A soldierâ€™s lament The media ignored the armed forces in its sixtieth Independence Day coverage. By Lieutenant General Vijay Oberoi We have just finished celebrating the Sixtieth anniversary of our Independence, with fanfare, happy visions for the future, and much hype, which the Indian media, especially the electronic variety, loves to create. Then why am I sad? I am writing this piece not with mere sadness, but in great frustration and in disgust, for the very media that we usually admire for its objective, frank and fearless reporting. The media, both print and electronic, covered every facet of the country during the days leading to our Independence Day; well, almost everything. The historical aspects were suitably juxtaposed to the contemporary, from Gandhi and Nehru, to Gandhi and Manmohan Singh; obviously, the two Gandhis were different! Newspapers brought out supplements and TV stations brought out â€œspecialsâ€, but none had a word to say about the jawans and officers of the defence forces, who continue with their eternal vigil on our remote borders, on land, on the high seas and in the air. Have they not contributed to national achievement in these last sixty years? From the media coverage, one could conclude that Indiaâ€™s defence forces do not really exist, and if they do, they had no role in nation-building in the last sixty years. Consequently, let them neither be feted nor even remembered. No body will miss them, except perhaps their kith and kin, but then are they important? When the next war happens, we shall sing paeans to their prowess and make amends. That is how it happens in India, where we donâ€™t even have a war memorial for our war dead, even after sixty years of Independence. I read four newspapers everyday. They are in competition to extol the nationâ€™s achievements since Independence, especially in the last decade or so. The remarkable strides we have made in our economy do merit top billing. Yes, we are all proud of the nationâ€™s economic progress. Then, well-known analysts pontificated on governance, politics, education, health, culture, sports and even corruption. Not a word on the defence forces or national security. Neither was any military person invited to write on the subject. There is obviously no place in the new scheme for the over 1.3-million serving officers and jawans and nearly four times this number of veterans, who still look back with pride to their service days. The only glimpse of the defence forces was in a few advertisements inserted by some well-meaning institutions and corporate houses, which were duly published for the money they bring. The silver lining in this disgraceful episode was the official announcement of gallantry awards, which did find space, although not in all newspapers and only on a few TV channels. Three Ashok Chakras (the highest non-war bravery award) were awarded, a number which I hope nudges the collective consciousness of our nation about the daily sacrifices of the defence forces to secure us against terrorists and insurgents. Lieutenant General Oberoi is a former Vice Chief of Army Staff and currently Director of the Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS).