Wednesday, November 26, 2014

How the Armed Forces Top Brass allowed Officer cadre to be Downgraded

At the time when India became free in 1847, a Major was in protocol at par with a District Superintendent of Police. The downslide really commenced when General Cariappa was appointed the Army Chief in 1951. Cariappa for all his good qualities was in reality not the man to be the Cin C of a professional army. He really had no strategic sense and there is not even one paper or note by him to Nehru about a possible threat from China. Having become the Army Chief after superceding Lt Gen Kulwant Singh, he was beholden to Nehru and the first list of protocol was issued during his time. The downgradation of the service ranks started from that time. Cariappa did nothing to arrest this debasement and I am told he was just enjoying himself as Army Chief.
Subsequent Army Chiefs also failed to arrest the decline in parity of an officer of the Armed forces with their civil counterparts. This is hard to understand, as the Army Chief headed the only organized force in the country. One reason for the lack of initiative was the defeat at the hands of China in 1962. Along with Nehru, the service Chiefs were criminally negligent about the Northern border. Having lost the war because of their own lack of strategic vision, the civil authority loomed larger over them. The Chiefs of all 3 services failed to bring any pressure on the government.In fact the downslide continued till the armed forces were at the lowest rung of the ladder.
A major blame for this must again go to the service Chiefs. in 1983/84 when Venkatraman was the Raksha Mantri, he suggested the rank of Lt Colonel in 13 years. But I do recollect the service Chiefs themselves turned down this proposal on the plea that it will 'devalue' the ranks. This was a shortsighted approach as the civil services were rising to DIG rank in 16-18 years. Thus it was service chiefs who cut their own feet. In any case 25 years down the line this did happen. The top brass of the army are basically men of straw. One must wonder how much love they have for the rank and file. It is silly that a Army Chief could knock the door of the Supreme court on a case regarding his age , yet he never did approach the court for a legitimate demand of OROP. As things stand , one cannot have much hope on the top brass. They have let the armed forces down at every stage. They have failed to bring up points to the government. perhaps its the survival instinct that is paramount as the Chief having risen to a position would like to enjoy that perk of office. Why get into a spat with the government ?