Book Review: ‘Balidan’ by Swapnil Pandey

Valor Unleashed: Chronicles of Sacrifice and Courage within India's Para Special Forces


Book Title: Balidan: Stories of India’s Greatest Para Special Forces Operatives
Author: Swapnil Pandey
Publisher: HarperCollins India
Number of Pages: 248
ISBN: 978-9356993556
Date Published: Jul. 07, 2023
Price: INR 224

Balidan by Swapnil Pandey

Book Review

Swapnil Pandey’s “Balidan“, published by HarperCollins, delves into the amazing life of Special Forces operatives such as Colonel Santosh Mahadik. Pandey’s book highlights these heroes’ bravery and sacrifice, stressing their impact on India’s military history and independence spirit. The emotional energy and weirdness of the novel add to the intense reading experience. As someone who had previously read “The Force Behind the Forces: Stories of Brave Indian Army Wives,” I expected an emotionally charged and engaging reading experience and have had a great journey.

Balidan” derives its power from over 200 interviews, which come together to weave six gripping narratives about some of India’s most celebrated figures in the Para Forces. Through the author’s dedication, these stories were brought to life by engaging with the friends and families of these brave men. This process spanned a year and included multiple visits to various Special Forces Units near the Line of Control (LoC) and the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

The book explores the historical legacy and origins of the Parachute Regiment and Para Special Forces in India, highlighting their roles within the Indian Army. The Parachute Regiment excels in airborne operations and rapid enemy lines infiltration, while the Special Forces are smaller, highly trained units focusing on reconnaissance, unconventional warfare, and special operations. The book highlights the values that set these elite units apart, such as stealth, speed, self-reliance, teamwork, and specialized equipment.

The book’s central point is a collection of captivating stories highlighting the exceptional endeavors of Indian Special Forces operatives. The story begins with Colonel Santosh Mahadik, who is taken through his life journey from childhood to his initiation during the Kargil War. The narrative also includes his family life, including his wife, Captain Swati Mahadik, and their children, Kartikee and Swaraj. The ultimate sacrifice of Mahadik evokes profound emotions, showcasing the resilience and determination of these elite units.

The succeeding chapters continue to shed light on the stories of gallant heroes within the armed forces, inspiring readers to reflect on life’s purpose and their commitment to serving the nation. These accounts testify to the indomitable spirit of those who selflessly dedicate themselves to safeguarding India.

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Balidan” is a book that provides an in-depth understanding of the Indian Armed Forces, including Para Special Forces operatives. It delves into the thrills and adventures of this specialized branch, dispelling misconceptions about covert units and soldiers. The book also highlights the courage and resilience of families, wives, and parents of Special Forces Operatives. Swapnil Pandey hopes “Balidan” will inspire India’s youth to join the Special Forces, engage in extreme sports, or pursue their dreams.

Finally, “Balidan” is not merely a collection of stories; it’s a tribute to the undying spirit of those who safeguard the nation’s integrity and honor. Swapnil Pandey’s writing captures these unsung heroes’ bravery, sacrifice, and resilience, inviting readers to embrace their legacy and contribute to India’s rich tapestry of valor.

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