Every way you look at it you lose


This post is not about individuals. It is not about who is right and who is wrong. Enough has been written on this blog about that, right from the inception of this sordid affair. Some extracts are quoted below for context:-

“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 .…… 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?” (From An open letter to the COAS – 1 Jul 2011)

“The fact that some political leaders have made public statements joining cause leads one to believe that their support is being canvassed – something that can’t augur very well for the established fabric of the organization” (From Another open letter to the COAS – 04 Jan 2012)

“It is possible that the General harbors political ambitions, and has used his time in office to set the stage for launching his second career. Viewed against this possibility, his actions suddenly begin to make a lot of sense. Not only has he received more media attention than all the chiefs before him put together, he has also supposedly projected himself as an honourable, fearless and honest crusader against injustice and corruption. Having thus carried out his personal brand building (at the cost of brand Army), it could be a simple matter to step out of uniform and into politics. All will probably be revealed in Act three.” (From Casus Belli Aching – 28 Mar 2012)

 But as I said, this is not about individuals and their follies. It is about the outcome, as it is unfolding now. And the resulting effects on the organization. As per the latest reports, the Army has recommended probe against the actions of its former chief. These recommendations, as per the reports, are based on an investigation headed by the Director General Military Operations (DGMO) into the functioning of a controversial intelligence unit Technical Support Division (TSD) set up by Gen VK Singh.

Since, as forecast, Gen VK Singh has since jumped into politics and joined the BJP, and recently shared the stage with the party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, these recommendations by the Army are being viewed as political vendetta by the opposition. The ruling party denies this, even hinting that the actions of TSD under Singh’s command were guided by some political parties.

Taken together, these claims and counter-claims imply that actions taken by the Army under the former chief and the present chief, have been guided by political interests of different factions. Never before in its glorious past has the Indian Army been accused of this. The fact that India can boast of the most apolitical Army, in the sub-continent and also probably in the rest of the developing world, is because politicians and generals have scrupulously avoided involving each other in their respective functioning. That barrier has been breached, and it does not bode well for the future of the Army as an apolitical organization.

The Army, a holy cow for the politicians so far, is now fair game – like the CBI, CVC and all others. And we have seen the fate of those organizations in the hands of an unscrupulous regime. The question is, will the events set in motion by the personal ambitions of some unscrupulous self serving people reduce the magnificent Indian Army to yet another caged parrot?

Irrespective of which side is telling the truth, the implications are ominous. If the former chief and the opposition party is right, and the enquiry report is framing the former chief because of his political affiliations, it implies that the army and present chief are lying at the behest of the ruling party. Conversely, if the report is right, it implies that the former chief went way beyond his mandate and tried to interfere in the political functioning.

From the point of view of the Army as an organization, words from the old Simon and Garfunkel song ‘Mrs Robinson’ come to mind – “Every way you look at it you lose”.