Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Army – The ‘Wrongs’ we thought were ‘Right’

Lt Gen Randhir Kumar Mehta, PVSM, AVSM, YSM, VSM (Retd)
Commenting on Karan Kharb’s article ‘The Army – What’s gone Wrong’, Lt Gen Randhir Kumar Mehta, PVSM, AVSM, YSM, VSM (Retd) has offered some more vital inputs that merit serious review sooner than later. The General, a military leader with an enviable career record of illustrious service in field and peace, has led from the front and inspired many through personal examples.  His comments:-

I received your recent article on the IA from Turning Point. You have made very telling points, which I agree with. May I put down some landmark occurrences which to me require a full examination to set right the wrongs in the med term :-
1.      The first cadre up gradation in 75/76. The second cadre review has further exacerbated leadership and inefficiencies at all levels of command and staff.
2.      The introduction of authorised (free) rations to officers resulted in a cultural change with barter, exercising choices, ladies dealing directly with Q personnel, drop in mess standards.
3.      With grant of Lt rank on commissioning ,removal of retention test, PartA and C exam, Part Band D being made easy, reduction in years for grant of substantive ranks, first selection rank being Col, re-employing Brigs (a flag rank) ,Col(TS) : we have taken away the challenges and in turn a sense of achievement from an officer.
4.      Honours and awards are a dime a dozen. Ironically, even AWWA is awarding citations.
5.      Money and the man. AWWA , grants which are large amounts and not correctly spent are terrible temptations involving the rank and file and civilians. We have to clip AWWA.
6.      Fudging is a way of life rather than an exception.
7.      You have covered ACR trends, there is similarly a trend in  inflated course gradings.
8.      Our approach to welfare issues needs a close examination vis a vis Operations, Training , Administration etc;.
9.      We started overplaying the issue of national war memorial, Order of precedence, comparisons with PMF, Police services etc; and drew wrong conclusions. Have the others ever compared themselves with us?
10.   Coming to retired personnel, I do feel our behaviour in institutes, clubs, canteens, ECHS and Service housing societies, ESM also requires to be as is expected.


  1. The view expressed, "we have taken away the challenges and in turn a sense of achievement from an officer", is often echoed by many and interpreted by many others as being borne out of a change-averse orientation.

    There are always many facets to an issue. Nothing is uni-dimensional.

    The yearning for things the way they used to be often makes one overlook the shortcomings and defects that existed in the past as well.

    In specific reference to the criticism of cadre reviews, there is a need to introspect whether requisite transparency, fairness and objectivity were brought to bear on appraisals and promotions prior to the cadre reviews. Were requisite efforts made to ensure alternative career advancemennts outside of the "pyramid" to end stagnation?

    In the absence of a continual application of informed and constantly updated knowledge of HRD concepts, a safe middle path, such as the cadre reviews, becomes an inescapable choice in which the pros sometimes outweigh the cons.

  2. That also is a largely held view point! Thanks for your comment.

  3. Anonymous2:06 am

    Indian Army has become a huge welfare organization. All its other activities are peripheral to that one over riding concern. I took part in 1962 war as a young officer. Our senior officers could not march without a torch at night. Our CO never parted with his commode and a 40 pounder tent to put it in. They were half dead even before the Chinese hit us. The average age of Chinese battalion commander was 27 years. One of the lessons leant from that war was that we must reduce the average age of the battalion commander, Nothing happened till cadre review and then we increased it by two years to give each of us a two year extension. Can such an Army really fight. Yes if the enemy is as worthless, like Pakistan.

    Its generals spend more time poring over dates of birth and at least in one case as we now know, manipulating it, than they spend planning defence of the country.