Gentlemen, the article appended below is written by General Harbhajan Singh. He raises some extremely pertinent points:
Date: Sat, 17 Sep 2011 09:25:11 -0700
Subject: MOD's role in COAS DOB
The Ministry of Defence (MOD) of the Govt of India is hardly known for efficiency, transparency, uprightness or for safeguarding interests of the Services. The Raksha Mantralaya has all the power but no accountability. Whether it was airlifting troops into J&K in 1947 or integrating the Nation, the decisions were taken by the PM, the C in C and Sardar Patel, the then Home Minister, not the MOD.
The first time the MOD played an active role was in the 1950s leading to the Sino Indian Conflict in 1962. Krishna Menon’s obnoxious behaviour led to the resignation of the Army Chief. Bungling of external affairs led to a Sino Indian War and thanks to political interference in the Army, the Nation suffered a most humiliating defeat in 1962.
In 1965 and 1971 the decisions to go to war were taken by the PMs in direct consultation with the Chiefs. MOD played no part. The next time a Defence Minister got involved in a conflict was in 1999. The Raksha Mantri visited Kargil and Dras from 12 to 14 May, learnt of the intrusions, yet it was only on 26 May that the first fighters flew over Kargil. Who is responsible for the delay, which allowed the enemy to consolidate further on the mountains overlooking Kargil?
The controversy over the date of birth of the present Chief is another symptom of the diseased MOD.
There is nothing wrong in putting up a complaint when one feels aggrieved. It is common knowledge by now that that everything is not right in the MOD and cleaning up will be in the interest of the Nation. Hundreds of petitions in Armed Forces Tribunals prove that many complainants are not satisfied with the decisions of the MOD. Therefore I recommend viewing the Chief’s case with an open mind.
Whether the general was born in 1950 or 1951 is of no importance to National Security. Nor why has the General taken a stand on the case. What is amazing is the procrastination of the MOD, over so many years.
As far as we know (based on published information) the General had entered 1950 as his year of birth in the UPSC application, but all his certificates such as birth, Matriculation, and others show his year of birth as 1951. He could not have gone through three years training at NDA without producing his essential certificates. Based on the documentary evidence he has been asking the Army HQ to amend his date of birth which has not been done. Why?
The UPSC rules take Matriculation or equivalent certificates as authority for the date of birth. So what is the problem in his case? Let us say the matriculation certificate had shown 1949 as the Year of birth, would the Army HQ and MOD have ignored the certificates? Why have they ignored the certificates in this case, and for so long? Had there been a doubt about the certificates they should have rejected these and taken action against the officer for manipulating documents; or they should have accepted his certificates. They cannot take 40 years to reject his certificates.
A most interesting comment by the Defence Minister is that the general was approved to be Lt Gen with the year of birth as 1950. I thought suitability was assessed on professional competence, character qualities and past performance. Had his recorded date been 1951 would he have been found unfit for promotion? How absurd? yet revealing! Was Gen VK Singh promoted to be Chief or only a stop gap Chief who had to retire in 2012, making way for the MOD candidate?][/i]
Let us clarify one thing. Does the Govt do a favour to an individual by promoting him? Or are promotions necessary for the functioning of the Army? Should the selection not be purely on merit, based on performance? Another interesting comment is that the change of date of birth will affect the succession line up. Who has decided the line up? And when was it decided? This shows the succession line up was decided when Gen VK Singh was still a Major General and the successor had possibly just taken over a Division. His Division commanders’ reports could not have been even written, leave alone evaluated at that stage. In other words the candidate was approved to be the next chief even before he had commanded a division successfully. The public should know one has to command a division, a Corps and an Army, all successfully, before being considered for the appointment of the next Chief.
The public must ask - is it normal to select the chiefs even before they finish command of divisions?? Or was it done only in this case? If so why? The Hon’ble RM says VK Singh’s last three promotions were based on date of birth being 1950. What about six promotions before that? Were they based on his being 1951? Astonishing!
A press report says Gen VK Singh gave a certificate that the issue of date of birth would not be raised by him again. Why was the certificate taken? No such certificate is taken from officers at the time of any promotion. Why was it taken from VK Singh? If the MOD apprehended ‘danger’ of the General raising the issue why did they not take a decision and announce the approved date, instead of asking the officer not to raise the issue? The rat can be smelled miles away. Why did the MOD decide to sweep it under the carpet rather than take the bull by the horns? Don’t they have documentary evidence to support their case?
Now that the General has put up his case why are they afraid to let law take its course? Why should the MOD try and malign the General, through motivated media reports? There are dozens of capable Army Commanders and Corps Commanders who retire. What is so special about the successor this time? If the MOD candidate retires will the Army not have a Chief? Or will any other Army Commander be less competent? These political games are not good for the armed forces. The system must be clean and transparent.
People are well aware of the inability of the Ministry of Home Affairs to handle the internal threats. The Army is the last pillar on which the Nation depends when situations go out of civilian control. Why is the Defence Ministry trying to destroy the fabric of this organisation?
Whether the present Chief should or should not have put up a complaint is another matter. People have different views, and we should respect all views. But to say it sends a wrong message to the rank and file is deliberately misleading the public. Who has found how much it matters to the rank and file? The MOD? or the very reliable Intelligence agencies whose reputation is too well known? The rank and file as well as junior officers know their senior officers very well by now! The only people affected are those deeply involved in the battle of succession. Many of them are not soldiers.
If there is any feeling it would be about the bungling by the MOD. Take any poll, ask any number of officers and men what they feel regarding the MOD and you would know. That is why they keep the Services gagged. Allow the Service officers to speak to the Media and you would soon know the truth.
There are some who say Gen VK Singh should resign. It is easy to preach. What did Gen Thimayya gain by resigning; for himself or for the Army? No! Gen VK Singh must stay and fight not just for himself but to expose the misdeeds of the MOD; if he has a strong case. There should be no question of quitting half way or of turning back.
On the other hand should Gen VK Singh be found guilty of manipulation of documentary evidence exemplary punishment would be in order. Surely he would know that and would not have put up a case unless he was on terra firma.
Should the MOD continue their dirty tricks of leaking stories based on half truths, the Chief and his staff must respond with full vigour. The ultimate need for the sake of the country is to clean up the system. Who gains or loses is too minor for the Nation.