The Dunkirk evacuation, codenamed Operation Dynamo, saw the rescue of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) and other Allied soldiers from the French seaport of Dunkirk. It is a fact that by 4th June 1940, nearly 350,000 troops were saved by the Royal British Navy. Brilliantly spinning the retreat/ defeat at Dunkirk into an expression of the “Dunkirk spirit”, Prime Minister Winston Churchill urged British people to display the grit of the British troops and the can-do attitude of civilians who volunteered their ships for the rescue operation. The British soldiers received a Heroes welcome in their country after they were safely evacuated from Dunkirk.
It is believed that Friedrich Paulus, the German General, who was tactfully promoted by Adolf Hitler to the rank of Field Marshal, just a day before he surrendered along with his remaining troops to the Red Army, wanted to put his weapons down much before the actual date of surrender, because he already realised that the battle of Stalingrad, sooner or later, is lost. But he could not do so because he was afraid of the humiliation he and his troops would face, if they would make it back to Germany. They could not even imagine a situation like that of the British soldiers after Dunkirk.
Never in the history of human conflict, was so much owed by so many to so few. Winston Churchill said so during an address to the British empire in honour of the Royal Air Force during the Battle of Britain in World War II.
During the fight for Berlin we’ve already lost 15-20,000 of the younger officers. Adolf Hitler: But that’s what young men are for. [From the movie, Downfall (2004)].
Many such examples in history depict the importance of motivating Soldiers during the war. In the present times, when we are facing a situation that is, if not equal, cannot be said to be less than a war, our actual soldiers/ heroes are the people who are working on the ground. Doctors, hospital support staff, officials from various Government Ministries/ Departments, Police Officers, Sanitation workers et alia.
Amidst our battle with the current situation, an extremely disturbing and terrifying news flashed on our TV and Mobile screens regarding the attack on Madhya Pradesh healthcare workers and civic officials by a mob in an Indore neighborhood, as the team visited the area to screen residents for signs of the virus. It is reported that two women doctors are injured in the attack and were rescued by police officials. The shocking attack came two days after people from the Ranipura area of Indore allegedly spat at officials and abused them during screening procedures. It is further reported that Indore has almost 76% of the total number of Coronavirus cases in the state of Madhya Pradesh. It is also speculated that many of them are suspected to have contracted the virus during and/or after attending the Tablighi Jamat even held in New Delhi in the mid of March 2020.
Reports of attacks on Doctors and misbehaviour with Police & Health Officials have come to light in various parts of the Country and is a matter of utter shock and surprise that even reports of Doctors and other officials not being provided with PPEs have surfaced. In June 2019, about 800,000 doctors across India went on strike to demand better working conditions, following years of complaints about violent attacks from patients’ families. This was triggered by an incident of the brutal assault on a junior Doctor in Kolkata, West Bengal. Indian Medical Association conducted a survey revealing that 75% of doctors have complained of verbal abuse and 12% of physical violence at some point of time in their careers.
Why is it that even during such testing times, we have to see such a situation where our Doctors are not feeling safe? The average years of student life of a Doctor is much more than others who are pursuing professional courses. The pressure upon them is enormous and there is no scope of being callous with their duty. Also, they have to face a lot of jokes about their handwriting. Nonetheless, this is the time to remind ourselves of what “an apple a day” cannot do, only a Doctor can.
The “Thaali Bajao” request by the Prime Minister may have its stock of critics. However, even if we can have one able person to come out and help in whatever way possible to one family of Doctors/ hospital support staff/ Government Servants/ Police Officers/ Sanitation workers etc., living in their neighborhood, it will be of great help to our Soldiers fighting for us on the front. We have examples of battles where even a small contingent of motivated soldiers can defeat an opposition which outnumbers them by a huge margin. Our soldiers here are fighting a battle with an enemy they cannot easily see but the situation is not vice-versa for the enemy.
The Government of India should immediately promulgate an ordinance/ order regarding the safety of Doctors and other Officials who are working day and night for our lives and future of the Country at this time and the same should be given wide publicity. Further stringent provisions of Law should be made for the same purpose when the present situation of a health emergency becomes normal. The Media should also play a more constructive role in it and rather than their usual petty debates on who is to be blamed for the spread of the Virus and which Politician has said what about the other in a Tweet.
It is a matter of fact that many historians say that the reason Hitler lost the war was because, after a point of time, he thought that it was not the soldier who is winning him the war but rather he is the sole reason for the victory of the Soldier(s). Let us not willfully choose to be Hitlers of our lives and devalue the contribution of our Soldiers in this battle. We should not bring this to a point where we make them feel that they are heroes Gotham City needs right now, but not the ones we deserve.
After all, in this war, the “Dunkirk spirit” must outshine the fear of Friedrich Paulus.