I love my India and want it to be the best in the world. It has the talent and capability. The state has constantly deteriorated in last six decades. The downfall is due to low quality, incompetent and corrupt leadership, unaccountable, equally corrupt bureaucracy and ineffective judiciary unable to fulfil people's aspirations resulting in unparalleled corruption and lawlessness. Drastic changes are necessary to make systems vibrant and responsive to make it an India of every Indian's dreams.
The Anti- Climax 71 WAR - Forty years down the road
Narrated on Behalf Of Kulbir Harnal
This memory is of how we were treated by our own, forty years ago. I am not surprised that outsiders have joined the bandwagon in the time that has passed. Who is to blame for our current plight? is the question.
Three days after the Cease Fire the Sqn was moved to Hindon.
We were told that we would not be going back to Baghdogra till after the R-Day Fly Past, as the Sqn operated the Modified Hunters which could trail the colors of the National Flag during the Republic Day Fly past. We were tasked to do that on 26th Jan 1972, before returning to our home base Baghdogra.
Around Jan 10th we moved to Palam and started rehearsing for the Fly past. The Air Crafts (A/C) were fitted with modified out board drop tanks disconnected from the fuel system.These tank were filled with 60 gallons of liquid color through a Cap. The Gun pack below the cockpit was fitted with a tank full of Talpa Oil which was let out in the tail pipe by a booster pump via a thin tube running along the upper spine of the A/C outside the engine casing.
On the Command "Color Color now" by the leader the Formation we would flick the two 'Green Salad' switches which would open the cut away Dump valves at the base of both the drop tanks and start the booster pump to let out the oil into the exhaust, which gave off white smoke.
So, you had the Colors of our National Flag streamed this way. Simple but ingenious modification by one of our Engineers.
Wg Cmdr Suri who retained command till after the Flypast led a seven ship VIC formation flying in at the very end of the Flypast, and pulling up to 7000ft over India Gate with the colors of the National Flag gushing out in full flow.
All of us were keen to get back to base and our comfort zones so the days at Palam passed slowly.
The fly past came and went, and we eagerly, geared up for the final leg home looking forward to familiar pastures.
Suri handed command to Alan Alley and gave us a tremendous send off party at his home in Haus Khaz.
To me his 'Wing Man' he sent off with the words "Good job" and a pat on my back.
He looked out for me, for years till I left the AF for Air India in 86. To this day whenever we meet the conversation reverts to Dec 71 in seconds.
We ferried to Baghdogra on the 2nd of Feb'72 (BA 296 as per my log book). I was no 3 in the first four A/C formation led by Allan Alley.
Crossing Purnea, Alley set up a shallow dive and we flew overhead in a finger four formation clocking upwards of 450kts. A T/ A peel off was followed by a tight curved approach and landing.
The second formation of four A/C screamed in minutes behind us.
I remember the expectation of a hero's welcome as emotions built up at the sense of being back home after some achievement. My eyes scanned the Tarmac as I taxied in, looking for signs of that welcome, but it looked desolate barring the lone Marshaller and a few Airmen.
To our everlasting dismay and utter dis belief there was not one Officer from the our home base to welcome us back. Noproud handshakes or a pat on the back, from any of our Station Bosses who were conspicuous by their absence and it seemed all the more insensitive as we had come back minus our own Boss.
To top this humiliation we had to wait as usual for the Aircrew Transport. This hit us in the gut as we grappled with reality, hurt and confused that this was the lowly recognition of our effort.
Back to my room the happiest person to see me back was perhaps my Orderly.
Later in the evening the Gnat boys put up an impromptu dinner for us. We had Mrs Coelho (boss's wife) and Sandra D'costa join us, as we sat drinking rather bemused and slighted at this reception by our Stn Cmdr, ( Dotiwala) COO (Satnam Shah) and others.
One AOP pilot recoiled when he saw me. "I thought you had been killed" he blurted out.
That this guy could sustain this notion after the war had been over for six weeks went to show the extent we had had been forgotten.
The first day at work I got a call from the Stn Adj. "We have gifts for your Sqn, please come and collect them" I borrowed Co's car so that it would be easier to carry them, rather than on my Bike.
He handed me a carton of Cigarettes and two pocket Transistor Radios.
We heard about, and saw what had transpired in our absence in the days that followed (The station had a Victory Party when both the sqns were still out), but more than these materialistic issues, it was the indifference to our war effort that bugged us.
This story about the Pathankot Hotel Bill(where some of us were lodged in the Pilot dispersal plan) for the dinner of 5/6 days summed up how short was the public memory of our War effort This bill of about Rs 1200, followed us to Baghdogra. as nobody wanted to pay as the District Collectors's patronizing spirit with the back slapping and salutations, vanished the moment the War was over.
Declining, Wg Cmdr RV Singh, the new CO's offer to pay from the Flight Fund, the six of us paid up.
Eastern Air Command found it made more economical sense to authorize a Hunter Trainer to fly to Pathankot and hand over the personal cheque as this issue had become a bone of contention between the DC and the Stn Cdr Pathankot, with the DC maintaining that dinner was not authorized for the Pilots staying at the Hotel as they should have dined in their Mess, even if it meant going back and forth under 'Blackout Conditions' What a change from the days of the War when they were ready to kiss our A----e.
Till I left the Sqn in July 72 for JBCU Agra, not one day went by when this bitterness between the Sqn and the Wing, did not rear it's ugly head, both at work and in the Mess.
Our war effort was totally eclipsed, getting buried under the tons of mutual Scorn and Animosity between the Sqn and the Station that we became to be regarded as the bad guys by all and sundry