Powai, Fri, 15 Jan 2021: Students from Bunt Sangha’s SM Shetty International School and Junior College, as part of their ongoing Language and Literature week, Lit-Livewire 2021 wrote letters to Indian Armed Forces personnel. The process was facilitated by Aritra Banerjee, an alumnus of the school and a defence journalist presently associated with Mission Victory India; a ’71 war veteran led military features and opinion publication and magazine.
Speaking about the initiative SMSISJC Principal, Mildred Lobo said, “On the occasion of the 73rd Army Day, the students at SM Shetty International School wrote letters to our valiant soldiers who brave the extreme weathers and keep our nation safe. Writing letters of gratitude to the brave soldiers and defence personnel was one of the major highlights of the literary week celebrations ‘Lit wire – Literary Event’ held at the School between 11 to 15 January.”
The school, as part of the weeklong event, had organised an online seminar on ‘Defence Journalism as a growing niche’ and invited ‘Mission Victory India’ Co-Founder Aritra Banerjee to give a talk at his alma mater on 13 January. “We were privileged to have our alumni Mr. Aritra Banerjee, who is working as a defence journalist to join us as a guest Speaker.” Said SMSISJC Coordinator, Anamika Sharma.
“He spoke about his journey and gave insights on the tough life of armed forces personnel, the emerging field of defence journalism and the challenges and sensitivities attached with the job. He also shared some adventurous and thrilling stories about his encounters with military personnel deployed at the nation’s vast frontiers.” Elaborated the Coordinator.
She went on to say, “Our students, in response, wrote letters to our beloved soldiers expressing their love, respect and gratitude for all that they do for our safety. It served as a very meaningful and letter writing activity inculcating a sense of gratitude in the students.”
The principal expressed her own profound gratitude towards the armed forces with a letter along with the students. The letters were subsequently sent to the concerned defence authorities on Army Day 2021. Several young officers and jawans serving in the field areas like the Kashmir Valley and Eastern Ladakh have appreciated the gesture and expressed their gratitude towards the students.
When asked about what he felt about the initiative and how it felt to address students from his alma mater, Banerjee said, “It was a truly humbling experience for me to be able to share my limited insight to students at the school I grew up in.”
He further stated, “I sincerely hope that even if I could inspire one student to even consider giving journalism a shot, regardless of beat, then that for me is a win and would be an immensely satisfying feeling knowing that I could give back to an institution which significantly moulded me, at a crucial juncture in my life.”
When asked about the significance of the letters, he said, “Life in the military, be it as…say an infantryman in the army, a submariner in the navy or a fighter pilot in the air force or even those serving in support roles is arduous to say the least. The job depending on the role can be physically and/or psychologically demanding. Military life is often fraught with risk to life and limb and more often than not comes with a considerable emotional toll.”
The reporter went on to say, “There is no other domain where a culmination of such hardships accumulates on a near daily basis as much as in the forces, so when students take part in an exercise as rudimentary as writing letters to the troops, the impact it has on the morale of those receiving it is considerable. We all (including those in uniform) at times find ourselves asking questions about whether what we do really matters or truly makes a difference; knowing that a classroom full of students genuinely care, in my opinion helps answer some of those burning questions within.”
Colonel Vinay B Dalvi (Retd) a ’71 war veteran, author and founder of Mission Victory India too expressed his appreciation towards the initiative, “It is truly heartwarming to know that the bright young minds of our nation acknowledge and take an effort to bring a smile on a young soldiers face, it makes a world of difference to the morale of the troops, deployed in austere environments, to be assured that their sacrifices matter and inspire a generation of bright young minds, it makes the job that much more sacred and worth doing.”
Army Day is celebrated every year on 15 Jan to commemorate the historic event when Lieutenant General (Later Field Marshal) K M Cariappa took over the reins as Commander-in-Chief of Indian Army from Lieutenant General Sir Francis Butcher, the last imperial British Commander-in-Chief.