Monday, July 26, 2010

Bureaucrats Allergy to Armed Forces

Cantonment & Civvy Street~I- A Military State In Slow March? by Ashok Kapur
Babus and their top-secret fetish: 47-year-old Henderson-Brooks report on the military debacle in the 1962 border war with China still soaked in secrecy

Babus’ Age-Old Allergy to Armed Forces
By Anil Bhat
The author, a retired Army officer and an independent defence and security analyst, is Chief Editor, WordSword Features.

Some of the ‘takes’ of many serving and retired Armed Forces officers I interacted with, who read retired Indian Administiative Service (IAS) officer Ashok Kapur’s ‘Cantonment & Civvy Street (I & II) A Military State in Slow March’, in The Statesman of 17 and 18 May 2010, or also those who did not read this article, but are relevant to its theme, are: “seems like he has nothing to do...suffering from insecurities… wonder what all he did, or made a mess of during his service…these are the chaps who made a virtue out of misgovernance… they often create problems about which they are never accountable… laughable…nonsense… malicious… motivated… utter lies…many problems of governance are perpetuated by IAS officers…his contention of ‘eroding civil control’ is an atrocious lie-it is exactly opposite of what has happened over the last decades…the ICS was meant to be ‘the steel frame, the IAS soon became ‘the steal frame’ .” The list is pretty long.

While the opinion of some is that this article is too ridiculous to respond to, some facts need to be brought out to set the record straight.

Kapur begins his piece with the court martial of senior generals. The Indian Army has its share of aberrations, but probably far less in proportion when compared to many other government and non-government organizations. And that has not prevented it from still being the most disciplined, organized, well structured and most importantly, the most dependable organization- which has remained an ultimate alternative from defending the country against external aggression, to fighting internal insurgencies / terrorism (only because state and central police organizations have not been able to), disaster relief, including pulling children falling into wells.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Prithviraj Chavan recently informed that a total of 78 officers of the IAS, Indian Police Service and Indian Revenue Service have been found to be involved in corruption cases in the last three years. “Thirty-two officers were found involved in corruption cases in 2009. Seventeen officers were booked under the same charges in 2008 and 20 in 2007, respectively,” the minister said and added “Until March 2010, nine officers were found to be involved in corruption cases.”

Lt. Gen. Harwant Singh (retd) wrote in a widely published article titled ‘An Army of Occupation’ that “there was a pathological dislike of the Indian military by the Congress party” since Independence , which soon after, “led to the military's down-gradation in so systematic and persistent a manner… The bureaucracy exploited this bias of the Congress to the hilt and added to it the fear and the possibility of a military take over as had occurred in some of the neighbouring countries. It also managed to restructure the higher defence set-up to the nation's overall strategic disadvantage” .

Gen O P Malhotra as Chief of Defence Staff, in a note to the Defence Minister, in 1981 raised the issue of down grading of service officers in the warrant of precedence ( which bears on pay etc as well ) and that these down-gradations coincided with the termination of every war ( 1948, ’62, ’65, and ’71. ) and this had seriously affected the morale of the Armed Forces. “A committee of three secretaries periodically revise the warrant of precedence, which is rubber stamped by the supreme commander of the armed forces, who is not known to have even once raised a query on this regular assault on the officers of his forces”, Gen. Harwant stated, adding, “In response to Gen OP Malhotra's objection, the committee of secretaries recorded, ‘military officers were placed unduly high in the old warrant of precedence, presumably as it was considered essential for officers of army of occupation to be given special status and authority.’ While it appeared to be an independent perception of a few babus, the political class, either had a similar view or were indifferent to bureaucratic machinations. Of all the people of this world, we Indians, who have been under the heels of armies of occupation for more than two thousand years, should know what such armies are like. To call Indian army of the 20th century (1900 to1947) an army of occupation was blasphemous.”

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