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Sunday, April 19, 2015

Why the Army is not a Factor in the Political Inferno in India

Right from ancient times , the army has always been a factor in any government. Look at Rome where Julius Caesar and his praetorian guard called the shots and even till the time of  British rule in India where the army was a factor in the empire. No wonder that Teen Murti house ( which Nehru occupied) was the home of the Commander in Chief India during the days of the Raj. The reason is simple, the Cin C India was the next most important man after the Viceroy. One can understand that the same dispensation could not have continued after 1947, but one could not have bargained for a whole sale demotion of perks and privileges.

Unfortunately after independence a string of events led to the army being given a subsidiary position and made almost like a toothless tiger. I must say this could not have happened without the acquiescence of the general staff who  kowtowed to Nehru and company.   So much so that the President of India  Dr. Rajendra Prasad once stated that India should disband the army and replace it by a police force which could man the border as well. This about sums up the Congress party's opinion and need for the army. Nehru thought of it as a necessary appendage and over all a military coup was always at the back of his mind. In addition he never knew the game of power politics and the army as an instrument of power and thus neglected the army. He demoted the officer cadre  and demoralized the soldier.Whew ! what a price he had to pay as he died a broken man, his dream of a great third world leader in tatters.

Another worthy, a senior officer in a chat stated that the army was like a docile cat in India , because of the inherent culture of Hinduism where the army cannot act as it is surrounded by pacifism all around. I am afraid I cannot buy this argument as Burma is a Buddhist nation, following an even more pacifist religion of Buddhism, yet there have been military coups there and the army is the single most important political power there. What happened in India ?

It is a sad commentary that the Indian army let alone being a political force is in realty a moth eaten army dependent upon civilian largesse of the MOD and Finance even for such small items as bullet proof jackets. Another case in point is the OROP that took 30 years to be approved.

The fact is that the generals who became chiefs of staff after independence were men of straw. This started with General Cariappa, who never wrote a single note to Nehru on the downgradation of privileges of the army. Not only that there is no record that he ever advised the Indian government about the intentions of China. He was just happy to be army chief and in the bargain did great damage to India. Cariappa is not the exception but the rule.

I want to know which general advised the Indian government to set up administration in Aksai Chin or position troops on border with China ?. Frankly no one, as these so called COAS lacked strategic vision and along with it lacked an ingredient called courage. Hence the meek acquiescence to civilian diktats. I could die laughing on a bed of nails to read that the COAS in 1962 General Thapar accepted a note signed by a Joint Secretary to throw the Chinese out.

To sum up, the fact is that religion and culture has nothing to do with downgradient of the army, but a lack of will among the Chiefs themselves. They in short were men of straw and in history I am sure that they will not  find favorable mention.