Hero of 1971 war, General Jacob just visited Bangladesh. He was leading an entourage of several Indian senior military leaders of 1971. They attended our Independence Day parade and visited liberation war museum and other points of interest.
General Jacob’s played one of the most crucial roles in the six day india Pakistan war of 1971 that ensued at the climax of our independence struggle. For that reason he always held a very high place in my heart. But the very considerate and careful remarks this 90 year old gentleman made during his conversations with some journalists in Dhaka has elevated his stature 100 fold in my mind. His statement that ‘it was mostly the freedom fighters and the East Bengal regiment soldiers who made Bangladesh independent’; is very generous, considerate and important.
In my opinion; the branding India enjoys these days, that India is a tolerant, secular, pluralistic society; is the contribution of General Jacobs generation. General Jacob, himself a minority Jew, was an embodiment of the religious harmony and inclusiveness of Indian society. His heart was in right place when in 1971 he fought his way to Dhaka to help a nation gain freedom from repression.
But unfortunately the spirit of the nonagenarian or octogenarian generation is rapidly fading from the horizon of Indian society. India is now more of a self centered generation which relishes nationalistic pride in Virendra Shehwag’s triple century cricket batting, a generation of Hironmoy Karlekar who makes a career out of Bangladesh bashing, or a generation of trigger happy BSF soldiers shooting Bangladeshis on a daily basis. This is the generation where more youngsters hate Mahatma Gandhi than revere him. This is a generation to whom it is must to hate pakistan, it is a norm to ignore Bangladesh or Sri Lanka and Bhutan, Sikim, Nepal are the countries to make fun of.
It is extremely important that not only Bangladesh, but also India herself honor General Jacob and his generation by embracing the spirit of a tolerant, inclusive and pluralistic society again.
Long live General Jacob. Your war is not over yet.