Sunday, October 2, 2016


Armed Forces personnel blame the IAS fraternity for all the ills that plague our country. In the last couple of years, the criticism of the so called ‘babus’ has become even more strident. (Incidentally, the term ‘babu’ was once used as a term of respect, in Bengal, Bihar and the United Provinces during British rule. The names of Dr Rajendra Prasad and Jagjivan Ram were usually prefixed with ‘Babu’). Be that as it may, there are a few things that men in uniform can learn from the IAS fraternity – camaraderie and esprit de corps.

Recently, when the former coal secretary HC Gupta was booked by the CBI in a case of corruption, the entire IAS fraternity rose in his defence. Instead of watching from the sidelines, they sought legal opinion on how to intervene in the matter. They also used their contacts with political parties to seek help for their colleague. The BJP national secretary RP Singh has promised to extend all help, including financial support, to Gupta. He has asked the Minister of State for Personnel to “revisit the case”.  Members of the IAS Association also met Dr. Jitendra Singh, MOS in the PMO. He has assured them that the laws will be suitably amended to protect IAS officers from harassment. The matter was even discussed in Parliament, and laws will soon be framed to protect ‘honest’ officers from prosecution. Of course, there is already a provision in the Prevention of Corruption Act for prior sanction before government servants can be prosecuted. Needless to say, such sanction is rarely given by the Government (read ‘babus’) for prosecuting one of their own.

Compare this with what happens when an Armed Forces officer is in trouble.  In 1988, a naval officer, Captain BK Subbarao, who had voluntarily retired a year earlier, faced a similar predicament.  A brilliant scientist, he had worked in BARC for many years and developed a design for the propulsion plant of a nuclear submarine. He was arrested at Bombay airport shortly before he could board a flight to USA, where he was to make a presentation.  He was charged under the Official Secrets Act and the Atomic Energy Act and accused of trying to smuggle  classified documents including atomic secrets. In fact, what he was carrying was a copy of his thesis for which he had been awarded a PhD by IIT Bombay in 1985. It took him five years to prove that he was innocent, of which 20 months were spent in jail.  During this time, his case was heard by three Magistrates, five Sessions judges, 21 High Court judges and 13 Supreme Court judges. In the meantime, Subbarao had spent his time in jail studying law and appeared in-person in all the courts.

The case against him had been foisted by corrupt officers in BARC, after Subbarao had found fault with three of their successive designs for the propulsion plant for an atomic submarine. This led to funds being cut off for the projects, causing heartburn in the BARC hierarchy. The last straw was the proposal cleared by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi to appoint him the Technical Head of the nuclear submarine project. This caused alarm in BARC and before it could come about, his enemies aborted the proposal. BARC and the Department of Atomic Energy connived with the Maharashtra Government to implicate Subbarao in a false case to prevent his re-induction into the project.  There was also a well orchestrated media campaign, branding him as a spy who was caught trying to sell atomic secrets to foreign powers.  Though he was finally acquitted, he and his family underwent immense pressure and emotional trauma.  It was a long and arduous battle  that he fought and  won alone. He did not get any support from any of his erstwhile colleagues or his parent service.

Soon after the commencement of the case, Maj Gen VK Singh made a formal complaint to the CVC and the CBI, pointing out instances of corruption in the organization, with the names of the officers involved mentioned in the book.  Meanwhile, a delegation of the Whistle Blowers Forum comprising Prashant Bhushan, Arvind Kejriwal and Admiral Tahiliani met the CVC and asked him to get the cases investigated. The CVC (an ex-bureaucrat) as well as the CBI, did nothing. However, Prashant Bhushan filed a petition in the High Court to quash the FIR and charge sheet filed by the CBI.  This case is also pending with no end in sight.

The case received extensive media coverage after it was filed, with eminent people from almost every section of society decrying the unfair treatment meted out to Maj Gen VK Singh. Almost everyone feels that he should be treated as a whistleblower and the case against him dropped. It is clear that like BK Subbarao, he is being targeted by corrupt officers in RAW, whose misdeeds have been exposed in the book. Though he has received support from politicians, lawyers, bureaucrats and media persons, hardly anyone from the Army has come out openly in his support, except for a few such as Lt Gen Vijay Oberoi.  In contrast, the IAS fraternity immediately jumped to the aid of Gupta, even though he has been accused of corruption. However, none of our own ex servicemen’s organizations have thought it fit to assist one of their own like Capt BK Subbarao or Maj Gen VK Singh. Don’t we need to learn something from the IAS?

Maj Gen VK Singh,  Veteran,  
Tel No 9873494521



  1. It is not military culture to gang up in support of the corrupt. If a person is accused let the law take its course.If he is not guilty he will be let off. Why should the whole fraternity join hands to protect the accused? That may be alright for the Babus but soldiers have their own ethos and culture.

  2. " Sir with due regards to your take i wish to agree but cant because...IAS are influensive at the end of the day..they deal with public, politicians, judiciary and every one..they call the shots and can corner the Politicians ruling the nation in seconds....they know the weaknesses and wrongdoings of ministers and silently keep making notes of such blunders committed by the power to nutshell they are the power house and thats why can support every IAS even if he/ she is at fault. What we have with us in those please do not put comparison without proper understanding of facts. Politicians come and go but Babus are permanent and they are bound by the cord which is very strong. In Fauz we are individual tigers...when you retire as become zero next second and no one remembers you...but Babus never forget each other and thats where the difference lies. And yes...Babus are responsible for taming defence firces over the years..its a blatant truth.....your sympathy for them notwithstanding.

  3. While in service nobody will support you. I had lot of problems while dealing with corrupt ppl in MES which is notorious ...thisfocorruptioncorruptionscorruptionscorruptioncorruptionscorruptions cthi

  4. yes. this inebility of af pers is well exploited by everybody. gen sir find out a strog solution yourself and with likeminded as gen oberoi for this.

  5. I have for long been telling in every forum that the Indian Defence Officer is second to none to fight a war and win the war. There his greatness stops Period. When it comes to fighting for his own welfare, pay, promotion, perks and pension he is clueless, absolutely clueless. The same goes to defending themselves from any unfounded allegations. Sometime back Brig Mahalingam wrote in another context, "Army has to learn". Yes Army has to learn, learn bl**dy fast to learn such soft powers like lobby, rally and defending comrades from others. For that the Army brass should start from ranks, from fighting for JCOs & ORs. Maj Gen V K Singh has been victimised and no one came to his support. Had a JCO been victimised like this during his Service career, would he have rushed to defend him?

  6. Yes ,I totally agree with the writter and write-up.mily - individually selfish - brotherhood in arms is only a phrase ,but hardly followed.
    Retd mily associations should be broad minded and pragmatic.what a huge reservoir of human force.they publicly differ and quarrel to the advantage of those who are playing hell with them as institution.
    In all public corruption ,hardly any neta or Babu is ever fixed.they go free .there is no end to corruption and loot of public & national wealth.
    By any stretch of imputations I do not imply that corrupt mily men should be assisted or go Scot free.

  7. Every employee of govt or private has access to trade union activity and invariably enrolls himself with any one of such unions. But the military does not have this privilege granted to him. Hence if at all any officer or PBOR showing solidarity with any one arraigned or accused of will be viewed as a violation of respective military law and becomes liable for punitive action. I do not know how Maj.Gen Saheb missed this point.

  8. Mr Nair, an ESM is not bound by any such restriction. It's not a bad idea to come to the aid of a fellow comrade ad once we retire, we are left to fend for ourselves and often get taken for a ride A self supporting mutual interest group would be a big confidence booster in such times.

  9. And very important that officers must start taking up measuees for welfare if the pbors. Except for some who are doing well, most of them have settled in their home town jobless due to no good job opportunities or taken up small jobs of security guards, etc, which does no jystice to their talent and capabilities. While most officers may be in a similar predicament, we should together use our enormous talent, experience, capability and comradiere to make our remaining life better in quality as well make a difference in the quality of life of others.