Author Topic: Upright Army Chief Gen Vijay Kumar Singh Fights Back, Refusing to fade away  (Read 4963 times)

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Offline Ajai Singh

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http://tarafits.blogspot.in/2012/03/upright-army-chief-gen-vijay-kumar.html

Upright Army Chief Gen Vijay Kumar Singh Fights Back, Refusing to fade away
 
'Prime Minister had assured his wife that General Bikram Singh would be the next COAS'- An IAS officer's Claim (See at the end)
 
Unwarranted Intervention in Military's internal Domain
 
Personal Note; The author spent the year 1976 at New Delhi's prestigious National Defense College , the highest level institution on security threats and strategic affairs ,composed of majority of Indian and foreign brigadier level military level officers from all branches and some civil services officers too.
 
The author hosted General Vaidya's first ever visit abroad in 1983, when posted as ambassador at Bucharest (Romania). He also hosted two NDC delegations at Ankara in 1990s. Taking advantage of the visits and his NDC background, for the first time he established relations with Turkey's powerful Chiefs of General Staff and organized the visit of General Ismail Hakki Karadayi to India in 1996, thus initiating military level exchanges and interaction with a powerful NATO member.
 
The author regularly attends NDC annual dinners for its Alumni and has maintained close contacts with his course mates , with many reaching the level of Lt Generals. The author has studied, lectured all over India and written extensively for foreign and Indian media on the role of military in politics, especially in Turkey and Pakistan .
 
The author began his career in early 1960s as Assistant Press Attaché in Cairo, after learning Arabic and has been associated with the media for half a century. He  spent more time in media offices and with journalists in his 35 years as a diplomat, half as head of mission and saw the transformation of media unfortunately into a communication technique from the noble calling it once was .Since retiring in 1996, he stayed abroad as a freelance journalist till 2007.
 
After writing a few dozen articles for print media in India, Turkey, Dubai and Beirut, he has written over 400 in depth online articles mostly on international affairs, which have been translated into a dozen major languages of the world and copied by scores of websites/blogs including think tanks and universities around the world commented and quoted in books and articles by among others Frederick Starr, Graham Fuller, Tom Engelhardt and William Engdahl etc.
 
Try some samples:
 
Led by military-industry complex, energy and other corporate interests under corrupt bankers and financiers, US media has been reduced to disseminating corporate handouts. In India too corporate owned media and trivia and celebrity obsessed TV channels with Radiia tapes compromised, shrieking, ignorance based arrogant anchors keep spewing official and corporate viewpoint. The discussions on the Gen VK Singh by officially approved IAS and IFS officers has been biased, pathetic and slavish to earn brownie points, specially by a former spokesman, who can hardly speak coherently.
 
The vigorous one day fast by Anna Hazare at Jantar Mantar on Sunday, 26 March was boycotted by most TV channels, at the behest of the establishment and corporate owners. Only the brave and challenging statements and barbs by Bhiwani district origin Arvind Kejriwal and the unhealthy and impotent rage in Indian Parliament against him brought the fast held to highlight the crushing murders of whistleblowers like IPS officer Narendra Kumar in Morena back to channels and media (Gen VK Singh's family also comes from Bhiwani district, where too yours obediently was born and had early education. Haryana has provided a huge number of sturdy and upright military men and officers.) 
 
The brazenly corrupt and arrogant ruling classes in India composed of politicians, corporate fat cats, conniving officials and hangers on have reduced the Indian republic to a laughing stock, almost a Banana Republic. Whether it is corruption with almost daily revelations of mega scams involving politicians or anything else the political class will neither introspect nor come out with correctives. Instead it is heavily trying to squelch even criticism of its crimes. The whole political class is up in arms in the Parliament making scenes unworthy of peoples' representatives. Whether the LokPal act will resolve and curb corruption is another matter, but the political class, after having dillydallied on it for almost half century, continues to do so. The tyranny of the elected and electable will continue (P.S; Manish Tewari, MP, should read Greek history to comprehend the word Tyranny, which fits the current ruling political dynasties across the political spectrum)
 
There seems no attempt to be serious about a decent Ombudsman bill. One Member of Parliament had honestly claimed that they do not want to pass a bill which will consign many of them to jails.
 
India is a feudal polity in the grip of political feudal barons like the state leaders and corporate barons who have acquired spectrum, oil, gas and other resources of the people for nothing.
 
Even the Egyptians, as lazy as Indians, have rebelled against tyranny and loot by the rulers but not Indians .They have made sacrifices and continue to do so, against US machinations to highjack a revolt against Washington's puppet of four decades Hosni Mubarak .India is unlikely to have a revolution and hence no equality before law or the rule of law.
 
Everyone knows that fat contracts for equipment , specially for the military are used to collect commissions for fighting elections and amassing huge wealth for lavish lifestyle of the ruling class , apart from daily Maratha rule style extorted contributions like Chauth and Sirdeshmuki .Like the most Indian rulers in history , the current ones hardly provide any protection from outsiders , say against the 2611 rape .The government is still discussing details of the publicly televised 3 day rape of Mumbai with Pakistanis. Yes, security of the political class has been further augmented and ministers like Vilasrao Deshmukh and R.R Patil are back into saddles of power. 
 
The revelations of a bribery attempt of an honest Army chief Gen Vijay Kumar Singh shows that the armed forces have been infected with the cancer of corruption, cronyism, caste and religious virus.
 
In the wake of revelations of corruption within the Army i.e. Gen V.K. Singh's allegations that he was offered a bribe of Rs. 14 core by a lobbyist, Red Lt Gen Tejinder Singh, the former Army Chief, Shankar Roy Chowdhury, said on Monday, 27 March that attention should not be restricted to the Army alone.  "Other quarters," including the Ministry of Defense, should also be examined.
 
"Why focus attention particularly on the Army? The Army has very little scope for corruption as it has a limited role in procurement. The whole process of procurement, where these alleged payments change hands, takes place in the Ministry of Defense," Gen. Roy Chowdhury, who served as the Army Chief between November 1994 and September 1997, told The Hindu.
 
Asked about Gen. Singh's assertion that the row over his age was "a manufactured controversy," Gen. Roy Chowdhury said although it was "all speculation," there were many who still believed it to be so.
 
"When the present Chief took over the office, he did say he was seriously going to clean up the system. There are many linkages outside the system as well. May be this could be a reaction to that…But this is all speculation," he said.
 
Gen. Roy Chowdhury said Gen. Singh could be facing conflict "as he pushes against these outside agencies" in a bid to clean up the system.
 
Referring to the current controversy, Gen. Roy Chowdhury said a person's refusal to accepting bribe showed that "everyone is not corrupt and the whole system cannot be subverted."
 
Below is a perceptive and courageous article by M.G. Devasahayam, a retired IAS officer, who had served in the Indian army before he joined the civil service. So he is an insider from both the words.
 
The public must insist on a Supreme Court monitored inquiry under a senior judge since the whole episode concerning Gen Singh vitally affects the defence of India and its sovereignty and security.

Offline StuSter

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  • The Mystic Transform
Gen VK Singh is a hero for fighting the Enemy Within
« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2012, 10:57:09 AM »
Gen VK Singh is a hero for fighting the Enemy Within

It must be abundantly clear why Gen VK Singh today finds himself in an unholy mess. He has violated the Omerta Code of the Power Circle. The one that dictates that once you’ve made it to the posh club of power insiders, you don’t talk about some things, such as the gravy train that everyone rides on and feeds off.

In the posh clubs where liveried waiters hover like friendly ghosts, and where moustachioed Generals and netas in their pressed bandhgalas and babus in their pin-stripe suits guffaw and talk pussy over their Patiala pegs, it is taboo to talk about money. Particularly the kind of obscene money that everyone gets a fair share of when deals are finalised.

Into that posh club, Gen VK Singh has blundered in like a barefoot dehati.

And, worse, he declines gratuitous invitations from fellow officers for him to become “one of them” by getting suited-booted up, refuses to clamber aboard their gravy train and help himself to the goodies – and, horror of horrors, goes so far as to initiate investigations into their own conduct unbecoming of officers. All this merely because they played by the “jobs for the boys” rules of the Power Club, and feathered their own nests.


If what it takes to get us even talk about the colossal mess we are in is for him to shake the government and our civil society out of our stupor, more power to you, Gen Singh. AFP
And now, he has begun focusing his Sauron eye on serving officers, who are in line to become Army Chief. Is the man mad, they wonder. How did we ever let him into the club, they fret.

Of course, there have been – and continue to be – honest men in the uniformed services, just as there are honest men in politics and in the civil service. But even when they themselves are scrupulously clean, they have all along abided by the Omerta Rule: even when they knew that other officers and netas and babu were pigging out on the trough, they chose to look the other way. Why blow the whistle and invite trouble, and risk losing their honour and their well-earned pension and the prospect of being invited to head some committee or a thinktank in the future?

Which is why the retired Lieutenant General whom Gen VK Singh accused of offering him a bribe cannot get his head around the fact that there are still a few good men in uniform. “Army chiefs before you have accepted money, and army chiefs after you will, so why do you not?” he asked Gen VK Singh, when he made the offer of a Rs 14 crore bribe.

Today, Gen VK Singh, close to retirement and perhaps sensing that he has been robbed of his dignity in the battle with the government over his date of birth, has gone rogue. He has broken the Omerta Code of silence and is telling the world of the horrors he has seen within the Army fortresses. And it isn’t a pretty picture.

Fellow officers are shaking their heads and tut-tutting into their Scotch on the rocks. Why rock the boat, they ask him. Why invite inglorious attention to what we’ve tucked away out of sight –and put on a show of glorious make-believe? Why, oh why, can’t you just look away?

The political establishment in its entirety is equally appalled. The General has become a guerilla warrior, they thunder. He ought to abide by the code, yield to civilian supremacy, and either stay silent or be sacked. In the same way that they rubbished Team Anna’s campaign against corruption last year and continued with their rollicking party in Parliament, they have ganged up against Gen VK Singh. In words eerily reminiscent of last year (in the context of Anna Hazare’s campaign), Lalu Prasad Yadav wonders if Gen VK Singh is angling for a career in politics.

And what of the media and sections of civil society? They too have their ‘angles’: Gen VK Singh’s motives are suspect, they say. Why did he not act in all the time that he was in office, why now, they wonder. In the same way that they turned on Team Anna and made mincemeat of that campaign, they are shredding Gen VK Singh to pieces – when, in fact, the focus then and now should have been on the sky-high corruption that they exposed.

It’s a bizarre, perverted world if we are asked to tolerate the status quo, even when we know it to be venal, merely because the alternative – of shaking things up — makes us queasy. Because it violates Section 2, Subsection 3(a) of the club rules.

For sure, Gen VK Singh has gone rogue. But I say: more power to you, Gen Singh. Even if, as some have suggested, you are doing it only for megalomaniacal reasons — or out of a sense of pettiness. Even though I can’t quite understand why you waited until now to say these things, I’m just plain glad you are saying them at least now.

Any self-respecting civilian government or military force or civil society ought to be celebrating Gen VK Singh for being a true warrior and taking on the Enemy Within. The problems that he highlights are our collective problems. Those problems have turned us into a banana republic far more than anything Gen Singh has done in severing the cosy, comfortable, clubby relationship between the military and the civilian administration.


If what it takes to get us even talk about the colossal mess we are in is for him to shake the government and our civil society out of our stupor, more power to you, Gen Singh.

http://www.firstpost.com/india/gen-vk-singh-is-a-hero-for-fighting-the-enemy-within-259567.html
What happened, happened and could not have happened any other way

Offline Ajai Singh

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http://www.asianage.com/columnists/sting-general-s-tale-012

A sting in the general’s tale
Mar 29, 2012
Bharat Karnad

What Gen. Singh has done is loosened the dirt lining the military acquisitions system, permitting the muck & scum to float to the top


It is hard to say when it is that the military stopped being the paragon of propriety in a social milieu increasingly bereft of basic values that people once saw reflected in the men in olive green (or in Air Force blue and Navy white), such as honour and honesty. There are still many officers of the old school for whom military is a career, yes, but also an orderly world of do’s and don’ts and simple pleasures and simpler certainties. There have been service chiefs who after demitting office rode bicycles because that’s all they could afford (Adm. R.L. Periera), or repaired without fuss to living in small, cramped apartments because anything grander their pensions wouldn’t allow (Adm. Vishnu Bhagwat). But the officer cohorts that produced a Periera or a Bhagwat also threw up service chiefs — no names, please, they have law on their side! — verily Kubla Khans who have built pleasure domes, allegedly on a service chief’s salary and pension.

The Chief of Army Staff, Gen. V.K. Singh, has blown the lid off the comfortable milieu senior military brass cocoon themselves in, where every whim quite literally is a command, revealing just how dirty military life has become, how much corruption has seeped into and become part of the cantonment life. Of course, there were always officers from the support arms in the Army — the service corps and ordnance corps — who were known for accumulating wealth at the public exchequer’s expense. Gen. Singh actually hinted at a conspiracy of Rs. 14 crores being dangled as bait by retired officers he identifies as “the Adarsh lobby” in the hopes of implicating him in a bribery scandal. What the Army Chief’s revelations have done is loosened the dirt lining the military acquisitions system, permitting the muck and the scum to float to the top. Now all the rumours one heard about payouts to senior military officers over the years can be freely aired.
Over time, one has heard hearsay accounts, for instance, of a system of “under the table” payments by consortia of contractors and victual suppliers to officers assuming the highest commands. Thus, an appointee to an Army commander’s post was richer, one was told a decade back, by `3-4 crores. Today the sum may be a multiple of this figure. It’s not clear, however, whether this is a one-time booty or recurring prize-money. The trouble is these sorts of payoffs have come to be viewed by many in Army circles as perquisites of the job. In like vein, pelf at lower level is tolerated as an “equalisation” measure relative to politicians and civil servants who routinely siphon off public funds.

The rot is wide and deep and spreading fast. What Gen. Singh has put his finger on are the vendors, mostly foreign, of weapon systems, spares and service support either directly or through Defence Public Sector factories, involved in assembling imported systems or licensed production, who prop up this system of corruption. With the expenditure on acquisitions rocketing, so have the competitive stakes for foreign Companies, DPSUs (Defence Public Sector Undertaking), and Indian private sector firms entering the lucrative defence business. Consequently, more and more officers up and down the military acquisitions line — in the weapons and quality control directorates, units tasked with testing and short-listing, and in price negotiation committees — are tempted at every turn, and many succumb.

The Congress government’s initial response was remarkable for its insouciance and near indifference — the Army Chief should have lodged an FIR. Par for the course, one supposes, for a political party that during its long years in office first perfected and then institutionalised corruption. Defence minister A.K. Antony defended himself in Parliament saying Gen. Singh informed him about the attempted bribery over 16 months ago all right but was remiss in not following up with a written complaint without which, the minister lamented, he couldn’t proceed. Why does that ring false? For one thing because Mr Antony has turned his programme to root out corruption into a fetish, and someone so concerned with cleansing his ministry surely should not have stood on formalities. In the event, he neither reminded the Army Chief to send his charge in writing nor, in the interim, ordered an investigation, which he could have, and should have, done. Instead, he waited until now when the story broke and the leads may have gone cold, to bring the CBI into the picture. Was this Mr Antony’s Plan B if all this ever came to light?

In the wake of a tsunami of wrongdoing in the military, it is time to initiate two major reforms before it is too late. One is to institute “deep selection” of service chiefs — that is, all lieutenant general-rank officers completing two years in that rank be eligible for consideration. This widening of the selection pool will at once weed out those who have advanced in their careers with only seniority to recommend them, leading to just too many duds as service chiefs for it to be a coincidence. This will also incentivise an entire cohort to strengthen their records with genuine achievements rather than coasting in their last few tenures, and prevent “succession planning” by unscrupulous former Army Chiefs as has happened in the case of the designated successor to Gen. Singh. The other measure is to routinely do deep and thorough background checks of not just the candidates for appointments to corps commander level up, but also their immediate families. It will prevent persons from becoming Army Chiefs, like the one who not too long ago held this post and was known for shedding tears usually for the camera, adorning his golf cart with the four stars of his rank, and deploying a large contingent of soldiers from his parent infantry unit at his residence to help run his wife’s textile fashions and export business. With such a man in the chief’s saddle, what message would have been conveyed to military officers except “misuse your position to the max”?

The writer is a professor at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi

Offline Ajai Singh

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http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/%5Cpapers50%5Cpaper4986.html

Storm Signals on National Security
by Col.  R. Hariharan

“Army chief’s letter bomb” screamed TV anchors when leaked contents of a letter from the Army Chief of Army Staff General VK Singh addressed to the Prime Minister reached the media. In his letter he had made ten points to show that the army’s fighting capability. The Army Chief listed ten points which have rendered the army ineffective to face threats to national security. All of them related the lack of timely procurements of armaments and ammunition to the troops.

The reaction to this national security fiasco in parliament was typical. Many members including the Right and Left, spent more time on the danger posed to national security by the leak, than its damaging contents. Some members like the Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Lallu Prasad Yadav, who was no paragon of probity, wanted the Army Chief to be sacked summarily for leaking the letter, without even bothering to find out who did it. His cohorts from UP and Bihar of the Samajwadi Party and Janata Dal (U) echoed the same sentiments.

Even experienced minister like Vayalar Ravi dismissed the letter as out pouring of a “frustrated” man, who lost the case to get his date of birth corrected. Congress party said national security was a sensitive issue and cannot be loosely discussed. Even the BJP which smells blood in every issue that affects government performance, only sniffed the peripheries of the issue.
The leak of the letter addressed to the Prime Minister comes at a particularly inconvenient time for the ruling coalition, which is getting tired of playing to the whimsical tunes of its regional partners. Only the day before, it was put on the defensive by a media interview by the Army Chief. In his interview he claimed he was offered Rs 14 crore bribe by a retired General, acting on behalf of a vehicle manufacturer to clear 600 substandard trucks destined for the army.  Already the Army Chief had not made him popular with the ruling coalition when he approached the Supreme Court after his abortive attempts to get his date of birth corrected failed.

As a result of unholy combination of these controversies, General VK Singh’s damaging assessment on battle readiness of the army, runs the risk of not being taken seriously by not only the parliament but also nation. This is evident from the clichéd assurance the defence minister AK Antony gave in parliament when the contents of the Chief’s letter triggered a storm in parliament. He said the government was committed to ensure the safety and security of the nation.

Deficiencies in army’s weaponry, armament and ammunition have been nagging ulcers eating into our national security preparedness for a long time. Every war – from the 1962 war with China to the 1971 war to the Kargil conflict had glaringly highlighted such deficiencies faced by troops at the battle front. But beyond appointing committees to go into them we seem to be making no headway to improve the situation.

Lack of knowledge of matters relating to strategic security and failure to appreciate the real time needs of ever-changing technology requirements of modern battlefield make a mockery of our obsolete defence procurement procedure.

For defence procurement the Services concerned has to generate General Staff Quality Requirement (GSQR) for the item. This takes into consideration the battle scenario say in the next few years. Once GSQR is projected to Defence Ministry the first of the 7-step Indian defence procurement process starts. It is easy to understand why Stephen Cohen and Sunil Das Gupta of Brookings Institute in their book “Arming without Aiming: India’s military modernization” call this acquisition method as “convoluted” because enough opportunities for corruption and delay are built-in the process.

The combersome process has been taking anything from five to ten years to be completed, during which developments in weapon technology make the procured weapon system out of date, if not obsolete. As these deals involve billions of dollars the final decision is affected by diplomatic pressure from manufacturing nations.

Apart from this, after the bitter experience of the Bofors scandal, fear of allegations of corruption cropping up in defence deals has made the bureaucracy involved in the process overcautious. This fear in tandem with the Defence Minister AK Antony, who has sworn to weed out corruption on his charge at the helm, has seen the black listing of a dozen major armament suppliers of the world at various stages of the process adding to the delay. Despite the Defence Minister’s repeated assurances to speed up the process there had been no visible improvement on the ground.

Previously such delays were affecting procurement of modern missiles such sophisticated weapon systems, aircraft and naval ships. However, now Army’s battle readiness is slowly being crippled as demands for even basic essentials of infantry weapons and artillery weapons have been pending for over a decade.

For instance infantry battalions are still not equipped with lighter rifles capable of better performance; we need about two million rifles to completely re-equip and replenish this basic arm. Similarly Army’s demand for heavy machine guns has also not materialized.

Strictly speaking, the Chief was pointing out nothing “new” in his letter to the Prime Minister. Earlier he had made a presentation on the same points to the Defence Minister; later a similar presentation was to a parliamentary committee also. Apparently the General shot off the missive to the Prime Minister as the last resort of an outgoing Chief who wanted desperately to make a change. And the Defence Minister was aware of the letter.

It is a shame that our defence research and development organization which has scored impressive achievements in rocket and missile development has not been able to fill in our requirements in some of the basic weaponry requirements. A major reason for this is the inordinate delay in developing a proto type and from proto type to final product.

Indian industry is quite capable of manufacturing many of the weapons and weapon systems. However, there is a political mental block as manufacture of arms, ammunition and equipment has been reserved for the public sector. These public sector units suffer from all the ailments of public sector – highly unionized workforce laying down norms, poor productivity, perennial failure to keep up manufacturing schedules, inadequate investment and poor quality of output. Though much has been said about public-private partnership Indian industries have not been given their due share in the ever growing defence pie.

According to Ashley Tellis, Carnegie Endowment scholar, Indian defency policy suffers from internal defence thinking. He says: “civil-military relations restrain military modernization and this is not accidental but deliberate.”  By and large this appears to be a correct observation, if we see the parliament’s totally futile reaction of targeting the Army Chief for leaked letter rather paying attention to its damaging assessment on national security readiness.

This seeming lack of interest in national security affairs has become part of the political culture where national security has been treated as a holy cow, allowed to fend for itself. That is why the response to defence requirements has been to allocate more funds rather than critically scrutinise and reform our systems..

After 60 years of independence we should be ashamed to be world’s largest importer of weapon systems. It is clear there is disconnect between the rapid progress the country has made in various fields and defence production.  We need to integrate defence requirements with national development, so that the progress made in science and technology as well as industrial progress is gainfully utilized to meet the needs of armed forces.  In a welcome step, the union government has constituted the Naresh Chandra Committee in July 2011 to review national security. Considering the competing demands of ever growing developmental needs, and defence expenditure, it would be worthwhile to examine this aspect while evolving the security doctrine.

It seems yet another salvo has been fired by the irrepressible General VK Singh with one more allegation of corruption in high places. According to the latest media report, the Army Chief has requested CBI to look into the allegations contained in a letter written by Trinamool MP Ambika Banerjee in May 2011 alleging widespread procurement scams committed by Lt General Dalbir Singh when he was the Inspector General of the Special Frontier Force (SFF). It is significant that General Dalbir Singh, currently commanding 3 Corps, is in line to succeed Lt General Bikram Singh designated as the next COAS. The MP is also reported to have named army officers including a former Army Chief who are alleged to have received crores of rupees in kickbacks in defence procurements. 

It is clear General VK Singh is in a combative mood. He appears to be determined to root out corruption as best as he could in the few days he is in service. In the bargain he has antagonised the political class, in particular the ruling coalition, which is rocked by corruption scandals one after the other.  Some retired Generals are unhappy with Army Chief’s conduct. They talk of its demoralising effect on the armed forces. They are forgetting it is time for catharsis in the armed forces. Both the defence ministry and the armed forces are as much accountable to the people as any limb of the government. They cannot hide under the garb of secrecy to allow a corrupt system to go unchecked lest corruption compromises national security.

Political class is unaccustomed to a man in uniform questioning the validity of their existing systems. This class having built a cosy set up with existing systems are not going to allow the General’s forays unchallenged. We can see the storm signals going up for such action; but before any precipitate action is taken, parliamentarians should ponder over the issues the General has raised. I have some simple posers to parliament members who got so worked up because of the General's letter to the Prime Minister:

* What is the core issue affecting national security? Leaking of the letter or ilI-equipped army which its chief says cannot perform effectively?

* If they sack the General, will it improve national security? Will it remove the glaring deficiencies and weaknesses he has pointed out?

Politicians have a bloated self-image as guardians of democracy. It is good to remember General VK Singh, despite his frontal assault in true Rajput style, has raised fundamental issues because he values the democratic system as much as politicians do.

The nation should be careful how it handles the issue as storm signals are up on national security. It is time for some serious introspection from all of us.

(Col R Hariharan, a retired Military Intelligence specialist on South Asia, served with the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka as Head of Intelligence. He is associated with the Chennai Centre for China Studies and the South Asia Analysis Group.

Offline Ajai Singh

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http://www.newsinsight.net/archivedebates/nat2.asp?recno=2276

General versus government
The incompetent A.K.Anthony must go, says N.V.Subramanian.


28 March 2012: By failing to act on the army chief's allegation of corruption in the purchase of Tatra trucks, the defense minister has hurt his honest image and driven one more nail in the coffin of the Congress. A.K.Anthony's notorious reputation for inaction has played out again and reignited fears of a Bofors-like scandal for the ruling party.

Congress managers believe that fixing the Delhi media would take care of the party's mounting image problems and its growing trust deficit with the people. Which is why sections of the media scrambled to give the defense minister a clean chit while questioning the motives of the army chief, General V.K.Singh, in bringing up an eighteen-month-old bribery incident now. It won't wash.

For one, Delhi is not India. And no one should believe Delhi is the repository of all wisdom and the rest of the country is populated by fools. The Congress held the illusion that the notoriety of the 2G scandal would not carry beyond Delhi. During the Uttar Pradesh elections, however, the party was in for a shock. In the remotest villages, the basics of the scam were well-known, and Congress campaigners faced a rough time, according to a party insider.

And there is something else that should worry the Congress as general elections loom ahead. The Rajputs of Uttar Pradesh from where General V.K.Singh comes are upset with his humiliation by the government. The age row has hurt them most because the government sought to taint the army chief as a liar when he is transparently an honourable man. If the army chief's battle with the government worsens, it will produce a backlash in the community against the ruling party, and politicians would be forced to take sides.

It is almost becoming a case of V.P.Singh versus Rajiv Gandhi when Uttar Pradesh's Rajputs rallied in a big way behind the former Raja of Manda.

When Anthony was made defense minister, it was hoped that his honesty would shield the Congress and, more importantly, the Congress leadership from Bofors-like allegations. These allegations hounded Rajiv Gandhi to death and remain the primary cause for the hesitation of this generation of Nehru-Gandhis to take up high office.

But when A.K.Anthony was signed on as defense minister, his reputation for inaction did not merit as close scrutiny as it should have. Congress leaders of Anthony's vintage have exhibited different levels of action and inaction. The late Arjun Singh was known for too much action which proved counter-productive. The former prime minister, P.V.Narasimha Rao, however, had a penchant for inaction, which he saw as a manner of action.

But Anthony's brand of inaction is all about indecision, non-performance, turning a blind eye to corruption, and doing everything to save his own skin. See how quickly he sought to blame the army chief for reporting the bribery attempt by a retired officer. General Singh should have acted on his complaint. But as his minister, why didn't Anthony order a CBI inquiry then and there? If he can take cognizance of the army chief's allegation in a newspaper, why didn't he do likewise when General Singh orally communicated this to him nearly two years ago?

And what about the charges of military unpreparedness contained in General Singh's leaked letter to the prime minister? The letter nearly makes the case that weapons' wise, India cannot get the better of its enemies. What business has Anthony to continue as defense minister after this? This is a man who is sleeping on the job.

But ultimately, all this is damaging the Congress party. It is getting stained on a daily basis. It was wiped out in the recent assembly elections, and it is set to repeat that feat in the national polls. The greatest dread of the Congress leadership is another defense scandal like Bofors. And by his incompetence, A.K.Anthony has brought that nightmare close to life for the ruling family.

Offline Ajai Singh

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http://www.newsinsight.net/archivedebates/nat2.asp?recno=2275&ctg=defence

Bofors II?
The government cannot brazen out of the army chief's allegation of corruption in the military, says N.V.Subramanian.

26 March 2012: The army chief, General V.K.Singh, has dropped a bombshell with allegation of a bribe offer of Rs 12 crores from a military truck firm. Whilst a CBI inquiry has been ordered by the defense minister, A.K.Anthony, the Congress's first reaction was to run down the chief. It has adopted the same offensive tactic with the CAG and the Election Commission, worsening the UPA-2 government's image of corruption and venality with voters.

The perception within government and the ruling party is that General Singh shot himself in the foot but going to the Supreme Court about the age row. By not resigning after the Supreme Court rejected his plea, it is argued General Singh lost face with admirers within the armed forces and outside. In his defense, the army chief said he couldn't resign midway through translating his vision for a transformed military. Many did not believe the truth of this assertion. This writer does.

A soldier is constructed differently from a civilian. Carrying out orders is his way of life. Quitting does not come easily to a soldier. In war, it becomes desertion, the ultimate disgrace for a fighter. In peace, that same code of honour prevails. Which is why the great General K.S.Thimayya, after he was dissuaded by Jawaharlal Nehru from resigning, continued in office, withstanding slights from the prime minister, whilst his differences with V.K.Krishna Menon remained unresolved.

Out of pique, General Singh could have left the army on the age row, and he wouldn't have been blamed. If he was a spiteful man, he would have turned his resignation in early to discomfit his designated successor, Lieutenant-General Bikram Singh, who would have had to contend with more senior officers for the chief's job. The government may have still chosen him, but it would have further divided the army. General V.K.Singh elected to complete his tenure instead. It was the most responsible thing to do, and he has done it, without seeking martyrdom.

This background is necessary to understand the current controversy generated by the army chief's allegation of attempted bribery. The Congress party's reflexive counter is that the allegation is an afterthought, and that General Singh ought to have reported the matter earlier. But he did. He told his minister, A.K.Anthony, and Anthony has not denied it. After General Singh made his allegation in a newspaper interview, Anthony ordered a CBI probe. The Congress should check with the defense minister why he didn't order the inquiry promptly upon the chief's complaint.

In The Hindu interview, the chief says a crooked establishment and lobby of shady arms dealers turned against him for attempting to cleanse the defense acquisition system. He adds this corrupt and powerful lobby magnified the age row, gave it adverse publicity in the media, all with the aim to besmirch him. He merely wanted to redeem his honour in the age controversy.

The venal establishment has done everything to undermine and discredit General Singh. There was the manufactured controversy that military elements close to him had bugged Anthony's home. In an effort to silence the chief, the defense ministry has been playing footsie with dodgy elements, and this will come to haunt the government -- and the country.

Before it is too late, UPA-2 must set about repairing relations with constitutional bodies such as the Election Commission and CAG which have been subject to abuse and coercion by the regime. The executive has an uneasy relationship with the Supreme Court, accusing it time and again of judicial overreach, which is bogus. Anna Hazare is back, and the government with its battered image cannot combat his anti-corruption movement. And with his charges of defense corruption and bribery, the army chief has refreshed memories of Bofors.

Offline Ajai Singh

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Gen VK Singh's War on India ?
The Lowest common denominator - Babus & Fourth Estate..........

It was on a TV show that an ex diplomat spilt the worms from the govt. can.   He
mentioned that the PMO had commissioned some journalists to release a set of six
articles to discredit the Chief of the Indian Army. The timings would be as dictated.
The morality of the Fourth Estate was put to test when the skirmish erupted.

They failed.

Ever reader/analyst saw through the canards of unconnected lies that the media
published. The tone of online polls trying to paint the Chief as a Villain added to the
conviction that the quality of the Indian media was as crass as the Govt. they fed off. The
latest battle saw a seemingly reconciliatory backing off while the media was left to snipe
at the General.

India Today, a magazine that has achieved the lowest levels of journalistic ethics had the
front page designed like a titillating porn cover. The cover page which screamed ‘Gen V K
Singh’s war on India ’  was more like an Angelina Jollies leg show to entice readers to grab
thrash. Another ham-fisted operation from an incompetent PMO.

There is a lull in the battle but despite the chaffs to deflect the core issues the problem
remains. We shall call the gaffes as Attempted Deflections (AD).

AD 1: The leak of the letter was deflected to creating a ruckus over the source rather than
addressing the core issue of lack of preparedness and the inability of non-professionals
(babus) in the MoD to be able to handle matters military. It is now emerging that the leak
would have been the handiwork of the babus to escalate the differences between the
polity and the Army.

AD 2: Interference by nonprofessionals who do not do, or know their own task but want
to over step their brief. The Army is only responsible for putting forth the qualitative
requirements (QR) and carrying out trials of the shortlisted hardware. The financials and
purchase processes are the responsibility of the babus.   In the recent TATRA case the
army put forth the QR but the onus of involving middlemen and purchasing through a
trading company is the fault of the babus, so, it was quite surprising the that babus of the
MoD did not come under the media fire for misappropriation of process.

AD 3: The General should have acted against the erring officers. In cases involving senior
military officers the General did the right thing by approaching the RM who should have
stepped in and taken action. Instead on the advice of the Babus who were neck deep in
the mire he decided to buy time and threw the muck back at the General. The delay
assisted the Babus get away plans. It is quite surprising that in the case of of General ,
the RM said that the he was not briefed by the Chief but the next day the CBI dropped
the charges because they said that some Cabinet Secretary had investigated the charges
and had given the General a clean chit. Now, how come the Army Chief and the RM did not
know about this investigation by the Cab Secretary and the findings thereof.

AD 4: The spat was advertised as one between a) the Govt. and the Army or, b) the
civilian vs. Army or in the extreme lowdown case of India Today as one between the Army
and India . The mischief makers were busy stroking the embers of discord whilst
remaining in the shadows. The truth was that it was a standoff between the most
incompetent set up of the Indian Govt. machinery, the Bureaucracy a.k.a the babus and
the Army. The Army had had enough of the inept and incompetent meddling of the babus
and the standoff was the result of this long standing discord. St Anthony failed to
recognize the core issue and let the matter simmer. Manmohan Singh is now famous for
his Ostrich stance. The Congress has this Dilbertian strategy to project their key players
as Mr. Clean while the appropriate title would be Mr. Impotence. The bandits operate
elsewhere.

The Service HQs should now take the Babus head on. If for 20 years an artillery gun has
not been purchased another 10 would not matter.
Especially in a country where the
elected representatives of the nation like Lalloo and other Members of Parliament are
quick to skin the Army Chief without trying to ascertain facts. Its another matter that they
may not be able to comprehend strategic issues. The problem with Services personnel is
that they feel they are the Guardians of the Nation and must do so at any cost. Incorrect -
in the present scenario where the people and their representatives feel that that the
Armed forces are a burden upon them. Keep playing ping-pong with the files.

Gen V K Singh should not let his guard down. The Indian babus are known to behave like
the Pakistani Army. When thrashed they return to get another one. As Indians we must
thank the likes of Raj Chengappa and Sandeep Unnithan for the public display of low
moral ethics of the Indian media. It is only people like them who help you gauge the
standards of our Fourth Estate and will help in the comparison of their ethics to that of
say a Mumbai bar-girl. We should also thank people like TSR Subramaniam who are on
record saying that it is better to watch cricket instead of discussing such matters.

Incidentally this man is the prototype of the Indian Civil Services –  an Ex Cabinet
secretary. No wonder Ministers are not able to perform. The advice from the civil servants
when confronted with a problem must be to sit back, relax and watch porn.

The Govt. of India needs urgent de-weeding. A thorough Civil Service Reform is the need
of the Hour. The IAS is no longer required. The Britishers required the ICS as Agent
provocateurs as part of its set up in far of India . In free India we don’t require the Laat
Sahibs. Each ministry must have its own professional cadre. For core ministries like
Defence, Finance, Home etc, State cadre civil servants should come on deputation to the
centre. The IAS is vestigial and defunct and needs to be abolished. India ’s greatest
threat is not from across the Borders but from these illegal satanic prodigies of the British
Raj.

Gen Singh must keep his powder dry. The wily Babus have retreated wounded and must
be planning their next perfidious act in the shadows. The Rajs and Sandeeps are in
business....

Offline Ajai Singh

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http://www.dnaindia.com/analysis/column_a-few-more-twists-left-in-army-chief-s-tale_1671723

A few more twists left in army chief's tale
Seema Mustafa | Thursday, April 5, 2012

The UPA government has placed itself in the unprecedented situation of announcing the next chief of army staff without issuing the legal orders for the retirement of the present incumbent on May 31. The result is that if army chief General VK Singh, embroiled in an age controversy with the government, does not resign or retire on May 31, the government will have two army chiefs in position on the said date.

Reports carried by the media that the military secretary’s branch had issued the retirement warning letter to General Singh end-February are false, according to well-informed sources. No such letter has been issued as yet as the legal position is still not clear, and the government is required to issue legal orders to the military branch before it can go ahead with the RWL.

The Supreme Court refused to take a position on the chief’s actual date of birth and although at the time both the government and General Singh made peace, the controversy whether he was born in 1950 or 1951 remains wide open. In the absence of a legal course correction, the government has not been able to respond to the army’s requirement for such an order to move ahead with the RWL that is usually issued eight months before a chief retires. In General Singh’s case it has not been issued yet.

The sources said that the report claiming that the retirement orders had been served and the chief was all set to retire on May 31 this year had been deliberately ‘planted.’ The military branch is still waiting for the legal orders, with the current position being that the government has rushed to announce Lt General Bikram Singh as the new chief without serving the necessary orders to General Singh. In case the army chief who is said to be extremely ‘hurt and upset’ about the canards being floated against him continues his mission to clear his reputation, he could well stay on in office till the next year when he is due to retire as per his stand.

General Singh went on the record several days ago to say that the army was waiting for legal orders. Soon after, the sources said, prime minister Manmohan Singh called an emergency meeting and the government decided to appoint Lt General Bikram Singh as the next chief a full 90 days, instead of the requisite 60 days, in advance. General Bikram Singh is said to be close to former Army Chief JJ Singh with both sharing personal relations with the PM.

The UPA government in its desire to get rid of General Singh, widely recognised in the army as an ‘upright, honest officer’, has left itself wide open to the possibility of a major face-off between two senior officers of the Indian Army on May 31. The ‘paperwork’ as the sources said, has not been cleared and the way for the smooth retirement of General VK Singh remains ridden with obstacles in view of the continuing legal confusion over his date of birth.

If General VK Singh goes by the necessary technicalities and remains in office the government will have two options. One to sack him and run the risk of further alienating an already upset and resentful army, and two, to withdraw their man Lt Gen Bikram Singh for the post and allow the present army chief to serve out the remaining 10 months in office until he retires in March next year.

Relations between the army and the defence ministry have hit a new low, with the officers blaming the bureaucrats for ‘planting’ a steady stream of stories in the media against the army and the chief. A full front page report in a national newspaper under the editor-in-chief’s byline has created ripples within the army with a senior officer describing it as a ‘pack of lies and innuendoes.’ The suggestion that the army had tried to execute a coup was strongly denied by the government, with several red faces admitting that the concerned newspaper had gone far out of line with the story that had no basis in facts. This was done when the army chief was in Nepal, leading officers to point out that the ‘plants’ are given to newspapers usually when he is travelling.

Offline Ajai Singh

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http://expressbuzz.com/opinion/op-ed/The-bribe-and-the-babu/377543.html

The bribe and the babu
Omesh Saigal Last Updated : 31 Mar 2012 01:21:07 AM IST

Whether General V K Singh’s sudden public revelation of the bribe offer, a year and a half after it was made, was the deft move of an ex-commando or the innocent protest against civilian apathy of a third generation soldier….well, let future historians decide. For me, though, it is a bold effort of a person who stands for probity and honesty and, maybe, it is a blow against the ‘consultants’ and middlemen ridden world into which the bureaucrat has to tread. I wish I had shown just a part of his courage when confronted with a similar situation.

I had just cleared my files as in walked an Member of Parliament who, though then in the Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh, earlier represented Delhi, a state where I had spent the bulk of my working years. It was soon clear that he was here to request for postponement of an order for embossing a certain statutory warning on cola bottles, which, if implemented, would cost several crores of rupees to his bottling company. “We met the minister”, he declared, “he is clear that he will do as advised by you.”

His statement did not surprise me; a minister is supposed to be guided by the departmental secretary. What he said next took my goat. “How much do you think the minister will want?” he asked suddenly.

It was all so matter of fact that I didn’t even think there was something amiss. “Why don’t you ask his private secretary?” was my simple retort. For a moment he may have been taken aback but soon he quipped. “Okay, Mr Saigal….tell me how much do you want?”

My response, though instant, was quite different from the General’s ‘Get out’ reaction. I sprung up in my seat: “Slap me as hard as you can, Mr….!” And, before the taken-aback MP could react, I went on: “That will cause me less pain than your query.” With just a moment’s respite, I went on: “With my retirement just a couple of months away, I was happy in the thought that at least I could spend my old age narrating stories about my integrity and probity and the fact this was appreciated and accepted by all. But, sir, you have shattered that dream. I have nothing left to count now but my meagre retirement benefits, that won’t even buy me a two-bedroom flat in Faridabad.”

I salute the solder in General Singh for having the guts to disclose a fact like this while still in service because I have been able to do so only now, a full 10 years into my retirement.


The relationship between the babu and bribe has always been intimate, almost like the left hand to the right. My father, who joined the imperial services way back in the Twenties of the last century, often joked: “The corrupt person is a dohathad (two-handed)… he takes his salary with the right and uses the left to collect the balai money (bribe).”

In the ‘good’ old days the bribe was really of the nature of bakshish, a voluntary payment by the beneficiary. Even the British had found a way to ‘reward’ officers who spent almost their entire lives honestly serving the king and country. Just a few years before their retirement, they were seconded to the political service and appointed as agents in one of the princely states. It was a tradition to give dalis during Christmas. Naturally, the dali had to measure up to the ruler’s self perception and meant a substantial pre-retirement bonus for the officer.

Both the balai and the dali had one thing in common: they were voluntary. And that was essentially the nature of bribes that babus took. I found this early in my career, during my first posting in Hamirpur, UP. During tea with the SDO of the PWD, he had a visitor. Hardly any words were exchanged and the chap left leaving a few hundred rupee notes on the table. “Did he owe you the money?” I queried. “No, no”, quick came the reply; “this is my consultancy fee”. Seeing the puzzled look on my face, he continued: “You know the doctor, sees your pulse, tells you the medicine…and you pay him. Same with the lawyer….”. “But what advise did you give him?” I asked, still not clear what he meant. “Arre what else… I told him how to get his bill passed and to seamlessly get the cheque.”

It is not that all people who made balai were ‘consultants’. The SDO himself narrated the case of an engineer who cheats on cement and steel. “You know what happened to him?” The SDO confided. “A bridge made by him fell down and he is still serving a jail sentence!” He himself never let such events cloud his ‘consultancy’.

Another version of the ‘consultant’ was the babu in Akbar’s court who refuses to give up his corrupt ways even after umpteen transfers from one job to another. A not very amused emperor orders his transfer to the farther most corners of the empire. His duty: count the waves. It is not funny how he converted this too into a money making venture by not letting ships come in (of course without paying) as it would disturb the waves he was counting.

This guy may have thought of himself as a genius but he had yet to reckon with the 2G guys of our time. At least he could see the waves; the latter, who probably made more money than Akbar himself, was dealing with a much more invisible and insubstantial entity.

Whether the changeover from dali-balai to multi crore scams was seamless or can be pinned on a particular person or persons, there is no doubt the old order has changed and has yielded place to the new. The new order has given a new meaning to the word ‘consultant’, a meaning that will shake the old Hamirpur SDO out of his dhoti.

Whatever the consultant may appear on paper or through is CV, he is nothing but a middleman, an agent. His job is to get the contract awarded and then execute it through third parties….after retaining a substantial cut for himself and, of course, for the babu who facilitated his ‘consultancy’ in the first place.

The consultants have made it big now. In fact so big that they walk into offices of highly placed functionaries as was done in my case by the MP and in the case of the General by a highly ranked retired officer of the services. If Anna Hazare has made a big mark by pointing out to the need of reining in the babu through the aegis of the Lokpal, General Singh has sounded a powerful cautionary note to the babu to beware of the army of touts and agents, whatever they may call themselves. Apart from whatever he may have done in the Rajput Regiment, this will be the greatest service the General has done to promote probity in the bureaucracy.

Omesh Saigal is former chief secretary, Delhi and secretary to government of India.

Offline Ajai Singh

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http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/randomaccess/entry/gen-vk-singh-talks-like-a-kid-really


'Gen VK Singh talks like a kid'. Really?
Rajesh Kalra
01 May 2012, 12:10 PM IST
 
The Indian political class may be finding it hard to digest that the chief of our army staff is being feted as a saviour in this nation beset with all forms of corruption. The fact that most of the nation seems to be behind the genial and seemingly correct General VK Singh is giving them nightmares, as was exemplified by the twist to a normal exercise into something that was perhaps a coup attempt by a slighted general.

But, as it turns out, it is not just the politicians, but even the bureaucracy, rather the UPSC-selected officers, who aren’t happy with the goodwill that Gen Singh has generated among the countrymen. I met a friend from the Indian Police Service (IPS) yesterday. This friend is very high in the hierarchy in a central police organisation. The discussion inevitably turned to the confrontation between the General and the government. I wanted to know his views on an issue that has the nation’s attention riveted.

His response was shocking! "Bachchon jaisi batein kar rahe hain General (General is talking like a child)," he shot back. I have always heard there is a general distrust, perhaps jealousy, between the services and the civil administration, but this friend is one I credit with a lot of objectivity. I asked him, is it because while an IPS officer at the top is always lower to the top IAS position (Cabinet Secretary), the services chiefs are equivalent to the Cabinet Secretary and for that reason he has this pique against the services? He replied in the negative and went on to say that Gen Singh speaks unnecessarily and that the government has been very accommodating and almost said he should consider himself lucky he has not been sacked. I heard him patiently and told him that if that indeed is his view, then he is in a minority, just as those who currently control this nation are.

It is a known fact that the UPSC-selected officers have an axe to grind among themselves. They normally are at each other's throats. The IAS, which is the ruling class, hates the IFS, who hate the IPS, who hate the IRS, and this hate equation is in star formation, which means they all hate each other. Until, they face a combined adversary. That is when they all gang up.

There is no doubt that the services have their own share of black sheep, in fact a lot more than one can ever feel comfortable about, but it also has more than its share of those who make us hold our head high, in pride. The current army chief is one such individual. I would rather have those who ‘speak like a child’ in a position of strength in my country than those who are "Know-Alls.