Saturday, May 26, 2012

THE NEW COAS – A TOUGH TASK AHEAD




B.RAMAN

Gen.V.K.Singh, who will be retiring as the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) on  May 31,2012, will go down in history as a highly competent General, who did not deserve to be the head of the proud Indian Army despite his excellent record in the battle-field against our adversaries.


2. He proved during the last months of his tenure that to command the Indian Army, one’s professional qualities and battle-field achievements alone are not sufficient. One requires leadership qualities like firmness in man management combined with fairness to subordinates and colleagues, discretion, an ability to win the respect of the colleagues and establish an atmosphere of trust with the political leadership.


3. India has been a successful democracy. Its success has been due to not only its voters and its electoral system, but also to the responsible behaviour of the heads of its institutional pillars. Our Army has always been one of the important institutional pillars of our nation and democracy.


4. In our 65 years of history as an independent nation, we have had instances of honest differences of opinion between the COAS and the political leadership and between the COAS and his senior colleagues. They were handled in a way   as they ought to be handled in a sensitive institution like the Army--- with a sense of balance, with mutual respect despite the differences, with discretion and away from the glare of publicity. We, the people, became aware of such instances long after the COAS concerned had gone into superannuation.


5. It went to the credit of those chiefs that they saw to it that their differences did not damage the trust of the political leadership and the public in our proud Army. An Army marches on its pride and its image in the eyes of the public. If the pride and the image are damaged, even the best of weapons and training will be of little avail in maintaining the battle-hardiness of the Army.


6. In his last months as the chief, Gen.V.K.Singh played to the gallery and exhibited in public a viciousness towards some of his senior colleagues, the like of which will not do credit to any institution, particularly the Army. We have had instances of viciousness in leadership in other institutions of the Government of India dealing with national security, but such viciousness was never exhibited in public and did not make the institutions the laughing stock of the public.


7. Firmness and fairness in man management is the most important quality the heads of the Armed Forces should have. The esprit de corps, which keeps them fighting fit all the time and under all circumstances, depends on those qualities.


8. Gen.Singh  showed himself to be lacking in those qualities. The Indian Army, that has never been accused or suspected of factionalism, became a breeding ground of factionalism. The relationship of mutual trust and mutual respect between the political and military leadership which has been the bedrock of our successful democracy stands eroded.


9. Over the years, there has been a demand from strategic analysts in the country for giving our Armed Forces a greater role in decision and policy making in national security matters on par with practices in Western democracies. The Government of Dr.Manmohan Singh had initiated a major exercise to see how this can be done.


10.Any decision to give the Armed Forces a greater role in decision and policy-making in defence and national security related matters has to be that of the political leadership. It would depend on its confidence in the sense of balance, discretion and responsibility of the military leadership.


11. That confidence is likely to have been eroded by the way Gen.Singh conducted himself in his sunset months as the COAS. A major casualty of his behaviour could be the exercise to associate the military leadership with policy and decision making in an increasing measure.


12. The last months of Gen.Singh as the COAS were a bad dream for the country. It is hoped that his successor  will repair  the damage quickly and make the Army once again one of the important institutional pillars of our democracy and re-establish its esprit de corps. ( 27-5-12)


( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com Twitter : @SORBONNE75 )

10 comments:

Dara said...

I think one must accept that generally the points he has raised are genuine concerns for our security. I get the impression that this is one more vote to those who say he should have 'blown with the wind'.

Yes, he has appeared to be vindictive towards the end. Yet, the rank and file, that I have discussed with is that he has started a long over due spring cleaning and that cannot be wished away.

It also cannot be denied that there have been vicious attacks on him only because he has stood firm in trying to improve the system. He needs to be given credit for his good work. Otherwise he would not have been lashing out as he has been doing now.

He was certainly a vast improvement on many of his recent predecessors, who actually accelerated the process of rot and he decided to buck their legacy.

Unfortunately, one legacy will be of dividing the top echelons into pro and anti sections - not that it didn't happen earlier but it is now sadly in the open.

Shael Sharma said...

A babu can't hide his stripes. A loss of credibility! Sad.

ajith said...
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prithvi said...
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ambi said...

govt wanted to get rid of him by hook or by crook. The general seems to be fuckingly honest and professional towards his duties. if govt ld ve found even smallest of wrong doing by him, they ld ve packed his bags by now. The general is too professional and smart for all these combined idiots in the government.

Congress tried to act smart and raise false alarm through Indian express story and defame him, just that general knew what they r up to beforehand. That was the time congress got cold feet and they fall in line. Govt realised its time to become a good boy now. Nahin toh general jaate jaate sabki maar ke jayega!

Civilians ve habit of treating military men as a dirt.

Hsotuhsa said...

Your interpretation and twisting of events to suit a particular bias are most unfortunate.I respected your judgement on several issues I was unfamiliar with but this is one issue I am familiar with.If I can identify bias in this post I now doubt the veracity of ALL your posts!Shall proceed to remove your blog from my Reader.Thank you.

dashu said...

I cannot believe you have put the entire issue in this way . As you are from RAW and the current state of RAW is laughable . Now am starting to wonder may be this current state of RAW is the gift of you people when you were at RAW .

dashu said...

You accept it or not only because of this chief TARTA scam came into public and subsequent investigation drama (why am saying drama ,because we all know this CBI wont get any nailing proof against this scam as reason well known to you). Your whole point is without any logic which is strange from a RAW guy or may be RAW is full of this kind of illogical thinking .

joydeep ghosh said...

Raman sir

i completely disagree with you over the issues put up by you. Though you are right the issue of armed forces getting a better say in decision making stands eroded. But i dont think Gen Singh is responsible for trust deficit between political class and bureaucracy and forces.

Its a well known fact that corruption is rampant in the armed forces but it does not see light, Gen Singh can be credited to bring these into light. Its a known fact that a lot of defense chiefs who made it to top were well connected, and did favors during their tenure and got favors after their tenure.

Gen Singh has brought the rot that is seeping in, wont say much but just for example, except for 1 member no one from Gen Singhs family is now in armed forces; even next in line Bikram Singhs son is based outside India. Both are reported to be from families that have been in armed forces for generation but now they dont want the next generation to be part of it.

Armed forces needs urgent and proper clean up to stem the seeping rot. Hope you can understand

Thanks

Joydeep Ghosh

HBlogger said...

I am very disappointed in you after hearing your opinion on Gen VKS. Not a word about the MoD and arms cartel conspiracy to destroy the Gen career by leaking selective information and outright lies to paid journalists. Mr. Raman seems to be more upset at the Gen for not being gentleman like and "blow with the wind" than being upset about the corruption and leaks by MoD and attempts to destroy the Gen's career. Sad.
Gen VKS has balls made of iron and the size of a football to take on Arms dealers and corrupt IAS/IPS/Army officers..

Godspeed Gen VKS and Thank you for your service. Hope this is not the last we hear from you.