Sunday, July 23, 2006

In Conversation with Vivek, Officer in the Indian Army

On our 28 hour train ride to Dehradun, we shared one of our seats with Vivek (last name???), an officer in the Indian army, who was heading home for a few days. Currently in Jamnagar for training, Vivek has been serving in the army for 5 years and spent 3 years in Jammu and Kashmir leading a company of soldiers.

People serve in different ways, here was the perfect opportunity to get a perspective on service and life from someone whose job literally is the serve and protect the country.

Why serve?
To help others.

Why the army?
My father was in the army and for as long as I could remember I too wanted to join. After completing my Bachelors and Masters in Commerce, I enlisted. I chose the army because as an officer I can influence/impact the lives of many people. For example, in J&K, one company of 30-40 people protects 10-20 km of mountainous terrain. Each person has their own criteria for what kind of job they want and what they want from their job, ie. money, certain types of responsibilities, etc. Being in the army satisfies my criteria.

What's your criteria?
Respect and the ability to help others.

Motto you live by?
Live in the present moment.

And how do you do that?
If I want to sleep, I sleep. If I want to read, I read. I minimize the things I leave pending for tomorrow.

You spoke about living, what about death?
It will be more comfortable than the life I live as an officer. (me -- ???) For example, in J&K, when on a mission, we might have to sit in camouflage behind a bush with our legs knee deep in snow for hours and there is nothing that we can do about it. We simply need to sit. The life of an army man is a difficult one. When death comes, it will come. All I can do in live in the present moment. There is no need to fear death.

What about killing?
On the front line, either you die or the person you are facing dies, in that moment, there really is no hesitation on what to do. And for harming innocent lives, the harshest punishment must be given.

What role does spirituality play in your life?
Have you read the Da Vinci Code? The thing about the Da Vinci Code is that it shows that is Jesus is human. He was a guide for people and provided many with direction, which was lacking in their lives. People made him into God But where does God reside? You're an engineer, you know about science. Where does God live? On Venus or Mars? We have yet to find the place in the stars where He resides. God is human. Each of us can achieve that state of "being" God/ Jesus had reached a very high spiritual place. Look at Hindu gods, each one was born and dies. To have godlike characteristics is a human capability. All these religions are all paths to attain that state or to know the Truth.

What is the Truth?
Its different for each person. What each person perceived is their own truth. For example, in flood relief, two people are in water and there is an open electric wire. I must decide if I am going to send in my men to save the victims. I won't because the truth is that if I do, they will die. I cannot kill two men like that. In that situation, that is my truth.

A few questions about India . What is India's greatest problem/challenge?
Overpopulation. It's the cause of all our problems. Poverty, lack of resources.

To address it?
Do what China did, but that can't happen here because India is a democracy.

India's greatest strength?
It's people.

Views on J&K?
It's all political. People in the villages don't have anything to do/are poor so they go to Pakistan, get arms and training and terrorize the innocent. It's partially created out of need and partially due to ego/financial incentives. Ie. A terrorist's mother is the most powerful woman in the villages. In J&K, the situation will improve when the people take action. When they stop seeing themselves as victims and do something. That's how the situation in Punjab changed also. When will the people do something? Who knows.

Last question comes back to service.
What are important things to consider when one wants to serve?
Two things are important:
1) That there is an actual need
2) What you are doing is appropriate
Before you decide to something, look around and get an idea of what the problems are, what potential solutions are, etc, then pick what you want to do. You can't just jump into something blindly.

Last question: what gets you through each day?
Knowing that I have helped another/been of service. If I have not, then tomorrow, I will do something to change that.

1 comment:

viral said...

great interview heena!

thanks for sharing all the stories along the way :-)