Monday, July 21, 2014
Is Rajya Sabha out of bounds for the Defence Services?
Sachin Tendulkar, Rekha and Anu Aga have been nominated as members of the Rajya Sabha. Thus an eminent sportsman, a cine actress of the yester years and a prominent businesswoman have all found a place in the premier democratic institution of the country. After the erstwhile Lt Governor of Delhi Air Marshal HL Kapoor in the early 80’s, though not appointed on the basis of his service background, the services have had no representation in the institution. Unfortunately no one seems to have even considered bringing in a defence services representative to the august body.
A representative of the defence services if inducted to the Parliament will be an expert advisor on defence matters besides being a spokesperson of 1.3 million soldiers and over 1.6 million military veterans, of our country. They have been engaged in protecting our borders perhaps under most difficult and risky environments. India, we need to bear in mind is a nuclear power with a robust ongoing ballistic missile program. Geography has gifted us with an assortment of neighbors with some of whom we are yet to delineate our national boundaries.
Our defence budget is the 9th largest in the world for the year 2012 which is around US$ 41 billion and it is expected to go up to US$ 110 billion by 2016. Our country is one of the largest importers of military hardware and has been witnessing a surge in defence related scams in the recent past. The state of defence preparedness as well as the need for maintaining a balanced mix of conventional forces and strategic assets is still evolving. The need and the urgency for developing defence related infrastructure in our border areas are yet to be fully realized. We have a generalized bureaucracy with very little knowledge or practical experience in defence matters who seem to be guiding our elected representatives in the government in defence matters. To add to all these woes, the defence forces have been kept out of the decision making processes even in defence related issues.
Considering that our people and our people’s representatives have very limited knowledge and expertise in matters military and strategic thinking would it not benefit the country as well as the tax payer by inducting a defence services representative to the Rajya Sabha? Would his contribution not be valuable as a part of various defence related Parliamentary committees? Should this large section of our countrymen who have forgone some of their democratic rights in the interest of the country at some time or the other remain dumb for the rest of their lives for having chosen military as their career? Is such a state acceptable even after six decades of independence and after the defence services have unequivocally demonstrated their democratic credentials in the South Asian context and environment?
The Parliament of India is not a platform for projecting the country’s respect for an expert in a particular field. It is a home for discussing various issues concerning governance to evolve solutions to problems facing the country and make suitable laws. Will Sachin have the time to contribute to the business of the Parliament with his cricketing engagements? Does he have any idea of national issues ? What has been the contribution of our erstwhile cine actors and actresses in the Rajya Sabha? What are the nation’s expectations from Ms Rekha? Are we viewing Rajya Sabha seats as a tool in the process for image makeover of political parties?
When will we as a nation understand our necessities and priorities and act in the interest of the country?