Invited to speak at the National Defence University (NDU) at Washington DC in 2012 on ‘Countering Violent Terrorism & the Role of Military Special Forces, of one’s own volition JS (America), MEA was contacted, presentation e-mailed to him and same discussed in his office. The presentation explicitly covered the role of Pakistan and China in stoking the fires inside India right from the early 1960’s advice by Chou-en-Lai to Ayub Khan that Pakistan should prepare for prolonged conflict with India instead of short-term wars, and that Pakistan should raise a militia force to act behind enemy (Indian) lines.
…agencies have to seek GoI permission to question an MoD bureaucrat, which is never sought and never granted.That is why no MoD bureaucrat has ever been indicted despite score of scams.
The take was that if as military veteran, one cannot expose international audiences to ground realities, what is the difference from an all goody-goody presentation by someone in uniform. The JS (America) agreed one hundred percent. Interestingly, NDU arranged the same presentation next day at the Atlantic Council of US (also Washington DC based) much to the consternation of the Director, South Asia Centre of the Atlantic Council of the US who tried to wiggle out by saying that this was not the case as he had had access to official files in Pakistan. However, this did not cut much ice because all the quotes and references used in the presentation were of foreign origin including Pakistan, not India. How he had access to specific official Pakistani files remains a mystery considering his profile albeit his own brother did head the Pakistani Army in early 1990’s.
Last year, delivering the lecture on ‘civil-military relations’ at the annual national security event at a premier think tank in Delhi, the Governor of a State who had previously served as former Defence Secretary and Home Secretary, told the audience (predominantly serving military officers and veterans, and former diplomats) that our Service Chiefs were not delivering as required and that the MoD was professional, doing a fine job. He did not clarify what exactly the Service Chiefs were not delivering.
However, he pointedly said that military veterans should not write against the MoD and MoD officials. Most veterans wondered whether he was the right choice to deliver such lecture but much as many wanted to walk out midway, did not do so out of sheer courtesy. The fact remains that despite the arrogance and couldn’t care less attitude of MoD, there is obvious discomfiture about exposure of their indiscretions and corruption that can hardly be hidden in the present age, and that this may catch up with them in future.
The arrogance is derived from the politico-bureaucratic-arms mafia nexus with the money pipeline going all the way up, protected with the fact that intelligence agencies have to seek GoI permission to question an MoD bureaucrat, which is never sought and never granted.That is why no MoD bureaucrat has ever been indicted despite score of scams. That is why, the CBI and MoD teams travelled together in connection with the Westland Helicopter Scam to Italy to meet Haschke, despite the latter’s diary mentioning names of MoD appointments given bribes.
…Anthony recently initiated a monthly assistance scheme for WW II veterans on orders by the Court but only for Kerala residents, leaving people wondering whether he was the Defence Minister of Kerala.
As to the competence of MoD bureaucrats volumes have been written but just mentioning lack of a National Security Strategy, sorry state of military modernization and downward spiral of the military-industrial complex would suffice as of now, notwithstanding AK Anthony’s chest pounding in self aggrandizement, his clean image akin to the PM with scams, corruption and sleaze flowering unchecked directly under their noses. What the babudom of MoD fears most is disclosure of their indiscretions, corruption and reopening of defence scams particularly recent ones like in the Eurocopter and Westland Helicopters. Hence, the supplication – veterans should not write about MoD’s officials. Significantly the most striking achievement of Anthony is that the military is without worthwhile assault rifles, carbines, LMGs and bullet proofing.
By 2011, Anthony had already moved six DRDO and DPSU units to Kerala ignoring distances and notorious trade unions of that state obstructing smooth functioning. Interestingly, Anthony recently initiated a monthly assistance scheme for WW II veterans on orders by the Court but only for Kerala residents, leaving people wondering whether he was the Defence Minister of Kerala.
But this is about many military veterans who are agitated about the military, particularly the army, coming into the media for the wrong reasons including discussion about appointment of Service Chiefs. Admittedly it hurts the image of an organization that is looked upon as the last bastion in the country and the ultimate in propriety – at least in comparative terms now considering there many scams in public domain, including the Sukhna and Adarsh type involving top military leadership. But in this age nothing can be hidden, as even China has discovered, and if you think it is not known who recently approached Anthony directly to obtain clean chit for the top accused of Sukhna scam, you are only fooling yourself. It is a different issue that despite knowing all details, the politico-bureaucratic-mafia nexus would not permit disclosures in media, leave aside taking any action.
Many senior veterans have questioned the scams in the military, the quality of leadership and written about the incompetence, attitude and disdain for the military by the MoD. That the institutional integrity of the military has been invaded is an established fact and not new. It was done by Nehru-Krishna Menon post Independence (recall BM Kaul?) with disastrous results and the legacy of disdain of the military continues. Krishna Menon broke all conventions by himself signing a mega deal to import jeeps (at exorbitant prices) for the army while still High Commissioner at London, unashamedly making money for himself. Incidentally, the number of jeeps contracted were not even delivered in full while this bureaucrat turned politician pocketed bribes for the full number.
But while Menon brought horrendous defeat and shame to the nation, you find Krishna Menon Marg in the heart of Delhi in his honour, which any sane government should rename as Somnath Sharma Marg in memory of the first PVC winner of India, that too posthumous. So how does one propose to change anything about the wrong doings of the mafia, the bureaucrats of the MoD and restructure this slimy organization if you do not discuss the effect it has had on the Services? These very veteran scholars admit that MoD actually functions as MaD (Ministry against Defence), dog in the manger attitude, denying the military ‘izzat’ besides anything else.
Why does an Army Chief say “we have told the government we should not withdraw from Siachen but it is up to them”? Why not tell the government that such move would have disastrous consequences for the defence of Ladakh and India and simply cannot be accepted?
Look at these babus who make staff officers run 10 times to them just to issue the government letter for official visit of a Service Chief abroad. Note the bigoted female babu who says no one less than Brigadier rank officer should ring her up. Which country in the world has its soldiers, veterans and disabled knocking on the courts of law for authorized pay and allowances? Look at the blasphemy of the dispensation harping on OROP for political gains during elections, simultaneously filing a curative appeal in SC against improved pensions. And the former Defence Secretary (now CAG) who would be complicit in host of defence scams in his former avatar, now star accused with his buddies in contempt of SC for refusing to implement SC directions in the Rank Pay Case. The jaundiced dispensation makes soldiers and military widows run to Courts even for legally entitled benefits and the polity then uses lofty claims and terms for armed forces.
And, what about national security; absence of a national security strategy, border management, intrusions, response mechanisms even in face of serious border incidents, and defence preparedness? Is everything in order? How can the PMO, NSA and the mafia prevail upon nine senior military veterans headed by a former Service Chief to ignore the strategic advantage of Siachen for individual gains and strut around unashamedly after being exposed, some of them even preaching strategy? Why does an Army Chief say “we have told the government we should not withdraw from Siachen but it is up to them”? Why not tell the government that such move would have disastrous consequences for the defence of Ladakh and India and simply cannot be accepted? Why not ask the government to put sensitive areas like Depsang and Chumar under the command of the army? Why the lack of in-house synergy within the Services? Why is it that a Service Chief tells the Defence Minister in presence of a tri-Service audience that we must have a CDS with full operational powers but just before retirement says that we should not have a CDS till we resolve our internal security?
Can you cite a more stupid logic and another unambiguous method of pleasing the hierarchy for post retirement gains? Why is it that the concept of Theatre Commands studied in depth by the Services and found operationally and administratively advantageous, has not been sent up because of individual selfishness of Service Chiefs? Why is it that after a monumental judgment by SC removing all stipulations for soldiers to vote at their place of posting, neither the Service Chiefs voted in the Delhi elections on 10th April nor ensured that every soldier got his voter card and voted? Was this not to please the political dispensation, who does not want soldiers to vote as that would upset their vote-banking mathematics in this do or die election where every possible dirty trick is being played? Getting back to national security, the manner in which the Naresh Chandra Committee was conducted left much to be desired, says former ambassador G Parthasarthy, himself member of this Committee. So, what bigger farce can you expect in terms of national security from the political apex?