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M.S. Dhoni (MSD), former captain and one of the most favourite players of the Indian Cricket team has been in the news for reasons other than his game.
In the India v/s South Africa match held on 5th June 2019. M S Dhoni was spotted wearing gloves with the insignia (Balidaan Badge) of Para Security Forces.
For the less informed civilian like me, MSD sporting the insignia was a sign of his respect for the Indian Army. My knowledge was limited to the fact that he was an honorary Lieutenant Colonel and probably that is why he was wearing the insignia.
I was wondering as to what could possibly wrong about MSD, a player par excellence flaunting a military insignia. After all, isn’t he the pride of our nation and so is the military, so why not?
As soon as the pictures of his gloves having the insignia went viral, reactions started pouring in on Twitter. There were mixed reactions to this act of his. Some in favour and others opposing it vehemently. Unaware of the facts about the Balidaan Badge, I too thought that maybe there was an unnecessary hue and cry about it.
My views changed after one of the serving Army officers tweeted about this and in no unpleasant terms expressed his thoughts and the reasons behind them. That made me think further on this and I took up to Google for more information.
In November 2011 M S Dhoni was conferred the rank of honorary lieutenant colonel in Para (TA).
I learnt that Balidaan Badge is an insignia related to the Para (Special Forces) which is known as Para SF and is attached to the Parachute Regiment. This regiment consists of Airborne, Special Forces, Territorial Army and one Counter Insurgency (Rashtriya Rifles) battalions.
It is believed that the training of this regiment is one of the toughest and the longest in the world where the trainees are made to endure sleep deprivation, mental and physical torture, humiliation and exhaustion. Out of all the applicants, only 10% make it to the coveted list.
Even after being selected, an applicant has to complete the Balidaan Path where the candidate has to be involved in operations in hostile zones for one year. Only after completion of this, the candidate gets the Balidaan badge and is formally inducted into the regiment. Thus, the personnel of this regiment are allowed to wear the patch below the name plate, on their chest on the right side along with shoulder flashes with Special Forces on them.
The Special Forces have been considered the BEST of the units in the Indian Army. Only the finest of the men go to Special Forces, Out of these, there are desert specialists, mountain specialists, anti hijacking specialists, deep sea divers and so on.
I have observed a tendency amongst us that when there is a celebrity involved and if there seems to be a sense of patriotism around what that person does, we just blindly start appreciating it. No questions asked.
Obviously when the citizens don’t know the significance of the Balidaan Badge, they are sure to support MSD for his nationalistic act. I, too was carrying the same impression until I researched more upon the topic and realized that I resonated with what one serving officer of the Indian Army had written that ‘Balidaan and OPPO cannot coexist in the same frame!!’
It is noteworthy that the serving officer who wrote about this matter is the same one who had sent a legal notice to Twinkle Khanna and Akshay Kumar when they were auctioning the Naval officers uniform which the actor had worn in the movie Rustom. His explanation seemed apt and drove home the point about why the act of having the insignia on the gloves of MSD was being criticised.
Yes indeed! A Badge which is earned after so much sweat and toil, under the toughest conditions, how can that be used on the same plane as that of a commercial product, more so a Chinese one?
I do not have data to vouch for whether MSD has undertaken such trainings that the personnel of this regiment do (which he presumably doesn’t need to, since he is an honorary Lt Col and not a regular officer). So here is MSD who has been conferred Hon Lt. Col of Para (TA) sporting the Balidaan Badge on his gloves and we have an officer of Para (SF) who is wearing it on his chest because he has earned this badge after going through all the hardships.
After reading all that I did, I understood what it meant when the veterans on social media were reiterating that Balidaan Badge has to be earned and it cannot be bestowed. It is true that the Special Forces shoulder title and the Balidaan Badge are worthy of extreme awe and reverence. It is not just another part of the uniform, it is supposedly the most sacred and coveted badge; an elite symbol.
The next time I come across anyone with the Special Forces shoulder title, I would know that he is truly Special.
I am not an ardent cricket follower (hey, wait before you start jumping on me, I do know the date of the Indo Pak World cup clash and I did watch the entire IPL final match), but I am a loyal MSD fan. How can I not be a fan of the man who more often than finishes it off in style?
We are well aware that the Captain Cool of Indian cricket is a player par excellence, a great human being and a thoroughly respectable gentleman. I am sure those who are not in favour of him sporting the insignia do not really dislike him and may still could be his fans. It is just that this particular gesture did not go well with them.
A sporting tournament is a commercial event and it is best treated that way. Our military is way beyond commercialization and is best left to do its job. Where is the need for anyone to display such patriotism and evoke more nationalist responses from the countrymen? If we are indeed so patriotic about our Armed Forces, there are many more reasons and ways to demonstrate it.
Nationalism is not just a display of things; it is an emotion where one starts thinking about the betterment of the country. The Men in Blue and Men in Uniform have proved themselves to be the best. Let’s do our bit in our own simple ways and rather than fighting it out on social media.
Why drag our men in blue or our men in uniform into unnecessary controversies? They are the best and deserve to be the winners all out. Instead of bickering about things, let us respect the decisions taken by the necessary authorities and enjoy the game.
…..Kyunki Crown Cricket ka toh Hum hee laayenge!
Image via Star Sports and badge image is taken from Wikipedia
A homemaker, mother of two, writer and blogger, who loves to travel and has a
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