Army, Pol­i­tics and Me­dia

The Economic Times - - The Edit Page -

Apro­pos ‘Don’t Play Pol­i­tics with In­dia’s Army’ (ET, Apr 29), the rule of se­nior­ity does not al­ways ap­ply. The Gen­er­als who su­per­seded were Kul­want Singh and S K Sinha. Air chief O P Mehra also su­per­seded his se­nior, as did Ad­mi­ral Bhag­wat and Ad­mi­ral Dhowan. Was the ap­point­ment of the army chief ur­gent? Even the new govern­ment would have had more than the nor­mal 60 days to an­nounce the new chief. Why didn’t the UPA govern­ment ap­point a Cab­i­net sec­re­tary, the in­cum­bent re­tires long be­fore the army chief ?

Your state­ment that freshly re­tired gen­er­als should not join pol­i­tics re­veals an ig­no­rance of his­tory. Ar­mies and gen­er­als ex­isted long be­fore democ­racy, par­lia­ment and pol­i­tics. The most pow­er­ful democ­racy was cre­ated by a gen­eral, Wash­ing­ton, and there have been oth­ers: Andrew Jack­son, Wil­liam Har­ri­son, Zachary Tay­lor, Ulysses Grant, Rutherford Hayes, James Garfield and Eisen­hower. The US Congress and most par­lia­ments fol­low Robert’s Rules of Or­der: Gen Henry Mar­tyn Robert was the en­gi­neer-in-chief of the US Army in the early 20th century. In the 20th century, democ­ra­cies have sur­vived where gen­er­als have been apo­lit­i­cal — like ours. Rec­ol­lect how a for­mer elec­tion com­mis­sioner joined the govern­ment. One won­ders who are more dan­ger­ous: re­tired gen­er­als who join pol­i­tics or ed­i­tors who write on pol­i­tics.

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