MODI’S BLIND SPOT By PG Kamath
‘The Government at a Glance; 2017 OECD Report’ has commended the Indian Government for having the maximum confidence of its people. India towers over all other nations with a whopping 73% of us reposing our faith and trust in the PM Modi led; NDA Government. UK, Japan and US are way behind with 41%, 36% and 30% respectively. Canada led by the young and dynamic Prime Minister Trudeau with 62%; stands second. A part of credit for Modi’s achievements should certainly go to UPA, as it had brought the country to its nadir and abject despair by endless scams that it could not have gone further down. It was at its wits end as to whom to prosecute? To be fair to Senorita and Raga, they are not leaders, who would let the foot soldiers of the party to do the dirty job, while they themselves remain aloof and keep their hands clean: Far from it; they have led from the front and prima facie are the main accused along with other conspirators in the cheating and misappropriating assets worth ₹ 2000 crores in the National Herald case. If they had to actually start prosecution there would be no one left in the government; other than PM Maun-vrat Singh, who also would eventually go to jail for silently abetting all the scams behind the smoke screen of ‘coalition politics’. The entire nation was craving for a change; or for that matter any change? Anyone, who followed, even if he was a bungling moron would have looked like King Solomon. However, PM Modi, is no moron; he is intelligent with matching personality and oratorical skill and indeed is a true nationalist. He wears sincerity on his face and exudes conviction to strike rapport with world leaders to pursue our national interests. He does not have a son-in-law, who need police protection or DLF lands at rock bottom rates in Haryana or prime bungalows in Shimla. He also does not need to start a company with the first two letters of his father’s name and second two letters of his mother’s name like ‘Lara’ (Ms Lara Automobiles) in Bihar? He also does not have to take permission from FIPB (Foreign Investment Promotion Board) to bring ₹ 4.6 crores as investment for INX Multimedia and then bring in ₹ 305 crores; nearly seventy times more than the sanctioned amount. Sad but true that he also does not have a brother-in- law to huddle with the Chinese ambassador! His ministers have also been kept under tight leash and have not been able to earn the spoils of their offices. Logically; as 2G had made ₹ 170,000 crore scam money, he had all the opportunity to make a compatible amount in 4G. The last October auction for 4G spectrum, the government earned 65,789 crores. I am sure the former ministers of UPA are despairing at the lost opportunity and would have been ready consultants for the 4G scam; if there was one? In spite of the braying opposition, who make so much of noise for Rohith Vemula and Akhlaq, but make no mention of Basirhat, Nadia and Dhulagarh, the country still reposes its confidence in him.
All communal clashes are sad and need to be abhorred and immediate preventive measures to be put in place. If another clash happens, the DC and SP be held accountable and punished for dereliction of duty and abetting communal violence. If the Overlords in the Supreme Court can order that all killings in areas declared ‘Disturbed’ should have mandatory FIRs against security personnel; be it that they have killed a heavily armed terrorists, then why can’t the same Supreme Court lodge FIRs against the DC and SP for a communal clash in their area of jurisdiction? Not acting as per law and dereliction of duties can be punished under Sec 166 IPC. There are provisions that should be applied as most SHOs get an air of impending communal violence and do nothing about it till they gets political directions. The SP and DC in most cases await the political signals, before exercising their powers as per law. Once the mob that was incensed has vent its wrath on the most hapless victims then the police will come on the scene in line with its celluloid image. Mr Prime Minister: it is high time you wield your stick on the bureaucrats, who assume authority with no accountability.
Just to remind the Prime Minister; remember the bureaucrats from home ministry, who were gallivanting at the hill station of Murree at Pakistan’s expense, when Taj Hotel was burning and exploding on 26/11. You can trust our ‘run of the mill’ bureaucrats to gorge themselves, wherever free carrots are hanging, be it; that it is of our arch enemy. Pakistan knew of their propensity for free crumbs and morsels; hence they cleverly manipulated to extend the talks from 25 to 26 Nov 2011 and sent them to Murree, where the mobile network was not available. Due to their absence, the decision making at the Home Ministry was delayed enabling the terrorists uninterrupted time in their killing spree. Indeed, the bureaucrats of the home ministry including the Home Secretary answered a call beyond their duty at Murree: Not to forget, in service to the nation?
Mr Prime Minister! No doubt; you are fully involved and committed in almost all the fields of national importance and has brought in changes in multiple spheres. I also can imagine how you must have tackled the ‘deep state’ in bureaucracy that resists all changes and forces the country into a state of atrophy. In my last article, I had bought to light your failed J&K policies; in this article I want to bring to light your blind spot on defence policies and your derisive disposition towards the morale of serving soldiers and veterans. In your manifesto you had promised ‘One rank one pension’, National War Memorial, Veteran’s Commission and a greater say for the armed forces in the decision making among other things.
Your partial implementation of ‘OROP’ has fueled discontent among the service men and veterans. Your absolute neglect of the anomalies of the 4th, 5th and 6th Pay commission has shown that you really do not care? The marginalisation of the Armed Forces in the 7th Pay Commission and lowering them at par with Central Reserve Police Forces, shows that you do not even have the basic knowledge of the Constitution of India, as The Armed Forces Officers are above ‘Group A’ officers as per Article 310 of our Constitution. They are the first mention in the article. You also do not have the rudimentary knowledge on primary and secondary roles of the Armed Forces, hence you are silently accepting the unconstitutional equivalence meted out to them in the 7th CPC. Your stopping of rations for the officers that was in vogue since 1983 and giving them a paltry ₹ 96 per day that is taxable reducing the net amount below the daily food allowance of convicts in civil jail in NCR and Northeast India has caused uncalled for ire. It only shows your lack of concern towards the officers of the Armed Forces. Your instructions reducing the turnover of CSD canteens by half in the guise of stopping its misuse only shows your indifferent attitude towards soldiers, who are the last bastion of the country. Mr PM; the digitised canteen cards have been given to all servicemen and veterans; how is it possible to misuse the canteen facilities, when you have laid down the monetary limit to each rank? Please tell your Defence Minister not to nod his head for everything that the minions around him blabber. He needs to discuss it with concerned general officers of the army, navy and air force to get a correct picture. I don’t blame him as he is your part-time defence minister.
Mr PM; just to apprise you of the Chairman of 7th CPC bore a grudge against the Armed Forces for not getting a Type VII bungalow in Delhi from their quota as the Chairman of AFT in Delhi. The Chairman writes that he recommended the continuation of NFU to the ‘Group A’ officers in 6th CPC as it was already implemented for the last 10 years. The same learned Justice does not have any qualms in recommending stoppage of rations for the officers of the Armed Forces in the peace tenures that was in vogue for 33 years? Look at the double standard of the Justice; who is charged by the nation to do justice to all of us? The sanctimony is sinister as in the ‘Foreword’ he quotes Gita and Arthasashtra to show nobility in his intent. He further pontificates that “It is necessary to follow ‘Dharma’ in all walks of human life”. One wonders how a ‘National Commission’ can be pachydermatous and duplicitous to recommend such contradictions. The final 7th CPC report as such removes all doubts.
In reorganisation of the MOD and appointing a CDF, your reluctant Defence Minister cried wolf so many times that it has lost its relevance and we sincerely feel you are not up to it. Just to remind you; have you instructed your NSA or the Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff to formulate the ‘National Security Doctrine’ so that the political directions for the two and half front war is in place and the armed forces have a document to work and build their capacities? It really appears you are in your trance as you have not comprehended the implications of a two and half front war. Prime Ministers of the past have got away with their ignorance except PM Nehru, who paid for his lack of strategic vision and died as a broken man with tattered pride and shattered will in a year and half after the Chinese invasion. Indira Gandhi listened to her Chiefs and won a strategic victory for the country and changed the map of South Asia. She incorporated Sikkim and Bangladesh was created as she was willing to listen to her chiefs though during negotiations she frittered away her victory to a smooth talking Bhutto at Shimla. I suggest you take a page or two from your friends in White house, Moscow or even at Beijing to learn how to manage Armed forces and put together your strategic vision that should guide the country to build our economic and military capacities.
First and foremost; you do not have a full time defence minister. The one, whom you appointed soon after your government formation; who is also holding the appointment now is a ‘part time defence minister’. In between you foisted on the armed forces a reluctant defence minister; who gave such a loud sigh of relief on being relieved, that it reverberated across the whole South Block: You have definitely heard it! It also echoed in Goa. Look at the irony; Mr Prime Minister; with the country facing threat from two and half fronts, with almost entire length of border under dispute, with our enemies laying claim to two of our states; J&K and Arunachal Pradesh; still you feel that we can do with a part time defence minister? Do you or your NSA, really visualise how the two and half front threat to the country emerge and the contingencies both strategic and operational the country would have to face? How do you think the threats manifests on ground in all sectors?
Kudos; to you on ‘Dokalam standoff’ it shows your convictions and sagacity. Please take it seriously; the Chinese would not back out as they have staked the reputation of Communist Party of China in the standoff. Even if they back out for the time being the long term threat remains. Their foreign minister in Bangkok has made a clear statement that Indian officials have agreed that they have entered the Chinese territory. Xi Jinping addressing the military Parade on 30 Jul 2017 on the occasion of 90th Anniversary of PLA at Zhurihe in Inner Mongolia said that PLA is capable of defeating any invading enemies and protect the country’s sovereignty. I am sure you are being apprised of these statements; obviously they are focused towards creating a world opinion in favour of China. Something is definitely brewing and all our surveillance resources need to be harnessed to gauge the intention of the Chinese on land, air and from sea and pre-empt it. Diplomatic arm twisting is also probably on the cards and economic handle is being explored. Please also note the takeover of Hambantota Port last week from Sri Lanka.
Please also listen to your Chiefs as to what is the best way to face Chinese? Strength deters war and weakness invites it. The Army Chief must have made a press statement that we are prepared for a two and half front war, so that you are at ease with the public; but it is high time you ask him the contingencies in case the conflict spills over to other sectors. Just last month the Air Chief has flagged the shortages in airpower for a two front war. Have a direct talk to all the three service chiefs on their operational concerns. Do not leave it to the part time Defence Minister or the clueless Ministry to handle it. On 25 Jul 2017, your part time Defence minister responds in the Rajya Sabha that the armed forces are “reasonably and sufficiently equipped”. Just look at the words at play; the master of prevarication is at his ‘best’. Couple of days later he make a statement in the Lok Sabha that the Armed Forces were fully equipped to face any contingency. Just see how ‘reasonably and sufficiently’ has been replaced with ‘fully’? Just do not believe him: You need to put your ears to the ground and get a direct feedback before it is too late! Remember the words of Fd Mshl Manekshaw: “I wonder whether those who have been put in charge of the defence of the country can distinguish a mortar from a motor; a gun from a howitzer; a guerrilla from a gorilla, although a great many resemble the latter”.
I don’t know but I hope you have given clear cut political directions to the Armed Forces on the Dokalam Standoff? I also don’t know whether we have moved adequate troops and fire power on either flanks of Chumbi Valley both on the in Sikkim and in Bhutan. It would certainly become a ‘no-go’ situation to the Chinese in the Chumbi Valley. Please take care that China does not outflank us from Northern Sikkim or in connivance with Nepal open the Taplejung axis? See the situation in case of air warfare is waged by the Chinese to neutralise our concentrations with or without a follow up land offensive. His vassal; Pakistan would also needle us in J&K. China would also give arms and ammunition to Pakistan, for spiking terrorist activities in J&K besides activating her troop movement in Depsang bulge and Chumar. She would also airlift troops at the seven airfields that she has constructed in Tibet Autonomous Region to mobilise troops in quick time and open up new points of conflicts along the border. She would also move troops for acclimatisation to Northern Tibet for a fast build up. She would also give impetus to insurgency movements in the North East India and also spur the Gurkha agitation. Keep the Tibetan Card handy and do not forget to play it well. The situation in Tibet is incendiary and it only needs some concerted effort to fulminate it. Be in touch with the East Turkmenistan Liberation Front (ETLF) fighting for independence in the Xinjiang Province that is just adjacent to Tibet; rather we have a direct access to Xinjiang through Karakoram Pass. Resources can be funneled into Sinkiang and Tibet from our over 3000 KMs of our borders and also from Afghanistan, CAR, and Mongolia. Keep the options open and make preparations. If Chinese gauge our intent; so much the better: Sometimes it is better to reveal our intent in subtle way to pre-empt an all-out war. Please note it is the political will that builds the military capacity.
Overall no doubt you are doing well! You are heads and shoulders above all the Prime Ministers, we have had in the past. Even to imagine anyone else in the country, who could replace you would sound hollow and ludicrous if not outright preposterous? However; you certainly need to overcome your ‘Blind Spot’. Take care of the morale of the Armed Forces to etch your name in the history. Reorganise the Ministry of Defence (MOD), appoint a Chief of Defence Forces, and include him in the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS). Streamline the weapon and equipment procurement procedure, make the DRDO accountable to the three services, integrate the MOD with service officers and make them responsible and accountable for the deficiency in the armed forces. They should act as facilitators and not controllers. Formulate a “National Security Doctrine’ and integrate it with ‘National Nuclear Doctrine’. Expedite the construction of infrastructure on the Chinese borders. Have regular meeting with CCS with the three service chiefs once a month till the Dokalam Standoff ends: Later on you can meet them once in a quarter. Appoint a full time defence minister as defence is too serious a thing to be left to bureaucratic indifference or to a Part time Defence Minister, who can at best perfunctorily take care of it as a step child? Most intelligent visions are marred by ‘blind spots’ and it is time to get rid of them both in you and in your government. A lamp always has a shadow under it!
(The writer is a retired army officer