I’ve heard that the joy of creating something you’re passionate about is unparalleled to most other things in your life. But my team and I only experienced it first-hand on August 15, 2020, when The Defence Archive came into being for the first time. After 2 whole months of intense work on ideation, collaboration, design and delivery, we set TDA up exactly a year ago. With a strong passion for the Indian Military, a deep respect for their sacrifices and a drive to bring their work to our audience, we started off on this journey. Now, a whole year and innumerable experiences later, I can happily say that The Defence Archive has made an impact. With a team of over 30 members, with 80 + articles on our website, we have collaborated with more than 25 Military veterans, established our social media presence and reached a readership base of over 4500 readers. But more than the numbers, The Defence Archive believes in spirit; and it is the spirit of the team, our writers, our readers and most importantly, the spirit of India’s men and women in uniform who guard us, that kept us going throughout the last year. As we celebrate our first birthday, we recount the best experiences of the past year.
We, at The Defence Archive, have interviewed around 30 Military veterans in the past year. To say that each one of those interactions were inspiring would be an understatement. Each veteran was different from the other in so many ways but there were a few things that tied them all together. They were full of heart, they knew the meaning of hard work and perseverance and they had an unparalleled love for their country. For them, this interview might have just been another virtual interaction. But for each one of us at TDA, every interview day was a learning rollercoaster in itself. Whether it was hearing a veteran talk about their time in training or hear them fondly describe their first posting, or grimly narrate their brush with terror, or recount the joys and losses of being in the Force- each word of these conversations stayed back with us long after the interview ended. Before this, we’d only heard that the men and women of the Indian Armed Forces were made of steel, resolve and passion. But in the last year, we’ve been immensely lucky to have witnessed it first hand and cherished it.
Most of us in the TDA team were people who already had a penchant for the Armed forces, either by virtue of belonging to a Defence background or by sheer interest. When we started off, we confidently claimed to know enough about the olive green, blue and white services of India. But once actual work started, we were jolted into reality by how little of Military history we knew. Even putting all our knowledge together would only cover the tip of the iceberg that India’s Military is. Fortunately, this, I believe, was the best way for us to start. From that day to the day I’m writing this, it has been the striving goal of each member of this team to bring as much of this history to light, to the people of India. Whether it’s the tale of a Brigadier who put himself in the direct line of fire to stop Pakistani invasion or an aircraft carrier that’s in the Guinness Book of Records, The Defence Archive pledges to cover it with dedication, precision and passion. And that sincerity has been our greatest strength till date.
TDA is not a full time venture. What I mean by that is, all the members of the team are pursuing some academic or professional pursuit in their lives. This leaves us with little free time on hand. But in spite of the tight schedules and highly demanding formal pursuits, this team has always stepped up to cover for each other and to cover for TDA. There have been some extremely busy months in the past year but I can say this with the greatest amount of pride that The Defence Archive has never missed releasing a single issue that it planned on time. I owe this to the tenacity of my team to deliver even in stressful situations.
But the past year has not been entirely rosy, either. As a small venture run by young professionals, we lacked the power to go big right from the beginning. There have been days when articles have lesser views, posts have lesser likes and the subscriber and follower count declines. While we acknowledge that numbers do matter, as an Archive, we’re mostly people of words. It has been a consistent understanding in TDA that even a single person reading our work and learning more about a soldier, a battle tank or a Military operation, is more important to us than big numbers that don’t translate into awareness. For us, all it takes to bounce back is one positive reader review, one new subscriber or even just a post share! We maintained this back then and we maintain this now- TDA was built for the purpose of bridging the gap between the Indian Military and Indian civilians. And that’s the vision we’ll continue to work towards.
Ultimately, and most importantly, each person at TDA is immensely grateful to each reader who’s ever landed up on the TDA page or watched any of our broadcasts on the Web. As a small organization, we put in a great amount of effort into everything that we do. It’s heartening to see that our work is being appreciated and our efforts are being taken cognizance of. After reaching here, we have some big plans for TDA and we hope that you’ll continue supporting us just like you have in our first year in the world.
As I finish this, I am reminded of a dialogue from one of my favourite films, the war drama Lakshya-
“Iss desh ke 100 Crore insaan jo iss vishwaas ke saath sote hain ki mein aur tum jaag rahe hain. Ye vishwaas bahut badi izzat hai aur bahut badi zimmedari bhi.”
It is this honour and responsibility that the Indian Armed Forces have been carrying ceaselessly for the last seven decades. This country owes a lot to its Forces and while nothing we do will ever repay the sacrifices of the men and women who guard us, TDA is a small start in acknowledgement and respect. The Defence Archive is our small token of gratitude to the Indian Army that stands as tall as the Himalayas to guard our borders, to the Indian Air Force that guards India’s skies fearlessly and to the Indian Navy that keeps her waters and her land safe, even amidst the roughest waves. The Defence Archive is a sign of respect for India’s first, last and strongest line of Defence.