defence: army chief COMMENTS
Clearly it isn’t just the army chief’s date of birth at stake, given the wrangling and lobbying

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Daily Mail
Feb 13, 2012
Advant-Age Who?

It has been part of the Indian system to trim one’s age a year or more during school admission, or later, while filling up forms for the matriculation examination (The Generals and Particulars, Jan 30). As many people did not have birth certificates then, they could benefit this way by getting a year or two extra in government or private service. Sportspersons too are known to lower their age to stay on, say, an under-16 or under-20 team. It would have been wise for the army chief to have rectified his age early on instead of standing on honour now.

S. Ramaniam, Mumbai

Let us for a moment suppose that Gen Singh had erroneously given his year of birth as 1952, presuming this would not have made him underaged for applying to the National Defence Academy when he was in school. Then, if the general disputed this and said his year of birth was 1951, I’m sure the government would not only have rushed to make the correction but also humiliated him for deliberately giving false information to clutch to an extra year in service.

Col Trilok Mehrotra (retd), Noida

One thing needs pointing out: it’s not just about justice for Gen V.K. Singh; it’s also about justice for his successor, who should be appointed on the basis of fact, not error or, may one venture, conspiracy. If the government wants to appoint a particular person—and it’s the government’s prerogative to do so—let it do so in a straightforward manner instead of at the cost of an upright man’s honour.

K.J. Singh, Gurgaon

It is quite clear the army chief has been wronged by the government and is fighting for his honour. The Supreme Court should censure the government on the mishandling of this issue.

Siva Chinnaswamy, Boston

The wrangling over the army chief’s year of birth is the result of lobbies at work to have their man at the helm of affairs in the army. As regards the army chief going to court, why should people have a problem with that? It’s not as if he cannot go to court just because he is the army chief.

Ranjit Sinha, Calcutta

Feb 20, 2012
The Missing Roar

That an armyman is concerned about his honour is fine (The Generals and Particulars, Jan 30), but where was General V.K. Singh’s ‘uncompromising stand’ during his last two promotions?

Rohit, on e-mail
Feb 27, 2012
Demoral of the Story

Though General V.K. Singh has had to retreat subsequently, it’s sad that an army chief had to move court to prove his date of birth (The Generals and Particulars, Jan 30). We all know that, in general, one’s birth date is given out as the one appearing on the matriculation certificate. It’s therefore surprising how the army headquarters and the military secretariat could differ on Gen Singh’s age. Such discrepancies are embarrassing and they demoralise honest officers and the military in general.

Gunjan Shree Sinha, Patna
Jan 21, 2012
01:49 PM

 The officers of the Indian Army had always maintained the "Gentlemen" image. That image now has taken a beating. It just stinks!

Gurgaon, India
Jan 21, 2012
03:27 PM

One simple fact will shed a great deal of light on this matter : when Master V. K. Singh, as he then was, sought admission to the NDA, would he have been underage if the year of birth had been stated as 1951 ? If that is indeed the case, things look very cloudy indeed. If he was eligible to apply, even having been born in 1951, then the discrepancy is harmless and it ought to be corrected, given the wealth of unimpeachable documentation showing the year of birth as 1951.

ashok lal
mumbai, India
Jan 21, 2012
04:01 PM

“Apropos the DOB row of Army Chief, I won’t feel surprised if tomorrow we are told that India secured Independence in 1948 and not 1947.”

Rajneesh Batra
New Delhi, India
Jan 21, 2012
05:53 PM

Elementary explanation for the whole mix-up:-

1. It was standard practice in that era to record one year less in the matriculation certificate as the age was as told by parents as there were no birth certificates floating around. The idea was to benifit the child to retire one year later.

2. most times the child was not aware of this as the 5th, 8th, 12th birthday etc were duly celeberated at the right time. he would at that age state the correct age as retirement was not on the horizon--thats why the correct age was filled in the ima form on the word of the candidate.

3. later the father got the matriculation age recorded as that would help at retirement.

4. thats what has happenned--it can be scientifically verified

n.delhi, India
Jan 21, 2012
07:45 PM

@ Jasbir 4/D-110,

The elementary explanation offered by you is debunked by the fact that Gen VK Singh was born in the Military Hospital @ Pune. The hospital records his year of birth as 1951 and not 1950. Since the armed forces are very meticulous in paper work this fact has also been recoreded with his fathers regiment (14 Rajput). So it is not a case of his father or someone else manipulating the year of birth at will.


The part of the story above that tells how he was forced to accept 1950 as the year also speaks for itself. Contrary to what some have written - neither his entry to NDA nor any of his promotions post 2005 would have been impacted by the correct date of birth.

What happened or is happening to Gen VK Singh is nothing compared to what happened to batchmates of Lt Gen Bikram Singh (Maj Gen Arora and others not named - as detailed in the story above).

It is clearly a FU by the MoD. I am not sure if it is out of malice or the general incompetence that plagues this government.

My question is about the motive of this exercise. Why would the government risk so much? Does it realize that if it looses the case then AK Antony may have to go before the Gen retires. All this risk just to put a minority COAS? That too after the state elections in Punjab are over! In either case is it such a big vote swinger?

Nah. There is a lot more to it than is brought out by this story.

vikas kalra
delhi, India
Jan 21, 2012
09:28 PM

Adding to KALRA--------- may be its about the CHIEF after Bikram Singh in 2015.  If VK singh retires in 2013 the next CHIEF will retitre in 2016 and the "2015 CHIEF" may go home without being the CHIEF- and if that happens to be from Antony's community!!!!!!!!!!!  

Charan dewry
Guwahati, India
Jan 22, 2012
12:09 AM

Many of us would like to have the cake and eat it too, specially when it is the best cake available in the shop. General has also temptations..

Shantam Prem
chandigarh, India
Jan 22, 2012
11:35 AM

 I am appaled to read these comments. Do people comment without reading and comprehending the article. How can one make non sensical comments about this issue after the facts have been clearly laid out. It is very obvious that the General has been wronged by the government and is fighting for his honor. He has publicly stated that he would resign in May 2012, but want to correct the wrong done to him. Defence minister should resign and I hope the Supreme court calls out the mishanlding of this issue by the defence secretary and defence minister. 

siva chinnasamy
boston, United States
Jan 22, 2012
11:57 AM

This is a bigger scam than 2G scam. Its effects were monetary and one time. This scam involving posting of higher defence officers has long time effects and affects moral. It is time Prime Minister takes active part in unerathing this bad practice.

Also the Chiefs of Armed Forces should be Administratively under The Defence minister and not the secretary.

Anil P
Akola, India
Jan 22, 2012
02:58 PM

Congrats to the Army chief, for getting a verdict from the Supreme Court ultra-quick ( as usual only because of media coverage pressure )

Male Unblocked
Chennai, India
Jan 22, 2012
05:51 PM

A person can have only one death of birth. And I suppose one is not free to chose one's own DOB. The Indian army  recorded two & gave the unfortunate general  the absurd option  of choosing one. I fear for the country if such is the state of affairs in an institution which is entrusted to defend it.

The first thing an institurion would do is to find out which is factually the General's DOB. In the instant case that would have been easy. As luck would have it, Vijay Kumar Singh was born in a hospital run by the army & exclusively for the army. To top it up the man had an birth certificate issued by the army hospital & by inference by the army itself.  His  school leaving certificate , service record at every stage of his promotion , the branch of the army which is keeper of personal records - all of them tallies.

Then what is all these fuss about ? Somebody all the while was crawling deep in to  the woodwork & found that at least at one place an obvious mistake was made &  one branch which had no business to do so surreptiously made an entry contrary to what a man with commonsemnse would do which is to  find out how the mistake happened & correct it with the factual date. And since it involves a potential COAS, punish the people who created this mischief.

But that is not the way this government works. They asked the General as if he is in position to fix his DOB. He might have in his time fought off an entire Paki brigade with as little as platoon , his uniform may replete with bravery sashes & medals , but he is helpless against   these ketch-up colonels, Sukna generals or Adarsh chiefs & sundry  warriors who would fight great battles with their files & cry mamma mia at first sight of a chinese slit-eye in uniform. He is sufficiently cowed down to hem & haw , specially when it comes his being the COAS.

It is typical of this government to create a controversy where there is none & shoot themselves in their feet.

And let me talk about honor. There is a suggestion by & large endorsed by the media that the General should have resigned before going to court. That would have suited the ketch up colonels & their patrons in the government fine as the entire fiasco was created to get the General out of the way as he would  suffer no nonsense with officers dabbling in land deals or buying & selling canteens or polits & babus contracting military hardware.

General V. K Sing is a brave soldier as he took on the government to uphold his & the army's honor while in office. For otherwise wrong signal gone to entire world . They would have got the message  how easy it is to get an inconvinient Chief out of the way. Only then the honor of the army & its chief  would have been tarnished.

Jan 22, 2012
08:39 PM

The changing criteria adopted by promotion/assessment boards for promotions, and the manipulation of promotions thereby, are very common in all departments of the government. Many government officers spend most of their time in cosying up to higher-ups who matter in promotion boards, with a view to ensuring their own promotion at crucial junctures, so that they may end their careers in higher posts than their contemporaries. Seeking promotions  on the basis of meritorious work records is an exception rather than the rule. The armed forces, despite the image of honour, integrity and selflessness that is projected about them, are no exception to this phenomenon.

The issue raised in the article, about the bad relations between Generals Deepak Kapoor and V K Singh on account of the former's protege being punished by the upright stance adopted by the latter, could be studied in more detail to see if it is really a case of a corrupt person (or one wishing to shield the corrupt) seeking to revenge himself on an honest person. In that case, it may be that an erstwhile general and fellow corrupt bureaucrats have conspired to create problems for Gen. V K Singh. However, even if it were so, if Gen. V K Singh is indeed honest and selfless and was 'pressurised' to accept a wrong date of birth at some juncture of his career, he could retire 'under protest' on the date prescribed by the 'wrong' DOB and expose the actions of officers and bureaucrats executed for their own narrow interests rather than national interests. That might have helped to clear the waters and put some check on wrongdoings motivated by self-interest. The present situation and the General's and the government's attitudes do not seem to be helping in doing so.

Amitabha Basu
New Delhi, India
Jan 23, 2012
12:18 PM

# 11, Manish,

The hand-picked christian 'non-corrupt' ministerial face of the corrupt Congress, obviously does not have the b***s to face upto the mischief doers who tarnished the Army chiefs name.

Perhaps a fear of a coup, maybe?

Male Unblocked
Chennai, India
Jan 24, 2012
04:01 PM

 excellently put together! people need to know these facts before they air an opinion.

BUT one fact that is missed out on all platforms is: that it is not just about justice to Gen.  VK Singh but also to his successor. A successor should be appointed based on fact and NOT on error OR conspiracy OR Gen VK having to take a high moral ground of resigning on 31 May 2012 even if SC decides in his favour as then he would be facilitating injustice to the rightful successor OR let the Govt. have the courage to exercise its prerogative by choosing its favourite which it can - do that but not in a cloak and dagger manner at the cost of an upright man's honour.

kj singh
Gurgaon, India
Jan 24, 2012
09:46 PM

One side we have from 28 States and 7 Union Territories around 1.5 million personnel to govern us as our ELECTED representatives being MPs, MLAs, MLCs, Municipality councilors, and Village Panchayets and other side we have SELECTED group of 1.3 millions Strong Uniform Army Personnel and now honestly if any adult citizens among 1.3 billions Indians, outside these groups of 1.5 + 1.3 millions are asked … whom you trust to be honest to the country to serve, believe me 99 % Indians will go in favour of 1.3 millions Strong Indian Army personnel than 1.5 Million Civilians we ELECTED.

Now let us make some direct compares where the adult Indian Citizens will vouch for Honesty, Dignity and Integrity, namely:

1. Chief of Army Staff Vs. Minister of Defense
2. Chief of Naval Staff Vs. Minister of Sea Transport
3. Chief of Air-force Vs. Minister of Civil Aviation
4. Deputy Chief of Army Staff Vs Vice Minister of Defense
5. Deputy Chief of Naval Staff Vs Vice Minister of Sea Transport
6. Deputy Chief of Air force Staff Vs Vice Minister of Civil Aviation
And so on in terms of Military rank and files to civilian bureaucrats ………. and if any question arise related Honesty, Dignity and Integrity, I am sure all most all adult civil Indians will give blindfolded vouch in favour of these Uniform Army Personnel.

No, I am not, under any circumstances comparing benefit of Civilian Parliamentary System to Authoritarian Military Dictatorship to govern a country because here the issue is not Theory of Governance but Character of Independent Senior Civil Politician that of Independent Senior Army Personnel.

At present status quo in India all most all Government uniformed personnel – be it Police, CRPF, BSF, Home Guards, Forest Officers, Customs officers, Migration Officers, GRP, RPF etc. etc. do not enjoy any confidence of Indian civilians as they are identified as 3rd illegal arm of majority of Indian Politicians to harass non political civilians; and fortunately Totally & politically non influenced Indian Armed Forces, without any political connections are the last Bastions of the Confidence of Indian Citizens of Republic of India. PROBABLY THAT IS THE REASON GEN. SINGH COULD NOT MAKE ANY COMPROMISE like other uniformed personnel of India.

We sincerely pray to God that our top most Judicial Temple Apex Court do not bring down the Honesty, Dignity and Integrity of a Non Political Uniformed Leader of 1.3 million strong trusts worthy Indian Army.


Setubal, Portugal
Jan 27, 2012
12:01 AM

now, since the matter is subjudice in Supreme court of must wait for its verdict.

There cannot be any choice for DOB..... 

Sagar, India
Jan 27, 2012
12:17 AM

 First of all, India is not like any other country. We have Colin Powell in USA who was made the cheif superceding some 28 seniors and he did a good job in 1st gulf war. Then we have Zia and Musharraf in Pakistan who usurped when promoted out of turn. 

S K Sinha was the only case I remember who was  denied the job of cheif as per hierarchy and heavens didn't fall on earth. Vaidya did the same  job but I am loathe to say Sinha would have done better or worse.

The corruption angle is superfluous. Singh has been in the job for quite some time and nothing ground breaking has happened in corruption of army. It is better to keep the army and its politics within the wraps. If Singh is ready to retire how GOI stipulates as he has publicly said, there should be no problem in making him a year younger. 

lol, india
Jan 28, 2012
03:37 PM

Gen.J.J.Singh's Military Secretary was Lt.Gen.Richard Khare,his Coursemate from NDA.Lt.Gen.H.S.Panag,father of Gul Panag,replaced Gen.Deepak Kapoor in Northern Command.He constituted over hundred enquiries about irregularities in that Command.He was shunted out to insignificant Central command and Lt.Gen.P.C.Bhardwaj,coursemate of Gen.V.K.Singh,who had done only 9 mths as Corps Commander,was brought in his place. He quashed all enquiries.He was born in Dec 50,and had Gen.Deepak Kapoor got 2 mths extension,Gen.V.K.Singh with his Date of Birth as May 50,would have retired onMay10,with Military Secretary Lt.Gen.Avadesh Prasad's blessings.Lt.Gen.P.C.Bhardwaj and not Gen. V.K.Singh,would then have taken over. Sukhna scam changed all calculations.Incidently Lt.Gen.Dushyant Singh Chauhan,classmate and coursemate of Lt.Gen.K.T.Parnaik and not Maj.Gen.Ravi Arora,got Sword Of Honour in IMA.He retired on 31 Dec 11.

Ugra Sen Kureel
Lucknow, India
Feb 04, 2012
10:17 PM

 Date of birth as entered in the matriculation certificate is not immutable, because, a few decades ago, a declaration by the parents was sufficient, and very often it was wrong. The only conclusive proof would be municipal records of births and deaths. The General should have sorted it out this issue long back. Now it would be dignified if he quits gracefully without kicking up more dust. Where has the government gone wrong?

Feb 05, 2012
08:11 AM


Date of birth as entered in the matriculation certificate is not immutable, because, a few decades ago, a declaration by the parents was sufficient, and very often it was wrong. The only conclusive proof would be municipal records of births and deaths.

You do know, I hope, that Gen VK Singh has a birth certificate issued by the Army Hospital, Pune which shows the DOB as May 1951.

Chennai, India


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