Bagpipers and drummers strutted their music to an audience in students, ex-servicepersons and curious onlookers - and the Madras Sappers came calling.

For the uninitiated, sappers as they are called are military engineers engaged in engineering activities including creation of infrastructural support as a prelude to defence operations.

On Thursday, Madras Engineers Group(MEG), Bangalore, a wing of the Army complex demonstrated to a civilian crowd, that defence was not just about battlefronts - but also about prefacery fortifications.

They call it ‘participation in nation building,' and spearheading the ‘forefront of human endeavour'. It includes - building and maintenance of infrastructure and installations; laying, detecting and disempowering of mines; construction of helipads out of nowhere, building and burning of bridges depending on the spaces inhabited during a conflict or the enemy's line of advance; and of course, peacetime operations of aid to civilian administrations in times of natural calamities.

The Tsunami-ravaged Nagapattinam and Karaikal had experienced its own recovery under the MEG, when two destroyed bridges were constructed immediately post-Tsunami.

The troops, also the oldest with a 250-year-old tradition, with its origins rooted in a colonial history - are here, on a three-day-long tour to create awareness about a significant wing of the Military that renders its engineering services to all the three forces of the Army, Navy and the Air Force.

And the Military fatigues was interspersed with some soothing music, with swaggering, foot-tapping bagpipers and drummers of the MEG treating the audience to a platter of tunes from Amaidhiyana Nadhiyinillae Odam, to Surangani and to Sare Jahaan Se Accha

The tour conceived as a tribute to the ex-servicepersons would culminate into a rally scheduled for May 29, at the Nataraja Damayanthi Higher Secondary School, Nagapattinam – where ex-servicepersons from Nagapattinam, Karaikal, Tiruvarur, Thanjavur, Kumbakonam, Tiruchi and other neighbouring areas are expected to gather. The rally would address the issues of VI Pay Commission benefits, redress of grievances and also would host a medical team to cater to exservicepersons and their families. The troops are here under the command of Brigadier Gurdip Singh.

The rally and the slew of documentary screenings are also efforts to entice the youth to a career in military – one without guns and canons, but of logistics that support them. The corps of Engineers also comprises of a Bangalore Engineers Group, headquartered in Rourkee, Bombay Engineers Group, in Pune.

Keywords: Madras Sappers