Friday, 20 January 2012


“Pataliputra reposes peacefully each night... thanks only to the Mauryan Army’s vigil.  While citizens enable the nation to prosper, the soldier guarantees that it continues to exist.” -Kautilya
Corollary: Governments can function (or not), the media can ignore national interest and politicians can shut down the nation, only so long as the nation exists.

Dr Man Mohan Singh, Prime Minister of India, while addressing the British Parliament had reportedly confessed that Indians remember their slave days under the British with nostalgia. What honesty, his admirers might tom-tom. But what shamelessness, his detractors might taunt. I am amongst those who believe that the freedom struggle that ended on 14 Aug 1947 benefitted only one family in this country and it continues till date. The only change has been that those who have had the opportunity to occupy the offices of governance have, over a period of time, become so used to abusing their offices for personal gains that they may also be considered to be enjoying a certain degree of ‘freedom’ compared to the aam janta. These aam janta have been condemned to worship false gods, as Arun Shourie would have loved to put it.

Jawaharlal Nehru and his Congress party, to my mind, have been the greatest disasters that have visited this country. Not only Winston Churchill but also our own Mahatma Gandhi seems to have had the prescience of the shape of things to come. While Churchill put it bluntly-"Power will go to the hands of rascals, rogues, freebooters; all Indian leaders will be of low caliber & men of straw. They will have sweet tongues & silly hearts. They will fight amongst themselves for power & India will be lost in political squabbles. A day would come when even air & water would be taxed in India."-  Gandhiji did not have illusions either when he demanded that the Congress party be disbanded so that its fair name was not misused by people in future. We now have the benefit of evaluating both these views both from hindsight.  Everything that Nehru touched has turned into disaster. Seems like he was the anti-persona of the King with the golden touch! He was supposed to be an international statesman and we never could develop friendly relations with our own immediate neighbors. He dreamt of India’s tryst with destiny and his very vision had to be booted out long before the nation celebrated the golden jubilee of its independence. The list is very long and is beyond the scope of an article of this nature. But then such a long prelude was unavoidable because the author of the undermining of the armed forces was also none other than India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru! His handling the marauders of Kashmir in 1948 and the Chinese in 1962 are too well known to need recapitulation here. But what is not adequately known is his aversion to the armed forces. But it is common knowledge among soldiers that Nehru wanted only a ceremonial army and not a professional army and he would probably have had his way had it not been for the raid on Kashmir immediately after independence. But he still did not wake up from his dreams and the Chinese came visiting uninvited and left us with a bloody nose. Even today we dare not think aloud about China as an adversary, lest they get offended or even provoked!

His daughter, Indira Ghandey, shared her father’s fear of the armed forces. No doubt the developments in Pakistan- the only acknowledged enemy of this country- had its import. But what she did not know was that starting from General (Later Field Marshal) Cariappa, India’s first Indian Chief of Army, Indian soldiers had assiduously remained apolitical. Later, another more flamboyant Field Marshal, the inimitable Sam Bahdur Manekshaw, would famously brag how when Mrs Ghandey had anxiously enquired if he would take over the governance, he had replied ’if you don’t interfere in my work, I wouldn’t interfere in yours’! And maybe it was her father’s experience that helped her to the sane advice of her army chief when it came to launching operations in the East Pakistan of 1971. But after the war was won, we know how the government treated the architect of that glorious victory- denying him even the official status that was his due as a Field Marshal! (It can be said more honestly that he was practically made an Honorary Field Marshal, whereas the world over Field Marshals continue in office till death!) Even if the nation might have forgotten, it is difficult for any soldier to forget the shoddy manner in which he was treated even in his death! It was only when he was in his death bed that even the monetary benefits that had accrued to him in the rank of Field Marshal was sanctioned to him! One wonders if the author had in mind India and its soldiers when he wrote the following:

God and soldier we alike adore
In times of danger, not before
The danger past and all conflict righted
God is forgotten, soldier slighted

The list of woes of the soldiers in India is growing in length with every passing day. Right from serving under the most grueling conditions without proper compensation or even recognition to retirement at very young age and being left high and dry without even fair pension the Indian soldier can be said to be practically surviving on faith and fatalism. But the knowledge explosion around him has deprived him of even that complacence. And so we hear rumblings of this disaffection and frustration through increasing number of court cases and worse, former soldiers shedding their inhibitions and taking to the streets their fight for justice- whether it is for One Rank, One Pension or proper rehabilitation through absorption in government services or public sector undertakings to serve till the regular retirement age of their civilian counterparts. But unfortunately, between the politicians, bureaucrats and judges, the soldiers’ interests are being sacrificed at the altar of expediency and vested interests. The recent controversy regarding the date of birth of the present Chief of Army Staff, Gen V K Singh, is as good an example as could be found to illustrate how soldiers are denied justice most blatantly. There is no doubt in anybody’s mind about the actual date of birth of Gen Singh. The argument by the Advocate General that the ‘line of succession would be adversely affected’ indicates that there are extraneous factors being brought in even in the matter of appointment to this prestigious office of the country. And the claim of a former babu, to be precise a retired defense secretary, that Gen Singh had accepted his dob as 1950 on the eve of his earlier promotions, speaks volumes of the unethical games played by these babus and politicians at the cost of justice to the soldier. The other day a visual media channel had telecast an interview with Gen Singh and horror of horrors, it made one wonder if even the Chief of Army Staff has been reduced to talking inanities that doesn’t bode well for the honor of office he occupies or the confidence that the soldiers he command can repose on him.  The question that loomed large in my mind was how can a man who cannot fight for justice affecting his own self be trusted to do justice to the troops he commands and worse the task he has been entrusted with- protecting the integrity of the nation itself? Accepting compensation in the form of a post retirement assignment may serve his material ambitions but that would never be justice as justice is known to be. Dwight Eisenhover rightly said ‘nothing is easy in war; mistakes are always paid for in casualties and troops are quick to sense any blunder made by their commanders’. I may add: a war need not be across borders; it can be across tables or even in a court room! And today it will not be just soldiers but the whole world will sense it, whether it be a blunder or a trade off!

Readers are also invited to read the following articles :

Sandeep Unnithan  New Delhi, January 7, 2012 | UPDATED 15:46 IST    Self before Service
Army chief age row: VK Singh puts institution to shame at

My comments on this article: The very title says it all- how convoluted and perverted the think tanks in our media are! The dumbos should realise that it is NOT a matter of self interest of the person who is the COAS. It is a matter of justice, simple, plain and unambiguous need for justice. And it is a truism that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

Congo, Pakistan, and the Indian Army Chief imbroglio Sandhya Jain  09 Jan 2012 at

1 comment:

  1. Major Ravi has done a precise and true evaluation of the political fabric of the nation, brought to tethers by the congress party, starting from Nehru and family. The original mistake was committed by Mahatma gandhi by nominating Nehru as the first PM in place of Patel who had an absulute majority at he CWC. I have started doubting that there seems to be some organised conspiracy to denigrade the Indian Armed Forces and "sell" the nation to some foreign institution.