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 )

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dear Sir, no wonder you were an additional secy, it will take decades for people like you to accept dissent, and more, call a spade a spade. We are thankful that a stooge like you didnt go any higher. Confidence of this govt? It enjoys any kind of confidence with any section of the society? You must be seriously dreaming NOW and not tenure of a man like VKS. For you the trust is more important than anything, and anything includes national security. please do not think that people cant see through you and the likes of you.

Anonymous said...

Quote :"atmosphere of trust with the political leadership"
A leadership that is corrupt and has lost the authority to rule.

Anonymous said...

Classic case of shooting the messenger. VKS lifted the camouflage under which mod and it's babus have indulged in corruption of the highest order and has exposed and punished corrupt generals- and you doubt his integrity and leadership skills ? Do you think being corrupt, allowing everyone to make money because you must have cordial relationship with all equalls high leadership ? Sorry but I expected you to be a man of integrity, looks like I was wrong. Are you still on the payroll of the cheats ?

Anonymous said...

Once a babu always a babu, and as the babus don't understand ethics or moral values, honor, dignity, valor etc- things sacred to an army , you have no right to pass judgement on a general. Talk of your own - lets see you assess various chief , cabinet secretaries and criticize and highlight the corrupt ones. Or wait, you won't have the guts to, that would breach the babu code of ji yo and jeene do, mil baant ke khao right ??

Anonymous said...

It is very sad that even today some people think that corrupt practices must be hidden from the public so that the 'politicians' can maintain their dignity - how about the dignity of the Indian citizen. Very disappointed with your attitude. Are you bychance on the payroll of the Congress party.

Anonymous said...

very weak article the author is from civil service he doesnt understand the ethos...

Jai said...

Very disappointed by one sided analysis of VKS, please have a look other side of coin, who should be blamed??

Prem said...

Rather disappointed at the quality of his "assessment". It's good that it's only a 'bad dream' and providing us an opportunity to 'wake up' and set things right: it should not become the "nightmare" and repeat the manner in which we got booted in 1962. Somebody had to do the "waking" lest the bad dream became a worse nightmare. Trust is not built by pushing differences under the carpet as this author seems to suggest. He sits in judgement on firmness and fairness as essential to......esprit de corps, a subject on which regardless of his level, he has little or no experience. There is a huge difference in pushing files firmly and fairly and leading men in the like manner. The reaction by the latter shows up soonest, and cannot be fudged, the former is prone to fudging which is more often than not resorted to! And cannot be discerned till maybe the perpetrator, the file pusher, has retired. In the ultimo taking personalities aside, the plus point is we now know the depth and clarity of the water in which we are standing. A wake-up call couldn't have been more strident. Are we, regardless of branch or service, but as Citizens, ready to gird our loins and set things right? Or do we continue to "criticise" and be indolent? SATYAMEV JAYATE"

Praveen Shanker Pillai said...

“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 author grudgingly admits that the earlier heads of the Armed Forces had esprit de corps, firmness and fairness in man management, which keeps the Armed Forces fighting fit all the time and under all circumstances. So then, why, may I ask, does it take this government over sixty years for giving our Armed Forces a greater role in decision and policy making in national security matters on par with practices in Western democracies? Perhaps, the neo-colonial Nehruvian Government does not deserve to have decent and reticent Army Chiefs who will just grin and bear it.
“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.” But did the political leadership see to it that their differences with the proud Army did not damage the trust of the Army leadership and the public in the political leadership?
“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.” Nehru claimed proudly that he is the last Englishman to rule India. It is this Nehru who degraded the Army’s pride and dignity and made pen-pushers rule over the Army robbing it of its pride and dignity. General V.K Singh has hit back and hit hard at the Nehruvian neo-colonialists and their Italian successors.
Shri B.RAMAN, who otherwise writes sensibly, is clearly out of his depths.

Anonymous said...

common guys forgive and forget the author. Ano

Anonymous said...

Articlе wrіting is also а fun, if you knoω
after that you can write otherwise it is diffiсult to write.
my web page - friends.rankeronline.com