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    Posted on 30 March 2012
    OPINION  
    Jaibans Singh

    Skeletons tumble out of the closet

    Jaibans Singh
    Editor, www.defenceinfo.com

    Photo: AP


    THE MOIST eyes and quivering lips of Jaswant Singh, while taking part in a panel discussion on the unseemly spat between the Army Chief and the MoD, echoes the sentiments of many citizens of the nation. Undoubtedly, what is happening has caused considerable harm to the reputation of a most revered national institution which is also the bulwark of the nation’s stability, security and prosperity. Naturally, the nation has a feeling of apprehension. The positive fallout is that many skeletons have come out of the closet; things which were discussed in hushed tones, rumours that constantly did the rounds, are now out in the open. This presents a golden opportunity to set things right.

    A primary concern regarding the effect of all this on the morale of the soldier is quite unfounded. The core of the army lies in the unit (a regiment/battalion) and traditionally this body keeps itself isolated from the power plays of the government and higher headquarters

    The second concern is the affect on the defence preparedness of the army. It is evident that the defence acquisition process — more critically, the indigenous defence research and production — is way behind schedule. In the aftermath of the cold war; breakdown of the Soviet bloc and opening of the Indian economy, the defence acquisition panorama expanded to include vendors from Europe, America, Israel. Both the Ministry of Defence and the services headquarters started looking for larger stakes in the acquisition process leading to a veritable turf war which has peaked with the latest incidents. The nation is suffering because of this trust deficit and we are now staring at a repeat of the 1962 military debacle.

    The defence procurement procedure runs into more than 260 pages and can fox even the most astute lawyer. Yet it continues to have gaping holes which are blatantly exploited by vested interests. In the name of transparency, a monster has been created which stalls most procurements and yet leads to controversies. Those entrusted with the sacred responsibility of maintaining the cutting edge of the defence forces have failed miserably, the responsibility should be fixed.

    General Bikram Singh, the COAS designate, is taking over the mantle at a time when the situation is far more critical than a war. He has the mandate to go down in annals of history as a soldier who presided over the resurrection of the Indian Army.

    It is evident that the defence acquisition process is way behind schedule

    The ultimate responsibility lies squarely on the shoulders of the government. Is the nation ready to accept a security disaster simply because one AK Antony wants to save his squeaky clean image? The Indian soldier, when called upon to sacrifice his life for the nation, will do so even with his hands and legs tied, such is his level of bravery. It is also a historic fact that the brave Indian soldier has invariably been betrayed by his masters or his commander. Here’s hoping that this historical travesty is not repeated.

    The opinions expressed are the author’s own.
    jaibanssingh@gmail.com


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    Posted on 30 March 2012
 
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