The idea behind this blog is to educate/help/enlighten and not to create controversy or to incite. The opinions and views expressed on this blog are purely personal. Please be soft in your language, respect Copyrights and provide credits/links wherever possible.The blog team indemnifies itself of any legal issues that may arise out of any information/ views posted by anyone on the blog.
Tuesday, February 2, 2016
“SIRS, I AM DIS-ILLUSIONED AND DEVASTATED” - BY LT.GEN VIJAY OBEROI (RETD)
Tuesday, February 2, 2016
Since the evening of 29 Jan
2016, I have been fighting an inner battle on whether to share my dismay and
disappointment with the three worthy Chiefs of the armed forces of our country,
the same armed forces that have not just brought glory to the nation since our
independence, but have secured the nation from both external and internal
threats. After a great deal of introspection and soul-searching, I have come to
the conclusion that I must apprise you of my misgivings, which incidentally are
shared by the majority of my brother and sister officers, both serving and
Let me commence with the absurd
spectacle of 29 Jan 2016, when a solemn ceremony – ‘Beating of Retreat’ was
reduced to a ‘tamasha’ of sorts, for want of a better word!. You, the custodians
of all things military and the wisest amongst us all (that is why you are the
Chiefs of our fine military), have unfortunately set a deplorable precedence by
the manner the sacred, ceremonial and military pageantry ‘Beating of Retreat’
this year was conducted. I need not remind you worthies that traditions are the
core of the Indian Military and flouting them on account of pressures/ requests
from political and other bosses amount to letting down the troops whom you lead
and who are always ready to even sacrifice their lives at your orders, but
please do note that they will do so only if the orders are legitimate and legal
and not to please your bosses or others.
It would be churlish of me to
remind you of why the ‘Beating of Retreat’ Ceremony is performed and what the
traditions and sequencing are that must be observed; I am quite sure that your
staff dealing with the subject would have done so, or would do so when this
epistle of mine appears in the public domain. Suffice to highlight only three
of the ‘wrongs’ (or shall I call them blunders) that manifested themselves in
this year’s ceremony.
Firstly, our bandsmen, besides
playing martial music, are also adept at playing symphonies (both western and
Indian), but there is a place and occasion to play them. By all accounts, a
‘Beating of Retreat’ ceremony is not one of them! I do hope we do not add more
colour to it in future on account of directions from the higher ups and ask
them to wear dhotis and kurtas to add authenticity to the proceedings!
Secondly, while some of our bandsmen, particularly drummers do get into the
spirit of the moment and start swaying, if not gyrating, as they play, but is
it forced on those poor boys or they do so automatically, as the spirit moves
them? It was really distressing to see some of the drummers, specially from the
Naval Band, breaking out into some sort of a bhangra or akin to it , either in
their enthusiasm or to impress their Chief! Maybe, the proximity to Bollywood
may have inspired them!
At this rate, we may in future
years witness dances to showcase our wide variety of dance forms, or God forbid
gyrations by the Bollywood ‘nautanki’ crowd and rappers to liven up the staid
Thirdly, I was quite shocked to
see police bands amidst the military bands during the ceremony. I have no idea
why you forgot or you agreed to these police bands taking part in this highly
exclusive military spectacle. I have nothing against the police, but the way
they are being permitted to participate in military ceremonies spells another
doom for the Indian Military. I am all for egalitarianism, but the line must
get drawn at the appropriate place. I or my comrades cannot draw such a line;
it is only you who can do so. I do hope that you will do that, unless you have
reached so far in the “Yes Sir, Three Bags Full Sir” syndrome that you feel you
have no choice but to conform!
Let us move on then, for having
stuck my neck out already, I might as well go the whole hog. Since we have been
talking about ceremonials and pageantry associated with the month of January,
let me draw your attention to the Republic Day Parade, which is so meticulously
organized by Headquarters Delhi Area, but somewhere the plot is lost when the
netas and the bureaucrats gather all the praise and the sweat, energy and time
spent on such a major military event is usurped by them. Hallelujah, why has
the military become so subservient?
For the first time since I took part in the parade, as a cadet from the
National Defence Academy (NDA) in 1959 I think, I was shocked to see no
participation by the veterans, who have sacrificed their lives and limbs for
the nation. Are they of no consequence? Are they spent forces (khali Kartoos),
as far as the nation is concerned. Let me rub it in, because you as Chiefs of
both serving personnel and veterans agreed to have a shoddy cardboard tableau
marked OROP, trying to show the false magnanimity of this self-serving
government, which having gone back on its word to sanction OROP in its totality
and parliamentary approved definition, has reneged at the behest of those
darling blue-eyed boys, also known as the bureaucrats.
Do you think the people of India
will go along with such a fraud! You may be fully committed to your bosses, but
why have you become such ‘Ji Hazoors’ that you have now forgotten even your
comrades in arms, who incidentally were at least partly responsible for
assisting you to reach the present high appointments you hold!
Three more small points, as I
have already vented most of my ire. I fail to understand why it is our valiant
jawans who are press-ganged into laying mats on the Rajpath so that the
government (read the Prime Minister) can showcase mass yoga to the world. What
do the huge armies of civil servants do?
While it is good to showcase
women power in the military, it is wrong for lady officers to be made to carry
rifles in the squads while participating in the Republic Day Parades. Since we
do not have women enrolled as the rank and file so far, let lady officers lead
squads of their regimental/corps contingents, as male officers do.
My last point relates to a
group photograph taken at the ‘At Home’ of the Army Chief that has gone viral
on the e-mail circuit and on the social media that shows the three Chiefs
subordinated to the back seat, during their own ‘At Home’, while the netas,
both present and past are reposed on comfortable chairs in the front row. Have
the armed forces been reduced to such a state on their own function? See, how
the mighty have fallen! Hallelujah and Jai Ho simultaneously!!!
Let me end this epistle on an
optimistic note by conveying my best wishes to you Sirs. I do hope you will
reflect on what an old soldier feels and perhaps carry out at least some of the
suggested changes so that our sacred military traditions are preserved and not
sacrificed at the altar of expediency. Hopefully, your legacy would not be
repeated in future by your successors.