An IIT graduate, the new Defence minister of India Mr Manohar Parrikar within months of his taking over as RM made a public statement that Chief of Defence Staff system is a must for India and he is already working on this concept. One thought that now the days of Babus of the MOD who have been lording over the Ministry of Defence and playing the Game of General General for last 68 years of Indian independence, playing one service against other and feeding Indian netas the apprehension that if armed forces of India are not kept under tight leash then be prepared for coup are over and Indian Armed forces will also have a five star general as CDS like 70 countries of the world including Pakistan have it to integrate and synergise the three services in real sense as also to provide single point military advise to the ruling political class. Alas the hopes have been dashed and the Babus have again won.
If one asked the Indian politicians and bureaucrats as to why India is not implementing CDS system answer always was that Services don’t agree and more forcefully that “we need political consensus”.
As reported in media the Modi Government is planning to implement the Naresh Chandra (Again a Babu) committee report where instead of CDS there will be a permanent chairman of the Chiefs of staff committee a four star general at par with the three armed forces chiefs. This is a much diluted version of CDS and unlikely to deliver the desired results.
After the Kargil war where once again the lack of synergy among the armed forces got highlighted in the bitter squabble which took place between Army and the Air force in the conduct of the operations, then NDA Government had established a high powered committee under famous defence and strategic analyst Mr. K subramanium who took a holistic approach to what ails the higher defence management in India and submitted to the government brilliant and very workable suggestions for setting them right. The NDA Government then set up a Group of Ministers under then home minister LK Advani for the study of these recommendations and their implementation. This GOM accepted most of the recommendations of the Subramanium Committee and the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) of the Bajpai Government approved 23 recommendations for implementation.
These included development of Indian nuclear deterrence, higher defence management to include CDS, Intelligence sector reforms, border management, Defence budget, use of air power, integrated manpower policy and defence procurement. The actual implementation of CDS was pended to obtain political consensus but work started in other projects. Unfortunately in 2004 the NDA Government gave way to the Congress led UPA Government and as usual the Babudom straddling the MOD got the chance to create mischief and even after 19 years the work is still in progress.
Fact is that Babus keeping stranglehold over MOD did not want this to be implemented and advised their political masters accordingly lest they lose all the powers.
India needs this General Number 1 for providing: one, single-point military advice to the government; two, better manage country’s strategic resources and nuclear arsenal; three, bring synergy among Army, Navy and Air Force by resolving inter-service doctrinal, planning, procurement and operational issues, and; four, integrate the Services Headquarters with MoD. Around 70 countries including US, UK, France, Germany and Australia have CDS like post for integration of military operations and planning. Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) and CDS in US and France respectively are highest ranking military officer and principal military adviser to the President of the country. In the case of the US, the Theatre Commanders too report directly to the political leadership. If one asked the Indian politicians and bureaucrats as to why India is not implementing CDS system answer always was that Services don’t agree and more forcefully that “we need political consensus”. The truth is that during a meeting chaired by the then Defence Minister (now President of India) in 2005 Mr Pranab Mukharjee, the Service Heads showed not only complete consensus to the need of a CDS but equivocally endorsed he must have full operational powers over the entire military.
Fact is that Babus keeping stranglehold over MOD did not want this to be implemented and advised their political masters accordingly lest they lose all the powers. Case in point is that even after 68 years of independence the person responsible for defence of India are not our political masters or the three army chiefs but the defence secretary of India. Till date the three Services Headquarters are “Attached Offices “of the MOD. This gives the handle to the Babus straddling MOD not only to keep the military away but also absolves MoD of whatever happens in the Services. With the Defence Secretary (not Defence Minister) continuing to be in-charge for the defence of India as per the ‘Rules of Business’ the IAS in the MoD follow the divide the military and rule policy.
Starting from Defence Minister VK Krishna Menon who initiated the arms mafia in MoD through the infamous Jeep Scandal of pre 1962 days and brought shame to the county in 1962 Indo-China war , party funds of the party ruling the country keeps on bloating with the 10 percent commission obtained in defence deals from arms purchased abroad as good will money. With this legacy in conjunction with the fact that they are not responsible for the defence of India, successive Defence Ministers have been more gainfully employed to make money, as indicated by various scams growing increasingly larger and profitable, in synch with the arms mafia masterminded by the bureaucracy in tandem with other tentacles in PMO, DRDO-DPSUs-ORDINANCE FACTORIES and abroad. Political involvement gives automatic protection to the bureaucracy.
Little wonder why our defence indigenisation is so pathetic and we even after 68 years are importing 70 percent of our defence requirements at the cost of 70000 corers per year.
Little wonder why our defence indigenisation is so pathetic and we even after 68 years are importing 70 percent of our defence requirements at the cost of 70000 corers per year. No inquiry for lapses and delays in defence production takes place, no blame apportioned and no heads ever tolls ‘Sab Chalta Hai’.
It is really heartening that the Modi Government has given ultimatum to the large public sector defence production base existing in India which includes eight large PSUs, six large shipyards, 39 ordinance factories, 52 state of art laboratories and the huge DRDO organisation to mend their ways and improve their functioning. Modi Government has enhanced the FDI in defence to 49 % to attract private players to participate in the new Make in India in defence concept. Mr Parrikar wants in next five years the defence production to be indigenised to the tune of 50000 corers with only ten to twenty thousand cores worth of arms being imported.
Of a five star general as CDS and his secretariat holding total sway over the three services as recommended by Subramanium Committee the Chandra shekhar committee had recommended a much diluted CDS system in the form of permanent Chairman Chief of staff Committee. He will be a four star general only at par with the three service chiefs. He will be first among equals In other words a staff officer with no field responsibility. The operational responsibility will rest with the existing chiefs. His main job will be to resolve all inter service doctrinal planning, procurement and operational issues.
With India facing double trouble from both Pakistan and china that have joined hands against India and possibility of two front fight for India very much a reality, this diluted CDS will not do.
In rank conscious armed forces this will again be a half hearted implementation with Babus of the of the MOD being still the final arbiters because it is to them that the three chiefs will rush to solve the differences between them and this new General number one. So what has changed? The incompetent know nothing on matters military the Babus will still prevail. This must be avoided at all costs. Modi Government must also forget about consensus approach. World history tells us that in all such implementations in matters military only the top down approach works.
With India facing double trouble from both Pakistan and china that have joined hands against India and possibility of two front fight for India very much a reality, this diluted CDS will not do. Adding one more four star general is not the answer. Need of the hour is a five star general with his secretariat having total sway over the three services and accountable to the Indian political masters. It should be this CDS and not the defence secretary responsible for the defence of the country. It is not that this system did not exist in India earlier. At the time of independence India had a Commander in chief in the name of FD Marshal kariappa with control over three services. It was Nehru’s paranoia with military coup and advises of his Babus that this post was abolished by him after retirement of Fd Marshal Kariappa and the current faulty system introduced.