Land of the brave: Here’s to the lesser known heroes of India

Flood-affected Kashmiri residents ride on an Indian Army raft in Srinagar on September 11, 2014. The floods and landslides from days of heavy monsoon rains have now claimed more than 450 lives in Pakistan and India, with hospitals struggling to cope with the disaster. AFP PHOTO/ PUNIT PARANJPE


By Aishwarya Nag Choudhury

The flood-like situations that are being experienced in parts of the country have spread havoc. The Indian army and police involved in rescue operations are trying to restore railway tracks and clear up the damage inflicted by the floods. The air force is continuously air-dropping food and other supplies to the affected areas as a part of their relief operations. In the midst of mud, water, suffering and chaos, there are numerable stories of humanity, bravery and hope.

As the nation-wide death toll escalates, the country still struggles to combat the damages. The army has helped in evacuating over 1000 people and helping more than 2400. But what should not to be ignored are the fascinating stories of humanity and courage that some from the rescue operations team have framed.

Among the many stories of bravery, a striking one is that of Havaldar Yousouf, Gujarat police from Shervo village. The remote village was adversely affected by the floods and the lone road connecting it to neighbouring Hudco village was wrecked, making communication difficult.

The army planned an evacuation for the village that was to be done on foot. Villagers were made to cross cuts of fast water with a support of a rope and a human chain by the army, trying to slow the tide of the water. The nearest village was 13kms away. While evacuating, on one such cut, a woman slipped and fell along with her infant into the lowing tide.

Havaldar Yousouf, noticing this, displayed immense courage and jumped into the water to rescue them.  Sources say, that he swam across to the woman, grabbed her infant and kept him over the surface of the water and led both mother and child back to safety.

Another heart-warming story that also came from Shervo village was of Gunner Sudhir Yadav. The gunner spotted a dog in deep water, struggling for survival. Being an animal lover himself, he swam across to the animal and rescued him. He then insisted on carrying the dog back to safety and had to carry the struggling animal with his hands for 7 kms through the flooded village.

When we see ideologies of democracy being questioned in the capital, the country falling victim to terror attacks while facing a combination of a natural and made-made disasters, the nation looks like a tragedy of errors.

However, the rescue operations by the army and the police forces, and examples of bravery and courage shown by Havaldar Yousouf and Gunner Sudhir Yadav ensure that humanity continues to exist through the chaos and turmoil.

They exemplify not only humanity and kindness but also the way they have used bravery, at the risk of their lives to save others. It does not make one a ‘man’ to show authority at home and abuse ones partner to establish that. Bravery comes from selfless sacrifice. As Elmer David, Professor of Classics at Harvard University succinctly puts it “A Nation will remain free, so long as it is the land of the brave.”