‘The Force behind the Forces: Stories of brave Indian Army Wives’ is a non-fiction book written by author Swapnil Pandey who is a bestselling Indian defence author and is published by Penguin Random House in November 2021. The book is based on real-life stories from the Indian Army. It is an attempt to highlight the extraordinary and also heart-wrenching journey of our Killed In Action soldiers and their brave wives who have suffered the greatest loss of their lives. While there have been books on wars and our soldiers glorifying only the battlefield this is one of those rare books that hope to tell people that our soldiers are much more than that and their families are no less.
The book has been written by Swapnil Pandey who works closely around life in defence and issues around it. She is hugely popular on social media among defence aspirants and NCC cadets who find their daily inspiration in her. This is her third book and the fact that the author herself is an Army wife makes this book authentic and provides a greater depth of emotions. It would surely inspire many and also enlighten people about how women behind the forces are also selflessly serving this nation in their own way. It is not always necessary to wear a uniform to serve the nation.
We can never repay what our immortals have done and what these women have lost for the nation, but we surely can tell their stories to inspire generations and raise the next lot of young men and women with the right idols, It is for them to know how freedom is just not about guns and weapons but more about families, emotions, ethos, and spirit.
The book comprises seven real-life stories as follows
- The Nation Cried With Her: Lt Nitika Kaul and Major Vibhuti Shankar Dhoundiyal
- An Eternal Love Story: Trupti Nair and Major Shashidharan Nair
- Never Give Up: Major Priya Semwal and Naik Amit Sharma
- The Last Gift: Sujata Chaudhury and Major Satish Dahiya
- Two Bodies, One Soul: Sarika Gulati and Lt Col Rajesh Gulati
- An Empowered Woman: Jaya Mahto and Lance Naik Rajkumar Mahto
- The Kargil Love Story: Sowmya Nagappa and Captain Naveen Nagappa
Each story is chosen on some unique prospect in a manner that inspires generations to come that true valour, courage and strength can be found even at the darkest of all the times. These extraordinary stories also tell people that true love still exists and Army wives are a class apart. It is their strength that inspires our soldiers at the border to sacrifice their lives for the nation knowing very well that the woman back at home who they have married will look after everything well they are leaving behind. Be it the ailing parents or be it the small children they hoped to see growing. Writing these stories was emotionally challenging for the author because at the end of the day these stories are stories of great losses which are irreplaceable. The author spent sleepless nights and tearful days during the journey of this book. But she wrote it with a purpose. A purpose which was given to her by women like Karuna Chauhan wife of Lt Cdr DS Chauhan who sacrificed his life protecting the flagship of India INS Vikramaditya who once told the author that how she was desperately googling ‘how Veer Naris cope with the grief of losing their husbands in the line of duty but she could not find the answer.’ Karuna had only spent 15 days with her husband and he was martyred protecting the pride of India INS Vikramaditya. Then, there are women like Salma Shafeeq Ghori, wife of Major Shafeeq Ghori who sacrificed his life in the year 2001 in a gun battle fighting against the terrorists in Operation Rakshak. She was very young then yet she managed to lead her life with complete pride and dignity and raise her children well even in the absence of her husband. She told the author that ‘He was, is, and will always be my Forever and you all should know that for your tomorrow we (Veer Naris) gave our today.’
The author hopes that this book will not only answer all such women and give them strength but Force behind the Forces will also tell these Veer Naris that they are not alone and during the darkest of times courage appears. As wife of a soldier they also became a soldier and serve the nation in their own way without even a uniform to call their own.
Though author Swapnil pandey had also been successful in finding one happy story in the form of Captain Naveen Nagappa the Kargil War veteran (a hero) and his lovely wife Sowmya Nagppa where there is indeed a happily ever after. The book is also blessed to have been blessed with kind words from Veer Mata like Mrs Meghna Girish mother of braveheart Major Akshaya Girish where she also shares an interesting glimpse of her life and role as Veer Mata, a woman married to a fighter pilot and also as an Army brat. The foreword is written by Mrs Damyanti Tambay Wife of Flt Lt Vijay Vasant Tambay who was one of the 54 Missing-in-action defence personnel in 1971 India -Pakistan war. She is also Arjuna Awardee (Badminton) & President, of War Widows Association, New Delhi.
Though the major highlights and sheer privilege of this book the Force behind the Forces were to be launched by Dr. V. Mohini Giri, Padam Bhushan. Born before the independence of India, Dr Mohini Giri is not only a social activist or an Indian Community service worker but also a champion for women’s rights in India. She has been Chairperson of the Guild of Service, a New Delhi-based social service organization. Established in 1979, which provides advocacy for women’s and children rights for education, employment, and financial security. She also founded War Widows Association, New Delhi in 1972. She has also remained Chairperson of the National Commission for Women (1995-1998). What made the occasion more special was that the book was launched at the War Widow Association itself amidst the presence of War widows from all across India on the occasion of their 50th glorious golden Jubliee celebrations of the War Widow Association.
The writer Swapnil Pandey had a nerve-racking journey during writing this book when many times she even thought about giving up on the stories but after getting the generous support of these icons of women she feels her writing journey is completed and the book has been fruitful. Meeting Dr V Mihini Giri was an extremely nostalgic and emotional moment for her after all it is not every day that you meet a beacon of hope for millions of women all across the globe and find her launching your book. She feels extremely proud and fortunate to not only write the stories of incredible women who chose her to trust with their most precious memories but after the publication of the book she had the privilege of meeting the greatest Indian women of all times.
The pdf of Force behind the Forces also mentions various Indian army officers the brother in arms of the fellow officer who made the supreme sacrifice. It was overwhelming for the author to receive the generous support various Indian Army units and their officers and jawan extended to honour the memory of their lost comrades. Everyone came forward and shared the anecdotes of happier times and grief of losing the fellow man in uniform who went away too soon but then all the brave Indian army soldiers acclaim that this is the way for a soldier to go with a bullet in his heart.
Now the book is available on online platforms like Amazon, Flipkart and e-reading devices like Kindle for you to order along with its nationwide presence in the bookstores near you. It is one of those top 10 books which must be read once in a lifetime. You can also include it in the top 10 romance books of all time because it is in this book you will feel what true love looks like and you can also include it in the top 10 Indian Army books one must read because the book comprises many counter-insurgency and heroic operations and will give you goosebumps when you will take a peek into the life of our real heroes. In nutshell, it is one of those patriotic books which must be read by every Indian once in a lifetime. The book price hardly costs around Rs 300 and if you buy smartly you get various discounts on online platforms. But this book must be read by every Indian to know that a soldier never fights alone but it is his entire family who is at the battle at all times. We must respect the family members of our soldiers especially of those who immortalised and made supreme sacrifice. It will be our true tribute and it is the least we can do for our soldiers.
Here is the link to buy the book. Not just the editing of the book but the cover of such a glorious book was also challenging for the graphics designers of team penguin random house who eventually came up with thirteen glorious covers. Finally, one with combat shoes of a soldier and his wife and tank at the bottom was selected for the book which justifies the stories from the world of Indian Armed Forces aptly. A true inside peek written by an Army wife swapnil pandey herself who has been married into the tribe for the past 13 years.
These are real-life stories of Bravehearts who made supreme sacrifices for the nation, and their very courageous spouses. There is valour, grief, strength and determination. With romance and duty inter-woven, each story touches the heart, and brings tears as well as admiration.
It is tough to be a soldier, and even tougher to be his better half. Swapnil, with her depth of feeling and word power, leaves you with pathos and great respect for every veer nari.
― Gen. V. P. Malik, PVSM, AVSM, ADC, Former Chief of the Army Staff
Swapnil Pandey chooses to dwell upon a segment of the Armed Forces fraternity, whose contribution has always been recognized but hardly written about. Mothers, wives, sisters and daughters silently bear the torture of separation and the agony of permanent parting. The threat of such parting looms over every Service family. Each narrative here will remind you of a hundred more unwritten cases. The nation owes them more than it ever cares to think about. Jai Hind.
― Lt Gen. Syed Ata Hasnain, PVSM, UYSM, AVSM, SM, VSM & BAR (retd) Former GOC 15 Corps
SWAPNIL PANDEY CAPTURES THE TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS OF THE REAL HEROES ( WOMAN / WIVES) BEHIND THE INDIAN BRAVES, WHO PROUDLY AND SELFLESSLY SUPPORTED THEM DURING SERVICE AND KEPT THE FLAG FLYING THEREAFTER. IN A TOUCHING YET SIMPLE NARRATION SHE WEAVES FAMILIAR STORIES, PROVIDING DEEP AND SURPRISING INSIGHTS INTO THE LIVES AND MANY BATTLES FOUGHT BY THE UNSUNG HEROINES. A MUST-READ.
– LT GEN VINOD BHATIA, PVSM, AVSM, SM (retd) Former DGMO and Director, CENTRE FOR JOINT WARFARE STUDIES (CENJOWS)
The Force behind the Forces vividly brings to the fore profoundly moving and inspirational journeys of the ‘veer naris’-as the wives of the fallen heroes of our Armed Forces are called. Through these individual stories of struggle, fortitude and hope, the book delves into the psyche of these families and succeeds admirably in bringing this subject into public consciousness.
― Wing Commander M.A. Afraz (retd), Founder, Honourpoint (an online memorial for every Indian soldier)
A military book with a difference. Libraries are full of books on our soldiers and their valour, but kudos to Swapnil Pandey for bringing out the sacrifices and the valour of the women behind them. A must-read by all Indians to understand our soldiers and their lives better.
― Vikas Manhas (the man who has spent the last twenty years visiting the families of our immortals)