Sunday, August 21, 2016


We eulogise our soldiers and cheer our sportspersons. Yet we don’t care enough to invest in their welfare. On our 70th independence day, as we re-commit ourselves to the service of the nation, let us also resolve to do more for those who bleed saffron, white and green

To understand why this country finds itself in the dire straits that it is, governance-wise, with each of its institutions of governance completely emasculated and under-performing, one has to just listen to Justice AK Mathur. 

For those unaware, the able Justice’s claim to fame, if it can actually be called that, has been his Chairmanship of the 7th Central Pay Commission (CPC). 

He was recently on a TV programme, attempting to explain away why the military cannot be treated at par with the Civil Services as has been the equation till recently. 

In other words, the military should be downgraded to such an extent that it is only a matter of time before Regiments and Battalions with over 200 years of glorious martial tradition and outstanding achievements in battles around the globe to their name, will soon be reduced to provincial constabulary.

In any case, for anybody to suggest that the Civil Services need to be incentivised to serve in the North East, with an allowance that is nearly double that of what a soldier receives in Siachen, as Justice Mathur did, reflects either a delusional mindset or rapid onset of senility. 

The British have been long gone and our Civil Services no longer live in their reflected glory, nor for that matter is the North East some colony in the hinterland! It is more than likely that quite a number of those in our Civil Services posted in the North East come from a similarly deprived economic environment as prevailing in the North East.

Listening to Justice Mathur one could finally grasp the irony of this unfurling tragedy. The actions of the august members of the 7th CPC is not reflective of some great vision or planned attempt, however misguided it may appear to some, to reduce the importance of the military to ensure it remains under rigid civilian control. 

No, it is just an unfortunate mix of sheer incomprehension of what is required to ensure a first rate military, as well as utter incompetence motivated by that most crass of aims of office politics, one-upmanship.

While one should never expect babugiri to produce a Picasso masterpiece, surely the Government could have done better than select utter incompetents with little to recommend them but their connections. 

But I guess that’s the price we end up paying for attempting to run a fledgling democracy after a thousand years, give or take, of slavery. If nothing else, we’ve learnt over time that it’s easier to grovel than to stand and fight for what we believe in.

In that sense, more than the politicians and bureaucrats, that goes for the military too. 

While the Service Chiefs might actually believe that they have done their best to get the Government to understand the plight of the military, that is certainly far from the truth. Letter writing will only take you so far, and in the end, actions speak louder than words. The Chiefs inability and unwillingness to stand up unequivocally, at whatever the cost, to protect their respective Services has not gone down well with Servicemen, whether veteran or active.

The lack of firm action on their part has not been helped by a similar paralysis on the part of military veterans presently working in Government, especially those in positions of influence and responsibility. Apart from perks of office, they have the least to lose and should have set an example for the Chiefs to follow. When your house is burning down, it calls for an all-hands-on-deck approach to tackle the blaze, and not for fiddling around like Nero watching Rome burn.

There is also no doubting the fact that like all well-disciplined Forces everywhere, the military too does have an extremely rigid hierarchy and chain of command that is both feudal and patriarchal. It does not take kindly to either its decisions being questioned or to receiving unsolicited advice. This is indeed an essential requirement, especially at lower levels, if we are to achieve victory in battle. But certainly it does not absolve the senior hierarchy, the Army Commanders and Principal Staff Officers, from standing up and thumping the table when things seem to be going so badly wrong.

They are as complicit as the Chiefs in this matter. It is time they realised that there is no magic wand that will help them to undo wrongs subsequently, when some of them find themselves as Chiefs. The truth is that the environment will only further deteriorate because there will finally be nobody left who can take a stand. May be, this has already happened, and that may be the reason why the Forces find themselves in this present predicament, seven decades after Independence.

To understand the enormity of the crisis, it may be worthwhile to compare it to India’s situation in the on-going Olympic Games. American swimmer Michael Phelps with his 26 Olympic medals, and possibly more to come, already has more medals to his name than India has since the 1948 Olympics. 

The obvious question we should be asking ourselves is not why a billion plus people cannot produce a Michael Phelps, but if Michael Phelps were Indian would he have ever participated in the Olympics. 

My hunch is no, because the system run by clones of Justice Mathur and his ilk would have claimed him long before. The mad rush by politicians and bureaucrats to Rio is just a symptom of a greater disease.

If war were an Olympic sport, there is little doubt that our Armed Forces would have won us numerous gold medals. 

The Indian military is one of the largest and most respected Forces in the world and has many renowned victories to its credit. It was responsible in no small measure for ensuring the sun never set on the British Empire. 

That is, of course, till Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose motivated elements to join and participate in our liberation struggle. The British departure from India can be attributed to the fact that the colonialists were under no illusion that their Empire could not last without the loyalty of our soldiers.

Unlike in sports where sheer talent can throw up an odd Abhinav Bindra, every seven decades or so inspite of an incompetent and corrupt sports administration, our Armed Forces do not have this luxury of being able to shine without Government support to the fullest. 

While we may feel disappointed and disheartened at our performance in the Olympics, our woes will pale in comparison to the tsunami that will strike when our Armed Forces are found wanting in any future conflict. 

You cannot set fire to your house and not expect it to destroy its very foundations.



  1. You can fight the tough enemy and win the war but not your own unempathetic government.

  2. I fully agree with you, but the setup being what it is nothing will come of this. As said in your last para, unless remedial measures are taken we are heading for a "Tsunami " of immense proportions.

  3. Sir, Please make article posted understandable without using dictionary.

  4. This systematic degradation did not happen all of a sudden but was well crafted.
    In last 70 yrs it was well programmed and executed with the principle of dog eat dogs meat whereby the bureaucracy :-
    a) Ensured pliable and subservients only moved up
    b) Setup a inter service rivalry and divisive policies
    c) Setup parallel institutions to divide the demand , dependence and vulnerability
    d) Induced internecine fight amongst the top echelons
    We are now faced with situation where the very base and edifice of the institution has developed a great crevice and progress of almost supine leadership who are far removed from all ethos of military élan , brotherhood and Chetwood principal.
    Consolation factor is that this is prevalent now uniformly in all military on this globe. We are now on a downward turn and so will be ultimately the professionalism too.

  5. Chairman 7 CPC ,clearly implied in that interview ,( telecast) ,that services with their MSP incl are not not below civil services.
    Obviously,having accepted MSP ,as additional for mil see ,they keep adding up this when considering equality and parity.
    Thus ,he is visibly erroneous .Now it is for AF to get it corrected .
    To nullify MSP of AF,civil services gave themselves additional increments and higher placement at every stage.The favouring and bias is glaringly visible.
    Therefore ,get it corrected by asserting for pre 1973 status and positions in pay &pensions.

  6. Gadhey he saamney dhun bajaake kya fayadha