Wednesday, May 30, 2012
An Open Bold Letter From Lt Gen SC Sardeshpande - Retd to You All Elected Representatives & Political Party Leaders of India
In my personal capacity, I am inviting the awkward distinction of adverting to you regarding the recent defence scams, deficiencies, neglect, delays, procedural tardiness and the like, which are disturbingly dangerous for the defence of the country.
The Air Force strength sanctioned for 42 squadrons has come down to 32, and, at this rate of obsolescence and ageing, will dwindle further to 29 as appears in the media. The MiG 21s have started failing and killing pilots. The Air Force and Naval aviation basic trainer HPT 32 have all been grounded; the next in line, Kiran trainers have dwindled to a handful; the next MiG 21s are already too old.
The Naval pilots are being sent to USA for their basic flying training (TNIE of 8 May 2012), and the Air Force may have to send theirs perhaps to Sweden! Navy’s Sea Harrier aircraft strength too has come down to a handful. Our Submarine fleet is not up to challenging the Chinese counterpart’s entry into the Indian Ocean, which is the maritime area so vital to our trade, economy and security.
The Army Chief has brought out a list of obsolete, ageing and deficient items in the Army’s vital weaponry, ammunition and equipment. What the Army Chief said early this year about the Army, the Air Force and Naval Chiefs had said about their Services two years ago, as reported in the press. Despite the deteriorating and unsatisfactory state of our Armed Forces as reflected by all the Chiefs, every one of them has said that they “will fight with whatever they have”. Which, when translated into reality on the battle ground, will mean only one thing: that the soldier (includes naval person and airman) will sacrifice himself and be converted into a martyr by the government, by the political parties and by the people themselves. Does this require any bright brain or complex logic to conclude?
I am making bold attempt to ask you elected representatives, party leaders, government officials and intellectual fraternity a few questions in this regard as a common citizen, as an educated and responsible person and as an old soldier of 35 years service in the defence of our country:
1. Why have all of you, each one of you, permitted this downslide?
2. Why have you not raised these issues in the parliament and other
relevant fora, or with the elected representatives/party leaders?
3. What has been your contribution to arrest this downslide?
4. Why are you trying to glorify the soldier and his martyrdom more than ensuring healthy, well equipped, well armed, well oiled and well provided defence forces and defence preparedness?
5. Why is it difficult for you to understand that the cliché of the man behind the gun being more important than the gun has its limits, beyond which that man behind becomes dead and useless?
6. Why do you act so negligently as to treat the soldier as gun fodder, to be raised to glorified martyrdom deserving tears and garlands?
7. What efforts have you made, or are making, to become aware of defence and military preparedness issues to ensure the country’s and its people’s security, both external and internal, even as our history shows repeatedly that we received frequent beatings precisely because we neglected these very issues?
I know you will find these questions hard to answer. You may even vent your displeasure over my temerity to confront you on the issues. I am posing them as a common citizen, affected citizen, in our so-called democracy. Yet, I do very sincerely and seriously request you to consider the issues and attend to cleansing the muck we have created.
Lt Gen SC Sardeshpande - Retd