It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us the freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us the freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who gives us the freedom to demonstrate. It is the soldier who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag.1
The last time the Indian soldier featured prominently in the collective consciousness of the nation was when the Kargil skirmish broke out in the summer of 1999. As images of the conflict were beamed directly into our bedrooms for the first time, a patriotic fervour swept the nation.
As the body bags came home, a grateful nation paid rich tribute to the Indian Army and the ordinary soldier.2 For a while, names like Captain Vikram Batra, Havaldar Yogendra Yadav and Captain Anuj Nayyar became household names for their acts of bravery and ultimate sacrifice for the nation.3
Nearly 14 years after that skirmish, Kargil is but a distant memory, an annual ritual to be observed only by the Army at Drass. Since then, the nation has moved on. A generation has grown up in the new, prosperous India full of gleaming glass and chrome buildings that dot our burgeoning cities. New employment avenues have opened up.
There are more people involved in the service sector, working in malls, hospitality industry, restaurants, information technology (IT)-enabled services than ever before. Most of the jobs in India have been created in the service sector in the past decade. Economists say that the fastest employment creation has happened in sectors like financial intermediation, computer services, business services, communications and legal and technical services, followed by education, health and social work, hotels, restaurants, and other community, social and personal services.
With a visible shift in the nature of India’s economic activity has come the inevitable change in the...