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CQMH Abdul Hamid – the Hero of Asal Uttar

As the COAS visits the village of CQMH Abdul Hamid, PVC on the 52nd anniversary of his epic anti-tank battle, here is an extract from my book “Brave Men of War” about the hero of Asal Uttar. In an Infantry Company, the Company Quarter Master Havildar (CQMH) is responsible for the logistics – rations, clothing, and other necessities troops need to keep fighting. An essential but not very glamorous job when there’s a war going on, because it keeps you away from the battle itself. Abdul Hamid, the newly appointed CQMH of C Company, 4 Grenadiers, was therefore only too happy when he was ordered to return to the role he had recently been in – that of a 106mm RCL anti-tank gun detachment commander. This was only in order, as he … Read entire article »

Filed under: Military

Aam Aadmi Khaas Baat

Latest in the series of embarrassing revelations about the ostentatious lifestyle that Aam Aadmi Party leaders, and in particular their supremo Arvind Kejriwal seem to leading, is a set of bills for catering at his official residence. Raised by The Delhi Tourism and Tpt Development Corporation, they are for meals provided by Taj Mahal Hotel at exorbitant rates of Rs 12,472 and  Rs 16,025 per plate (on 11 Feb 2016 and 12 Feb 2016). This comes on the heels of revelations of similar extravagances at public expense – Rs 1 Crore worth samosas (including Rs 47 Lakh worth at office and residence of Arvind Kejriwal), Rs 1.05 Crore paid to a PR agency for promoting Kejriwal’s social media outreach program ‘Talk to AK’ in Punjab, Goa and Gujarat, and the move to pay … Read entire article »

Filed under: Blogitorial, Politics

The PM’s Speech

The PM’s Speech

I gaped at the screen in horror. The prime minister was addressing the nation – an unscheduled talk announced just 30 miutes back. It was ten minutes into the speech and my despair grew with every word he uttered. On the screen, he adjusted the mics and hiked his sleeves for the nth time, shuffled through his written speech and, unable to find what he was looking for, gave a dimpled smile to someone offscreen. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Politics

Breaking the Neo-Caste Barrier

An interesting, and for most of us, encouraging, phenomenon is visible in India today. It is the brick by brick dismantling of the neo-caste system in our society. Of course, the caste system per se was abolished by our constitution shortly after independence, yet the same independence slowly engendered this other, equally insidious neo-caste system in the country. It had only two gradations in it’s scheme of things – ‘us’ and ‘them’. ‘Us’ being the ‘upper caste’, the progenitors and propagators of the system, and ‘them’ being the rest of us. From politics to bollywood to newsrooms, seminar rooms to the social circuit, members of the neo-elite had ready access. It worked very well to propagate careers of member’s progeny with their own domains – politicians kin getting tickets and star … Read entire article »

Filed under: Aam Aadmi, Blogitorial, Common man, Democracy, Politics

Appointment of Army Chief – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it

Amidst speculation and heated debates about the delay in appointment of the next army chief, rumours about the two senior army commanders likely to be superceded are doing rounds. One argument being forwarded is – “shouldn’t merit rather than seniority be the criterion?” As arguments go, its a tempting one, one which is difficult to disagree with. But it’s not without its pitfalls. For the sake of argument, let’s assume that there is significant difference between Army Commanders in terms of their merit or suitability for the job. What would be the parameters on which such differences could be measured? How would the performance of a Northern Army Commander dealing with Counter Insurgency operations be compared with that of, say the Western Army Commander who’s peacetime deliverables would be substantially different? … Read entire article »

Filed under: COAS, Military, Politics

Is the Indian Army in Danger of Being Politicised?

The following article appeared in The Quint. Original can be accessed here. Gen Dalbir Suhag, the present army chief is due to retire at the end of this month. However, in a surprising break from past practice, the name of his replacement has not yet been announced. As things stand, Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi, the present Eastern Army Commander, is the senior most on the day the Gen Suhag retires, and going by the precedence, he should have been named as the next chief by now. Appointment of Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa as the Chief of Pakistan army was in the news on both sides of the border for the past few days. It was announced just three days before Gen Raheel Sharif retired, and the new incumbent took over the reins … Read entire article »

Filed under: Civil Military Relations, COAS, Military, Politics

Aam Aadmi Party and the demise of hope

Aam Aadmi Party and the demise of hope

Aam Aadmi Party was born of hope. The Lokpal movement of 2011, led by Anna Hazare, was a watershed event in India’s recent history. A diminutive mild mannered 70 something former soldier and social worker, Anna caught the nation’s imagination and inspired following like only Mahatma Gandhi had before him. It was half-way into the second tenure of UPA government, and each new day brought with it news of another scam, each bigger than … Read entire article »

Filed under: Aam Aadmi, Politics

Send in the Army

Send in the Army

Narendra Modi government’s bold move to demonetize high denomination notes in circulation and replacing them with new ones has by and large been welcomed by the people. With the exception of opposition parties, who are criticising it, trying hard to find flaws with the scheme. This is, of course, more out of political expediency, and probably pique at having suddenly lost a lot of political capital – both literally and figuratively. For the past three … Read entire article »

Filed under: Military, National Issues

An Open Letter to Aakar Patel

Dear Mr Patel, This is in response to your piece published in today’s TOI under a presumptuously named column ‘AakaarVani’. I’m writing this to correct you on some factual and a lot of perceptual errors that seem to behind almost every sentence in the piece. I’m writing in the hope that you may correct these, unless of course these aren’t inadvertent, but deliberate spin that you want to give to bolster the argument you make in the title of the piece. Let me start by pointing out the irony in the title itself, since having written it yourself, you obviously didn’t spot it. That an article criticizing the army and saying a lot of things about the faujis is titled “Nothing can be said about our faujis, they’re above criticism”. If irony … Read entire article »

Filed under: Blogitorial, Media, Military

Heroes amongst us

Heroes amongst us

This Diwali, there was a special effort from the government to put the soldiers in the forefront of national consciousness. The prime minister himself celebrated Diwali amidst troops deployed on the remote frontiers, just as he had the past two years. In addition, this year there was a drive to connect the soldiers with people they fight to defend via the ‘Sandesh to Soldiers’ campaign. People were encouraged to send their message to soldiers via social … Read entire article »

Filed under: Military