The Indian Army has a long and glorious past. Much of its history is recorded in service under the Crown. The participation of its troops in the two world wars in very significant numbers was largely responsible for the survival of the British nation and its Empire. In the fifty-three years since securing independence from Britain, free India's Army has had to fight four major wars (1947-48, 1962, 1965, and 1971). It fought a high intensity and demanding local conflict in Kargil in 1999. It has been deployed in Jammu and Kashmir since 1947 and has been conducting counter insurgency operations in that State since 1989. It has been conducting counter insurgency operations in the North East since the mid-fifties. It was deployed to aid civil authorities in curbing the activities of anti-national forces in the Punjab during the late 1980s and early 1990s. It has carried out overseas operations in support of neighbours like Sri Lanka and the Maldives. In addition, it has carried out a host of activities in support of the civilian establishment ranging from assistance in the maintenance of law and order, assistance in times of natural calamities, maintenance of essential services when disrupted by strikes, and so on. It is an Army comprising about a million men and women in uniform; apparently the fourth largest in the world. Even so, it is a matter of some irony that most of our fellow countrymen know next to nothing about what makes the Indian Army such a marvelous organization to serve in and be part of. Notwithstanding all the travails that go with Army life, whether it be in the remotest corners of our borders, on the dizzy mountain peaks, the jungles or the deserts, or even the so-called 'peace' stations, there is something unique about the brotherhood and camaraderie that sustains the soldier and his family.
It is this undefinable yet potent facet that Ms. Deepti has managed to encapsulate in this book through the medium of her experiences. She does so with a subdued sense of humour (a quality without which it is difficult to survive in the Army) and ease of narration that makes delightful reading. To the average Army officer's wife it would traverse terrain she is familiar with; even so, she will feel compelled to share Deepti's experiences more fully. To most Army officers, it will be a journey down memory lane; to the young officers, a light-hearted introduction to what lies ahead. To the rest of the English speaking (and reading) community in the country and abroad, it will provide an insight into the social and family activities of the officer cadre in the Indian Army.
It is possibly only right that attention be drawn to the fact, that in enjoying what Deepti has given us in her narration, we do not lose sight of another perspective of life in the Army. That of the sorrows and miseries of those brave women and children who suffer the loss of their loved ones due to war or accident. Nor does the book cover the experiences of the families of the rank and file of the India Army. But that is not the purpose of the book Deepti has written. Here is a collection of warm and lilting memories.
Back Of Book
The Army conjures up images of gun-wielding men in olive green, of battles fought in inaccessible regions, a life that is fraught with peril. But life in the Army can be fun too-and this is what comes across in this delightful book. Arms and the woman is the personal account of an Army wife, Formerly an Army child! From postings to 'breaking in' new recruits, from fringe benefits to festivities, from welfare activities to fiction within the ranks-the author's reminiscences are full of observation and wit.
Author's reminiscences are full of observation and wit. Interspersed with these moments are experiences so common to most women as to be pleasantly familiar-be it managing domestic help, laundering or the more serious issue of motherhood.
Racy and humorous, the book describes facets of life of men in uniform that are not commonly explored. It is likely to be enjoyed by readers in the Army as well as those out of it!
Deepti Menon is a post-graduate in English Literature and holds a diploma in journalism. She has written for a number of magazines and publications but this is her maiden attempt at a full-fledged book. Arms and the woman is her loving tribute to the 'wonderful organisation which has nurtured her over the years.'
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