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Saturday, 8 September 2012

From Today's Papers - 08 Sep 2012
Defence forces need a makeover

The armed forces have been laid low by stories of corruption and rebellion. To arrest this decline, we need a younger army, assured, however, of well-paid, prestigious civilian jobs after they reach 35 years of age.
September 7, 2012: 

Former Chief Vigilance Commissioner N. Vittal is one of the top experts on corruption in India. He has recently written a book, Ending Corruption? How to Clean Up India. This article is not a review of that book (that will follow), but a reaction to a chapter on how most wars in India were lost not because of paucity of forces but because of corruption. Even casual students of Indian history are aware of it, but at present, nobody either in the defence forces or in the civilian authority is aware that, decades hence, India may lose her independence because of corruption and disloyalty due to disaffection in its armed forces.

For instance, Golconda, which had managed to hold on against a siege for many months, was taken over by Aurangzeb who bribed an official to keep one of its doors open. Robert Clive, with an army of barely 3,000, defeated a ten times stronger enemy by bribing Mir Jafar.

The Vijaynagar Empire floundered because its Muslim generals were persuaded to forsake their responsibility and be loyal to their faith. It must be added that one of the kings who ransacked Vijayanagar was a Brahmin Maratha ruler.
Buying loyalty

The East India Company managed to take over far larger armies by earning the loyalty of its soldiers. They did so by paying those soldiers a regular wage — instead of making them earn money by loot. The wages they paid was Rs 3 a month, which then, could buy three-four thousand kg of rice.

I recollect asking a policeman who was barricading our small student protest in pre-Independent India why he was doing so. He replied, “Nuvvu buvva isthava?”(Will you give me food?) I had no answer. Regular income is crucial; it buys loyalty.

Till World War II, the British army recruited its soldiers from villages and retired almost all of them by the time they reached the age of 35. That was a popular move.

The farmers and landowners did not want their sons to interfere and preferred them to learn discipline by serving in the army.

When their sons had reached the age of 35, the parents were tired and wanted their sons to take over. The sons, too, were happy. They had the double prestige of having served in the army and that of land ownership — a vital factor in rural India.
New army culture

After World War II, the Indian Government took away lands from the larger farmers. Hereditary caste-based authority gave way to political clout. Thus, traditional rural life lost much of its charm. Further, the army needed more brains than brawn. Such persons were found more in towns and cities than in the villages. For urban people, the desired goal was not a short-term assignment but a lifelong career. That radical change in the social milieu of the armed forces has produced an entirely new culture. The Government has not, as yet, learnt to manage it.

So, the armed forces have lost much of their pride. There are stories of corrupt generals, and of ordinary soldiers rebelling. Can such an army of disaffected people be relied upon to protect our country and do so forever?

Our Government has peculiar values. In the name of equality, the Government cut down recruitment from traditional areas such as Punjab. At the same time, they introduced strong preferences in recruitment for what they called as “lower castes”. And, now, they have initiated — with dubious results — a process to extend the law from caste-based preferences in selection to promotions, too.
Tearing social fabric

In consequence, India is a far worse divided society than what it was at the time of Independence. No doubt, in several respects, it is now more egalitarian but legal preferences based on caste have started tearing the social fabric. On top of it, the modern generation seeks larger and larger levels of social prestige — for which it seeks more and more money. Thus, we have now a rapidly divided and sub-divided polity which is also becoming more and more ambitious. The armed forces need only youth, but recruits want a prestigious lifelong career. The Government has increased promotional opportunities and the ages of retirement for many beyond the age of 35. That has made our defence forces old but has not really made our armed forces any happier.

In short, we need a young army but a lifelong career for the army men with increasing emoluments and prestige. Then, there is no alternative but to make a two-part career for anyone who opts to fight for the country: a service in armed forces till about 35 and a guaranteed employment outside beyond that age. The second part is naturally civilian and could be both in administration and in the professions.

That is, every cadet who joins the National Defence Academy or any of the junior ranks should be assured of a lifelong prestigious career. What is more, future promotions should be based on transparent and objective evaluation. One and all should know that they will get and have got whatever is their due.

The defence forces also need a few persons in the highest ranks. That causes a dilemma. If the most competent officers are diverted towards more lucrative civilian careers, the country’s defence will suffer. Hence, the very best (but a relatively small number) should be retained as senior officers of the armed forces. Moreover, their perquisites, their emoluments and most important, their authority should be higher than what they may enjoy in civilian service.

A wise government only can devise such an arrangement that will ensure that the armed forces are incorruptible, and are content to lay down their lives for the country.
Quiet burial for NCTC?
Terror battle should not lose steam

With the issue of coal allocations occupying the national centre-stage, terror seems to have been pushed down on the list of national priorities. When the Home Ministry tried to set up an anti-terror body, popularly called the NCTC (National Counter Terrorism Centre), states like Odisha, Gujarat, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu vociferously opposed it. Now even the Home Ministry seems to have put it in cold storage. The new Home Minister, Sushil Kumar Shinde, did not think it proper to talk about its future at the three-day conference of DGPs that began in Delhi on Thursday. He has recalled the revised NCTC proposal submitted for consideration of the Cabinet Committee on Security. While states’ federal concerns may be addressed, the importance of having a nodal organisation under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act should not be lost sight of.

The online hate campaign launched on social networking sites and blogs targeting people from the North-East is a recent example of intelligence failure. Though objectionable matter and motivated rumours were posted on the Internet 20 days before people started fleeing cities like Bangalore, Mumbai and Hyderabad, the police and intelligence agencies had failed to notice this and, therefore, act in time. National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon has rightly called for a better monitoring system to keep watch on objectionable material on Internet sites. It is expected of the DGPs, therefore, to wrestle with the challenge from cyberspace. Central-state cooperation is key to the battle against terror.

The third important issue that figured at the police conference was that terrorist groups getting external support were still posing a threat to Punjab and the neighbouring states. This is the assessment of Intelligence Bureau chief Nehchal Sandhu. A similar observation was made by P. Chidambaram as Home Minister during his visit to Chandigarh earlier this year. While it is necessary to keep watch on the activities of disruptive elements, the threat should not be played up or discussed at public platforms as negative publicity can undermine Punjab’s efforts to attract industry. Peace is a precondition for private investment.
Army to probe allegations against officer who allegedly posted mobile number of colleague's wife on adult site
New Delhi: The Army has ordered a Court of Inquiry into the allegation made by a Lieutenant Colonel against a junior officer of harassing his wife by posting her mobile number on an adult website.

However, the Army has denied reports which suggested that the Major had posted pictures and videos of the senior officer's wife on 19 websites.

"No allegations for posting of videos and pictures have been made. The only allegation is that of posting of the mobile number of the Lieutenant Colonel's wife by the Major on one website and we are carrying a Court of Inquiry (CoI) into that incident," Army spokesperson Colonel Jagdeep Dahiya said.
The inquiry was ordered recently by 10 Corps under Lieutenant General Sanjeev Anand after complaints were made by the Lieutenant Colonel from the Aviation unit that the Major had posted his wife's mobile number on an adult website.

After the mobile number was posted on the website, the wife of the Lieutenant Colonel started receiving a large number of unsolicited calls from unknown people.

Both the Lieutenant Colonel and the Major are posted at an Army Aviation Corps unit deployed at Bathinda under the 10 Corps.\09\07\story_7-9-2012_pg1_6
‘Adventurers’ have damaged army’s prestige: NA

* Lower House unanimously adopts resolution to pay tribute to soldiers for protecting frontiers of the country against unprovoked aggression

By Tanveer Ahmed

ISLAMABAD: Paying homage to the armed forces on the occasion of Defence Day, members in the Lower House of parliament said adventurers in the ranks of army had damaged the prestige of this institution. The House then unanimously adopted a resolution to pay tribute to soldiers for protecting the frontiers of the country against unprovoked aggression.

On the occasion of Defence Day, the House first took time to remember the sacrifices of the armed forces in 1965 war before its regular agenda and passed the resolution moved by Defence Minister Syed Naveed Qamar.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik said conspiracies were being hatched against the country for being a nuclear state. He pointed out that there was no Shia-Sunni conflict in the country and that under a conspiracy riots were first triggered in Gilgit-Baltistan and then in Quetta.

Speaking in the National Assembly on a point of order, the minister said it is high time to rise above personal differences and thwart the plans of enemies portraying Pakistan as a failed state.

“There is strong information that the anti-state elements are planning to attack Peshawar in the coming days,” he told the House. Malik felt all these conspiracies were aimed at destabilising Pakistan and to weaken the political hierarchy and government. He said internal and external enemies had united against the country’s nuclear programme and hatching conspiracies to weaken it.

“Today Fazlullah, Faqeerullah and Waliur Rehman stand united against us by forgetting their differences. It is a grave conspiracy against Pakistan,” Malik told the House. “They train militants in Afghanistan and send them to Pakistan for terrorist activities.”

“We know their sponsors and financiers. We are alive to our responsibilities and nobody should forget that our forces are capable of defending the motherland,” the minister added.

PPP’s Akunzada Chattan, commending the efforts of the armed forces in FATA against militants, said adventurers within ranks of the armed forces had damaged the institution, and pointed out that these elements had penetrated well in it.

Shazia Marri of the PPP said the soldiers of 1965 were a source of inspiration for the youths, however, those generals of the armed forces who had violated their oaths by usurping the governments in the past, had brought a bad name.

PPP’s Zafar Ali Shah was vocal in his remarks and said the army’s role should be professional, and questioned what relevance army had with defence housing colonies in different parts of the country. He also urged for withdrawing the army from Balochistan by handing over security matters to the Levies. Recalling his presence in a meeting during the Ayub Khan era, he pointed out that he was misguided by his aides that Pakistan should move it troops to Kashmir and India would not retaliate against it.

PML-N’s Mahmood Bashir Virk said emotionally, “We have forgotten that we are a nation”, and that an external enemy attacked us in 1965 but today the enemy was damaging us internally. Referring to the armed forces’ fight against internal elements, Virk said, “This war is ours and we have to stand with army.”

Federal Minister Akram Masih Gil said minorities also rendered sacrifices in 1965 and late Air Commodore (r) Cecil Chaudhry was a glaring example of it. Earlier, during the question hour, Parliamentary Secretary for Communication Chaudhry Saeed Iqbal told the House that talks were underway with the US for rehabilitation of Torkham-Peshawar and Chaman-Quetta roads, which had been badly damaged due to passing of NATO containers.
Army major 'posts' senior officer wife's phone number on adult site
NEW DELHI: A senior Army officer has accused a junior of harassing his wife by posting her mobile number on an adult website prompting institution of a Court of Inquiry (COI) into the case.

Both the Lieutenant Colonel and the Major are posted at an Army Aviation Corps unit deployed at Bathinda under the 10 Corps there.

The CoI was ordered recently by the senior officials of the 10 Corps after complaints were made by a Lieutenant Colonel from the Aviation unit that the Major had posted his wife's mobile number on an adult website, sources said.

They said the officer also alleged that the Major made "unsolicited calls" to him and his wife.

Sources said after the mobile number was posted on the website, the wife of the Lt Col started receiving a large number of unsolicited calls from unknown people.

Army Headquarters officials confirmed the development and said the CoI was looking into the complaints of invasion in privacy by a junior officer.

Refusing to divulge any further information, they said the proceedings were still on in the probe.
To face China, prepare military on the ground
Chinese defence minister General Liang Guanglie’s visit to India assumes importance considering that the military dimension remains critical to the India-China relationship. Unlike other facets of India-China relations which are irritant-free, only the military element proves problematic owing to its linkage with the long-standing border dispute. To that extent the military element in a sense tends to condition the economic, social, political and diplomatic dimensions between the two neighbours.Today the military is the only government agency, apart from para-military forces, that manages India’s borders with China and therefore military- to-military relations between the two sides matter.
What is India’s policy towards China? Clearly, New Delhi‘s policy towards Beijing is to avoid war, pursue diplomacy and sustain the status quo.Whatever lip service Indian leaders proffer about a resolution of the border dispute is purely for public consumption owing to the sensitive nature of the problem.

How exactly does India formulate national security and foreign policy towards China? At the political level, the national security adviser dialogues with his Chinese counterpart over the border dispute. Otherwise, the government’s high-level China Study Group, which comprises representatives from the ministries of external affairs, defence, armed forces, and intelligence agencies, offers informed advice that is acted on to the extent possible. Therefore three major government organisations at the forefront of policy formulation towards China are the diplomatic, military and intelligence services. Among these three, the military plays the major role in terms of management of the unresolved 4,056-km Line of Actual Control with China.

Does India perceive a threat or not from China? Does China actually pose a threat to India? Evidently there is bound to be divergence between the views from New Delhi and Beijing over the question. However, an answeris not cut and dry, but has to be deduced from public pronouncements of Chinese leaders, official government statements, nature of China’s relations with India’s neighbours and major powers, military force levels in Tibet and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army military re-armament/modernisation programmes.
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Andrew Scobell argues in his scholarly work,China and Strategic Culture, that China’s foreign policy and its tendency to use military force are influenced not only by elite understandings of China’s own strategic tradition but also by their understanding of the strategic cultures of other states. Given that India, Japan and Vietnam are the only other Asian powers in terms of military and economic capabilities that have the potential to threaten China, Beijing would not take a benign view of them. Also some Chinese strategic analysts reflect the view that India has inherent hegemonic tendencies vis-à-vis its smaller neighbours and therefore scope to significantly alter the power balance in South Asia. In turn, this would strengthen India’s strategic stature and give it more leverage over China in their bilateral relations.

The last major border related problem between India and China occurred over the Sumdorung Chu in 1986-87 when Indian intelligence and para-military personnel stationed there withdrew for the winter months when the area becomes snow-bound and inhospitable. Upon their return post-winter, they found Chinese troops had occupied the area and then the military brinkmanship followed, which contributed to the then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi’s visit to China in December 1988.In a sense this intrusion was similar to the 1999 Kargil conflict which exploded into a hot war between India and Pakistan.

While New Delhi’s military diplomacy is fine with Beijing, how well prepared is the Indian military to actually respond to a threat from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army? The government on its part has only concentrated on reactivation of the Advanced Landing Grounds in the northeastern region that would enable the use of airpower against a Chinese military threat.But on the ground literally, road connectivity and telecommunication links along the Line of Actual Control to ensure swift mobility of troops, artillery and other equipment to the border areas to engage any manifestation of threat are not ready.It has been reported that only 12 out of the 73 roads earmarked for construction along the border with China are totally ready.

Today India and China are emerging economies and rising powers in Asia which need to ensure that military-to-military relations between both sides are well oil through military diplomacy.The joint military exercises between the two neighbours which have till now included land-based counter-terror and maritime search and rescue operations at the operational levels supplement the high level military diplomacy at the political level of defence ministers and military brass hats.Apart from pursuing military diplomacy, the government needs to ensure military preparedness on the ground, in addition to that in the air against China.

The writer is a Professor of International Relations with Christ University, Bangalore

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