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The Ranjana Malik Chat

'It is most important for the widow to feel that her husband's sacrifice has not been in vain'

Dr Ranjana Malik, president of the Army Wives Welfare Association and army chief General Ved Prakash Malik's wife, speaks about the heroism in the Kargil conflict in an eloquent chat.

Mahesh (Tue Jul 27 1999 4:59 IST)
Hello Dr Malik, despite the declaration that the war is over, the fighting still continues. Why the facade of peace when none exists?

Dr Ranjana Malik (Tue Jul 27 1999 5:28 IST)
Mahesh: A war was never declared. There was fighting at the Line of Control even before the Kargil conflict and fighting continues even now at the LoC. But all the intruders have been evicted from our side of the LoC.

Dr Ranjana Malik (Tue Jul 27 1999 5:30 IST)
Good evening. I have already answered one question and am here to answer the rest. I would like to state that AWWA is the human face of the army and we stand for caring for the families of the soldiers.

Shanti (Tue Jul 27 1999 5:5 IST)
Hi Mrs Mailk, madam a lot of money has been collected worldwide for the Kargil funds, how does it all work? Who channelises the money? Who is the head of disbursing the money to the deserving families?

Dr Ranjana Malik (Tue Jul 27 1999 5:33 IST)
Shanti: The army controls all the money which comes into the Army Central Welfare Fund. The money from the National Defence Fund will also be coming into this account. The Adjutant General of the Army manages the Army Central Welfare Fund. And all the welfare schemes are coordinated by the AWWA and the Adjutant General.

Jayesh (Tue Jul 27 1999 5:7 IST)
Hello, I just wish to salute the women behind our courageous men who send them to battle. What is the mental attitude required to be the wife of a soldier?

Dr Ranjana Malik (Tue Jul 27 1999 5:37 IST)
Jayesh: Thank you for the salute to all the army wives. The army wife is courageous, brave, supportive, patient and she understands the demands of her husband's profession. She encourages her husband to give his best to the profession and the nation. She stands by him through thick and thin. She goes through periods of anguish, despair, pain and anxiety and she masks all these feelings while she looks after the home front with a prayer in her heart!

Kirti Verma (Tue Jul 27 1999 5:12 IST)
Good evening Dr Malik: With the Kargil conflict over, what has been AWWA's role so far? How has the conflict affected the functioning and morale of the organisation?

Dr Ranjana Malik (Tue Jul 27 1999 5:43 IST)
Kirti Verma: The role of the AWWA is continuous. We have been actively involved in looking after our families ever since AWWA came into being in 1966. The army has been fighting continuously, whether it be war or counter-insurgency. I wonder how may people are aware that in the last 10 years, the Indian army has suffered 4,441 casualties and almost 10,000 wounded and some permanently disabled. The above figures does not include the Kargil casualties.

Our work involves reaching out to the widows to help rehabilitate them, to reassure them that the organisation is with them, to help them get all their emoluments and jobs, and it is most important for the widow to feel that her husband's supreme sacrifice has not been in vain. And that the nation will remember the martyr for all times to come. We have been looking after the critically wounded and disabled soldiers, looking after the education of our martyred soldiers, and providing vocational training to families to help them stand on their feet. Taking care of families while the men are on the front, fighting a pitched battle, is one of our important roles.

Ashok (Tue Jul 27 1999 5:19 IST)
Hi Dr Malik, Music companies are releasing tapes. If the customers buy them, the money goes to the Kargil fund. You have big ads by companies donating x amount from the items you purchase from that company. Various socialites are throwing parties and shows and concerts for the Kargil victims. Do you think this kind of branding by using real life tragedy is fair? Should advertising companies continue this practise?

Dr Ranjana Malik (Tue Jul 27 1999 5:45 IST)
Ashok: No, I don't think companies should market their products using martyrdom of the soldiers as a prop.

Fouji (Tue Jul 27 1999 5:31 IST)
Good evening madam, honoured to meet you. Please let us know what the AWWA plans to do with the brave soldiers maimed in the conflict?

Dr Ranjana Malik (Tue Jul 27 1999 5:51 IST)
Fouji: We are particularly concerned about the permanently disabled soldiers, who have to spend a lifetime without arms or legs, with perforating injuries of the eyes or with multiple gunshot wounds. There are numerous questions about how they will live without their limbs or how they will look after their families once out of the army.

We are going all out to ensure that the best of treatment and the best of artificial limbs are provided to them. Vocational training for the disabled, provision of dwelling units, providing, for the first time, an ex gratia payment to the disabled soldiers, will all help them in their rehabilitation. It would help if the state governments and business houses came forward with reservation of jobs for our disabled soldiers.

Sanjai K (Tue Jul 27 1999 5:35 IST)
Dr Malik, when soldiers are being killed during this overt attack by Pakistan and its militants, we suddenly see a rush of sympathy. But when our soldiers were already being killed on a daily basis by the same Pakistani forces in the interior of J&K, the nation doesn't significantly react. What is your feeling on the discrepancy in public reaction?

Dr Ranjana Malik (Tue Jul 27 1999 5:55 IST)
Sanjai K: People claim to be blissfully unaware of what has been happening at our borders. While we have been projecting the case of our young widows and the disabled soldiers, the nation has never responded. Now the media has brought the conflict into the drawing rooms, hence the emotional upsurge of feelings for the soldiers is overwhelming. Regretfully, public memory is very short. We would not like people to forget the sacrifices made by our brave soldiers. And we would also like people to respect the soldiers who are even today fighting the enemy.

Sanjai K (Tue Jul 27 1999 5:40 IST)
Dr Malik, how do army spouses feel when they see Left-wing politicians castigating the army on a daily basis, and then suddenly doing a U-turn to feign sympathy for military personnel during a crisis?

Dr Ranjana Malik (Tue Jul 27 1999 5:57 IST)
Sanjai K: Very Sad!

Princess (Tue Jul 27 1999 5:40 IST)
Dr Malik, the government has announced increased relief for war widows, like LPG connections etc.... Are you happy with this, or is this too little, too late?

Dr Ranjana Malik (Tue Jul 27 1999 6:3 IST)
Princess: The financial packet announced for the widows is by and large satisfactory, but it is imperative for them to be given a built up dwelling unit, which would them provide them security. Collective effort by the society to rehabilitate them will go a long way!

Sarkar (Tue Jul 27 1999 5:44 IST)
Your husband is close to the government. So he can persuade the administration to provide more funds for the families of those killed, and injured. Do you think the government has done enough in this matter, Madam?

Sanjai K (Tue Jul 27 1999 5:48 IST)
Dr Malik, should public support to the military be continuous and year-round, or should it only be given in a crisis, at the last minute?

Dr Ranjana Malik (Tue Jul 27 1999 6:8 IST)
Sarkar and Sanjai K: While the government is doing its bit, it is equally imperative, if not more so, that members of society also provide financial and moral support to the soldiers at all times. The soldier needs to know that the nation cares!

Punan (Tue Jul 27 1999 5:57 IST)
You are a doctor, would you tell us how many of injured soldiers would live a normal life and how many would be crippled for life? Will they have to run for the money that the government has announced for them or would they get it in the hospitals where they are under treatment or at their respective places once they go home?

Dr Ranjana Malik (Tue Jul 27 1999 5:59 IST)
Punan: The government has been very responsive to all our suggestions. While AWWA will take care of all the treatment, the modalities of payment of funds is worked out by the Adjutant General.

Kirti Verma (Tue Jul 27 1999 6:5 IST)
Dr Malik in which hospitals are most of our soldiers being treated at? Have any soldiers been admitted to private hospitals as well?

Dr Ranjana Malik (Tue Jul 27 1999 6:9 IST)
Kirti: All the soldiers are being treated at the military hospitals.

Palash (Tue Jul 27 1999 6:0 IST)
In India every organization has been hit by a scam? Has there been one in your organisation?

Dr Ranjana Malik (Tue Jul 27 1999 6:10 IST)
Palash: NO!!

Roma (Tue Jul 27 1999 5:44 IST)
Generally, after a war soldier is forgotten. Do you agree with this point of view?

Dr Ranjana Malik (Tue Jul 27 1999 6:11 IST)
Roma: Your statement is sadly true!

guru (Tue Jul 27 1999 5:48 IST)
Jai Hind Dr Malik. I was wondering if you agree with the government's decision to exempt from income tax any contributions to the Army Welfare Fund. I mean, if contributions are voluntary and should come from the heart why is there a need to offer any incentive?

Dr Ranjana Malik (Tue Jul 27 1999 6:13 IST)
guru: Why look a gift horse in the mouth?

Kirti Verma (Tue Jul 27 1999 5:40 IST)
Dr Malik, your definition of the army wife is a moving one. As a matter of fact, Kargil has had a humbling affect on us Indians. Is the AWWA happy with this response? Do you think this public euphoria will last?

Dr Ranjana Malik (Tue Jul 27 1999 6:18 IST)
Kirti: There is a tremendous responsibility and all members of AWWA are working actively to fulfill our commitments. It has been a challenging period, but very satisfying. We have established personal contact with all the people fighting on the front. Personal hand written notes have been sent by me to the Commanding Officers and the Subedar Majors of all units; sweets are being sent to all the soldiers with handwritten notes from members of AWWA. This shows the soldier that we care, and pray for him to come back victorious.

Gopi (Tue Jul 27 1999 6:8 IST)
Did you go to the hospital and see the injured soldiers for yourself and what was your experience? Would you like to share it with others?

Dr Ranjana Malik (Tue Jul 27 1999 6:21 IST)
Gopi: I have been repeatedly visiting all the hospitals. You feel sad when you see the injured soldiers, but you feel so proud and elated when you see their spirit and 'josh'. As a doctor, I spend a lot of time reassuring the soldiers that the best will be done for them. They have to be constantly reassured to keep their morale and spirits up.

Dr Ranjana Malik (Tue Jul 27 1999 6:22 IST)
To ALL: Good night! I'd just like to say that we need your solidarity, your support and your compassion. Help the soldier to keep his "izzat"!