A Unique Commemoration of the 1971 Victory
The early hours of Sunday, the 15th of December saw Elliot’s Beach in Chennai come alive with hundreds of runners participating in the second edition of the Victory Marathon hosted by Colours of Glory Foundation. A vibrant event wherein people of all age groups and genders, especially a large number of children, took part with great enthusiasm, it was commemorating India’s historic military victory of 1971 in a unique manner. Notwithstanding the participation by quite a few military veterans, the fact that the lion share of the participants were civilians (often entire families) who braved the chilly weather and impending rain to assemble at the venue before 5 a.m. bore testimony to the immense admiration the common people of the country have for their armed forces. Their love and affection for our men and women in arms was palpable in the jubilant mood right from the warming-up zumba session, through the run and until the concluding felicitations and breakfast as well as an entertaining musical session at the tail end by the Chennai musical group ‘On the Streets of Chennai (OSC)’. The occasion went on to prove the point that commemorative events of military fetes need not be restricted to formal events and can be made more lively and inclusive with large-scale civilian participation; a sure way to bring the armed forces closer to the hearts and minds of our people.
In India, the commemorations of the country’s military victories are largely restricted to military establishments or veterans associations, with very little participation by its large civilian population. It is not that the civilians at large are absolutely unaware of the outstanding military fetes of ours or have no great enthusiasm in commemorating those. The gross disinterest of the government to highlight our military achievements, reducing the commemorations to formal functions restricted to military establishments, is to primarily blame for it. The armed forces establishment is equally to be blamed for not taking any interest in popularizing their achievements among the people of the country. The civilians, by and large, have either no access to or are inherently shy of participating in military functions. This is a gap we could do without.
The Victory Marathon has set the pace for a new trend with wholesome civilian participation in commemorative events of military fetes that would strengthen the bond between the country’s people and its armed forces, the hallmark of a strong and united nation.
May seem far fetched at this stage. But hopefully over time, may help in reversing the trend of not opting for military as a career.