Articles Comments

Swordarm » Blogitorial, COAS, Military, Ponderings, Values » An open letter to the COAS

An open letter to the COAS


vk singh

Dear General,

As the head of an organization like the Indian Army, you represent many things to many people.

To the serving officers and soldiers, you are a role model. To them, you stand for excellence of the highest order.  You withstood the vagaries of operations and peacetime soldiering successfully, with elan, to reach the pinnacle of the steep pyramid. In doing so, you outshone a few thousand officers who were commissioned around the same time as you. As their Chief and leader, they hang on to your every word. They do that because of the tremendous respect that your office enjoys. They also do that because your decisions virtually control the destiny of this million strong army. Your actions and words impact them professionally and personally. Since they were always taught to lead by example, they also, by corollary, follow by example. Therefore they look at you to show them the way to achieve their ambitions and follow your path to rise to the top.

To the common citizen of our country, you are the face of Indian Army – an organization they respect to a point of reverence. You interact with the media, are reported upon extensively and appear more frequently on television than any other person serving in the organization.

To the TRP hungry, eyeballs seeking media, you are a soft target. Someone who, given an opportunity, is fair game to take pot shots at. And the opportunity seems to have been handed to them on a platter now.

The ongoing and unending controversy about your date of birth is the biggest story that is appearing in the media over the last few months. Things have come to such a pass that the issue has moved beyond being an oversight years ago affecting you as an individual to a struggle of succession within the higher echelons of the Army. All kinds of theories, speculations and rumours are doing rounds within and outside the organization.

Being someone who has been emotionally connected with the organization since birth, adorned the uniform for 24 years, and now is unaffected but still drawn to it by a sense of belonging, I feel extremely sad. I feel sad because the high office of the Chief of the Army Staff has become open to comment by every stringer with a point of view. I empathize with my former comrades at arms who would be feeling a sense of embarrassment by the spectacle of their Chief being drawn into such a media circus. I can sense their growing cynicism from seeing the open flouting of the values and morals that bind them together, by people at stratospheric level within the organization.

My limited understanding of the issue leads me to believe that this controversy can be laid to rest simply by you unequivocally accepting the ‘official’ date of birth. It is the date of birth that I believe you gave a written undertaking to accept before being considered for promotion. That, possibly, could have been the juncture at which you could have taken a principled stand. With the appointment hanging at stake, you could have asserted your true date of birth. Fighting this battle with stakes as high as that, on a matter of principle, would have truly been commendable. Unfortunately, at this juncture the same battle appears more like an attempt to stay on in office for a few more months than a principled stand.

Today it is not an individual issue at all. It is an issue of the office of the Chief of Army Staff. It is an issue of the image of the Army. It is an issue of the subsequent line of succession. Aren’t you concerned about the example being set to the entire organization? By prolonging the issue through extra procedural moves such as referring it to former Chief Justices, isn’t the Adjutant General’s branch under your command sending a very wrong message to every officer who doesn’t make the promotion board and may feel aggrieved? By polarizing the entire organization into followers of different camps headed by possible beneficiaries of the outcome of this ‘battle’, aren’t you seriously undermining the very fabric of the army? Isn’t a similar thing happening when regional bodies of veterans are canvassing for or against one of the dates of birth being accepted? What if similar regional voices start rising for the other protagonists in this game? What will that do to the nationalistic, secular characteristic of the Army?

Sir, with so much at stake, wouldn’t it be prudent to settle the matter once and for all in a manner that is becoming and in the highest traditions of this wonderful organization?

Yours sincerely,

A former soldier.

Filed under: Blogitorial, COAS, Military, Ponderings, Values · Tags: , , ,

55 Responses to "An open letter to the COAS"

  1. Lt Col BGV Kumar, Veteran says:

    Excellent article. Let us hope the Chief accepts the point and acts as a Chief should act.

  2. gopinathan nair says:

    A good paper with objective appeal to the chief.If he means what he speaks in the media I am sure he will act appropriately.He will do justice to the IMA motto.

  3. Wg Cdr Ravi Mani says:

    The open letter to the COAS rightly highlights what is long overdue from the Chief. It would have been best if he had adopted this stand before the issue was blown up to it’s present proportions.

  4. Col T N Baba says:

    Very Good letter. It is imperative that the Chief comes out with emphatic reply as to why he has not found time since his commissioning till now to clarify this important issue. Even now it is not too late. Otherwise some one might say that he gave the year as 1950 to get enrolled when he was under age and later gave 1951 as proof of age to get the advantage in longer length of service. Wouldn’t that amount to “Fraudulent Enrolment” which is punishable under Army Act?

  5. I fully agree with the comments by Col TN Bawa.The contoversy created by the Chief needs to be buried by him.Hope he does not stick to his position for prestige sake .The govt will be at liberty to take any legal course-even ordering a Court of Inquiry,Summary of evidence-Ultimately may be a GCM BY INVOKING PROVISIONS OF ARMY ACT to be tried even after retirement. I Pray that he accepts the advice given in the Open Letter and bury his plea/ego and go home in a dignified manner.Remember the Govt/Buerocrats are watching these developments like a hawk and they may pounce upon him.That will bring a serving Chief to the brink where the Govt may even dismss him like it did in case of the Naval Chief.Best of Luck to him.

  6. Brig Harwant Singh (Retd) says:

    It is most unfortunate for the Indian Army to have a Chief involved in this kind of contoversy . He ought to set an example of “Improving the inner health” , which he talked about on taking over , by doing the right thing.
    An extra year in chair is not worth it if it hurts the reputation of the Army as an intitution .

    Harwant

  7. maj ca parthasarathy says:

    I need not go into the merits or de-merits of the moral value of the case.
    As a junior officer had I put up a case that my date of birth has been wrongly recorded, at the fag end of my service, I would have been asked , “What were you doing all these years ? Sleeping ? Give me a written explanation for this lapse or negligence.” I will be issued a show cause notice as to why disciplinary should bot be taken against me. An inquiry and action against me would perhaps follow. ” Am I to understand that during these decades of service you did not have a single minute to correct this ?” would be the question would be asked. My integrity would be questionable.
    Such situation would not arise at the top level. When we put on our uniform, irrespective of the rank we are in, don’t we take a solemn oath that we will maintain our loyalty, character, morality and so on or such things are not implied when we are accepted as gentlemen ?
    Let those concerned answer their conscience ,

  8. Kamlesh says:

    What was the IB and the MI doing for all these years? Maybe the COAS did fudge his birthdate- for Christs sake our MI and IB couldn’t whet his date of birth for the 30 yeas he is in service? who cleared hsi SSB Documents?
    For all you know he could be a Nepali? Like Ramdev Baba.
    It gives me the moral blues to try and figure this one out_ he should be asked to leave on whatever is the earlier date and what is more shameful is that it has been known for over 4 years that he would become chief… and no one cared.
    Just curious, what else is there in his file that we dont know about? Forget this case, what are we doing about it for the future COAS appointments?
    KD

  9. Cynic says:

    If I put up a claim to the CDA after the stipulated period of time, I am told that it is time barred – period. That is the rule, and I have to bear the loss. Why are rules different for different people, specially the high and mighty?

  10. sanjay says:

    Excellent article..but our senior officers at every level are like that..even the one at middle rank are being trained by the seniors to become same in the future..our ‘epitome of honesty’ the MS branch is know to be as biased in equal measure as they claim to be ‘transparent’…even if COAS reads this I don’t think he can do much..the malaise has got deep roots in our system too like anyother organisation in the country!!

  11. Col Elavarasan says:

    A Hard hitting article, which summarizes the view of all brothers in arms.Rohit Well Done.

  12. Maj Sam says:

    Yet again we come across a Gen who initially talked of tackling the internal health of the org but himself stands unclear of his age raising questions on his credibility and ethics. It’s always said that in the armed forces you lead by example and this is an example which our chief has set for the new generation of officers.Hope he realizes this at the earliest and remembers his age and saves the org from undergoing another embarrassment. It’s time that all of us and especially the generals stop living in a fools paradise and do something worthwhile for which we are paid for..

  13. Sword says:

    Well – the inevitable has happened. The COAS has been overruled on the date of birth issue . Just hope that is the end of this issue.

  14. Sword says:

    Doesn’t seem to be the end of the issue it seems. Army weighs rebuttal to age order says this headline in today’s Telegraph. Don’t do it! You have already drawn enough ridicule and scorn upon yourself. Is this the issue on which you want to take on the government? If you have to make a principled stand, there are numerous other issues which affect the organization, not you personally.

  15. Srinivas says:

    A POEM penned for the chief as inspired from the original GITANJALI by Rabindranath Tagore, appended at the end.
    ———————————————————

    GITANJALI – AF version
    ————————–

    Head Without Tear
    =================
    Where the action is without tear and the salute is held high;
    Where leadership is a tree;
    Where the forces has not been broken up
    Into fragments by narrow regimented walls;
    Where orders come out from the depth of experience;
    Where tireless training stretches its arms towards dedication;
    Where the clear stream of capability
    has not lost its way in the mandatory courses of staff duties and appointments;
    Where the action is led forward by thee into ever-increasing honour —
    Into that ARMY of pride, my chief, let my forces live.
    ———————————————————-

    Heart Without Fear
    ==================
    Where each activity is without fear and the rank is beaten down;
    Where silence is free;
    Where the ranks are broken up into fragments by thick regulations;
    Where words come out from the noise of shallowness;
    Where tireless scheming stretches its arms on the greens;
    Where the science of warfare
    has lost its way in pay and precedence;
    Where the rank is led forward by glee into ever-enlarging meet and eat —
    Into that shell of life, my chief, put my enemy best.

    ——————————————————–

    A salute for the Armed Forces
    by
    ***
    ——————————————————–
    GITANJALI – Original

    Mind Without Fear
    ==================
    Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
    Where knowledge is free;
    Where the world has not been broken up
    into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
    Where words come out from the depth of truth;
    Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
    Where the clear stream of reason
    has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
    Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action —
    Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

    By Rabindranath Tagore

  16. Suruchi says:

    Dear Friends,

    The organisation, the ministry and the country needs to decide weather the date of birth of an individual in the Armed Forces be decided based on law or rules or by a Babu in MoD.

    It is sad, the case is being presented as effecting the individual as contrary to the case effecting an organisation and how the matters in that organisation should be decided by the higher ups and the media. Everyone within that organisation being individuals have a right to demand that issues be decided based on law or rules and not according to whims and fancies.

    The issue is not if the present Chief be allowed to serve for one more year. The goverment may be well within its rights say that the present Chief retires on completion of a certain tenure. The government has no right to say that his date of birth actually is this and not that without justification.

    Is not that issue potent enough to effect all individuals in the organisation called Armed Forces? Certainly rule of law needs to prevail! If the MoD rules something effecting an individual, asking for its justification is the requirement of natural justice.

    Why this projection of wrong doing then? Is not this smear campaign. Is bowing down to wrong dictates a quality that should be expected of a general in a democratic country and system? We surely are not running a feifdoms.

    But argumentative Indian’s would stop at nothing but arguments.

  17. Sword says:

    @Suruchi, I wonder how this becomes an organizational issue? It is purely the issue of one individual, who heads the organization, and is using the organizational machinery to push his own case. Can you please cite ONE case in which the organization has take up similar cudgels against the ministry? There have been similar cases of Lt Gens attempting to get their age changed – I remember one of a Gen from RAJ RIF some time back very clearly. At that time the Army HQ did not take a stance. Why?
    There are many many other cases affecting the organization, or at least many more in the organization that the one person, where the Army HQ has taken the path of least resistance. In fact, in many cases it has actually taken a stance against such cases when they have been taken up by individuals in courts of law. Maj Dhanapalan’s case where it affects the rank pay of majority of the Indian Army is one such case. The setting up of the Ex-Servicemen Greivance Redressal Commission is another. Are you aware that the Supreme Court had passed orders for setting up of this commission in Nov 10, but the MoD took up a case against its formation – and there was not a squeak from the same Army HQ. The surreptitious addendums to the Sixth Pay commission which have benefited all Group A services less the armed forces have not evoked any response from the Army HQ.

    As regards the rules of the case, they are amply clear. In case of any anomalies in the date of birth, the rule states that it must be rectified within 2 years of coming to notice, after which it becomes time barred. If the rule is considered unfair, why hasn’t a case been taken up to change it so far? And if the Date of Birth recorded with AG’s branch was as a result of an amendment being carried out under this rule, why isn’t the relevant document being produced to settle the case?
    Why is this being viewed as a smear campaign? I have nothing to gain from any possible outcome of the case, nor do I have anything personal against any persons involved. In case you go through my earlier posts, you will find that I have always stood by the organization I have had the honour to serve. But I have done so with the help of logic and facts, not with bluster and baseless assertions. When the present chief took over, I had expressed optimism on the good work that he had the potential to do (See Challenges before … . When there was an attempt to gag the voice of senior army officers, I wrote about it (See Silence of the Lambs . So I am not in the habit of running smear campaigns, nor am I about to start.
    I am proud to be an argumentative Indian – not a silent lamb, blinkered mule or a sycophantic chamcha.

  18. Suruchi says:

    @Sword

    I request you to go through the following too:

    http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/uncategorized/ministry-rejection-of-chiefs-age-plea-legally-unsound-army_100561290.html
    http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/uncategorized/more-trouble-for-armys-former-military-secretary_100558619.html
    http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/uncategorized/iaf-head-offers-advice-to-army-chief-on-age-row_100552187.html

    Something more than that is apprent through your blog. Other arguments advanced by you of supposed lack of actions or ommissions wrt to Pay commission etc is a collective responsibility of all the three services including someone like you who were paid fat salaries for being in Delhi in the name of Pay Commission, and may still be continueing there. How is that linked to the present case.

    The present case, at best reflects on the malice committed by a group of officers against the others and why should the same be tolerated by the system.

  19. Suruchi says:

    @Sword

    Some of the legalities:

    The current Chief can only be tried for “Fradulant Enrolement” even after retirement, if indeed he committed a fraud by submitting false certificate. He is claiming he submitted correct certificate.

    There is no time barring for date of birth. It is an occurance that can not be denied and it does not depend on an individul. Being time barred has its waivers too and there has to be valid reason for its denial.

    Asking a man to accept one perticular date for his birth at the time of his “promotion” is termed as “duress” or being “under duress”. Any such undertaking obtained is bad in law, intent and spirit.

    The question is, should the system allow a group of officers (as in this case, the previous COAS and MS) be allowed to fix subsequent successions in the Army by coercing a general under promotion to accept a date of birth that suits the plans of the plodders? Or should natural justice be allowed to take due course !!

    I hope we are not shouting up the wrong tree?

  20. Sword says:

    @Suruchi – obfuscations do not prove a point. Let me answer you point wise, and request you to answer each of these with facts / logic.

    – While the legal position of matriculation certificate being ultimate proof may be true, but once someone comes under the Army Act, its provisions (and those of the Army Rules) supersede laws of the land in such matters. As per these regulations, the age can only be changed within two years. So I am NOT disputing the fact that his year of birth is 1951 – I am not even saying whether the rule is fair or unfair – I am only saying that changing it at this stage is not as per the existing rules. As Chief of the Army Staff, you may change the rule, but you can’t act contrary to it while it is in force. So, either he needs to prove that it was amended within two years of his commissioning, or hold his peace forever.

    – The case of Gen Avadesh Prakash is well known – as is his running feud with the present chief. Doesn’t have any relevance in the present argument as he is no longer the MS, and is probably getting his just deserts anyway.

    – I agree that pay commission is the collective responsibility of the three services. So what is the Army HQ doing about it? Can it take some time off fighting the Chief’s individual battle to fight that collective battle for others?

    – I was not aware that I was being paid a ‘fat salary’ as a Lt Col to deal with the Pay Commission! Why didn’t someone tell me earlier that the salary was fat (I found it rather lean, particularly in the pre pay commission era – one of the reasons I left) and that I was responsible for the Pay Commission? Where were you?

    – So as per your interpretation, issues like Pay Commission and Equipment Procurement are responsibilities of all three services, but the personal issue concerning ONE OFFICER (so what if he is the chief?) is the collective responsibility of the Army HQs? Sycophancy at its bloody best I say.

    – I will not comment on the aspect of malice committed by a group of officers. I am well aware (through media mainly) of the extreme animosity between the previous and incumbent chief, and their lieutenants. Less said about the public circus the better.

    – I have never mentioned “Fraudlent Enrollment” – wonder where that thought came from?

    – Check your rules about time barring. While your date of birth can not be time barred (typical obfuscation) but amending the same in your records can be and is as per existing rules.

    At the end, Suruchi, let me clarify one thing. I don’t give a rat’s a** about how long the present chief serves, who succeeds him, and who gets sacked. I just feel sad that the organization that I take a lot of pride in is being stripped naked in public by petty people on either side for their petty self interests. These are the same people who never tire spouting sermons of ‘organizational interest’ and ‘service before self’. In this battle, Suruchi, whoever wins, Indian Army is the loser.

    I don’t know who you are, but I can take a good guess. I do hope that at least you get a commendation card for your valiant efforts.

    Cheers and Happy Teachers Day.

  21. sanjai chauhan says:

    I agree with Suruchi. The bottomline is, why should the COAS take a fickle n baseless decision by the govt lying down just so that supremacy of civil bureaucracy over mil forces can be maintained. How bout legality of the whole thing. Would the same govt have given him a yr’s extn in case his DOB was recorded as 1952 in the UPSC form. I feel the issue that we need to fight is arbitrariness of govt’s decision.. smacks of “we are the govt n whatever we say is final”. They tried to do the same to Anna n look where they landed

  22. Sword says:

    @Sanjai Yes, there is a lot of arbitrariness in a lot of government decisions when it comes to the Armed Forces. But unfortunately this time the decision is not arbitrary or illegal, but as per the rules.

    If we (and who is the ‘we’ also needs careful consideration) need to fight arbitrariness, it should be for issues larger than whether an individual gets another 8 months in office. There are issues like One Rank One Pension for which veterans have been fighting for years – they have gone to the extent of returning their medals. There was not a squeak from the service HQs. Then, while all other Group A services get an assured step up to Grade Pay of 10,000 and the Armed Forces are excluded – yet no squeak. When your Army Commanders or C in Cs are downgraded to the level of DGPs – of which there are 5 – 7 per state – no squeak. When there is a Supreme Court ruling which clearly states that there was an anomaly in Fourth Pay commission which shafted an entire generation of Armed Forces officers – no move to set that right. When bureaucrats assert their authority by endlessly delaying procurement of equipment critically needed – no squeak.

    Why then, suddenly, this roar? Just because it affects the one person at the helm?

  23. Suruchi says:

    Dear Sword,

    What do you mean by Change in date of Birth?

    Well, I think the contention is correct date of birth that should be taken into account.

    MS branch is neither a nodal agency nor responsible for recruitment and documentation. How come they tender a certificate to the MoD what is the date of Birth of an officer (when one set of cronies were ruling the roost). It should have been AG’s Branch.

    If a foul play is suspected, above is the correct position.

    Have not you heard of fortunes being overtuend by people in MS Branch !! This is not the first case. Even Gen Gautama suddenly got his war report expunged just before his consideration for LT Gen. There are many more who got their compititors shown on record as LMC thereby stepping on to become Army Commanders.

    At least Gen BK is fighting in public rather than indulging in skull dradgery.

    Well, Lt Col, do not worry for my medals which are four rows full and much more than commendations. I have been responding as I feel very bad for your deep sense of persecution and false defense mechanism under which you seem to be ascribing reasons for all your ills to Infantry.

    So much is your sense of hurt that it has started spilling in the blog. If you have any respect for the organisation then do not indulge into this smear campaign.

  24. Sword says:

    @Suruchi, I am well aware of the travails of MS Branch, and also of the fact that nothing is impossible. I am also not disputing that the Chief’s correct date of birth is as stated by him, and that he has every right to get it rectified. All I am saying is that the issue was of real concern till the time he became the Chief. If he was such a principled man, he should have fought out the way he is fighting now. But he did not do so at that stage, because the promotion was at stake. On the contrary, he gave it in writing that he would accept what he knew to be a false date of birth. Is that, to quote you, the “quality that should be expected of a general in a democratic country?” That when the odds are against you, you lie your way out, and when you are in a position where you have nothing to lose, you make the entire organization do a strip tease in front of the whole nation?

    I have the highest regard and deepest respect for the institution – any person with basic comprehension skills going through all my posts would fathom that. And that is precisely the reason why it pains me to see someone at its helm misusing his power and authority for personal gains. Has the AG’s Branch EVER sought legal opinion from retired chief justices about ANY other officers case before this? Has it EVER challenged the MoD in ANY other officers case before this? Obviously no. Individual cases are personal and not organizational. Why is he then using the organization to fight his personal case. So I am not running a ‘smear campaign’ either against the organization or against an individual. I am merely pointing out the fact that the actions of the head of the organization are causing more ‘smear’ than any campaign possibly can – actions speak louder than words, remember?

    The office of the Chief of Army Staff has some dignity attached to it. Is 8 months more in office so important that you shed that dignity? And then pretend that you are fighting for principles? Where were those principles when you gave something in writing and then went against it?

    Glad to learn of your four rows of ribbons. Hope at least some of them are not merely ‘free ration’ medals, and do hope they give you a lot of joy in your old age.

  25. Vikas says:

    Reading the points of view from both sides, my impression of the whole affair is as follows-

    The COAS is entitled to seek correction of his DoB.The Govt is entitled to stick to the rules in force.

    An individual case cannot and should not be given the colour of an organisational battle against victimisation by masters.Every officer and jawan may demand similar treatment.

    The situation is now a Win-Lose one and no guesses about which party will come out second best.

    Legalities are best decided by court, in this case the AFT which finds that not a single judgement of it has been implemented by Govt till date.

    Subjective treatment is routinely endured by junior officers.The arena has now expanded to include the apex.

    The COAS is a public persona and will have to endure public comments.Ask the PM. Only when the cartoonists step in one has truly arrived.

    How can a public spat be touted as a virtue is difficult for a layman to understand.

    Everyone has a right to speak. If any one party doesn’t like it, it should stop the discussion.Simple.I wouldn’t, however, expect the blogowner to stop writing on his own blog.But one can always try 🙂

  26. Sword says:

    @Vikas – thanks for succinctly capturing the salient points of the argument. I agree with you entirely. And NO, I will not stop writing on my blog. Also, I feel it is courteous to respond to every comment, and therefore am persisting in repeating myself in the long drawn discussion. Where opinions exist, difference of opinions are bound to happen. Civil discussions are a healthy exercise in expanding one’s horizons I would feel.
    Cheers

  27. sanjay sangwan says:

    Well said, Rohit. Nicely put. A large number of our senior officers are very liberal while preaching, admonishing, chastising or even punishing but do a prompt volte face if any of their extravagant rights or liberties are even looked at and consider themselves larger than the organisation. The attitude of these senior officers and their lack of interest in the organization and its people is a major factor for mid level officers quitting. Few senior officers have resigned for similar or lesser causes to retain their dignity.

  28. Sudhanshu Kamboj says:

    I have a different take on this issue,
    Matters related to personal documentation has to be taken up by the officer himself with little or no support from the organisation throughout his service career.Examples like initiating ACR, carrying out annual medical examination or declaring any personal event for publishing the part II orders etc.
    The officer submits his DoB at various points while entering into service (UPSC,SSB,NDA,IMA & YOs training institution)and also while reporting for duty on various appointments through record of service. Except for UPSC or NDA/IMA no other institution or unit ever verifies the DoB. After that initial verification the same is maintained by the AG’s branch. The officer is not even informed about his DoB while being considered for Promotional Boards upto Colonol/ Brig (Pl correct me if I’m wrong) so question of MS branch does not arise.
    Thus it is simple to check from all these records as to whether the DoB of present COAS has been correctly submitted by him at all the stages of his service upto Colonol rank.
    Now comes my difference of opinion.
    Upto Colonol rank each officer is giving his best to the organisation w/o worrying about his personal documentation. After crossing over to the next rank the calculation for the COAS starts.
    At Brig rank the picture of succession becomes clearer & the planning for change of DoB starts. At this point the case has to be dealt as per the org procedures.
    If all these years the present COAS has correctly submitted his DoB & suddenly while being elevated to Army Cdr or COAS the org asks him to accept another date as his DoB or he changes it himself giving some justification then in my opinion both are wrong. Both actions are borne with an eye on the retirement age.
    As far as this topic being given so much of media attention the problem may lie in many vested interests including the civilian bureaucracy taking on a COAS who may be not following the dictates of North corridor.
    By signing for a wrong DoB while taking over as COAS he has exhibited a true fighting spirit. First get to a strong footing of COAS then fight the bastards…..all is fair in war….
    As far as accepting all our COAS as role models , I would prefer to have few of my ex Commanding Officers who retired as Colonol or Brigadier but were better role models than the last 3-4 COAS.
    In present time an honorable & true soldier can never expect to go beyond Colonol or Brigadier when idiosyncrasies are at an all time high….

  29. Sword says:

    @Sanjay Sir – Thanks. Precisely what I was trying to say.
    @Sudhanshu – my point is, if you have to take on the bureaucracy, why not choose an issue that will benefit the org, or larger number of people? Arre yaar chief ban gaye, pet nahi bhara? kabhi to org ke bare me soch lo.

  30. Gautam says:

    Rohit,

    Busy (500 pages of his magnum opus) fighting for himself when they are critical cases of organisational interest that require putting his foot down? But, then, isn’t that why the fellow reached so high?!
    There is great leadership, there is bad leadership. There is also the pedestrian. He is an example of the latter at the end of a longish string of ordinary chiefs that our Army is slowly but grievously losing its patience with.
    The question is who will chastise the fellow for abdicating his responsibilities? The RM? Not likely, since the RM has unwittingly donned the opponent’s mantle (one can imagine a senior babu or a minister-in-waiting egging him on – “…but, he has defied civilian supremacy, Saar”). So, ironically, should the Chief be told off by the RM it will be for wrong reasons. What about Madam giving him the stick? Fat chance.
    The Officer Corps and the extended veteran community must wield the hatchet.
    Therefore, not only do I agree with your views, I also feel it should be vociferously articulated. Hopefully, somebody with high standards of officership will reach the helm before much is lost.

  31. Suruchi says:

    It is better to fight your case openly and with conviction rather than to say I am a man of military high value and MoD is always right.
    Then why expect such man to to fight for any issue effecting the organisation. One who can not fight for himself, expecting him to fight for others is not reality.

    Which quality of leadership are we dreaming of after allegedly string of ordinary and pedestrainian leadership??

    That leadership which hide their heart ailment all along and then die in harness ??
    The leadership which picks the most silver rich units and then claim those units to be his own ??
    That leadership, which in one go eliminated second rung of rising generals of one perticular class in the name of morality, himself having questionable values?

    Or that leadership which acted like a a mafia and fixed everyone around so that their clan could rule the roost?

    Gentelemen, speaks on facts rather on your imagined grievances. Whenever you allage any thing, quoate instances. For example if one says the general should have taken on this or that issue, list it out issues rather than shouting generalities. I am sure someone will answer it. Do not show frustration of your not doing well or supercession or perceived grievances.

    List issues so that someone answers it.

  32. Sword says:

    @Suruchi, I agree it is better to fight your case openly and with conviction. Then why didn’t he do so when he was asked to give that letter? Where was his openness and fighting spirit then?

    You are right – such a person can not be expected to fight for the organization.

    You are further right – expecting high quality of leadership is a pipe dream – as we are in the present instance – mediocre to indifferent leadership being displayed by the so called leader.

    I have quoted specific instances in a prior rejoinder – you have probably not read it carefully enough. Let me repeat myself for your benefit. The specific instances which a leader could have taken such a spirited stand on are:-

    1. One Rank One pension issue – for which veterans have been fighting for a long time, and have gone to the extent of burning their prosthetics (artificial limbs, for your benefit) and returning their medals to the president.

    2. The fact that ALL Group A officers less armed forces have been granted ACP to a grade pay of 10,000.

    3. The Rank Pay case where Maj Dhanpalan has got a verdict from SC in his favour, and which should be applicable to all other officers too. It would benefit an entire generation of officers. But the Army HQ has in fact, represented against that.

    4. The formation of Armed Forces Grievances Redressal Commission – the SC had ordered it, the MoD (either unopposed or supported by Army HQ) appealed against it and SC rescinded its order.

    5. The downgradation of Army Cdrs to the level of DGPs.

    6. Shortage of married accommodation. It takes an officer almost 2 years to get married accommodation in Delhi. Indifferent leadership has kept things that way.

    7. Delay in procurement of equipment / modernization. While the Babus in MoD keep winding red tape around you, critically required equipment remains deficient. You yourself were talking about Small Arms for Infantry – that we have barely managed to change over from SLR (and that too to INSAS – less said the better). So what is stopping the Chief from fighting strongly for modernization of the Infantry?

    As regards your remarks about my ‘frustration’ about ‘not doing well’ or ‘supercession’, I guess that when logic and vocabulary fail, the mediocre minds succumbs to personal insults.

    Incidentally, let me caution you as a well wisher – in your desperate attempts to follow your brief, you are tying yourself up in circles. When you say, “Which quality of leadership are we dreaming of after allegedly string of ordinary and pedestrainian(sic) leadership??” you are implying that the present chief also exhibits pedestrian leadership as nothing better can be dreamed of. I have nothing to loose my friend, but make sure that in your attempt to win accolades through your sycophancy, you don’t end up damaging your promising (I assume) career.

    Have a drink on me tonight, and loosen up.

  33. Sudhir says:

    Ha Ha Ha! @Sword – stop taking the poor guy’s case. So what if he is hiding his identity under a woman’s name – doesn’t mean you f*** him. He’s only doing his job.

  34. Suruchi says:

    Yes My Dear Sword:

    Your threat ” you don’t end up damaging your promising (I assume) career.” is accepted.

    I am also reminded of ”

    Kah Rahim Kaise Nibhe Ber Ker Ko Sang
    Vo dole Man Aapne Unke Faate Aang……

    It was perhaps a bitter visist to your one sided and parochial blog (of Sordid Arm). So many chiefs down 64 years could not solve your problems and you are expecting one present today to solve those so that you vile away your pensionable time as you did the entire service.

    Good luck, sir… Isko Kahaten hain VK Singh ke sar par thikara phorana … rememeber you are more vulnerable than me, as simple as that.

  35. Sword says:

    @Suruchi, Thanks for honouring my blog with your visit and comments. As regards VK Singh ke sir par whatever, as I have asserted earlier, I have nothing for and against individuals, all I was talking about was the demeaning of the office of the Chief of Army Staff by individual actions.
    Gen SK Sinha, in an editorial in today’s Asian Age, has written:

    ” Year after year the annual List issued by the military secretary’s office for nearly three decades and more and readily available to all officers, unlike the adjutant-general’s Branch Record, showed the wrong date.
    No attempt to correct the date was made when he was a junior officer.
    Had this been done in the early years, the issue could have been easily resolved between the two branches by Army Headquarter.
    When it was raised after his attaining very senior rank, it got linked with the succession plan of the top leadership of the Army. Today the issue boils down to whether Gen. Singh as Chief will have a twoor three-year tenure.
    In 1947, a committee of three senior secretaries in the Government of India -R.N. Banerjee, Vishnu Sahay and H.M.
    Patel -recommended that as in other ministries, the defence secretary should have a status higher than the three Service Chiefs, who were only departmental heads. In 1947-48, we still had British Service Chiefs. They took up the matter with Lord Louis Mountbatten, saying it was ridiculous to equate Service Chiefs with department heads. Being key players in ensuring national security, in all democracies they have the right of direct access to the Prime Minister or the head of the government.
    At the instance of Mountbatten, Jawaharlal Nehru decided that the Chiefs would have a status higher than the defence secretary. This continues to be so even now. In view of the exalted position of a Chief, a public controversy involving him is most unfortunate. For the first time, a Chief has filed a statutory complaint on a personal matter. This is being examined by the defence secretary and his staff to obtain the decision of the minister.
    This lowers the dignity of the high office, which must take precedence over personal interest.”

    But then, you will also find his views borne out of “frustration of not doing well” – after all, he too was superseded.

  36. Sword says:

    @Suruchi – well written but I would say a little parsimonious with facts. Irrespective of what the facts of the matter in this case are – whether VK Singh is right, or Deepak Kapoor, or JJ Singh. Irrespective of who succeeds in becoming the chief. The loser is the Indian Army and the office of the Chief of Army Staff, whose dignity and honour have been dragged down to the level of a petitioner.
    If all that the senior officers in the past few years have been doing is scheming over succession battles, it is no wonder that no one has the time to worry about what is happening to the organization.
    I also find it extremely amusing that VK Singh is being compared to Anna Hazare in taking on the government – trying to cash in on the popularity wave?

  37. Sudhir says:

    Army contention on age of Chief fallacious: MoD

    New Delhi, September 11

    The Defence Ministry has told the Army headquarters that it is “completely fallacious” to contend that anomaly in General VK Singh’s date of birth exists only in one branch of the Service.

    “Both on facts and in substance, it cannot be stated that there were no anomalies in the records and it is completely fallacious to state that there was ‘only one omission’ in one branch,” the Defence Ministry said in documents obtained through RTI.

    It has been contended that the issue pertaining to confusion over Gen Singh’s date of birth is due to the Military Secretary branch, which, on the basis of his UPSC form for entry into the National Defence Academy (NDA), has recorded May 10, 1950 as his date of birth.

    The ministry said an earlier RTI reply, in which the Legal Adviser (Defence) had accepted Army Chief’s age to be May 10, 1951, had to be “abrogated” as Army’s Adjutant General’s branch “had not provided full facts” before the officer.

    The Defence Ministry said it had been stated by the Attorney General that the amendment of the date of birth was not “legally tenable” and the issue could not be reopened at this stage on any basis whatsoever.
    http://www.tribuneindia.com/2011/20110912/nation.htm#3

  38. Yogi says:

    Interesting in extreme! How people become Anna Hazare when discussing others (read VKS)but are open to `facilitations’ where own interests are concerned! As per them VKS should stop fighting for whatever is right for him and take up cases dear to the ehart of `veterans’ and others who feel their status has come down vis-a-vis XYZ on civil side.

  39. Sudhir says:

    @Yogi – the status of serving officers has come down, not that of veterans. That includes the Chief of Army Staff and Army Commanders.

  40. Yogi says:

    @Sudhir – Status is a huge issue for those who hypenate their self-esteem to durbar culture. Man like TN Sheshan made moribund CEC into a Tiger feared by every corrupt politico. SC Collegium turned itself into alternate power centre for people to rely upon against venality of executive. Army leadership (especially past `Honourable venerable’ from `High Class’)turned the Army into handmaiden of bureaucracy. Example, recently chargesheeted head of a Public Broadcaster earlier served as JS(G) in MoD and he used to say that `at any given time more Generals are in his waiting room at South Block then the sofa can accomodate’! Ask what were they doing in that waiting room?? These worthies have gone about degrading ranks through ill-concieved upgradations (I cannot understand as to how will status of Company Commander be upgraded by changing his rank from Major to Lt Col??). Any organisation where supersession is a fact of life intelligent leadership will seek to introduce a running pay-band so that superseded can atleast get monetory compensation. But these `honourable worthies’ (who are now preaching the incumbent COAS)spent their time pushing for equivalence of Lt Gen and Army cdr with XYZ and seeking post retirement sincures with no conern for Rank-and-file who still retire at average age of 37 years to die at 65 when average age in India is 73 years. Even today these honourable worthies living in urban sprawls like NOIDA, Delhi, Chandigarh, Pune, Banglore and Secunderabad garner more than 50 per cent of ECHS funds OR living in rural areas be damned. They introduce unreasonable reservations like `Only for Brig and above’ in ESM Welfare schemes like coal-carriage contracts. They have made execlusive seating arrangments for Maj Gen and above in Officer Institutes, where everyone is paying same fees. Thank God we have a COAS from essentially rural background who knows what is real meaning of Honour and is telling the Government that, to appoint and retire is your prorgative (subject to law of land) but my date of birth is sacrosanct!

  41. Sword says:

    @Yogi – well said. I agree with most of what you have said, except for the fact that the present COAS knows the meaning of honour.

    Where was his honour when he was asked to give in writing that he would accept 1950 as his date of birth, and he did so? An honourable man would have refused, raised a shindy about his date of birth being inviolable, put up a statutory complaint at that point of time, challenged the motivated leadership which may have been doing so with ulterior motive.

    Or is it that his date of birth has become sacrosanct after he has become the COAS, knowing fully well that he has nothing to loose now? Well, even Brutus was “an honourable man”.

    The same honourable COAS has lowered the office of the Chief to that of a petitioner. The same JS(G) would be processing and commenting on his petition (statutory complaint), and the Defence Secretary, who is supposed to be junior to the COAS, will be deciding it on behalf of the Defence Minister.

    So, while all those preceding him have driven numerous nails into the coffin by their actions, the present chief has the singular honour of having driven the final one.

  42. Yogi says:

    @Sudhir – Thanks for keeping the debate where it belongs. That is on facts. I am saying this because most of Foujies quickly turn emotional and start claiming perferntial treatment for `years they have given to Army”. I agree that Most Honourable course for VKS would have been to stand-up to manipulators in the Year of Our Lord 2006. He did not do it. Apparently intentionally! I for one do not have access to his thought-process so cannot be sure of his motives. But I can tell you why I accept his `bypass drill’. I think he took a considered decision to `defer his H Hour to the time when he would win even if he lost’. Let me explain. Had he taken the fight to finish in the period 2006 – 2008, the then powers that be would have made sure that he gets entangled in maze of Non-statutory and Stautory Complaints thereby miss his chance to rise to Corps Commander and Army Commander. By now he would have been history like so many before him, who were denied their fair share by simply making them miss one Promotion Board.Today he is COAS. His case is makling daily headlines. Even if he were to loose, look at impact it would make. It will definitely bring -in transparency by putting MoD under pressure. It will lead to discussions in public domain driving the system to become better.

  43. Sword says:

    @Yogi – so essentially what you are saying is that it was not opportune for VKS to be honourable and consider his date of birth sacrosanct in 2006, but it is now. In your definition of values it may be possible to defer the H Hour of Honour, but I wonder how many people would agree to such flexibility in definition of honour. It is more opportunism than anything else. My point is that he is abusing his appointment to pit the entire official machinery in what is essentially his personal opportunistic struggle. When questions are raised, he is throwing in red herrings of ‘doing the honourable thing’ and taking on the MoD in a fight for justice for the organization.

    Yes, his case is making headlines daily – and that is what is shameful. He is dragging the office of the Chief of Army Staff into his personal battle and making that august open to ridicule.

    While his predecessor and his henchmen were wrong in doing what they did, but VKS in not right in what he is doing, and specially the manner in which he is doing it, either.

    And you know what my gut feeling of the outcome is? He will be quietly offered an ambassador / governorship or a similar office of cabinet rank, and he will quietly take his case back. Saves face for everyone, and he has got his boti.

  44. Yogi says:

    I am sorry but your contention about only one type of Honour is quite off the mark.Let me quote Lord Krishana’s decision to temporarily hide (eclipse) the Sun so that Arjun could get on with the more important task of ridding the Earth of scum. Now tell me would Gandhian methods succeeded if protagonists were other than British? I am not being flexible with Honour. I am pointing to facts of life, that is, you have to fight the wars foisted upon you with best possible means. Please visit concept of Just War before pontificating.
    I do not know what VKS would do! If he does accept a `deal’, well than he would join the burgeoning crowd of serving and retired who sold their souls at different times for different prices!!!

  45. Sword says:

    @Yogi – LOL. Lord Krishna also stole, cavorted with multiple women including a married woman who happened to be his aunt, and also had multiple wives. Would you condone any of this behaviour in a serving Army Chief?

    The present case if of one person trying to undo a mistake he made / was made on his behalf many years ago. The window allowed as per the rules was two years, wherein it was not done (had it been done, there would have been no argument, and the case would have been watertight). Now, although the matriculation certificate rightly gives his date of birth as 1951, making a change is time barred. This is as per rules, was in 2006 and is now – unless the rules get changed, and even then it can’t be with retrospective effect. So, since the change can not be made under the existing rules (if it could, why would he need to approach the MoD? Such an action would be within the ambit of AG / MS branches, both of whom are under his command now.) all kinds of arguments including invoking a Just War are being invoked, giving it the spin of one lone warrior fighting against injustices heaped upon him by his seniors and the MoD. To make waters muddier, interested parties from either outcomes are canvassing hard to influence the decision either ways.

    As I have repeatedly being saying, the question is not who is right or who is wrong. It is the manner in which this drama is being played out in front of all ranks of the army and the entire country is shameful. The last few incumbents in the office of the COAS have, with all kinds of shameful acts, lowered the prestige of that office. There were lots of hopes when the present incumbent took over, as he was believed to be different. But I guess he has also left no stone unturned to bring shame to the high office he holds.

    Anyway, lets wait and watch what the outcome will be.

  46. Yogi says:

    Amen! Classic tactics of propaganda. Turn the victim into accused. Demand impossible from him by making the accuser the judge.Here is a fellow who always proffered only one proof of his age (Matriculation certificate). People responsible for checking, filling, retieving and updating records did their own thing. They never raised any querry regarding anomaly. Those who had no business to hold such records prepared a shadow file and presented it as fait-accompli at the time when the accused was most vulnerable.Now the accused must carry the burden, not only of his bad-luck, but also of cumulative misdeeds of generations. He mus be hanged so that some can keep the organisation in a `image-trap’.

  47. Yogi says:

    @ Sword – Sir,I am also deeply distressed by your offensive comments about Lord Krishana. Apparently your knowledge of Hindu Religion and Dharama is extremely poor but that should make you more cautious. I request you to please make suitable amends immediately. Failing which I shall cease to interact with you.

  48. Sword says:

    @Yogi – I am sorry if what I have written may have offended you. But none of this is my creation, but referred to in our scriptures and folklore – much the same as the sun eclipse incident you had mentioned.

    That he stole ‘maakhan’ is sung about in bhajans.

    His raas leela with gopis is also sung about and well known and accepted.

    Radha is depicted with Lord Krishna in almost all his images and idols. I quote – “Radha is recognized as the loveliest of all the cowgirls. She was the wife of Ayana and the daughter of the cowherd Vrishabhanu and his wife, Kamalavati. Radha was a childhood friend and soulmate of Krishna and the two were inseparable as playmates and later as lovers. Theirs was a love hidden from society, given Radha’s status of a married woman. They had their moments of love, passion and anger – just like any two lovers in love and yet their love could not stand the test of duty that Krishna had to face.” This is quoted in Brahma Vaivarta Purana. (Please see http://www.indiadivine.org/audarya/hare-krishna-forum/488368-radha-wife-ayana-not-wife-krishna.html )

    About having multiple wives – I quote, “Krishna had a total of 16,108 wives, out of which eight were his princely wives and 16,100 were rescued from Narakasura, who had forcibly kept them in his harem, but all of them are considered to be incarnations of Goddess Lakshmi. “(Source – Brahma Vaivarta Puran, Garg Samhita)

    So whose knowledge of Hindu Religion is extremely poor?

    As regards taking offence to my statements, I have only replied in the same context as you, and with examples that are quoted in our scriptures. I fail to see how that can offend you, particularly since you were the one who brought the Lord into this debate.

Leave a Reply

*