Your interview with General V.K. Singh (‘I won’t resign...’, Mar 12) and the accompanying report (A Creeping Barrage) left me confused. The general says he made an error in filling up the defence academy application form, and then says it was also corrected before he joined the academy. So what’s the fuss? And then, post-2005, he says there was a clerical error based on the form—which he himself said had been rectified! And then he says he “accepted” 1950 as the year of birth during dealings with his superiors, which are on record. If a general can be deceived into accepting a wrong date of birth as his own, it speaks of the abilities of our higher echelons.
G. Venkataraman, Mumbai
Why waste so much paper on General V.K. Singh? The whole problem is of his own making. And he would have us believe that he (or someone) filled in the wrong date of birth in the nda application form. Can anyone really believe one would fill in a wrong detail unless one is to benefit from it?
Peter S.C. Pothan, Bangalore
I can only conclude that Gen Singh is a victim of institutional anarchy bordering on tyranny.
Maj Gen N.B. Singh (retd), on e-mail
Two points regarding the general’s date of birth. First, there is no independent corroboration of his DoB. All we have is his claim that it is one date, and others saying it’s another. Second, the practice of using the IC number—the order of merit in which you pass out of ima—for promotions is a bit absurd. At the academy, your rank is dictated by your discipline and how you absorb the basics. It is hard to understand why, 40 years on, after learning strategy through experience and education, an officer’s merit is judged by what he was good at in the academy.
T.R. Ramaswami, Mumbai
Instead of calling them the army, the navy and the air force, and having different ranks, why don’t we create an Indian Defence Service, on the lines of the administrative service, and place them on par with other services? If a babu can function as a joint secretary, surely a major can do so too, and probably better.
Arun Sathaye, Indore
The SC has done nothing but blame both sides and then ask them to make up. In any other instance, it would have surely called for the school-leaving certificate and declare that the date of birth there be accepted as the correct one. An institutional bias here?
The facts brought out by the general show that the original error in his date of birth was immediately corrected. So the problem, it now becomes evident, was that there was a whole set of vested interests at work to ensure that the general retires early and a particular person takes office.
Lt Col S.P. Karir, on e-mail
How can anyone have two dates of birth? This is the privilege of dvijas! The SC essentially ‘approved’ two dates of birth for Gen V.K. Singh by not saying anything specific.
Col C.V. Venugopalan (retd), Palakkad
Apropos V.K. Singh’s interview (Mar 12), it’s sad to see one of our finest institutions being dragged into the press for the wrong reasons. No one doubts its subservient role under the political establishment in a democracy. But it’s time the army top brass got a professional makeover in media management—the messy world beyond the cantonment areas needs to be handled on its own terms.
The Defence Secy. should be subordinate to the COAS and there should be political committees looking after the Armed Forces staffed and headed by eminent parliamentarians . Policy making should be by the chiefs in consonance with these political leaders . Problem lies with the bloody IAS who want everything to themselves and robbing specialist officers of their legitimae rights.
The babus just don't make the bloody cut as far as formulating defence policy goes ... they confuse guerrillas with gorillas ...
An unprecedented, unpleasant and uncalled for tussle between the COAS and the Defence ministry could have been avoided had both the parties acted on time with mutual trust and restraint without turning it into a legal battle. The different interpretations of the apex court judgment apart, the fact remains that General VK Singh's contention has been rejected by the court albeit with a few consolatory observations. It's also true that the SC had been considerate towards the COAS otherwise it could have passed the strictures against him.
Your interview with Gen. V.K. Singh “I Won’t Resign” (Outlook 12 Mar 2012) raises interesting points needing investigation. First, there is NO independent corroboration that his YoB is 1950. There is only his application form and two letters written in response to letters from AHQ, whose tone and contents can perhaps be interpreted as blackmail. Next, what is important for a Chief – retirement age or a tenure that can take the army forward? What can he, or even his successor do in just over two years – calculate pension, PF and gratuity, make some foreign trips, promote favourites and then butter the government for an ambassadorship or governorship? Shouldn’t chiefs get 4 years to leave a mark – or perhaps this is what the netas and babus don’t want?
Another related issue is the “order of seniority” at the level of Corps and Army Commander, which goes by the IC number which is nothing but the “order of merit” that you pass out in the IMA. Is this logical? Can a merit list when you were a cadet 40 years ago, and depends on how you climb ropes, or swing your arms when marching or ride a horse be relevant for the rest of your career? What if someone was a better battalion, brigade, division and corps commander but loses on becoming Chief just because someone else was a better cadet in the IMA with qualities entirely irrelevant for a chief? There is also the related “fit for command” and “fit for staff” categorization that is giving fits to officers. Will AHQ look into all this? Are we getting chiefs who are just grown-up cadets or someone with a vision to take the world’s largest volunteer army forward? Not just the army but this absurdity is present even in the IAS, IPS and all government services.
Will OUTLOOK do a detailed analysis of all the above points? I am willing to help.
It is a shame and a himalayan blunder / incompetence by AK. Antony that he did not resolve it. The Supreme court need not have left this matter in an ambiguous way.
Most of the problems in India are due to bureaucracy where this joke will happen - civilians with no field experience formulating defence policies without the service chiefs. Defence secretary should be subordinate to COAS and COAS should have the power to dismiss defence secretary. We need a Joint chief of Armed Services (a competent retired chief of one of the three services) who will head the MoD and not some stupid IAS officer without any field experience.
What is the point now. Government has declared General Bikram Singh to take over as next Chief and it is highly unlikely that this decision will be reversed except under orders from Supreme Court.
Now only VKS is talking about the non delivery of Judgment on the DOB issue. I have already commented, when the judgment got delivered, that blaming both the sides doesnt seem to be a judgment delivered - seems to be an opinion delivered to appease the Govt's wrong - should have called for the SSLC book and took the DOB as stated therein as is the norm in our country for any purposes. Then the matter would have got closed amicably. Even the media didnt focus on this issue. You may refer to my comments on TOI. Many never expected such a delivery from the SC. One has the doubt, the AC was either blackmailed or armtwisted. Surely, this will tell upon the morale of the Army to certain extent, it is believed.
When his letter to PM begins with HONORABLE PM he loses honesty-calls spade a dice-His attempt to change date of birth inspired by another criminal crook Anand Former CJI Supreme court is another Why are we having only turncoats spineless in power?
Time truth is found out and the culprits exposed. How demeaning! All those who indulged in this dirty game of making the AG and MS branches change the General's YOB based on the wrong publication of Army List for their own narrow interests need to be granted exemplary punishment. Adarsh and Sukhna have already shamed them (Have they? Not exactly, because they are so supremely shameless and blase!), and always will, reminding the public of the pettiness and shenanigans.
“Although General avoided the Self-Goal, he failed to survive the ‘Knock-Out’ punch of Supreme Court.”
It goes to the credit of the Supreme Court of India that it has brought closure to such a contentious issue without a single shot being fired, without a drop of blood being spilt.
"A critical refrain against you is, that you have spent all your energies as COAS on resolving this matter instead of addressing the many pressing issues concerning the army."
Probing questions. Good interview by Chandra Suta Dogra.
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