General V K Singh will go down in history for being someone who will change the nation’s perception of the Armed Forces, hopefully for the better. There have been chiefs ‘disciplined’ by the bureaucracy and the politicians in the past. There have been those who have made a positive change and those who have succumbed to corruption.
What is in the General’s favour is his honesty and the government is apprehensive of tarnishing the chief’s post for posterity. This is all over the media. There is also a reason to celebrate the fact that someone has spoken up and brought to fore the woes of the armed forces, albeit in a twisted way. If the General’s claims of date of birth were denied to him in the past because of his whistle blowing zealousness, then it is something the armed forces and the government need to think and act about.
If one was to take a look at our armed forces, it functions as on a war economy mode all the time. There is a perpetual shortage of officers, a lack of proper training equipment and modern facilities. To illustrate, there are no real helicopters but bamboo ones to train from, they don’t fly.
The defence budget increases every year, but practically little is there to show in arms like the infantry. High morale is when you know you are better trained and armed than your adversaries.
You can’t complain, for if you do you just don’t see your next rank! The culture stems from a total lack of objectivity in our thinking. Here we have the Chief who is reflecting an unintended urge to break away from that culture at the end of his career. Better late than never! There have been many in the past who have just resigned in disgust.
There is no protection for the whistle-blower by way of legislation. Even if there were one, it will be ineffective or unpredictable like the judiciary. It is becoming clear that the government will like to see the General go as he is the inconvenient truth. How will this impact on his successors? Will they be looked upon as being a compliant and accommodative accomplice to the ‘government’s’ doings. They have a choice and one of them will be to continue in this predecessors’ way.
Not all is convincing at first sight, such as the date of birth issue and now the lack of ammunition for our tanks. There is much more than meets the eye, at least till the end of May.