Rather have The Sound of Silence. | World Defense

Rather have The Sound of Silence.

Joe Shearer

Nov 25, 2017
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I thought I was alone. I thought as I watched every Beating the Retreat ceremony for the last two years, from 2016 onwards alone, that my family roots in the rituals followed in the old Indian Army and Indian Navy, and the Imperial Indian Police, had spoilt me for life. I thought any change, however well-liked by the aam janata, could not help irritating me, because I didn't like change. It seemed sad that the excellent police pipe bands that played Fallen Laddie or Scotland the Brave or Cock o' the North should now be playing garbled and shrill-toned versions of Bollywood hits.

The worst was this year's Beating the Retreat.

It was sad to see that the same spirit of making dancing monkeys and bears on a leash of our serving men, and making them go through the ridiculous routines at the Wagah Checkpost during the flag lowering ceremony has got a grip on the minds of our senior officers. We had to see our bandsmen swaying like dancing girls doing a Bombay bar-girl routine, we had to see military bands replaced by orchestras, and we had to hear military instruments replaced by Indian classical instruments, playing Indian classical musical routines. I like Indian classical music immensely, whether the north Indian Hindustani version, or the richer, yet grammatically more austere Carnatic variety, but not in the middle of a military ceremony representing a certain heritage and a legacy.

There were all kinds of new-fangled and sadly unsuccessful routines; they were depressing to watch.

I cannot help feeling that the supersession of three senior officers and picking the fourth was not without foundation. Whether it was to work as construction labourers for the Art of Living fraud, or the furious assault on the Navy mounted by a thwarted minister, a father who saw his son's pet project stopped in its tracks by the Navy's refusal to give it security clearance, or whether it was the speaking to a script of our Chief of Army Staff, it has been embarrassing from start to finish.

It seems that I am not alone.

Beating Retreat ceremony with nationalised flavour disappoints many, writes @ajaishukla http://mybs.in/2VkUGvd

Thank Heavens. I was beginning to think that I was going off my rocker, and seeing visions of things that didn't exist, or hearing sounds not to be heard by anyone else. What I hated has got under the skin of other people as well, respectable people, people that nobody suspects of being eccentric.

I hope we can return to Fallen Laddie, and Colonel Bogey, along with more recent tunes by our military musicians.