A book celebrating the lives of 21 Param Vir Chakra winners written by a well-known Indian social activist was launched here by Indian High Commissioner to the UK, Navtej Sarna. 'Param Vir: A War Diary' by Manju Lodha captures 21 instances of bravery recounted by the friends and families of Param Vir Chakra awardees, the highest military honour bestowed by India to those serving in the Indian armed forces. "Soldiers are the real heroes. If not for them, we would not be leading a peaceful life. I have the highest gratitude for them," said Lodha at a special launch event at Nehru Centre here. "Writing about all these unsung heroes, even if I have not been able to meet with many of them, has been a most fulfilling experience. It is almost as if I have lived and experienced their lives, and everyone reading this book would know about their valour and bravery.
I salute them," she added. Lodha, who is also chair of the Lodha Foundation - set up by the Mumbai-headquartered real estate giant Lodha Group, wants all proceeds from the book to go into the foundation which will then be passed on to the Indian Army. "Lodha Foundation was established in 2007 and implements developmental initiatives in Mumbai. We intend to hand over all proceeds from the sale of this book to the Army, for them to use in the best way they see fit," she said. The germ of the idea for the book dates back to 2014 when the Lodha Group organised a special event attended by around 150,000 people, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Lata Mangeshkar song 'Aye Mere Watan Ke Logo'. The original Hindi version of the book was launched in February 2015 with the English translation now set for the global markets. "This book is a tremendous gesture. The immense courage and valour of the armed forces in defence of the country is something we don't recognise enough, unfortunately. We take it for granted. The author deserves all our compliments for documenting our heroes and their memory," Sarna said. The book, interspersed with poetry, traces the entire history of India's highest gallantry medal, from its designer Savitribai Khanolkar to the various wars fought by Indian soldiers over the decades.