Were It Not For Its Imposing Rifle and helmet memorial—honouring the “Brave Soldiers Who Gave Their Lives During the Operations and the Wars”—and the backstory behind it, Madhavaram would be a relatively unremarkable village, with people working in paddy fields and tending cattle. The memorial emerges from a large cement block, and stands there like a sentinel, saluting the services of the 1,100 men from the village who fought in World War II, and the 19 who died in World War I.
Almost every household in ‘Military Madhavaram’, as this village in Andhra Pradesh’s West Godavari district is popularly called, has at least one member serving in the Indian armed forces. Some have two or three—some even four.
On an afternoon in late February, a few young men on vacation from the Indian Army were sitting on a bench by the memorial, all of them in jeans and T-shirts. “Our elders encourage us to join armed forces. Our family members are there,” said P Babi, an army driver posted in Jammu. Kankaraju, who sat next to Babi, serves in the engineering division of the army in Punjab. When they’re back in the village, he said, “we enjoy meeting friends and relatives. Some of our people get married.”