Sunday, June 14, 2015

The Indian General Staff Has Let the Soldier Down

India must be one singular nation in the world where the armed forces are treated scurvily. This has its roots in history as all along the Congress party that came to power after independence had no comprehension of what military power means. In addition they were mortally scared of a Coup d'etat and thought the best way was to emasculate the army, deny them weaponry, down grade the officer class  and over all create a climate where the soldier is the last man to be given a benefit.

One expected this ethos to change with the defeat of the Congress and coming to power of the BJP and that self styled slogan maker of Ache Din  , Narendra Modi. But as we have seen there is no change and Congress or BJP  are two sides of the same coin.

The civilian leadership has always been apathetic to the man in uniform, but matters are not helped by a supine leadership of the armed forces, in particular the army chief also known as COAS. The army chief heads the most organized force in the country and yet surprisingly in all decisions either he is sidelined or has no say. This is indeed a surprise as even in pacifist nations like Burma the army calls the shots, but in India the army chief for all the bravado in photographs is a man who is just what he is, a photograph.

It all started with General Cariappa, who was beholden to Nehru to be made the army chief. He superseded Lieutenant General Kulwant Singh as Nehru ha d a pathy to Sikhs in general. He also feared that Kulwant  would stage a coup( though this was highly unlikely) . Cariappa set the ball rolling as far subservience is concerned and as he was beholden to Nehru  agreed for down gradation of the designation of Commander in Chief to Chief of Army Staff. This was the first step and down the years successive army chiefs have just come and gone.  We have had the ludicrous case of general Thapar accepting an order from a Joint secretary( Read Brig Dalvi's book" Himalayan Blunder").

Field marshal Manekshaw had a chance but he was swayed by the fact that he had won the war and did nothing. That was the time to insist on lateral induction of army men in the civil services but it never happened as  Sam Manekshaw was not a visionary.

Subsequently the service accepted downgradation of pension from 70% to 50% of pay drawn and I cannot fathom how this happened. Why did not the 3 service chiefs put their foot down? Over the years the army chiefs  have sat on the fence and looked at camera with a smile, but neglected to put pressure on the GOI. Look at general VK Singh, a BJP man now. He went to the Supreme Court asking for a review of his age so that  he could serve the army longer. but OROP and its enforcement never occurred to him. Some men can have no shame.

 Next we have teh case of General Dilbagh Singh. This man in an address to ex-servicemen announced that OROP  is sanctioned, but OROP has not come and the ex-servicemen are now agitating for OROP. The world is watching , but the ruling dispensation has no shame. When the words of the Army chief were not honored, the honorable course was to resign as a Kshatriya and warrior. The code of the warrior demands it, yet this man is still in the chair and is now using his offices to scuttle the agitation, by interceding on behalf of the BJP government..

Now OROP is not sanctioned and I doubt it will ever come in the classical concept and the army chief again has no say. This makes sad reading and I wonder when these generals go up and meet their alma maters, what they will have to say. Did they for a few crumbs of office forget the man in uniform who they had sworn to defend ? It's so sad. There are a some generals sitting and fasting. I appreciate this, but what happened when they were in service?
The rot started with him