TODAY -
Well Done Thambis, You've Done It
Source: Hueiyen News Service / Col Rajesh Mishra

Imphal, August 07 2009: Reminiscing about the past three decades that I spent in the Army, I think I was lucky and even luckier were those who joined before me because they really had seen some quality time as soldiers during peace time and proved it in 1971 War.

For the first three years at least, that is from 1981 to 1984, I had seen some good life.

Train Hard and Party Harder was the motto and life appeared to be a never ending tale of 'Masti'.

However all that changed after 1984 and I won't list out the reasons as you know it all.

And since then the proverbial grass is not allowed to grow under a soldier's feet.

J & k and problem in North East was always there but even Punjab too was burning.

And then there were issues Like Op Pawan in Sri Lanka and Op Meghdoot (Siachen Glacier) too.

In nutshell a soldier had his hands full.

I am impressed by those jawans and Officers who have been joining ever since because the challenge remains the same, in fact have increased manifold and there is precious little time to party.

To be honest, one has to be a soldier himself or his kith and kin to know as to how difficult the life is.

One remains away from home most of his life and to make matters worse is the rigorous demands of fighting insurgents.

But Army has been delivering the goods and it is for this reason alone that there is a greater demand for Indian Army contingent by United Nations for Peace Keeping role.

Closer home, take a look at the impeccable record of Red Shield Division in the recent past.

Conduct of Op Summer Storm is the finest example of Army's commitment to Human Rights.

There were no collateral damages and to ensure that requires a great discipline and commitment from each soldier.

An honest leader however will be worried as to how long this kind of commitment can be expected from a soldier who is stressed out and fatigued.

He too is entitled to some HR.

And it is with this aim in mind that 'AAGOSH', a Rest and Recoup Centre for Soldiers was conceived by Maj Gen Shakti Gurung, VSM.

Aptly named AAGOSH, a word frequently used by Hindi and Urdu poets, means 'In the Warm Folds of', is nestled amongst the rolling hills and emerald valley of Leimakhong., surrounded by Koubru Hill (the highest hill feature in Manipur) on one side and Ukhrul Hills on the other.

It is a perfect tourist spot with its salubrious climate overlooking a lush green valley and a very aesthetically landscaped AAGOSH complex itself.

It caters for three rooms for officers and ten rooms for Jawans and has all the facility which a three star hotel might have such as a gym, a pool table, an internet caf´┐Ż, a library and a very tastefully designed cafeteria overlooking a garden with a lotus fountain and pathways and of course, a bar.

Ladies in the Army are indeed talented and the fact is amply demonstrated in landscaping and designing the interiors of various facilities of AAGOSH.

Take a wild guess as to what must be the time frame and expenditure involved in creating this infrastructure.

It was an uneven land with lots of undergrowth.

The work started on 01 Feb 2009 and was completed by mid July and was finally inaugurated on 07 August2009.And expenditure? Just Rs Two Crore.

One has to see the place to believe that it indeed is a formidable achievement and excellent facility created for peanuts.

Col YK Ahuja and the Thambis of 18 Engineer Regiment have really created something which could well be a model for people who would like to create an infrastructure for tourists with very modest investment and gradually develop the place for better revenue.

Gen Gurung has agreed to keep AAGOSH open for public for sightseeing on Sundays.

But well if some children want to visit on other days, well don't tell anybody but school authorities can approach Mrs.Madhu Gurung.

She can't deny anything to the children and in turn will use her good offices to good effect.

The toast of the inauguration ceremony was Ms Mary Kom and her very proud husband Mr.Onlal Kom.

Recipient of Padma Shree, Arjun Award and the latest, Rajeev Gandhi Khel Ratna award, it was a befitting occasion to honor her.

Understandably, everybody wanted to be photographed with her (including yours truly).

After all she is going to get us an Olympic Gold if Women Boxing is introduced in the next Olympic.

With her shy demeanor, who would believe that she is a World Champion in Boxing? Soldiers don't leave their foot prints on the sands of time which get obliterated by the first wind or rainfall.

They leave their mark on the rocky path of history the effect of which is felt for ages.

This is exactly what the Thambis of Madras Sappers that is 18 Engineer Regiment have done.

I am a diehard romantic and am sure peace will prevail one day.

And who knows AAGOSH, which is an R & R Centre for soldiers fighting the insurgency now could well become a Holiday Home as in many other hill stations in the country just a few years from now! Insha Allah and Amen.

The author is PRO, PIB (Defence Wing), Imphal .


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