By Ike Singha
The NDA government launched a surgical strike on the Indian Army by superseding two very competent Generals and selecting General Bipin Rawat as the next COAS. In the past only once the senior most army commander Lt Gen Sinha had been passed over as Gen AS Vaidya had been appointed COAS by the Congress government led by Indira Gandhi. The history punished the nation for this folly. Gen Vaidya lacked moral guts to tell Mrs Gandhi that army, an apolitical organisation should not be dragged into storming a religious place like the Golden Temple.
Gen Sinha, a strong man would have perhaps resented and that is why he was overlooked. As a result Operation Bluestar was launched wherein some troops of Indian Army desecrated the holy shrine. Expressing an anguish of the minority community both Indira Gandhi and her chosen COAS were shot dead. Lt Gen Sinha on the other side was rehabilitated by the then opposition, the BJP and was appointed a member of the Rajya Sabha. He rose to become a governor and has been a historian of sorts. His death recently marked an end of an era.
Unfortunately, the NDA government has made the same mistake and overlooked two very capable officers. NDA has followed Nawaz Sharif and appointed a COAS out of turn following the norms of a banana republic. I have very closely served with all the three senior most officers and we have grown together. All three are thorough professionals and Praveen Bakshi and PM Hariz lacked nothing. Mr Modi is surrounded by some very weird people like the RM, FM and the NSA. They are law onto themselves and are living in a fools paradise. Between them and the beaurocracy, both IAS and IPS, the armed forces have been systematically relegated below the Central Police Forces.
Mr Modi like Jawaharlal Nehru feels that the country is not going to fight a war with any of its neighbours. Jawaharlal Nehru showed Chou en Lai all our defence establishments where in the shrewd Chinese leader saw the chinks in our armour and annexed Tibet in 1959. India was stunned but before it could recover from the jolt, China affected an embarrassing defeat on India in 1962. Jawaharlal Nehru got a heart attack and could never recover from it. Mr Modi has a disdain for the Indian army that I watched closely as General Officer Commanding in Gujarat. It seems he is going the Nehru way and has no inclination to learn from the history. If he does not rope in Jetley, Parrikkar and NSA, all three of whom have swollen heads, then he is heading for a disaster with serious economic and security challenges to the country and taking it back by a decade.
Parrikkar is a technocrat and has been the CM of Goa, a state with two districts. A novice in security matters he thinks he has a magic wand and has a solution for all the complex problems and challenges facing the defence forces.
He has a disdain for military traditions and therefore does not command respect from most of the serving soldiers and
A man with an inferiority complex he dresses up well when he goes abroad but reviews military parades in slippers and bush shirts while at home. He is parochial and inspite of recommendations from voiceless Chiefs to the contrary, has placed officers from Maratha background in coveted posts in army and airforce. NSA, the RM and a large section of press and sue do defence analysts do not understand that it is possible for a highly motivated human bomb to infiltrate into any military installation and cause overwhelmingly damage unless technology available with western countries and Israel is fully harnessed. They keep blaming security forces and keep threatening action against the defaulters. They have demoralised the armed forces. Are we serving in an authoritarian state? It is common knowledge that the RM while looking for land in Goa and Maharashtra has been accommodated by Lt Gen Bipin Rawat as the Army Commander Southern Command. As a result he was brought in as the Vice Chief inspite of other army commanders being senior to him. Lt Gen Bipin Rawat belongs to the same place as the NSA with both being Paharis. RM is on record promising a CDS to be appointed and Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi may be appointed as the first CDS but the question is why has he been superseded in the first place and why couldn’t both the appointments be announced together. That leaves Lt Gen PM Hariz an accomplished officer in the lurch. He is the second senior most officer and is from a minority community. What message is the government sending, an end to secularism in the country? If we have had two Muslim presidents, then why not appoint a deserving candidate as COAS and send positive signals that army is a true epitome of secular India.
( The author is a retired Lt Gen and has been the Head of the Peacekeeping Mission in Golan Heights in Syria and Israel from 2012 to 2015).
By Ike Singha