Interview With Captain (Hony) Yogendra Singh Yadav, Author of "The Hero Of Tiger Hill"
on Sep 23, 2022
Captain (Hony) Yogendra Singh Yadav (Retd) is the youngest Param Vir Chakra awardee in India. He was given the highest military honor in the country for his exemplary courage during the Kargil War. Having volunteered to make way for the Ghatak platoon in the tough terrain of Tiger Hill, Yadav continued crawling up in the midst of intense fire to silence the enemy position.
Coming from a small town in India, he joined the Army at the tender age of sixteen. His humble beginnings only paved the way for higher achievements with every single step he took.
Frontlist: How did you get the idea to write your biography? Would you ever want your autobiography to be adapted into a film?
Yogendra: After I was wounded in the action leading to the victory of Tiger Hill, I was in recovery for a long time. After being discharged, I was invited to various premier educational institutions like IITs & IIMs. Some of the most intelligent youngsters in our country asked me questions about my life, my service, and my experiences in the Army, and with every single question, I realized how I had changed as a person. I wanted to pen my thoughts and memories in the form of a book so that it could reach out to many people and inspire them.
It is also a tribute to my fellow soldiers who didn’t make it back home from the battlefield. It is to immortalize our combined efforts that saved the nation at such a crucial juncture.
Frontlist: Writing this book must have brought back a lot of wartime memories for you. Are there any memories you couldn't fit into the book but would like to share with the readers?
Yogendra: Writing this book has been an emotional journey for me. It has made me relive all the events from my past which helped me become the person I am today. I have penned my heart into this book and tried to recollect all events that have shaped me as a person.
But one particular memory that is embedded in my heart is from the moment when I lay wounded atop Tiger Hill and the enemy soldiers were shooting at our already wounded jawans. One of them shot at my chest, and I thought this would be my end. Miraculously, the bullet ricocheted from the coins in my wallet in the chest pocket and I was saved. In that moment, I knew I had God watching over me, saving me. I live with the same faith to this day.
Frontlist: Being a war veteran-turned-author must have given you a new perspective on life. Would you like to tell the reader about your experience?
Yogendra: Just like in a war, there are challenges that can come unannounced. I learned in the battlefield that no matter how close your buddy is to you, or how many fellow soldiers you have marching with you, in the end, it will boil down to you. Others can support you, but you will have to fight your own battles.
This is why it is essential to take care of your mind, body, and spirit for the overall growth of your personality. It is only when we are focused that we can take care of any eventualities.
Frontlist: You mentioned in the book that young trainees were taught to forget about their families. Are there any military practices you still follow in your daily life that the reader can also benefit from?
Yogendra: Young trainees were conditioned in a way that the nation and the unit became their family. It imbibed in us a strong sense of patriotism, duty, and brotherhood.
As for my training, we were taught strictly to respect the small things in life – like food and water. We were punished severely if the food was wasted. It’s a very small thing but lays a strong foundation.
Another thing is to never turn your back on your buddy, or your family. Even in the most difficult situation, I make it a point to be with my family and friends, through thick and thin.
Frontlist: Generally, the patriotic feeling fades after the reader finishes the book; how can we make this feeling last longer in the reader's mind? What was the most challenging aspect of writing this autobiography for you?
Yogendra: Patriotism is not something that should come and go while watching movies or reading books. It should come from the heart. And it is not just about getting up and fighting for your country, it is also about giving your best to ensure the country develops and grows. We have all the resources, the required talent, and will; we just need to channel that approach. If we start seeing the nation as one family, we will automatically be more patriotic. At our personal level, if we do away with discrimination and nurture love for others, that will also help.
In the book, I have captured some of the most difficult phases of my life. Recollecting them and processing their emotions was the toughest. There were times I would freeze, and couldn’t write anymore. Or I would miss someone we have lost deeply. I would then reach out to their family and talk my heart out. The book has taken a long time for me to pen, and the toughest was stopping my emotions from overwhelming me.
Frontlist: You also mentioned the state of Kashmiri people in the book; do you see the situation improving now that the media is covering this issue more? What is your stance on this issue?
Yogendra: Change is always a slow process, and with so many positive steps taken by the Government of India and the Indian Army, things are becoming better with each passing day.
I am hopeful that this slow and steady positive change will help Kashmir change for the better.