Tuesday, February 28, 2017


Two weeks ago, I attended the ‘The Huddle’ by the Hindu in Bangalore.  It was actually a conclave named as Huddle, probably for poetic alliteration. ‘Terror Proofing India’ was one of the sessions.  The anchor asked: Should India project her armed forces in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan and Gen Halagali responded that India, to be called a global power need to project her armed forces in trouble spots, if it serves the interest of the nation. He also said that the defensive strategy for cross border attacks from Pakistan had failed and the surgical strike conveyed the right message.  The anchor reacted by telling that the surgical strike has not stopped the ‘cross border terrorism’ to which the General replied that after each cross border strike, we need to  strike back to raise the cost of ‘cross border terrorism’ to Pakistan.  He also said that Pakistan understands only one language; a bullet should be replied with a bullet.  It was a statement well appreciated by the audience and he was applauded couple of times.                                                                                                                                                                      The matter rested there and at the end of the question answer session the Chairman of Kasturi & Sons Ltd, gets up and thanks the constitution makers for keeping the Army where it is?  Though, I do not recollect his exact words but the spirit of his statement was that the constitution makers were wise to keep the army outside the decision making. His archaic views are really a result of Nehruvian distaste for the army.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       All, should do well to read the analysis of Ravindra W Pathak on the legal status of the Armed Forces: Article 34 of the constitution envisages martial law. It gives the armed forces the political authority to restore democracy.  The Armed Forces owe their allegiance to the Constitution of the country.  Article 52 gives the powers to the President,   who is the supreme commander of the armed forces.  Article 74 enables him to function on the advice of the Council of Ministers and Prime Minister.  In this way, the Armed Forces take political directions from the office of Prime Minister and the constitutional head remains the President.  The Armed Forces have been placed in such a way that they are not a part of the Government.  It is basically to ensure that the Armed Forces perform their constitutional role to defend the constitution.  An officer of Indian Armed Forces also take oath; that he will observe and obey all the commands of the President of the Union of India and the commands of any officer set above him, even to the peril of his life.  Please note the command he obeys is not of the Defence Minister or the Prime Minister but of the President of India and any senior officer placed above him.                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Instead of giving credit to the Armed Forces for ensuring the integrity, sovereignty and democracy of the country since its independence and strictly remaining professional and apolitical, he gloats over the side-lining of the Armed Forces.  Sad; that we have such people, who brook no opportunity to throw barbs at the armed forces, while enjoying the security and freedom at their behest.  I am reminded of what Voltaire said in the French parliament “I disapprove of what you say, but I defend to the death your right to say”.    I also defend to the death your right to belittle the Armed Forces as there are many of your likes, among the Indian intelligentsia, who have enjoyed the liberty, freedom, security and opportunities guaranteed by the armed forces that enabled them to be what they are today.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              We also just saw how the politicians of all hues pounced on the Army Chief, when he said that the stone pelters, who interfere with army operations in the Valley would be dealt strictly.  The politicians and bureaucrats do not understand the pain of the Army Chief, who lost his four sons in that operation. His anguish and his response should be well appreciated by any, who has his heart in the right place.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Now we have a previous home minister of UPA castigating the Army Chief for intemperate remarks?   Isn’t it a live comedy, when he himself is alleged to have modified the second affidavit on Ishrat Jahan’s encounter to the detriment to the nation?  He also violated the rules of Foreign Investment Promotion Board to facilitate the Maxi-Aircel deal? That’s not over yet; his son, a failed politician owning ‘Advantage Strategic Consulting Pvt Limited’ that facilitated the very same deal. Just see how the father and son duo work seamlessly to amass wealth? It is a model case study for Management Institutes?   The son has also been accused of money laundering and has been sought after by Income tax, ED and CBI.  The wife of the same minister is accused of taking 1.26 crores as lawyer’s fees from poor people, who had put their money in Sharadha Chit Fund.  She is also sought both by CBI and ED.   Here, the entire family is minting money breaking the law seemingly with unadulterated patriotism?  No wonder; he speaks for those youths in the Valley, who were obstructing anti terrorists operations of the Security Forces.  He does not speak a word for an officer and three soldiers, who were killed during that operations.  In our Country even such persons can masquerade as leaders and the media instead of blanking out such criminals from public eye, report every sordid comment they make?                                                                                                                                                                                                       I try my best not to harp on Pundit Nehru, who unfortunately nursed a deep seated distrust towards the Armed Forces of his own country, till he was chastened by the Chinese invasion.  Somehow, however much I try not recalling his naivety, I just cannot help but remembering it with great discomfort, as he had brought my country to her knees in front of the Chinese.  I wish to rub this point home on each and every occasion, as I cannot ever forgive him. His inherent disdain towards the Armed forces was greedily and conveniently lapped by the bureaucracy, who berated the Armed Forces with glee, while they bartered their professionalism and integrity to please those in power.                                                                                                                                                                                                Now let us look at USA:  31 of her 45 presidents have been veterans.   There are no qualms of retired Veterans holding important posts in the Government.  Now let us take President Trump, who has taken Gen James Mattis as secretary of defence, Gen John Kelly as homeland secretary, Lt Gen Michael Flynn as his national security adviser, who has now been replaced by Lt Gen Mac Master.  Veteran Ryan Zinke has been nominated as Secretary Interior and Veteran Stephen Bannon as Chief Strategist.  Many, in the past like Gen Colin Powell and Veteran John Kerry were Secretaries of State. It is not my intention to name all but suffice to say that great and stable democracies do not fear soldiers.  I can understand the people being weary of military, if India was a banana republic under a tin-pot dictator!  Why should the biggest democracy in the world fear the soldiers?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   The web of distrust weaved by Pundit Nehru has been made more dense and sticky by the self-exalted and self-opinionated bureaucracy. It is also in the ‘deep state’ of the Indian Government. It really does not matter who gets elected as the deeply entrenched bureaucracy would ensure the marginalisation of the Armed Forces; the interest of the nation be damned: The bottom line is that they should rule the roost. Even President Trump is fending off opposition from his bureaucrats, as they are doing selective leaks to undermine his policies.  The India bureaucracies does the same with subtlety, where they would feed falsehood, manipulate and prevaricate to enable a decision, which they consider meet their ends.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Disgruntled soldiers from BSF, CRPF and Army, put their travails on the Facebook and the media has suddenly put springs in their boots and have become ‘jumping jacks’ to save the country from the corrupt top brass?  Playing and replaying their ‘Facebook downloads’ and showing a burnt chapatti again and again enables the media to take cudgels for the downtrodden and become messiahs of these undisciplined soldiers. Just to put the matters straight; the army, BSF and CRPF would be making about six million chapattis per day and the  naïve TV anchors go gaga with one burnt chapatti. Even if one percent of chapattis are burnt, then there would be 60,000 burnt chapattis on every single day.  Why is the media not showing them every day?  Even in their houses they would find them occasionally and indeed does it call for a national debate?                                                                                                                                                                                                                     The Armed Forces have well streamlined channels for grievances and only those, who let down their forces go public with the complaints.  Instead of letting the forces finding answers from within; the unemployed panellists, untrained journalists and desperate editors with a focus on TRPs burn their midnight oil to let down the forces that protect them.  We call it ‘Freedom of the Press; indeed an exalted thought for thoughtless greenhorns’ trying to lower the morale of their own armed forces.  For one bad sheep there are countless white ones; you really do not have a right to paint all of them in one brush under the notion of ‘freedom of press’?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Magazines like ‘Outlook’ have survived the system by serving one family that has wrecked the country since independence.  Just look at the generic heading given on the cover page ‘Officer and a rogue’. Look with how much pleasure our enemies across the border would have savoured the magazine?  Dear Editor! I will not give you the pleasure of reading it and wasting my time.  I am sure you will have roaring sales in Pakistan.  The Chinese embassy would have bought hundreds of copies of your magazines and sent it across.  I am still not angry with you as you are doing it for your belly.  You have always been doing it by kowtowing to the undeserving and sacrificing your professionalism at the altar of expediency. It has been your trait that has enabled your yellow journalism to survive.  Good luck to you!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     The Armed Forces are no means an independent entity. They are accountable to the people. Even its worst detractors in their quiet and sombre moments cannot help but appreciate their contribution to the country.  We look for no thanks and gratefulness from the public as we have taken an oath to defend this nation and its core values to the peril of our lives.    We have willingly surrendered parts of our fundamental   rights to strengthen the organisation.  All we ask from our countrymen is not to undermine our pride.                                                                                                                                                     (The author is a veteran of Indian Army and can be reached at (pgkamath11@yahoo.com)_._,_.___

(Source : Via e-mail from A Sunder Rajan, Vet)

1 comment:

  1. Well expressed and neat. Would like to share it on my facebook wall / timeline. Is there a link?