Restore respect the Defence Chiefs & don't make them a scapegoat for bureaucratic follies.

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 It is a well established fact that the Defence Forces have never failed the nation in any task or role assigned from protecting territorial integrity on the icy heights of Siachen Glacier to rescuing Prince from the bore well, then why are the Defence Forces repeatedly getting a raw deal? I always wonder why? In the past and at present, Armed Forces personnel and veterans have had to time and again knock the doors of the judiciary to seek justice against the discriminatory and unreasonable Government Notifications and circulars on pay, allowances, pensions and service related issues. Denial of legitimate dues to men in and outside uniform amounts to lowering their morale, which ought to be kept at the highest level at all times. In essence, however sophisticated the technology may be, to win a war, it is the man behind the machine that matters most and must never be ignored or taken for granted. It shall not be inappropriate to quote Kautilaya who said the day a soldier demands his dues, shall be a sad day for Magadha, as on that day onwards you have lost the moral authority to be the King. Shortage of officers is mainly due to Armed Forces being relegated lower in the preference of career options of the current youth.

Even the modernization of the Indian Army is far from what is desirable
mainly due to bureaucratic procrastination and inadequate budget allocated for modernization. Even the allotted budget remains unspent due to cumbersome Defence Procurement procedure.

Of late it is seen that the Armed Forces are being made scapegoats in public domain for the inadequacies and follies of the Bureaucracy and inability of the Political leadership to pull up the defaulting bureaucrats. Moreover, some of the unscrupulous politicians have openly made derisive remarks against the Army Chief and even questinequ the Army on sensitive military operations carried out in the expedience of National Security. Even the media taking cue from these politicians have at times tried to cast unfounded aspersions on the Armed Forces.

 

In the most recent case Aroon Purie, the writer of the Cover Story of the and Editor-in-Chief India Today Group has written a very candid article in the 14th May 2018 issue of India Today highlighting the budgetary deficits to keep the Army modernised. He has however been very unfair to the Indian Army by depicting the Army Chief in poor light in the most inappropriate manner thereby not only deriding the highest office of the Army but also mocking at a soldiers sacred uniform. What makes the story misleading to the to the readers is that the Writer has conveyed only half the truth. The other half of the truth has been conveniently ignored for reasons best known to the well informed Writer.

The Writer before embarking on his Cover Story should have done some research on the functioning of the Government. I would like to bring out here that the Rules of Business of Government of India framed in 1961 has no place for the service chiefs. According to these rules, the Defence Secretary is responsible for the Defence of India and every part thereof. He represents the Service Chiefs in forums requiring professional military advice. India is perhaps the only major democracy where the Service Headquarters are outside the governmental structure. Though the Government changed the nomenclature of the service headquarters to Integrated Headquarters of the Ministry of Defence, nothing has changed in its structure or functioning. In the present set up, the Chiefs of Staff have assumed the role of operational commanders of their respective forces rather than that of Chiefs of Staff to the political heads. They discharge the roles of operational commanders and planners in relation to future equipment and force structures. With the Service Chiefs kept out of the decision making process and the Defence Secretary assuming the role of advisor to the political head, Defence Minister, Prime Minister and Supreme Commander have been deprived of professional views on military matters. In a scenario given above the genuine requirements of the Armed Forces goes almost unheard in the corridors of power. Times have changed and change should be accepted as a Reality. Modern conflict has changed in many ways. These changes have been marked by multiple varieties of targets, objectives and evolution of new war fighting techniques and capabilities. Technology has provided unimaginable capabilities but it has placed upon a military commander the onus of placing such changes in proper strategic context and managing war in all its dimensions. These transformations will have to be objectively directed rather than events imposing itself on the country. Under such circumstances the need for synergy amongst different services is fundamental. It is due to this reason that the even important operational issues like deficiencies of equipment and ammunition projected by the successive Chiefs of Army Staff have not been taken seriously by the Government. The proposal of appointing Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) has been lying pending for almost two decades. I wish worthy Editor-in-Chief India Today Group would have dared to highlight the role and accountability of the bureaucracy in the true perspective and brought it out in public domain rather than derisively portraying our Army Chief in the manner it has been done. I am sanguine that the Writer of the Cover Story will give a public apology for showing the Army Chief in poor light.

However, there is an urgent need to restore the Status of the Service (Army / Navy / Air Force) Chiefs as enunciated in the original Warrant of Precedence and the Rules of Business of Government of India framed in 1961 be amended to make the Service Chiefs directly responsible for Defence of India also a direct Advisor on Defence and National Security to the Political and Constitutional leadership of the Country. Furthermore, regulations and rule be formulated and promulgated to make derogatory comments or remarks against the Armed Forces a cognisable offence so that offenders can be booked for any such infringement.



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