Friday, March 30, 2012
ITS NOW OR NEVER
By Brigadier (retired) Deepak Sethi, Ph.D.
Nothing can adequately describe the extreme sense of frustration and angst we all are feeling over various Armed Forces related news items of the past few months. Our posts in this forum reflect that 'impotent rage' and sheer helplessness.
With due deference to everyone's very well-articulated views on the merits/demerits of the Chief's actions, I humbly opine that we are losing time on a much larger issue, which has a rapidly shrinking window of opportunity. The way I see these events, whether it is Chief's age row, or MOD's increasing intransigence and dirty tricks - it is WAR.
Whatever opinions we might have about the Chief, right now he is leading the charge against OUR COMMON ADVERSARY - the bureaucrats in the MOD, and their mafia-like stranglehold over allied defense procurement agencies and the welfare of serving and retired soldiers, And that is why I believe it is NOW OR NEVER. If we do not decisively Win this War, or if we allow some cosmetic remedies that actually sweep the key issues further under the carpet, then the Armed Forces can forget about any meaningful redress of our issues in the future. Once the new Chief is installed, however well-meaning, competent and determined he might be, the politicians and bureaucrats would ensure that his wings are clipped and it will be business as usual.
I believe these issues and revelations have attained a critical mass of increasing public outrage against the functioning of the MOD. At the same time I also observe concerted and choreographed efforts through various 'committed' media channels and blogs to blame the Chief for this state, through inane questions like 'why now' etc etc. I do not want to get into the debate over the 'legitimacy of the cause' versus 'legitimacy of the means'. Did not Lord Ram kill Bali from behind cover, and Lord Krishna induce Yuddhistar to utter a lie to get Dronacharya killed? From my perspective he IS the Chief and if he is fighting (arguably even from personal vendetta), if something good emerges for the Armed Forces, I think we should close ranks behind him.
Now that the battle is joined we cannot afford hesitation. Let ALL the MOD and defense procurement related skeletons come tumbling out. It is our duty to put all instances of MOD malfeasance and mishandling in the public domain. We all have our contacts in the media and they are all too eager to get some 'breaking news'. However those must be strictly FACTUAL, with credible details and timeline. And in the process if some of our own retired officers were also hand in glove and culpable - SO BE IT. We need to purge the system not only in the MOD but also within our own fraternity. Those amongst us who allow themselves to become pawns, for petty gains and promotions do not deserve our sympathy. They MUST be exposed as a deterrent to junior officers who might be tempted to take short-cuts like some our not-so-illustrious peers.
I feel the greater the public outcry the greater would be the chances for some radical changes. The least that we should aim from this media upheaval is some sort of a 'truth and reconciliation' commission (nomenclature is immaterial), which goes into a radical restructuring of the Higher Defense organization. It is true that various reports (Subhramanyam, Naresh Chandra etc) are gathering dust and the bureaucrats would go to any length to ensure that this too meets the same fate, but then we as soldiers are programmed to remain ever-optimistic.
Let something good emerge from this cathartic situation - things always go bad before they turn better. Selection and maintenance of aim is the first principle of war. Our collective aim obviously is a better deal for the Armed Forces as a whole. Let us therefore forget our personal differences, opinions, service, arms, religious and ethnic loyalties and go for it - April 30, 2012 is almost upon us.
Since we are in the FUP now I propose a tot of Hercules (Bacardi in my case - will some friend send me some Old Monk or Hercules please). Cheers.
Brigadier (retired) Deepak Sethi, Ph.D.
Professor of Strategy and International Management
Old Dominion University
Virginia 23529, USA