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No Fear No Favour

Exclusive: Interview of Group Captain Ashok K. Chordia, who won best story award in Kashi International Film Festival for Shoeshine Boy

By: Aashish Vashistha

In Picture: Group Captain, Mr. Ashok K. Chordia who won prestigious award for the Best Story (right) and for the Best Actor Shaktee Singh (left) in the Long Short Film Category] at Kashi Indian International Film Festival Awards 2022.

May 15, 2022 (New Delhi): In the present scenario when Patriotism has become a much hyped and TRP making topic in prime time debate shows. For some TV Anchors and ‘Netas’, Patriotism is just confined to mere slogans and dress of an Indian Army, Here is a veteran Indian Air Force, Group Captain, Retd. Mr. Ashok K. Chordia who has beautifully presented the idea of Patriotism in a unique way that the love for our mother nation comes from within, from the heart which is pure and sublime and which sees no boundaries and differences. His short story, “Shoe Shine Boy” bagged two awards at the Kashi Indian International Film Festival Awards (KIIFFA), one for the best story and also best actor award in a short film based on his story. For Mr. Chordia, “Everyone is a patriot, contributing their supreme efforts for their beloved nation, Not just men in uniform on borders but people from every sections of the society is doing their bit for our mother nation.” Here’s a short interview with Veteran IAF Group Captain, Mr. Ashok K. Chordia…

In Picture: The boy who taught a exemplary, wonderful lesson on Patriotism to a Veteran Air Force Group Captain. Pic Credit: The Shoeshine Boy.

1. Sir, First of all congratulations as you have bagged two awards at the Kashi Indian International Film Festival Awards in best story as well as best short film category for the Shoeshine Boy. Please tell us something about your experience writing that heart thrilled personal account of a boy who taught a fine lesson on patriotism.

Well, it was one of the most wonderful experience for me when I saw that skinny, skeleton boy who refused to take any money from the Indian Soldiers as a mark of respect and love towards this profession. But the patriotism shown by that little and innocent boy won my heart and compelled me to write this story.

2. Don’t you think , some people in our system not just politicians gets too much limelight which overshadows the work of others in nation building process and being a Veteran Air Force Officer, Have you ever felt that something is missing in our Indian Air Force or any changes you wants to see?

It is a very difficult question to answer because as you have mentioned about the system , I think everyone is doing their best and we are also doing our best so to question what things should be done or what shouldn’t be done, I think it would be wrong. To criticise someone for something would be wrong.

3. In your recent Blog “The Veteran”, you have given a personal account of an Indian Army Officer who was defamed by a person chewing ‘Pan Masala’ but the humane and empathetic reaction of the Army man won everybody’s hearts. Don’t you think sir that in every profession we have to s our duty as a human being first?

Yeah absolutely! We have to respect each other and having said that I also think that we should not categories others as ‘good people’ and ‘bad people’ based on their profession. Everyone is doing their best and there are some people who behave differently but just because of some people we can’t criticise everyone.

4. Having spent more than three decades (30 years) in Air Force, What message you have for the future aspirants and budding Airforce officers and youngsters who have spark and dreams in their eyes to contribute for their beloved country mother India?

If I have to sum up my life in Airforce, I had a wonderful past in Airforce and I would like to give opportunity to some of the aspirants. Even if in next birth god asks me then I would say that I want to join Airforce again. People have a lot of respect for this profession and I have been into many places because of Airforce only. I am very satisfied with my life. So in my next birth, I want to relive those experiences of Airforce.

5. Sir tell us something about your thrilling experience of “Operation Cactus ” which was a coup attempt to rescue President of Maldives with courage, valour and smart diplomacy which is inspiration for many upcoming generation of youngsters who wants to join the Indian Airforce.

Before I tell you anything about this military operation, I must say that there’s always uncertainty in this profession. We got a call from the then Indian Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi to rescue the President of Maldives, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. There was a big risk but with military intelligence the aircraft landed there and everyone was rescued from the island and it was one of the biggest victory for the Indian Airforce.

6. Sir you are a retired Air Force Officer but in your blogs you have mentioned ‘re- attired’ so still you have dreams in your eyes and that’s why you are writing blogs I guess. What made you realise that you can be a successful author besides your major profession?

That’s true, You can keep learning in every phase of your life. Learning keeps you alive, So I keep learning from life. And as you said, I have also learned a unforgettable and incredible lesson on patriotism from that little skinny and skeleton boy that everyone is a patriot and the loves for our nation comes from within.

Picture Credit: The Shoeshine Boy.

8. I don’t know if you are comfortable in asking this question but as you just said that nobody becomes patriot just by wearing a certain dress, we have to execute those values and we all are patriot so there’s a heating debate going on around every corners of the country regarding Hindi being a national language or not. So what’s your take on this episode of linguistic chauvinism? Do you think there’s a need for a common national language to unite everyone?

I think the love for our country comes from within. It doesn’t see any language or anything else. So far the language is concerned, there should be a single united language to bind every citizen of the country in one thread. We have so many languages in our country so it’s quite difficult to use only single language. So it’s way much important to educate people on the necessity of having a single national language be it Hindi, English or any other language.

9. Are you looking forward to make a movie based on your book “Operation Cactus”?

It would be great if any movie would feature the story of this daring military operation in their movie. Although, Discovery Channel has made a documentary on this particular operation. And still some people approached for making a movie on this operation.

10. Being a teenager and Youngster I want to ask you a very important question that there are many youngsters who wants to follow their passion like so many people have spark to join the Airforce or any other profession but they are forced to follow their parents dreams. What’s your take on one of the biggest insecurity faced by Youngsters of India?

I would like to advice such parents that once a child crossed their mid teens then parents must try to encourage them in their dreams rather than imposing their own dreams on them. Parents have to support their children in every phase of life especially in the pursuit of their goals.

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