Srinath Raghavan’s piece (A Declassed Detachment) touches on some facts regarding the problems of military officers versus civil servants. But the swipe at Gen V.K. Singh is absolutely uncalled for and in bad taste. Politicians—most of whom are thoroughly corrupt—and bureaucrats—of whom a sizeable number are corrupt—have manipulated the system in such a way that the armed forces or any other fraternity involved in securing the country or in nation-building (teachers, for example) are a demoralised lot. I think the three defence chiefs should be put at a par with or above the defence secretary. Soldiers should be given a better quality of life, completely free of political interference.
Brajesh Choudhary, Delhi
Good ol’ Raghavan thinks he has learnt everything he needed to know about the army after six years of service. I must be a dud, for after 35 years, I still feel there’s a multitude of things I’m unaware of. Yet for a captain with six years of service (of which he must have spent three at schools of instruction) to comment on a chief, it only goes to show that India is a true democracy.
Brig S. Sivaraman, Bangalore
The author is completely confused. Your editors should wake up, advise columnists on how to write logically.
Anil Sood, Botswana
Aren’t we readers entitled to informed commentary rather than biased opinion? I have always respected the Hindu and Outlook as two reliable sources of information, but after this piece I fear you are falling behind.
What values must the army reflect that the society has ?? Corruption , hypocrisy , serving yourself ??? Should they do a "Mahesh Bhatt" and start felicitating and aiding porn stars in their quest for filthy money and questionable respect ??
All armies are different form other organisations of the state and civilian organisations . It is better we accept this fact and give our forces some real teeth rather than questioning their honour code .
Very lopsided article and it hurt more because I was once an army aspirant ( cleared SSB got medically unfit). The insult to Gen Singh was uncalled for and seems to throw dirt on a man who is generally known to be of impeccable integrity .
If you peanuts you only get monkeys, said the legendary Lee Kuan Yew, Ex.PM of Singapore. He was very very right.
Our Govt driven by the socialist ideology chose the policy of cutting the nose to spite the face. Over decades government never bothered to compensate the officer class adequately on the premise that they enjoy power !! The seventies have seen galloping inflation during the socialist economy of Mrs Gandhi. This has led to steep erosion of purchase power of salaries and not withstanding some goodies by the pay commissions,even now most honest officers especially at the middle level find it very difficult to make ends meet in a consumeristic world to educate the children and buy a home, which are all legitimate aspirations. When these every day requirements could not be met suitably it prompted a corruption of need which now has grown into corruption of greed. And also, the poor compensation eroded the prestige of not only Army but even other civil services including health services and resulted in best brains of our country to choose greener pastures abroad and most of those who joined the services are at the best mediocre and do not have the real Officer Like qualities or material needed for the post.Definitely they are not the best of our country. By chance, if there is any competent officer around, he stands out as an odd man out and the piqued and jealous colleagues ensure enough office politics to make him appear unfit or even corrupt by manipulation or anonymous letters!! Such is the level of cynisim that runs in all govt services.And added to this is caste politics. No wonder grandpas recall the good old ICS officers days when they were known as uncorruptible and competent unlike the present jokers who only know how to stall a project than facilitate.
This article has some facts regarding the problems of Mulitary Officers vs. Civil Servants. But the swipe on General Singh is completely uncalled for and in grossly bad taste. In India, the politicians - majority of whom are corrupt, and the civil servants - a good fraction of whom are corrupt too - has manipulated the system in such a way - that it led to the demorlization of the forces and other services - whethers teaching fraternity or anyone involved in nation building. India need restructuring of the system. Atleast in miliraty the three chiefs and the COAS should be put above or equal to Defence Secretary, they should directly report to the Defence Minister, the salary of military officers and perks should be rationalized, soldiers quality of life should be improved and political interference in military should be taken out.
It is these men and women who keep us safe and it is the nations duty to look after them. No compromise on that.
The Army, like politics, in India is dynastic. Most people who are recruited at the NDA or Naval Academy are children or relatives of military officers. It is not difficult o see why the military is becoming a fortress with 'Civilians Keep Out' as its prime motto. No disrespect though, for the fact that these very people are the ones who hold the guns and stand on our borders so we all can sleep in peace.
The current hierarchical setup of army is same as what the british left behind. Instead of british officers sitting above indian seopys, for the past 65 years we have had indian officers sitting above indian sepoys.
Perhaps it is also time that the tall barriers between officers and sepoy class were reduced. Maybe with a much reduced servant entourage the glamor quotient of an officer's life will be reduced, but from a point of view of morale and competence, the promise of opportunity would work wonders. Thats a meritocracy worth talking about. It is also the modernization that would put us forward.
Good Old Srinath Raghavan thinks that he has learnt all that is required to know about the army and its ways in six years of service. I must be a dud that after 35 years, I still feel that there is a multitude of things that I am still unaware of. Yet to comment on a Chief, for a Capt who has 6 years service ( of which he must have spent 3 years at schools of instruction) , ONLY SHOWS india is a true democracy. Incidentally how much did you (Outlook) pay SR for this article.
Brig S Sivaraman
How come every article we see in the media about General is from one who has an agenda.Are not we entitled to read an informed commentary rather than a biased opnion.I have always respected the Hindu and Outlook as two reliable sources but it seems that the latter is falling behind now.
Army career would not be "attractive" like a career for an MBA from IIM. It can not be even as much attractive as a career in USA for those software engineers.
It is for those people who are interested in a career where dedication to service is first priority even more than their own life.
The salaries and benefits at present are enough.
If we want highly brilliant people in to Army career rather than those who do not get a job anywhere and hence join army, we need to increase Sainik Schools (military schools) like Korukonda sainik school for example. So, it means the number of NDA cadets should be increased, who graduate after recruitment in to army.
World War II was the best example to prove the high importance of Sainik Schools or "catch them young" principle. When there was dearth of officers during the World War II , an open entrace exam was conducted based on IQ tests, to recruit army officers from civilians. Most of these candidates proved to be the best officers, or "prized" recruits. The interesting fact was a majority of them chose to continue in service as officers in the army after the war.
What this incident shows us?
"The military’s weakening identity was best illustrated by Gen V.K. Singh’s decision to go to court on the question of his date of birth. Here was a soldier who had climbed a steep professional pyramid to lead one the largest and oldest armies in the world, and yet believed that hanging on to his post for another year was of paramount importance. By claiming he was fighting to maintain his honour and integrity, he demonstrated how little these values have come to mean in the army today. The motto of the army’s Officers Training Academy is ‘Service before Self’. By inverting this order of priority, Gen Singh diminished both the service and himself."
This is a serious indictment. The general was fighting for a personal grievance when he should have been fighting to fix the severe deficiencies in the Army's combat capability that he wrote to the PM about.
6 years commissioned officer in the Indian army and yet highly superficial observation.
Will indian army start invading others to make it attractive? or should there be more war around indian border. If there is peace time, Army loses it war-time appeal and galore.
All it can to be efficient organisation in peace time phase and let civil service even better. If you are healthy you won't need a doctor and pharmaceutical industry booming.
Social status: If they are efficient they have the best life, no fear of being killed yet getting salary. If they are burden, discontent will simmer from within and outside.
General VK Singh has done great service by opening this corruption box, people like you may be wondering, but he has served the nation before self by exposing the ministry of defence, BEML where MOD offering bribe to General. Keep your facts straight or you are on congress agenda to hush-up things?
Army is not meant to mirror civilians, they are meant to protect the borders. To mirror civilians you have parliament, which is truely as corrupt as the masses are.
A career in the armed forces today pays a lot more than an equivalent function on civvie street - if you factor in the perquisites like housing, free rations, subsidised canteen and travel facilities, fantastic leave available, transportation and subsidised liquor and clubs/messes.
Perhaps as a reflection of society today - the urge to strike it rich - and quick - is also affecting some officers in the armed forces. Certain branches of the army, navy and air force have always been known fore their 'lucrative' appointments.
I would believe it is a national loss of character - following the example set by our 'glorious' leaders which has put us in the straits we are in today! Why blame the forces alone - they are also citizens of this land!
A confused author. Wonder is anyone at Outlook awake to read such articles and advise authors to write logically.
Today's civil environment - "Corruption of all systems and organisations and lack of governance, no value system, except each man for himself alone."
This is what the author wants the Defence Forces to adopt.
Defence Forces have to adopt to 21st Century, but not the way the author wants.
Rather, it is about rejuvenating the army’s identity for the 21st century.
Rather, it is about rejuvenating the army’s identity for the 21st century.
what a wonderfull , vague and totally meaningless conclusion :).
That God you are no longer in the Army
Actually you look at the perks of Army life and the fact that Cantonments are better kept than civilian areas and you realise that the cost (orderlies, clubs and liquor etc quota) is not low.
I think the problem is that the cash does not mirror the perks specially when people retire this becomes a huge problem.
Also this problem is more officer related not jawan related.
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