline and honesty in us. I can say with confidence that I am one of the few drivers with a consistent five-star rating in my company. I salute the armed forces for what I am today. I want my children to carry on the legacy of my soldier father.”

Even intellectually, IMLF was groundbreaking. Apart from recounting the rich war history, a right mix of modern challenges spiced up the fest. I was on a panel on social media with two women. One was a brave army wife, who recounted how she was trolled by certain communal elements on social media due to her religious status, and the other was a student activist, who was widely criticised for airing her views on the interpretation of her soldier father’s martyrdom. Both had a common stance, “Such well-rounded literary festivals will spread wisdom, especially among a handful of misguided citizens, as to what the Indian military is all about. We pardon them because they know not!”