5:52 am - Sunday February 17, 2019

Why Politicians , Babus and Courts Should Not Interfere in The Inner Matters of Armed Forces

rp_RKU-150x150.jpgWhy Politicians , Babus and Courts Should Not Interfere in The Inner Matters of Armed Forces
– Rajiv Upadhyay
The recent order of Defence Minister Srimati Sitharaman allowing civilian access to cantonment area is another backward step in eroding the pride of armed forces .Not only it must be reversed but the tradition of Defence Ministers or Babus or Courts  interfering unnecessarily with the long held traditions of armed forces should also  be reversed .
British understood the secret of success and kept armed forces away from civilian contacts . It lead to armed forces developing their own healthy traditions of not meddling in civilian affairs and concentrating in their primary duty of protecting the territorial integrity of the nation .It some times hurt civilian pride  as they considered themselves as superior to civilians and terms like ‘ Bloody Civilians’ were not unusual in conversations in officers mess  . But such pride is a essential requirement of armed forces . It serves to enhance their idealism  and belief in displaying superior conduct in challenging circumstances than normal civilians .
Military Coups in neighbouring countries rattled Indian politicians. Even Pandit Nehru was rattled by the then Defence Minister Baldev Singh’s reluctance to make an outstanding soldier General Carriappa as CinC .Only when Nathu Singh refused General Carriappa was made the CinC.
The bogey of civilian control led to Cabinet Secretary being given higher precedence over service chiefs . The civilian control is inherent in the president being the Commander in Chief of armed forces and Prime Minister and Defence Minister being in charge of all defence matters . It does not mean IAS control over defence services . Since independence IAS as a service has been increasing its control and it has lead to babudom hurting the national interest like army frequently running out of ammunition or cheapest unsuitable shells being bought for BOFORS guns . Lately even police has started asserting its superiority over Armed Force! Imagine FIR being registered against army in Kashmir by SHOs .
Often motivated campaigns are run against armed forces .
Ministers are far more comfortable with IAS secretaries, whom they know since younger days, than service chiefs . This has lead to service chiefs being put under another layer of Babudom ie the Defence Secretary who is closer to minister by his greater access and daily contact . Civil service interference in transfers and promotions of senior officers is absolutely unwarranted . The case of Air marshal Sekhon seeking help of Chief Minister of Punjab for promotion is a dangerous outcome of politicisation of armed forces . Another shameful instance was the implanted rumor of attempted coup in General V.K.Singh’s tenure  which was believed by many, as engineered by the Babus . Corruption in defence procurement has further cemented  the position of Babus over the Service Chiefs.
So in this general anti armed forces environment in the higher circles ,the armed forces special privileges like free ration , sahayaks , cantonments are perpetually under attack . Although they are essential for keeping up the morale of armed forces but slowly the armed forces are not able to fight the willy  babus . The forced agitation against One Rank One Pay delay is a typical example of how cussed bureaucracy can harm the morale of armed forces . The dismissal of Navy Chief Bhagwat was another such instance . Although Bhagwat too was guilty but a better solution could have been found . Similarly successive Pay Commissions have reduced the rank of armed forces which is causing a great heart burn.
The tradition of monthly meeting of PM with service chiefs was a good forum which needs to be restored.
The latest decision of Defence Minister of opening cantonment area to civilians which will bring the problem of encroachment , unauthorized vendors and trespassers endangering the security in cantonments is a retrograde step and needs to be reversed .
Generally Defence Ministers, Babus and even courts should not interfere in inner matters of armed forces and let them be dealt as per the armed forces traditions and chain of command . It is essential to maintain the discipline which is a primary requirement in any army.
The promised Minimum Government but maximum Governance by PM Modi , can begin with armed forces and Defence Ministry.
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One Response to “Why Politicians , Babus and Courts Should Not Interfere in The Inner Matters of Armed Forces”

  1. June 7, 2018 at 8:16 pm #

    I strongly disagree. Author has a typical colonial mind-set.
    Moreover, opening of Cantonments was demanded and supported by Armed Forces themselves as reports go around.

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