Sunday, April 11, 2010

Valuable Veteran inputs to combat increasing Naxal/ Maoist Terror

Dear Lt Gen Malik,
1. Your views put in a concise form as you must have done when you were Deputy Chief of Army Staff. I hope it reaches the Parliament tables of Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swraj and other Leaders like Arun Shourie, Mulayam Singh, AMMA, etc., who are sensitive to strategic and defence matters. The way forward gets lost in the competitive turfs. They are immune; if they do not like what comes, another Committee is formed and things remained buried. There is no point in persisting with trying to milk the cows.

2. At least once in 2/3 months, Man Mohanji should set up his PMO in remote areas to get the feel of realities at ground zero, first hand. Today there is no problem in being in continuous touch with South Bloc. And no heavens would fall during this period. In any case, he can be accessed in seconds. Further his Security Envelope follows him. That should be rural retreat though different from the Camp David Retreat which would give time to reflect and think and observe first hand things and problems of the poor away from hanger ons. Daily Yoga at home in A/C space is not sufficient and cannot substitute open remote areas.

3. Chidambaram has put more than 6 billion dollars in his chosen Secretary, Pillai, who has never stepped in the thick of things [Jungles] but keeps the dollars in his pockets, jingling in Seminar after Seminar seeking latest toys for Internal Security. Pillai's last job was WTO and other Economic trade works as Commerce Secretary. Toys take a decade to take roots. A false sense of security gets embedded meanwhile but that does not deter the Risers. What is the problem for Chidambaram camping in thick jungles. Let him take his security with him. Now only the Yuvraj goes to remote rurals to collect votes for them. Even a day spent there would give him enough mosquito bites and food off the Jungles but he would get cleansed internally and gain immensely. Let these Police Fat Cats consult him at his camping sites. He is more fitter than them. That would force the IPS Officers to lead from front. Gadkari has told his Party Office Bearers to spend 8 days in a month with the grass root players. Moguls and British did go to camps before them. They even took their Ladies to the camp sites. Cooks and other personal staff went with them. Now of course suitable packed survival food kits are available. I recall Vice Admiral MP Awati then Captain Awati, Petyas Squadron Commander in 1970/71, took teams from all his 5 ships under their 2nd in Command for 3 days camp and military training to the East Coast Hills. He could assess the morale of his men and ability of his 2nd in command of the Ships. Awati from top to bottom is a born Leader and transparency made him famous with his beard as Leadership mark. Our Political Leaders and Bureaucrats vociferously hold on to Raj privileges and trappings sans their good practices.

4. In my view, the Raj ended not because of DHARNAS/SALT MARCH/ DISOBEDIENCE MOVEMENT but because they simply could not divide & rule and hold on to an awakened people[s] any more in a vast country. Historically, time had come to withdraw from the rivers of milk and honey. Even if there were different set of Leaders this would have happened. Unfortunately the Congress Leaders kept their grudge of Armed Forces for taking part in WW2 despite their contrary advice and keep till date! So all the advice from Armed Forces comes through one ear and goes out from the other. That is the sad part. Even the Lankan President had to give free hand to his Armed Forces to wipe out LTTE with Chinese aid but typically post victory the President is hounding out his former Army Commander.

5. It is not to say Chidambaram is not the right person to hold the Office of Home Ministry. But he needs to:
Shed his Legal mindset. Get out of his previous frame of mind. Instead adopt Bhagwat Gita, precisely what Lord Krishna advised Arjuna. Do what is your duty and not worry how a few people judge you for. Act, Not worry about NHRC, few Media personalities, etc. He should be true to himself and lean on his spiritual powers.

Meet ordinary people, sandwiched between two forces, who are suffering. The Bureaucrats, the Judiciary, the Educationist, Health Care Providers, and others would follow him like the Pied Piper to the forests. Both writ of the Law and Development would happen slowly but surely.

6. All Political Parties should restrain their spokespersons, particularly appearing on the TV Debates to totally avoid mutual recriminations. Give no exposure to Leaders like Mani Shankar, Natarajan. The TV Media should call only those who have the credentials even if they do not belong to any political party. But above all there is nothing worse than the Anchor/ the Host hoisting his own pre-determined agenda mandated by their owners. One may recall that the UNS War were given precise 7 minutes to each Speaker-the Foreign Minister- to submit his Country's views. One can see the partisan participants intervening when some other is invited to speak on the TV. The worst offender is the Host himself!
With best regards,
Cdr Prem P Batra Retired.

Dear Prem,
As you are aware I receive and read your mails without fail. And am amazed at the level of stamina and perseverance you display. I have never found it necessary to respond because so many others do so with much articulation.

In this case I am taking the liberty because I had occasion to send the following mail a short while back to a media-person who had approached me for comments:

....Though it is too late to meet your deadline, it may be relevant to point out that what needs to be done about the Maoist challenge has been discussed at length at so many fora and any number of papers have been written on it. To be dealt with at two levels: first- address the genuine grievances of the tribals through effective governance; and second, tackle the armed Maoist cadres through well-planned and well-led operations.

And that leads me to your first query about what went wrong. Poor leadership and inadequate training. The answer is and always was: "lateral induction of Armed Forces personnel, including at the officer level, into the CRPF and other para-military forces, after they have done colour service of about seven or eight years in the Armed Forces in the case of the rank and file and in the case of short service commissioned officers, after they have done five or ten years. And since the problem is likely to remain with us for some time to come, I also reiterate my earlier suggestion that we resort to selective 'national service' to the extent that every individual who seeks to join the civil or police services at central or state government level, does compulsory service of a duration that can be determined in the Armed Forces, either at officer level or in the rank and file. I think our political leadership and civilian bureaucracy have ignored this essential component of our response to the internal turbulence long enough."
Warmest regards and keep the Brotherhood flag flying,
Satish Nambiar
Lt Gen Satish Nambiar (Retd)

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