Serving the nation: Soldiers at the base camp during the Kargil war. Tolahunase’s youth are also part of this group.Tolahunase, home to many Indian soldiers

At first glance, Tolahunase in Davangere taluk is just like any other village. It is only when you talk to its residents that you realise that it is a village where everybody wears their patriotism on their sleeves. Every bylane of this village has a family belonging to an Indian soldier.

Curiosity getting the better of us, we set out into the village with a youngster. He takes us to a small thatched house, belonging to that of Santhosh Kumar. Having studied upto high school, his is a story of poverty and unemployment. After struggling without a job for years, he finally decided to join the Indian Army. It has been 13 years since he joined the Army.

He proudly displays the medal he won when he served in Congo as part of the peacekeeping force of the United Nations.Today, the number of people from the village who have joined the Army has crossed a whopping 76.

There are as many as ten people from the village who are in the paramilitary forces too.
The village has a population of 5,400 and 70 per cent of this population lives in poverty. The literacy rate is 61 per cent. While the Bhadra’s waters flow in the village, there are not many who own land and can make use of the water resource.

The only option most youngsters here have is to join the armed forces. A decade ago, the town had a cotton mill in its vicinity called the Yellamma Cotton Mill. The mill provided a means of livelihood for many families in and around the region. Bit, once the mill closed, life began to change for people. Many families were left in the lurch. Today, the scenario has changed. Even as parents are anxious about their young sons serving in the armed forces, there is also a sense of pride. Take the case of a former cotton mill worker. “It has been 17 years since my brother Parashuram first joined the army. Initially, we were wary. But later, when he served in Kashmir, I visited him and learnt under what conditions they work there. The anxiety that we had initially has eased now. Today, my son is also in the Army,” he says with pride.

Tolahunase’s youth have excelled on the sports front too. There are many who have gone on to represent the state and national teams. National women’s kabaddi player Shashi also hails from Tolahunase.Today, Tolahunase has a Gram Panchayat status, and its youth are proud of where they hail from.