Vaishakh Krishna 1, Vik Samvat 2071. Yugabda 5116: April 16, 2014

Devarshi Narada, also referred as Narada Muni, is main source of information among Gods and Goddesses. He is supoosed to be blessed with the ability to freely move around all three loks that are Patal, Bhulok and Swargalok.
Narada Jayanti is observed in Bhagwan Vishnu temples with special prayers, fasts and Prasad. Narada Muni is considered to be the first journalist of the world. For the past few years, the media initiatives of Sangh namely Vishwa Samvad Kendras are organizing programs where veteran journalists and others in media are honoured. --top


Wish you all a happy new year. We all know that according to our belief, Chaitra Shudha Pratipada is the first day of the cycle of creation. This is the day of Shalivahana’s victory. This is also the birthday of RSS founder Param Pujya Dr.Hedgewar. In our tradition, Varsha Pratipada is considered a day of resolution. Three things are necessary for any change to take place. First is a strong resolve.  Second, pursuing the resolution as a one-pointed goal and preparedness to sacrifice everything for it, and the third is making our lives eligible for such mission by pursuing things that align with the goal and eliminating things that are obstacles to the goal or misalign with it.
All the above mentioned qualities can be found in the life of Sangh founder Param Pujya Dr. Hedgewar. Similar examples can be found in the lives of all those first generation Sanghkaryakartas, who were moulded in the hands of Doctorji. We want to take our country, our nation to the pinnacle of glory. We pray that let there be peace, comfort and brotherhood in the entire world. Let the entire world regain its lost balance on the basis of Vasudhaiva Kutumabakam and walk in the path of righteousness. We work hard to fulfill this mission. We must keep in mind that we make this resolve our life mission. Let us devote all our energies for this sacred cause. We always put in efforts to improve those skills that are in tune with our goal while eliminating those flaws that are impediments in our goal.  We are fortunate that such a buzz has been created all around the world that we will, as a result of our relentless efforts, soon witness all the above changes not only in Bharat but also in the entire world.
Today, there is an election atmosphere in our country. Common people believe that a change in electoral outcome will eventually result in a change in every aspect. But the history does not bear a testimony to this. Change in regime is a small part of complete change. It is a necessary and useful change. But the real change is one that changes the dynamics of the society and the way a society acts. Therefore, in addition to adeptly dealing with temporary yet important challenges such as these elections, we must move forward keeping our eyes on our grand mission of reinstating Bharat, a Bharat that is capable of restoring the world’s balance of Dharma, a Bharat that is capable of building a prosperous and beautiful world, as Vishwa Guru. This mission of ours can be realized only by imbibing the above mentioned three qualities, viz. a strong resolve, complete surrender to the resolve and augmenting our strengths while getting rid of our deficiencies. Let us all resolve on the eve of this New Year to refocus on these three aspects. In the end, I conclude this short speech of mine by once again wishing you all a very happy and prosperous new year.--top


3.  PSLV PUTS NAVIGATION SATELLITE IN ORBIT: Bharat marched towards establishing its own navigation system on 4th April when its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C24) put into precise orbit the country’s second navigation satellite, Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS-1B). The 1,432-kg IRNSS-1B will form part of a constellation of seven navigation satellites.
It was the 25th success in a row for the PSLV, after it majestically lifted off from the first launch pad at Sriharikota at 5.14 p.m. After 19 minutes of flight, IRNSS-1B was put into a perfect orbit.
K. Radhakrishnan, Chairman, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), said two more IRNSS satellites would be put into orbit before 2014-end and three more before mid-2015.
Mission Director P. Kunhikrishnan said the mission accuracy was such that the satellite achieved a perigee of 283 km against the target of 284 km and an apogee of 20,630 km against the targeted 20,650 km. The IRNSS satellites will be useful for land, sea and air navigation. They have civil and defence applications. --top


4. HSS SRILANKA RELIEF TO FIRE VICTIMS: In the last week of February, a fire accident took place in Poonduloya in Nuwaraelia district of Central Province of SriLanka. 127 members of 32 families were affected in this incident. Their houses, business and belongings were turned in to ashes with in few hours.
Volunteers of Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh SriLanka Hatton shaka planned immediate relief work. They collected essential household materials from well wishers, sorted them and prepared packets for distribution. The local temple committee organized the relief material distribution program on March 3rd. Study material was also provided to all the students from affected families. --top


5.  BHARAT BORN POET VIJAY SESHADRI WINS 2014 PULITZER PRIZE: Bharat born poet Vijay Seshadri has won the prestigious 2014 Pulitzer Prize in the poetry category for his collection of poems "3 Sections." The 98th annual Pulitzer Prizes in Journalism, Letters, Drama and Music were announced on 14th April by Columbia University.
It is a "compelling collection of poems that examines human consciousness, from birth to dementia, in a voice that is by turns witty and grave, compassionate and remorseless," the announcement said. His poems, essays, and reviews have appeared in several prestigious publications including the American Scholar, the Nation etc.
Born in Bangalore in 1954, Seshadri came to America at the age of five and grew up in Columbus, Ohio. He currently teaches poetry and nonfiction writing at liberal arts college Sarah Lawrence in New York. Seshadri is the fifth person of Bharatiya origin to bag the prestigious award and would receive $10,000 as reward.--top


6.  DRI WORKERS TRAINING CAMP IN CHITRAKOOT:  “For some time a kind of distrust has developed in the society about the people working in social life. We are the workers working selflessly and with a missionary zeal. Our personal conduct and life should be inspiration for others. The lives of Nanaji and Deendayalaji are still lighthouse for us in this regard,” said RSS Sarkaryavah Shri Bhaiyaji Joshi. He was addressing a gathering of Deendayal Research Institute (DRI) workers at a training camp organised at the Krish Vigyan Kendra, Ganeewan in Chitrakoot on April 5.
A total of 72 workers from different parts of the country and their project chiefs attended the three-day camp from April 4-6. Vice president of DRI Shri Shankar Prasad Tamrakar, general secretary of DRI Shri Bharat Pathak and organising secretary Shri Abhay Mahajan were also present on the occasion.--top


7. ITANAGAR PUT ON BHARAT'S RAILWAY MAP:  Arunachal capital Itanagar was put on the country's railway map on 7th April with the first passenger train of about 400 commuters arriving at Naharlagun near Itanagar.
The train with 10 passengers and two goods compartments, towed by a diesel engine, left Dekargaon at 7a.m. and arrived Naharlagun at 12.30 p.m., covering a distance of 181 kilometers. Itanagar thus becomes the second state capital among the eight north-eastern states after Guwahati to be put on the railway map of Bharat.
"Shouting 'Jai Biswakarma' slogans, people in their traditional attires all along the route in Assam welcomed the train and offered puja while many boarded the train with the railways offering a free ride.
Informing about the arrival of the train, Chief Minister Nabam Tuki during his road rally at Itanagar had announced that Rajdhani and Shatabdi Express would be introduced soon to link Arunachal to national capital Delhi.--top


8. STATUE OF FIELD MARSHAL SAM MANEKSHAW UNVEILED: 3rd April 2014, marked the birth centenary of Field Marshal SHFJ Manekshaw, MC, one of the most illustrious Generals of the Bharatiya Army.  Popularly called, ‘Sam Bahadur,’ he was the epitome of soldiering and visionary military leadership.  He was a key architect of Bharat’s glorious military victory over Pakistan in the 1971 War, which led to the birth of Bangladesh. 
To honour the legendary General and inspiring leader, his ‘Statue’ was unveiled and a Book titled, ‘Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw – The Man and His Times’ was released on 3rd April 2014, at the Manekshaw Centre, Delhi Cantt. The proceedings began with a welcome address by Lt Gen Rameshwar Yadav, Director General of Infantry. The event was attended by Mrs Maja Daruwalla, daughter of the legendary leader, accompanied by her husband.
Gen Bikram Singh, the Chief of the Army Staff, unveiled the Field Marshal’s Statue and released the Book on his life and times. He called upon the serving officers, especially from the younger generations, to draw inspiration from Field Marshal Manekshaw and commit themselves to seeking professional excellence, in service of the Nation.
A number of events were also organised at Ooty & Coonor, the place where he chose to spend his final days. A 14 km Marathon was organised from Ooty to Wellington, statue of Field Marshal Manekshaw unveiled at Wellington. In addition, a prayer meeting and wreath laying was organised at the Parsi-Zoroastrian Cemetery at Ooty.--top


9. FOUNDATION STONE LAID FOR JANAM TV: Foundation stone for Janam TV studio coplex was laid in Thiruvananthapuram on March 17th by Padmasree P Parmeswaran, director of Bharatiya Vichar Kendram, in presence of RSS natonal executive member Sethumadhavan and other prominent personalities. The studio complex will come up at a prime location near the world famous Shri Padmnabha temple. Sri Parmeshwar ji expressed confidence that the TV would turn into the catalyst of change in the media not only in Keral but also at national level. Strong presence of nationalist forces in the media is the need of the hour, he added.
Janam TV is being conceived as the first Malyalam television channel with true nationalistic perspective and is expected to be on air by October 2014.--top


10.  GOOGLE LAUNCHES VIRTUAL TOUR OF CAMBODIA'S ANGKOR WAT: Located in remote, northwestern Cambodia, the ancient Angkor Wat temples have been a wonder from afar for many who had neither the time nor money to pay a visit.  Now, a tour is just a free click away, thanks to Google Street View.
On 3rd April, The company announced the launch of its new ground-level view of the complex in Siem Reap province, where the temples are located.  “It has significance beyond Cambodia. …It’s the biggest Hindu temple in the world, so for the billions of people who believe in Hinduism in the world, this is very important for them.  This is a part of the world of information that we want to bring to everyone in the world," said Senior Google staffer Divon Lan.
Google Street View users can now visit 100 temples and sculptures around Angkor Wat, via a 360-degree perspective.  The new initiative adds to existing virtual tours of the Taj Mahal in Bharat and Mt. Fuji in Japan.
Bun Narith, director general of the Apsara Authority, which administers Angkor Wat on behalf of the government, said he hopes the project will help attract even more tourists to the temples.Cambodia welcomed 4.2 million tourists last year, many of whom visited Angkor Wat.--top


11. BHARATIYA DOCS AT UN BASES IN SOUTH SUDAN PROVIDE CRITICAL HEALTHCARE: Bharatiya doctors stationed at UN mission bases in South Sudan are providing critical healthcare services, including helping deliver babies, amid continued conflict and violence that has plagued the world's youngest nation in recent months.
Over 80 babies have been born at the UNMISS (UN Mission in South Sudan) base in troubled Malakal, Upper Nile State, of which 41 were delivered at the UNMISS Bharatiya hospital.
At the UNMISS Bharatiya military field hospital in the city of Malakal, 976 patients have been treated since December 23 and over 134 major surgeries have been carried out.
Bharatiya peacekeepers and medical personnel in the volatile Jonglei State have been awarded for their courage and devotion to duty shown while working in extremely difficult conditions.
"Without the steadfastness shown by the battalion group, it would not have been possible to implement the mission mandate in the desired manner," UNMISS Force Commander Delali Johnson Sakyi said in the state capital Bor.--top


12. IIT-DELHI SHOWS CHEAP CAN BE WONDERFUL: Be it the urinal which saves 1,51,000 litres of water every year and draws out of the excrement phosphorus — a mineral which Bharat imports — or the Rs 120 cholesterol test which otherwise costs Rs 5,800, or even the low-cost cellphone-size hemoglobin meter that must surely be a boon to a country in which an overwhelming proportion of maternal deaths result from malnutrition-triggered anemia, for every social problem, IIT-Delhi seems to have a technical solution. These are among the five high social impact products patented and already in use which form a part of an open house workshop showcasing about 200 innovative projects put together by its faculty and students in the current year.
The Open House will be organized on April 19, said member of faculty of electrical engineering in IIT Delhi Turbo Majumder. "Of these, there will be five high social impact projects, all of them already working and some patented. A few of them are also in production, like the 'Waterless Urinals Technology-Zerodor' which is an IIT startup. It's being used in the campus successfully," he said.
Scarcity, misuse, pollution of water and lack of sanitation facilities have been the driving force behind development of Zerodor, patented by IIT-Delhi. Speaking about the product, associate professor of rural development and technology, Vijayaraghavan M Chariar, said, "We were concerned about misuse of water, scarcity and absence of sanitation in cities like Delhi. This device came out of collaborative effort with Unicef to improve sanitation."
"The general perception of people is to flush urine with water. But that is not required. When it comes in contact with water, urine releases ammonia which gives out odour. With this system, we do away with flushing and take care of the odour. Nutrients from the urine can be extracted and used for farming. Urine contains phosphorus which can be used for different applications. There is scarcity of phosphorus in the world and we import it from different countries. This can be resolved using the kit," said Uttam Banerjee, CEO of Ekam Solutions which is now marketing the device.
The hemoglobin meter measures the amount of hemoglobin in the blood of a person. Okayed by AIIMS, the device was developed with funding from the technology development board of department of science and technology at IIT's Centre for Biomedical Engineering.
"The big social impact of this device stems from its portability, low cost and ease of use. More than 70% of people in Bharat, especially women, are anemic. This device will be very useful for health workers, blood banks, primary health centres, and the school health scheme of the government," said Ambar Srivastava, developer of this device and a student.--top

13. BRITISH ARMY GIVEN A TALK ON THE BHAGAVAD GITA: On 15 March 2014, Acharya Dhruv Chhatralia made history by teaching the Bhagwad Geeta to the British Army during a 3.5 hour ‘super talk’. He spoke non-stop for 3.5 hours without a break to seven different audiences of regiments from the British Army.

Dhruv spoke on the key concepts of the Bhagavad Gita including the immortality of the soul and the mortality of the body, the concept of Svadharma and our duty, the importance of Lokasamgrahan etc. He told the soldiers that the Bhagavad Gita is a guide as to how to make decisions in difficult situations, when the decision is often not clear cut and when we do not know what is right and what is wrong.
He said that the soldiers should meditate upon the fact that their essence was Atman and not matter, that we are not our physical bodies and therefore we do not need to worry about death because we know that we will continue to exist and we know where we are going to go.
This was an incredibly inspirational day that generated a lot of interest from the British Army on Sanatana Dharma.  --top


14.  B-SCHOOLS USE MANDARIN MANTRA FOR GLOBAL SUCCESS: Bharatiya management students have devised a unique strategy to take on their Chinese counterparts when the two face off on the global stage. The B-school students are learning Mandarin, the official language of China, with several private MBA colleges and even some of the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) offering the language as part of their curriculum.
While IIM Calcutta, Bangalore and Shillong offer Mandarin as an elective in their post-graduate diploma courses, Great Lakes Institute of Management, Chennai, has made the language a compulsory subject in all eight terms of its post-graduate course. At Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS) in Mumbai, students are required to learn either Mandarin or Spanish as a foreign language.
Apart from B-schools, the study of Mandarin has also caught owing to increasing number of people travelling between India and China. “On an average, over 500 Indians apply for Chinese visas daily and most of them are going there for business. This trend has escalated in the recent past, indicating the surge in the importance of the language for Indians,” said an official at the Chinese embassy in Mumbai.
Even family-run businesses have realised the importance of knowing Mandarin. Gurgaon-based Aniket Gidada, whose family runs a company dealing with water purification and sanitation equipment, started learning Mandarin two years ago as his company sells its products in China. “I can now converse in the language. Unfortunately, when I was in college, no B-school offered a course in the language. It would have been helpful,” said Gidada.--top


15. 'YOGA SAVED MY CAREER: Serial entrepreneur Pravin Kothari has spent the past two decades in Silicon Valley’s enterprise software trenches. He’s had a hand in founding four tech companies, including ArcSight, which grew into a $1.6 billion HP acquisition in 2010. Kothari holds over a dozen patents in security technologies and is the inventor behind his latest company, CipherCloud’s encryption technology.
“For me, solving complex problems through innovation is my calling,” says Kothari. “I get immersed into the process of developing an idea and passionately pushing it up the steep hill of building a company, getting funded, going to market and winning market share.”
But the biggest challenge in a startup when you have limited resources, changing priorities, too much to do and not enough time can be stress. “Yoga saved my career,” says Kothari. “In 2004, I experienced a stress-induced digestive system disorder. My doctor informed me that I would need to quit startups and take daily medication for the rest of my life to counter the condition.” --top


16. 700 BHARATIYA-OWNED COS IN UK EMPLOY OVER 1 LAKH PERSONS: Bharatiya companies are playing an important role in the growth of the British economy and contributing to GDP and creating employment opportunities, according to Grant Thornton UK LLP's India Tracker 2014 report.
It finds that there are currently over 700 Bharatiya owned small to large-sized businesses in the UK, collectively employing over 100,000 individuals. Of these, 41 organisations were identified as registering year-on-year growth rates of more than 10 per cent, with more than half (26 corporates) demonstrating particularly strong growth in excess of 20 per cent.--top


17. BHARATIYA SOFTWARE MARKET UP 10% TO $4.7 BILLON: Software market in Bharat grew 10 per cent to $4.76 billion in 2013, driven by strong adoption of cloud or subscription-based services, research firm Gartner said.
The software market stood at $4.334 billion in 2012. Microsoft was the market leader with 20 per cent share and $957.3 million in revenues. Oracle ranked second with $505 million while IBM ranked third ($446.6 million), followed by SAP VMware, CA Technologies and Adobe etc.
Among the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, Bharat, China and South Africa) nations, the Bharatiya software market experienced the highest growth rate. Brazil grew at 7.8 per cent, while China registered a growth rate of 7 per cent. Russia grew at 8.9 per cent and South Africa at 6.3 per cent.--top


18. BHARAT RECEIVES $70 BILLION TO TOP GLOBAL REMITTANCES LIST: Having received $70 billion in 2013, Bharat has topped the list of countries receiving remittances from overseas workers, said the World Bank. The World Bank's latest issue of the Migration and Development Brief said international migrants from developing countries are expected to send $436 billion in remittances to their home countries this year (2014).
"Remittances have become a major component of the balance of payments of nations. Bharat led the chart receiving $70 billion last year (2013), followed by China with $60 billion and the Philippines with $25 billion," said Kaushik Basu, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist of the World Bank.
Out of this $70 billion, more than the $65 billion earned from the country's flagship software services exports, the World Bank said.--top


19. SHRI VISHWA NIKETAN: Pravas: Shri Saumitra Gokhale samyojak Vishwa Vibhag is on a tour to Australia and New Zealand. Dr.Ram Vaidya sah samyojak is on a trip to Germany for European shibir at Hamburg. Visitors: Rajesh – Singapore, Chamanlal Gohil – UK.--top


FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Nearly all mankind is more or less unhappy because nearly all do not know the true Self. Real happiness abides in Self-knowledge alone. All else is fleeting. To know one's Self is to be blissful always. – Ramana Maharshi--top

Over the next 35 days, 814 million Indians are expected to vote in the general elections. Of this number, around 72mn are voters in the age group of 18-23 years.
These first-time voters, or ‘born frees’ as The Economist describes them, are an important bloc every political party is addressing.
Armed with mobile phones and tablets, this group is tech-savvy and informed.
The high level of awareness among first-time voters can be attributed to improved access to information and technology — through TV, broadband Internet and mobile phones.
According to the I-Cube 2013 report, by the Internet and Mobile Association of India and IMRB International, by June, India, with close to 250 million users, is expected to overtake the United States as the second largest Internet base in the world. Several parties have set up IT teams to focus on online campaigning on the Internet, especially on social networking sites.
With close to 250 million Internet users, of whom 93mn have Facebook accounts and around 35mn have Twitter accounts, this is a big a segment for any party to tap. The advantages here is that the intended message reaches a greater audience in less time with lesser effort.
The flip side is that the easy access to technology has also been misused to spread mischief and hatred — as was seen in Muzaffarnagar last year.
Perhaps the most important of reasons that make this election significant is the way parties have relied on technology to reach the electorate.
Along with rallies, televised debates and door-to-door campaigning, this election has seen contestants and parties focus on social media and other Internet platforms, like blogs, advertisements, podcasts, and analytics, to reach voters.
Whatever be the outcome of the elections, one thing is certain: Technology is helping more people make a better decision about this election than ever before. (Editorial, Hindustan Times April 07, 2014)--top


April 13, 1984, was the first time Indian troops landed on the icy heights called Siachen Glacier. Hundreds of deaths and three decades on, the battle zone continues to inspire awe and fear.

The bumpy road constructed by the Border Roads Organisation after painstakingly cutting at the mountainside meanders up the imposing rocky Ladakh Range visible from Leh. The slow ride leads to the world’s highest motorable pass, the Khardung La at 18,380 feet. It’s the highest point on planet earth to which a human being can travel on wheels without having to walk a step.
From there, the road winds down northwards past small hamlets and villages into the Shyok Valley through which the Shyok river snakes its way, eventually merging into the Indus river that flows into Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK). After some hours of driving, the Shyok river is greeted by the Nubra river which flows in a southerly direction from the Siachen Glacier.
This point at which the two rivers (known as ‘Yankee point’) meet becomes a valley wide enough for an Indian Air Force (IAF) Antonov-32 transport aircraft to take a U-turn, usually an extremely hazardous manoeuvre while flying in a valley flanked by imposingly high mountains. A straight drive from there leads to Partapur where the headquarters of the Army’s 102 brigade, colloquially known as the Siachen brigade, is located.
Oxygen at a premium
A short distance further up from Partapar is Thoise airbase, which serves as the runway closest to the Siachen Glacier where the IAF’s transport aircraft land after some skilful flying through the high mountains. A signboard put up at this airbase tellingly states, ‘You are breathing 30 per cent less but pure oxygen’.
A right turn from ‘Yankee Point’ and a short drive on a bridge over the Shyok river leads into the Nubra valley with the Nubra river to the left. The road goes past the Old Silk Route before culminating at the snout of the 76 km long Siachen Glacier, the world’s second largest glacier outside the polar region and also the origin of the Nubra river. From the snout (height approximately 12,000 feet), the glacier extends 76 km like a giant white tongue to as high as 18,875 feet at its source which is Indra Col (24,493 feet), the northern most tip of India.
It is near the snout — blackened over the years due to pollution, human habitation and mixing with gravel from the mountains — where the Army has a major Base Camp equipped with a training school for soldiers, helipads, a battery of the Swedish-made Bofors 155 mm Howitzer, and a memorial with the names of soldiers killed either due to weather, terrain or Pakistani fire over the last three decades among other equipment and facilities.
However, for almost 11 years now, beginning November 2003, both sides are maintaining a ceasefire in the area leaving soldiers on both sides to contend with weather and terrain, which arguably is a far bigger threat than the now silent guns of the adversary located on both sides of the 110-km long Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL) that runs along the Saltoro Ridge.
110 km trek in the freeze
This Base Camp caters for the northern and middle portions of the Siachen Glacier. A second Base Camp, catering to troops deployed in the southern Siachen Glacier, is located ahead of Thoise.
It is from these two base camps that Army soldiers begin their long arduous trek to the 100-odd posts located along the AGPL that begins from map grid reference NJ 9842 all the way northwest to Indra Col, which overlooks the Shaksgam Valley. The altitude of the Saltoro Ridge ranges between 17,800 feet and 25,500 feet, which is barely 3,500 feet less than Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak.
The Indian Army is strongly positioned on the Saltoro Ridge, which overlooks Gilgit and Baltistan (POK) in the far distance and is located well ahead of the entire Siachen Glacier. But along with this major strength is also a pitfall. The nearest road head is located as far as 80 km from the farther Indian post. In these high killer mountains, 80 km can seem an endless distance for a soldier who has to spend up to several days traversing the glacier and climbing high peaks to take his position on one of the scores of Army posts dotting the Saltoro ridgeline.
Such distances in the absence of any possible roads on the glacier poses a herculean logistics challenge. How does one transport equipment and supplies? A helicopter? Yes, but it comes at a huge cost. The IAF and the Army Aviation Corps, which flies a range of helicopters – the smaller nubile Cheetah, the larger sturdy Mi-17-1V and the indigenously developed Dhruv advance light helicopter – carry far less than their designated payload.
This is because these helicopters take off from Leh, Thoise and the Base Camp, all of which are located above 10,000 feet and therefore permit carrying only a substantially reduced payload in the rarefied atmosphere.
While Cheetah helicopters can fly up to those posts where makeshift helipads have been created, the much larger Mi-17 and Dhruv helicopters cannot land on these posts and have to mostly airdrop supplies. But most posts cannot be air-maintained since it is not easy to construct helipads at those heights. Soldiers here thus have no option but to trek up the spurs of the Saltoro range carrying supplies on their back.
Survival is the job
What mountaineers elsewhere in the world do as a novelty, the average Indian soldier does as a matter of duty on a routine posting living up to three to six months on icy heights with temperatures dipping as low as minus 40 degrees Celsius. The farthest post – Bana Post at 22,100 feet – takes a soldier up to 20 days of trek to reach.
Indeed, this is a cruelly unique part of the country where breathing is at a premium, bathing a dream, a change of clothes an impossible luxury, and where raging blizzards, sudden deep crevasses in the glacier and unforgiving avalanches devour soldiers like a hungry monster. Then there is always the danger of frostbite leading to gangrene and amputation of a limb and high-altitude pulmonary oedema and memory loss owing to the low content of oxygen.
It is a battlefield fit only for the Gods and not for mortal beings, some would say. Between April 1984 and August 2012, the Indian Army had lost 846 soldiers with many more wounded.
Both sides have deployed a brigade strength (about 5,000 troops) that costs about Rs 5 crore a day to maintain in the region and comprising Infantry battalions along with a host of supporting units. Siachen remains one of the Indian Army and Air Force’s greatest story – of valour, grit, fortitude, logistics, manoeuvres, battles and skillful flying. Equally important, there would be scores of human interest stories for every soldier posted in the area. It would arguably surpass the stories of many if not all militaries in the world.  (Dinesh Kumar, Sunday Tribune, 13 April  2014 )--top