Love is not just a feeling shared by two people or a bond strengthened by blood.
If we look beyond its conventional understanding, there exists a version which is possibly the purest of all—one that is fueled with selflessness and sacrifice and pushes the bearer to defer their needs to that of the beloved.
And who better than a soldier to exemplify this form of love?
This Valentine’s Day, Mahindra Group decided to bring India together and be united in their expression of love — for the ones who deserve it the most. And India answered by joining the crusade to salute our soldiers for what they do, what they sacrifice, and what their families go through. With short films elucidating the true meaning of love and motivating ordinary Indians to give a ‘Love Salute’ to our brave jawans at the border, Mahindra Group expressed their #LoveForJawans.
Here’s our salute to four such warriors. From risking their lives to save hundreds to starting peace schools in strife-affected areas, these brave men and women will stop at nothing to defend the country and its people.
1. Lt Col Sumeet Baxi
Lt Col Sumeet Baxi(L) with his Company Commander, Major GJS Gill (now Colonel-retired) who rushed to their rescue
On 30 September 1993, an earthquake hit the districts of Latur and Osamanadad in Gujarat, claiming 9,748 lives and leaving 30,000 injured. Pinni, an 18-month-old baby, could have been one of the many casualties, if not for Lt Col Baxi, who risked his life to save her.
On the fifth day, 108 hours after the earthquake, the child’s parents assumed her dead and requested the officer to retrieve her dead body.
“I pushed the debris aside and tried to dig a small hole. I kept pushing until I could slither myself in and started reaching out in the dark. Then, my hand touched a cold body. When I tried to pull it, a weak cough escaped the body. Nobody, including the parents, expected the child to have survived after 108 hours! But she was breathing!” he adds.
Holding Pinni close to his chest, he rose from underneath the debris of seven fallen houses, like a true hero!
2. Captain Modekurti Narayan Murthy
A celebrated soldier, Captain Murthy was involved in several high-profile operations, like the Goa Liberation (1961) and the Sino-Indian War (1962). After serving the Army for 15 years, he joined the International Airports Authority of India and had the opportunity to save tens of thousands of lives in 1990 during Operation Airlift.
“I was posted in Amman, Jordan, in October 1990 to assist the Gulf and Middle East region. The evacuation of 1,16,134 Indians was the largest evacuation effort in the history of civil aviation, and I was working on the ground as the security in-charge,” he reminisces.
Now 84, he continues to save lives every day, this time as a voluntary traffic warden.
“I might not be directly out on the battlefield, but I am still fighting. This time it is against the careless attitude towards traffic and its rules,” he says.
3. Major Hemant Raj
On his way to his hometown in Kerala on leave, Major Raj came across the news of severe floods affecting the state. He knew that his people needed him and decided to do anything in his capacity to save people from the natural disaster.
A rescue helicopter dropped him at Chengannur, and along with with the help of several college students and many other army personnel on leave, and retired officers, Major Raj created a rescue team that took fishermen boats into the flooded areas and managed to save hundreds of lives.
4. Gunjan Saxena
Gunjan Saxena was one of the 25 young women to form the first batch of Indian Air Force trainee pilots. At a time when there were reservations about allowing women pilots in IAF, she got her chance to serve her country in the 1999 Kargil war.
During the war, she was responsible for dropping supplies to troops in the Dras and Batalik sectors, evacuating injured Indian Army soldiers, and reporting enemy positions to the Indian army. Risking her life, she would fly small Cheetah helicopters through extremely hostile mountain territory, all to ensure her country’s safety.
Owing to her exemplary performance, Flying Officer Gunjan Saxena became the first woman recipient of the Shaurya Chakra, a gallantry award presented to officers for courageous action and self-sacrifice.
4. Col DPK Pillay
On 25 January 1994, Col Pillay was assigned to protect a few tribal villages during a highly violent phase in Manipur’s Tamenglong district.
During an operation, he was grievously injured in the crossfire but soon realised that two children were also present there and were also wounded.
So, when the rescue helicopter arrived to evacuate him to safety, he insisted on waiting for the next helicopter, which would take more than two hours to arrive, and send the children instead.
“The nearest hospital was about 6 hours away. There’s no way the children would have survived. I think I knew that I had 5 minutes of life left in me and could hang on for a little bit. So, I told the pilot not to worry about me,” says the braveheart.
Talking about the initiative, Anand Mahindra tweeted, ”Sacrifice is the highest form of love. Thank you for putting your life on the line for us. #LoveForJawans”.
I Retweeted the appeal By @MahindraRise for a ‘Love Salute’ to our Jawans. Here’s mine in remembrance of the martyrs of Pulwama today, on #ValentinesDay. Sacrifice is the highest form of love. Thank you for putting your life on the line for us. #LoveForJawans @MahindraRise pic.twitter.com/Oda0B4DPJg
— anand mahindra (@anandmahindra) February 14, 2020
Here’s a look at how Indian citizens responded to this call for respect in large numbers and helped make Valentine’s Day a special day for those who are giving their all to make sure the country is safe.