Respect Nation Builders to Be a Great Power

When I graduated from the College some 46 years ago, my father asked me what I wish to do in future. After hearing my vague answer about my future career plans, he took a deep breath and thoughtfully said (that I think is a gospel truth and will remain relevant for 1000s of years), decide whether you wish to be a nation builder or you wish to lead a life of personal comfort and glorification. He went on to explain that nation and society cannot be conceived without the contribution of seven supreme humans:-

  1. Soldier. He said if the sword of soldiers is not protecting the citizens, people will become stateless and homeless; farmlands will become graveyards and own dwellings will become unfamiliar. There will be no peace and people will be subjected to slavery and subjugation.
  2. Farmers. God brings humans on earth and farmers feed them with his hard work and thus farmers are the reincarnation of God. No factory can produce food and humans have not been able to create a life support system from industries. Humans can’t drink chemicals produced in industries to survive. King and servants all survive on the produce of farmers. No matter how much farm land is taken over by business tycoons to establish industries, but the first thing he and his children need in the morning to survive is the food produced by the farmers.
  3. Doctor. God gives life and Doctors give the second life. Doctors are Irreplaceable. That is why Doctor is a God for the sick and wounded.
  4. Teacher. A social animal is handed over to a teacher and what he returns to the society is human. Moreover, it is a Teacher who creates all supreme humans who make the nation.
  5. Scientist.  They compress distances, they can make you see what eyes can’t see, and they can make you hear what your ears can’t hear. They change generations through their vision. They can predict and forewarn humans of calamities that may cause catastrophic destruction.
  6. Labourer. Nothing can be created or even imagined without the hard work of labourers. From house to roads, furniture to bed, water to electricity, the clothes you wear everything is made by a labourer. Moreover, he carries the burden of our survival. He creates palaces yet he has no house to live with dignity. He builds schools; and colleges yet no education facilities for his children.
  7. Intellectual and Budhijivis. They give course correction to society and nation when there is a need. They are the souls and pursue people to think right and act right.

I chose to be a soldier to follow the advice of my father. I feel that how right he was four decades ago and how right he will be in 1000 years later.

A nation can become comprehensive power without playing Cricket, or ideologising an actor. But India cannot become great scientific or economic power without the contribution of a farmer or scientist or a teacher. My dichotomy is that if we need these seven supreme humans to make this nation great, why we continue to ideologies those who have no role to play to build a nation. It seems that we are watering opium plan to get rice.

It is shocking that nation could not find it fit to honour a farmer, labourer or a School Teacher for Padma awards. We found 04 out of 07 Padma Vibhushan going to politicians, but found not even one farmer or teacher or scientist fit for this award? We found Virat Kohli fit for Padma Award but not one labourer without whose contribution a nation can come to a standstill overnight.

Celebrities are there to entertain people but they by no stretch of imagination should become ideals/ icons of youth. China has made rapid progress because their politicians are engineers and the ethos among the engineers is to build and find solutions to complex problems. We have temples for actors and God-like status of cricketers but not of those who build a nation. If you ask a higher secondary school child who is Dr Verghese Kurien or Dr S Arunan (Director of Mission to Mars) they will give a blank look. But if you ask them who is Shah Rukh Khan or Sachin Tendulkar they will add adjectives and say Sachin is God of Cricket and Shah Rukh is Badshah of Bollywood.

A nation that ignores its farmers, teachers, doctors, soldiers, labourers, scientists and intellectuals has a bleak future. You ideologies wrong people and you kill the soul and spirit of a nation.

We need deeper introspection. We are sending the message to our future generations that better become an actor or cricket player or a politician than a scientist, farmer, soldier, labourer or school teacher. My request to PM is that if we do not honour these supreme humans, we are eroding the foundation of this great nation and we will be held accountable for the collapse of a great tradition and civilisation. I wonder where this nation will head if we create a perception that youth must become an actor or cricketer than to be a true nation builder.

We need our children to understand the role of a celebrity and the nation builder. We need to tell our youth that we need nation builders first and celebrities later. Media has interviewed Yuvraj Singh many times and ran the programmes on him for being a cancer survivor and achieving great success in the field of the sport after fighting the disease. Why not we must hail his determination. But have we given same media visibility to Dr S Arunan who is also a cancer survivor and delivered something that is unbelievable and has propelled India among a select group of three nations with the capability of a successful Mission to Mars with the cost less than a Hollywood movie and per Km cost less than a Rickshaw. HR Ministry and Media should have made arrangements to have interaction of children with Dr Arunan. But that can only happen if the government encourages such national icons to become the public figure.

Let us have the public discourse on such issues and set the wrongs to right. Incidentally, I respect a farmer working in his fields in UP or Punjab in rain more than the God of Cricket. I respect a labourer from Bihar working to build a road in Manipur or Ladakh more than the Badshaha of Bollywood or a Politician. I always stop and say thank you to a farmer or a labourer or a sweeper cleaning our roads. Because I know they are far more important for me and this nation than a cricketer, or a politician or an actor. But will someone listen?

Profile photo of Narender Kumar
Brig Narender Kumar is an Infantry Officer with close to 15 years’ experience in counter insurgency and anti-terrorism operations having served in Sri Lanka (Operation PAWAN) J&K and North East. He has been part of UN Mission in North Africa and had a tenure in Indian Training Team in a foreign country. He has served as Brigade Major in Western Theatre, Col Administration of a Division and Brig General Staff of an Area responsible for Northern Border. Commanded a Rashtriya Rifles battalion in J&K and Assam Rifles Sector in North East.