The wave of protests staged in the wake of Subedar Ram Kishen’s suicide over OROP arrears, is a sordid example of shocking opportunism, seldom witnessed in our post independence history. It conveys the political classes’ disdain towards the Indian Army. The smug, unapologetic smile playing on the lips of the inheritor of Congress mantle, on his way to the detention centre, says it all.
Nehru’s isolation of the Army compromised national security and subverted the formulation of a strategic vision. A myopic Nehru even questioned the wisdom of maintaining an Army…
What kind of message are these politicians sending to Pakistan, by questioning the veracity of recent surgical strike or casting aspersions on soldiers’ pride and honour, just as their fellow travellers in the JNU, invoking freedom of expression not long ago, vowed to dismember India. Do they realize they are playing straight into the hands of Islamabad, bent on inflicting ever greater damage on the idea of India and succeeding beyond expectations?
The Indian Army, which Lt Gen BS Jaswal pertinently described as the “last bastion” of national integrity, is under multiple attacks, the victim of the opposition’s hostility which is subverting its morale, in the do-or- die battle against a brutal enemy. A craven policy of passivity followed by successive governments has only emboldened pro-Pakistani elements into acts of greater defiance and ruthlessness, in spite of one-off surgical strike and retaliatory firing.
Recall how they have set dozens of schools ablaze in the valley, blighting the future prospects of tens of thousands of children, besides targeting the security forces even more diabolically. Simultaneously, Rawalpindi has escalated violence and bombardment of civilian areas, from across the LOC, to unheard of levels. It is indeed unfortunate that the current dispensation, which swears by the national spirit, but acts like a headless chicken in the presence of such perfidy, is not even able to defend its own military from acrimonious attacks , driven by brazen vote bank politics, which remains the bane of India.
The NGOs, left liberals and the English media ganged up to wage a virtual war against the government, over the elimination of a single terror operative like Burhan Wani. What would have their reaction been to Whitehall’s reportedly ordering the SAS to capture or kill not one but 200 British jihadis on IS payroll, to pre-empt their return and prevent terror attacks on its soil. Surprisingly, not a whimper of protest is being heard in a country which looks the other way when mullahs publicly exhort jihadis to behead British servicemen.
The bureaucrats lack rudimentary knowledge about the military, yet deign to usurp its specialized domains and make decisions directly impacting the rank and file, affecting their morale.
In 1958, an event of a far reaching significance irrevocably altered geo-political perceptions on the subcontinent. The army seized power in Pakistan, more than a decade after being born amid a horrific carnage. Since then the coup has never ceased to cast an ominous shadow over the fate of politico-military relations in India and its worsening aftermath. The development must have so impacted the psyche of the country’s first Prime Minister Nehru that he probably feared men in olive green taking over his government.
Nehru could not bear to see the derailment of democracy, something which he and Gandhi had built up so painstakingly over the decades. His isolation of the Army compromised national security and subverted the formulation of a strategic vision. A myopic Nehru even questioned the wisdom of maintaining an Army and depriving it of vital supplies, materials and armaments, which culminated in the most crushing military disaster of 1962, besides hastening his own death.
The Army took some time to recover from the ignominy of defeat, though some still consider the war with Pakistan in 1965 as a stalemate, which masks the truth. Paradoxically, the political establishment halted the advance of the Indian Army when it literally stood on the verge of overrunning Pakistan, after being informed about a stockpile of only 20 percent munitions, when the actual figure stood at 80 percent, according to reports.
Similarly, Nehru’s fiasco in approaching the United Nations over Pakistan’s bid to grab Kashmir in 1947, allegedly at Mountbatten’s behest, has grown into such a festering sore that it refuses to yield to any healing touch. He denied Sardar Patel a role in dealing with strife torn Kashmir, placing a permanent question mark over the future of the valley, seething with unprecedented hatred and volatile emotions.
…why the Army is still being called upon to rescue civilians in floods, landslides and natural calamities, when the NDRF was specifically tasked with the responsibility. The government could have easily recruited ex-servicemen for the purpose and kept them in employment.
Nehru’s distrust of the military permeated the political class and also infected the bureaucracy. Granting OROP and disability pension grudgingly, downgrading special allowances and military ranks as compared to civilian equivalents, or dilly dallying in matter of memorials, speaks volumes about their attitude. The bureaucrats lack rudimentary knowledge about the military, yet deign to usurp its specialized domains and make decisions directly impacting the rank and file, affecting their morale. What does a veteran have, once he quits at the peak of his productivity, except for a life of oblivion and struggle?
The bureaucrat has not the foggiest notion of hardships borne by military personnel, because he has never served in the army or been to war. How can then one expect him to be sensitive to their requirements? Officers and men stay away from their families for long periods, especially in a field posting, where climbing steep rock faces in numbing, sub zero temperatures, strapped with 30 kg of supplies and munitions, may be a routine affair. They have learnt no lessons from four wars foisted on India, by the globally designated epicentre of terror. If distrust of the army is endemic and pathological in the corridors of power, then bureaucrats must share the blame.
In the past, the moves to induct retiring servicemen into Central Armed Police Forces also fell by the wayside, thanks to the resistance of the IPS lobby. They would have imparted vital domain skills and combat experiences to these organizations, which lie beyond the scope of training. One wonders why the Army is still being called upon to rescue civilians in floods, landslides and natural calamities, when the NDRF was specifically tasked with the responsibility. The government could have easily recruited ex-servicemen for the purpose and kept them in employment.
The political dispensation never thinks twice about assigning the most difficult and complex tasks to the Indian Army, such as fighting wars, conducting surgical strikes, battling terror or carrying out rescue operations, rightly believing that it will deliver against all odds. But when it appropriates all credit and turns it into political capital, without granting them their long pending dues, then they are bound to feel doubly demoralized. A nation that disrespects it soldiery never attains greatness.