Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Men Apart, Every Man an Emperor

It is not very often that I post blogs as frequently as a day apart, but today was no ordinary day. 5:30 PM is when one wants to pack up and look forward to going home. But some of us were sufficiently piqued to go to the Convention Centre at the Infosys campus to watch the Territorial Army Symphony Fusion Orchestra perform. (Note: I don’t ever think I can articulate the experience of being in the Infosys Convention Centre…. let’s just say that the sound system ,seating, video projection and the stage make up a truly world class auditorium.)

When Col. Deora, Commanding Officer of the Territorial Army (TA) came on stage to deliver the inaugural speech, he looked the part. Tall. Commanding. The ‘Army’ moustache. (Do I say that I was swayed into labeling him based on appearance? You bet!!!) What followed was a 5 minute lesson. On Leadership. Humility. Patriotism. And Public Speaking. I paraphrase… but the essence of his speech was thus: The TA is an all-volunteer force and the second line of defense after the Indian Army. Being a member of the TA cannot be a profession or a source of employment. In fact, you must already be employed elsewhere if you want to join us. You serve only when called. The front line soldiers of today’s battles are no longer the regular soldiers as we know them, but YOU, this multitude of professionals in the audience. The battles of the 21st century are not of matter but of mind. Gone are the days when armies move into a rich country to occupy it, and after establishing a beachhead, allow colonial structures to be developed. And we are here to talk to you, salute you and entertain you.

For a Commanding Officer to say that about us, I was amazed. Now, I am under no illusion that the software and consulting profession can match a soldier’s heroics. Soldiers fight battles. Or lose limbs. Or get hurt. We on the other hand shed our only drop of blood to that mandated medical test before getting a work permit.

Yet.... everything of what he said was true. The current crop of Indian professionals establish beachheads in new lands - with a difference. We go global not to colonize. But to co-opt. Co-exist. And co-create. Every time one of us travels overseas, (s)he does more than create a solution or offer a service. We represent our nation, and very often with dignity & pride. Understated yet efficient, we extend value and transform companies. At the same time, we do not gloss over our country’s limitations. We come back to inculcate the same global best practices that we have learnt on our journeys. And to make a difference at home.

The Territorial Army Fusion Band then took over. For the next 90 minutes, Infoscions were treated to a melody of instruments as varied as woodwinds, percussion, strings, brass, and pipe. Indian and Western tunes were played with flute, bagpipes, clarinet, drums, horns, trumpets, violins, saxophones, tabla and santoor. Ek Pyaar Ka Nagma Hai was followed with Somewhere My Love. Then came the popular Nepali folk song Resham Firiri. It was only today that I learned Surangani is not a Goan song, but a Sinhalese original. When John Newton’s Amazing Grace came up, it was clear that wherever you are, redemption and forgiveness hold true. The Indian Territorial Army Song was a pleasure to listen. And when the Infosys song, This is My Infy, was played, it was nothing less than a standing ovation (this amateur video is the closest that there is of this song in the public domain).

But the heart tugging moments were truly the patriotic ones. Who can beat Lata in Aye Meri Watan Ki Logon? I swear that I tear up every time I watch or hear Sandese Aate Hain. How about Kandhon Se Milte Hain Kandhe? Or our eternal favorite, Saare Jahan Se Acha. Playing of the National Anthem completed a memorable evening.

Two things remain. Col. Deora’s exhortation to us at the end to never hesitate to go beyond the last mountain while we will take care of defending our land. And the banner that read Men Apart, Every Man an Emperor. “What manner of men are these?" asked Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery as he reflected on an elite fighting force, the Parachute Regiment. "They are, in fact, men apart, every man an emperor”. The Indian Territorial Army lives up to the same principles....

It was difficult not to have goosebumps or teary eyes at the end of it all. We take a bow, Dear Soldiers, to your Leadership, Patriotism...... and Humility. Jai Hind!!!

PS: If you know of better links to any of the above, please send them over. I will replace the current links.


Mahesh Thipparthi said...

RSS feed is missing to your blog.If possible create one, so that it can be tracked from Flip board on ipad or any other good reader easily . I do not know how to do as well :).

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