Maj Gen S.G.Vombatkere (Retd)

Narendra Modi: Traders have more risk-taking capacity than soldiers. This is verbatim what appeared in the TOP STORIES tape on NDTV 24/7 TV channel at 2055 hrs (8:55PM) on 27 February 2014.

This comment of Mr.Narendra Modi as he woos traders in his election campaign, coming on the heels of the fire accident in INS Sindhuratna that has claimed the lives of two officers and hospitalization of seven sailors, is not merely in bad taste, but shows that he is woefully unaware of what soldiers do. It shows that he holds the service of soldiers in low esteem. It is well to correct Mr.Modi’s impression with regard to his statement.

It is true that traders may take risks, but these are financial risks, and the reason for taking such risks is expected profit or business advancement. There is nothing wrong with that, but when a trader takes a risk and wins, he makes personal gain; if he loses, he only loses money. Most often, the trader risks borrowed money, not his own. But most importantly, risk-taking by traders is purely voluntary. If he does not take a risk, he continues to make his business profits.

When a soldier takes a risk, he risks his life or limb, and the reason for taking risk is usually because he is ordered to perform a risky task in the course of his duties, which directly concern the defence of India’s sovereignty and integrity. In other words, the soldier takes risk for the people of his country, including traders and yes, including Mr.Narendra Modi himself. If a soldier refuses to perform his duty which often entails personal, bodily risk, he is liable for severe disciplinary action. Does Mr.Narendra Modi imagine that the 1999 Kargil operations were won by soldiers who took no risk more than a trader who plays the stock market? Did the two officers killed in INS Sindhuratna not take more risk than the traders whose votes Mr.Narendra Modi seeks?

This statement of Mr.Narendra Modi can demoralize the rank and file of our soldiers and young officers, who are the actual risk-takers. Mr.Narendra Modi needs to publicly apologize to the Indian soldier for having made that statement, even if made out of ignorance. Considering Mr.Narendra Modi’s opinion regarding soldiers, one can only wonder what priority he will give to soldiers and soldiers’ problems if he comes to political power in the general elections.

In an admirable act of moral courage, Admiral D.K.Joshi took moral responsibility for the accidents. Would Mr.Narendra Modi have the moral courage to apologize for his statement or will he cravenly deny having made that statement, or claim to have been misquoted, like politicians are apt to do? Only time will tell. But the world needs to know what Mr.Narendra Modi thinks of the Indian soldier, whom he compares unfavourably with traders.

Maj Gen S.G.Vombatkere (Retd)

475, 7th Main Road

Vijayanagar 1st Stage



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