Gul Panag says the police, those who have to fly planes or drive essential services that cater to the basic transport, medics, chemists, grocery store owners, the garbage collector… these are our new soldiers.
As a person proud of her family’s army background, Gul Panag understands that “duty is above everything else”. And so even when the nation grappled with the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and her husband Rishi Attari had to fly planes from one place to another as a commercial pilot, ensuring people reach their homes, she was worried, but knew “what’s got to be done, got to be done”.
Panag, who’s balancing home, fitness and mommy duties, heaved a sigh of relief when her husband returned home after the authorities shut down domestic airspace on March 24, as her “biggest fear” was he’ll be stuck somewhere else and she’ll see him only after 21 days.
“We (my husband and I) come from three generations of Armed Forces, so we understand that duty is above everything else. Earlier, the frontiers were manned by soldiers. Today, we have new frontiers, and new custodians of our security and those are the police, those who have to fly planes or drive essential services that cater to the basic transport, medics, chemists, grocery store owners, the garbage collector… these are our new soldiers,” says the 41-year-old.
“This is a new war that has unleashed a new kind of an enemy and made us realise the value of different kind of soldier,” she asserts.
The magnitude of the crisis, Panag feels, makes one understand that “difficult times call for very difficult measures”. And so, she salutes the government’s courage for taking an “unprecedented and extremely decisive step” of a complete lockdown.
All in all, Panag is confident this phase will change people “fundamentally”, especially in terms of empathy and self-sufficiency. “It’ll make you realise you can do everything… When I first set up my house as a 20-year-old in Delhi, after winning Miss India (in 1999), I used to do jhaadu, pocha… I used to wash clothes without a washing machine, and cook. And then with time, I had a cleaning person, cook, then a washing machine,” she recounts, sharing how she now feels life’s coming a full circle for her 21 years later.