Be­yond Kargil


If gov­ern­ment were to be asked one ques­tion post Kargil, it is how long does it ex­pect the mil­i­tary to win purely on sol­dier grit? But then ex­pect­ing im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Kargil Re­view Com­mit­tee rec­om­men­da­tions in let­ter and spirit was naïve in the first place. Fail­ure to take ac­tion against in­tel­li­gence lapse of such mag­ni­tude speaks for it­self. If we could not de­tect such mass en­emy mo­bil­i­sa­tion in POK, what use is ex­ter­nal in­tel­li­gence?

The Cab­i­net Com­mit­tee on Se­cu­rity should have been briefed bi­weekly if not daily on Pak­istani in­tru­sions and as­sess­ment of en­emy in­ten­tions. Why was the gov­ern­ment not shamed when the then Army Chief said, “We shall fight with what­ever we have”. We are sta­tus quo or worse off – re­cently leaked let­ter of a for­mer Army Chief to the Prime Min­is­ter. To say that the MoD is not mired in cor­rup­tion is naïve too – La af­faire Ta­tra says it all and what of the fa­cade of ban­ning whole lot of de­fence firms on bribery charges?

Such black­list­ing is fine pro­vided mil­i­tary needs are ful­filled from else­where. Lat­ter is a mas­sive un­end­ing void with an ex­cru­ci­at­ingly un­fo­cused and un­ac­count­able DRDO and PSUs sup­ported by equally wooly and un­ac­count­able polity and bu­reau­crats, not to men­tion pol­i­tics of set­ting up new mil­i­tary can­ton­ments and de­fence PSUs with sole cri­te­ria be­ing the de­fence min­is­ter be­longs to that area.

How come the Prime Min­is­ter could not re­ply to Maniben Naik’s let­ter say­ing, “De­fence Pro­duc­tion (MoD) Joint Sec­re­taries and Sec­re­taries of De­fence Min­istry are on the Boards of all PSUs – sick­est of sick units you can think of who can­not take out one con­ven­tional sub­ma­rine in 15 years …. and bulk of the time we re­sort to im­ports out of no choice…”

The alarm­ingly widen­ing gap be­tween the PLA and our mil­i­tary ap­pears to be of lit­tle con­se­quence to the pow­ers that be. Gov­ern­ment may ap­pre­ci­ate late K. Subra­manyam for his re­mark­able strate­gic thoughts but never heeded his life-time re­peated as­ser­tions for chalk­ing out a na­tional se­cu­rity strat­egy. There has never been a holis­tic strate­gic de­fence re­view. The higher de­fence plan­ning set up con­tin­ues to lie de­funct sans req­ui­site mil­i­tary par­tic­i­pa­tion.

The V.K. Singh episode and its af­ter­math gives clear in­di­ca­tion of sus­tained at­tempts to un­der­mine the in­sti­tu­tional in­tegrity of the armed forces, suc­cess al­ready hav­ing been achieved in other gov­ern­ment and non-gov­ern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tions. The paid me­dia is fully ex­ploited in this vi­cious drive. Not only is the MoD-MEA con­struct dis­jointed, it ap­pears that joint­ness in the mil­i­tary is de­lib­er­ately not be­ing en­cour­aged as the di­vide and rule pol­icy suits both the polity and the bu­reau­crats com­pletely dis­re­gard­ing grave dan­ger to na­tional se­cu­rity. This is pos­si­bly with the per­cep­tion no mat­ter how many sol­diers are killed there will be no dearth of vol­un­teers.

Gov­ern­ment re­sponse to pay, pres­tige and other griev­ances of the mil­i­tary in­di­cates a de­lib­er­ate ef­fort to drive a wedge be­tween the of­fi­cers and the sol­diers. The gov­ern­ment body to look af­ter the vet­er­ans has not a sin­gle vet­eran or serv­ing mem­ber. The newly ap­pointed com­mit­tee by the Prime Min­is­ter to look into pay and other griev­ances is not look­ing into ‘all is­sues’, does not have a sin­gle vet­eran or serv­ing mil­i­tary mem­ber and in fact con­sti­tutes the very same in­di­vid­u­als be­cause of whom these anom­alies oc­curred and were al­lowed to linger on.

There is much spec­u­la­tion that Prime Min­is­ter may make some an­nounce­ment in this re­gard on Au­gust 15. That would be sur­pris­ing as in the last two years he has failed to or de­lib­er­ately not made ‘any’ men­tion of the mil­i­tary. More sig­nif­i­cantly, even if he does make any prom­ises it should not be expected to go be­yond a po­lit­i­cal state­ment – hasn’t the gov­ern­ment al­ready stonewalled many Supreme Court de­ci­sions re­gard­ing pay and anom­alies of armed forces? So, when the civil-mil­i­tary re­la­tions are at the low­est ebb and the even the Supreme Com­man­der hostage to pol­i­tics, where do we go? Pol­i­tics and lob­bies apart, we need to first get the higher de­fence set up re-en­gi­neered post haste, fail­ing which the dark clouds on the hori­zon will start un­load­ing. 21st cen­tury threats can­not be an­swered purely on sol­dier grit es­pe­cially when the grit it­self is be­ing un­der­mined. The views ex­pressed herein are the per­sonal views of the au­thor.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.