Monday, May 26, 2014

Dawn of ‘अच्छे दिन’ for India!

बधाई हो, बधाई !!

आज शाम जहाँ एक ओर भ्रष्टाचारी, अपंग, अकुशल और राष्ट्रघाती  तन्त्र का रूर्यास्त हो रहा होगा वहीं भारत में एक नये स्वर्ण युग का उदय हो रहा होगा। स्वतन्त्र भारत में आज पहली बार प्रधान मन्त्री का शपथ-ग्रहण समारोह राष्ट्रपति भवन के प्रांगण में खुले आसमान के तले होगा ।  इतिहास के ऐसे शुभ मुहूर्त्त पर श्री नरेन्द्रभाई मोदी व उनके समस्त मन्त्री-मण्डल को उत्कर्ष’ - टर्निंग प्वाइंट की ओर से हार्दिक बधाई! 

ऐसी अद्भुत, अद्वितीय, अनुपम ऐतिहासिक विजय पर श्री नरेन्द्रभाई मोदी जी को, भारतीय जनता पार्टी के राष्ट्रीय अध्यक्ष एवम् समस्त नव जिर्वाचित सांसदों को हार्दिक बधाई!  

समस्त भारत वासियों को गौरवान्वित करने के लिये, राष्ट्र को मोदी-मय करने के लिये और अच्छे दिन लाने के लिये शत्-शत् नमन, अभिनन्दन।  

          These are indeed great times and dawn of a great Future for India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is now all set to transform India. The unprecedented victory of Bharatiya Janata Party in the parliamentary elections of 1914 makes it the first non-Congress party that has emerged as the single majority party with the largest national mandate ever. In yet another first, since the times of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose perhaps, India has found a true leader of the masses in Narendra Modi. Like Netaji but unlike the vote-bank politics of today, he promised no freebies. He arrives armed with his idiosyncratic resolve of good governance and inclusive development for all (विकास एवं सुशासन - सबका साथ, सबका विकास). Even more significant than the mammoth mandate is that Modi’s onslaught has demolished the tradition of divisive politics. Election after election some parties and leaders had been reaping rich harvests by whipping up cast/communal sentiments, doling out subsidies, laptops and so on. Modi’s proven credentials in developing Gujarat, his vision and direct communion with the masses rendered everything else irrelevant. Many first timers and relatively lesser-known faces who would not have dreamt of winning an election have been simply carried and delivered by the Modi tsunami! "आप ईवीएम पर कमल का बटन दबाइये....आपका वोट सीधा मुझे मिलेगा" (you press the Lotus button on the EVM ….. your vote shall directly reach me), Modi appealed to the voters.
 Not even his enemies should doubt his leadership that stands on high pedestal of honesty, integrity, patriotism and selfless dedication to serve India. He has already displayed the enormous capacity to endure and envision. No other leader in India’s history has come through such trying times so triumphantly vanquishing armies of opponents. A tirade of accusations, court cases, adverse publicity prompted and vigorously promoted by all non-NDA parties through the last 12 years could not find a chink in Narendra Modi’s armour. 

आज भारत को नरेन्द्र मोदी के रूप में एक प्रधान मन्त्री ही नहीं बल्कि एक साहसी दूर द्रष्टा, ईमानदार, निष्ठावान और कर्मठ नेता मिला है। इनकी उपलब्धियों की प्रामाणिकता के आधार पर यह कहा जा सकता है कि भविष्य में मोदी जी को इतिहासकार विशिष्ट विशेषणों से अलंकृत करेंगे और वे आधुनिक भारत के स्वर्णिम युग के निर्माता, युग प्रवर्त्तक, भाग्य-विधाता आदि के नामों से जाने जायेंगे। 

We at ‘उत्कर्ष’ (Turning Point) convey our heartiest congratulations and wish Shri Modi ji, Shri Rajnath Singh ji and all victorious MPs of BJP continued success and glorious times ahead.  

Karan Kharb
 कर्ण खर्ब
For ‘उत्कर्ष’ (Turning Point)

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Politician General arrives armed with -

Malice, Vengeance and Opportunism
Karan Kharb

In an article titled ‘Beyond the Olive Branch’, published in Asian Age yesterday, Lt Gen SK Sinha, former Vice Chief of the Army Staff and Governor of Assam and J&K, decries Gen VK Singh’s misdemeanours that have continued to damage the reputation of the Indian Army. Gen Sinha writes, “The credo and tradition of the Indian Army was rubbished by Gen. V.K. Singh after he took over as Army Chief. He went to the Supreme Court against the government over a totally personal and selfish issue. His date of birth as claimed by him may have been correct but he himself contributed to the confusion. Initially, he gave a wrong date of birth, failed to get it amended in time, and gave written certificates thrice accepting the wrong date. No Chief in any country of the world had ever acted so unbecomingly. The Supreme Court rightly rejected his plea. There were other unfortunate actions taken by him which only tarnished the image of the Army. After retirement he made allegations against the Supreme Court judges for which he had to render an unconditional apology in court. Similarly, his bizarre allegation regarding intelligence funds for bribing political leaders in Kashmir was strongly contradicted by all his living predecessors. He was summoned to appear before the Kashmir state legislature.”
Whereas many former Army Chiefs, Army Commanders and veterans share Gen Sinha’s anguish and concern for the Army and the country, most have refrained from making their view public as they think that by joining issues with Gen VK Singh would be like wrestling with the mud. This self-imposed restraint of senior military veterans has in turn emboldened the former Army Chief turned politician to go ahead brazenly spreading canards against the Army and its institutions. Highlighting his unethical, selfish and vindictive dealings Gen Sinha writes, “On retirement, after hobnobbing with Anna Hazare, Baba Ramdev and even the Aam Aadmi Party, he joined the Bharatiya Janata Party and got a ticket to fight the election from Ghaziabad. His remarkable performance in getting a majority of over 5 lakh votes, next only to Mr Modi, is no doubt very creditable. No other Army officer in India has after retirement, done so well in elections. We should wish him good luck in his political career. However, he must not pursue his personal vendettas against the Army Chief-designate or continue his desperate efforts to have his samdhi appointed Army Chief.”
               A harder look into the available facts exposes how not only has he stalled the adverse fallout of some of his misdemeanours but also succeeded in reaping undue advantages by shrewdly orchestrating a surfeit of propaganda in his favour to create public sympathy. Army’s tradition of official reticence and self-restraint of many anguished military veterans has allowed his mudslinging campaign to proliferate unchecked. Here’s a sample of how he has avoided getting caught throughout.  
Trail of Misdemeanours/Offences:      
1.      Army Act Section 44 (False answers on enrolment): The fact of the case is that Gen VK Singh gave ‘false answer to the question set out in the Form’ at time of his entry to NDA which is an offence under Army Act section 44.  If he had enrolled as a recruit, he would have been liable to be tried a court martial for this offence. According to legal experts, since there is no ‘Enrolment Form’ in respect of officers, answers given in the Application/Form for admission to NDA/IMA or any other form that becomes the basis of his personal particulars in the service records shall be treated as if these were given in the ‘Enrolment Form’ at the time of enrolment. As per Army Act Section 44, anyone found guilty is liable to be court martialled and sentenced to imprisonment up to five years!
2.      Army Act Section 45 (Unbecoming Conduct): He gave the undertaking accepting the ‘wrong’ date of birth but reneged on it deceitfully soon after benefiting from the same. He then claimed that his 'consent' was extracted from him under duress! How unbecoming of an officer so senior who would be Chief of world’s second largest Army to give in to coercion, temptation or threat! Further, how can an officer or gentleman renege on his own undertaking, which he has written, signed and submitted to his superior authorities at the highest level? This behaviour exposes the chinks in the character that has neither ‘Courage’ nor ‘Conviction’. The conduct would go down in history as most unbecoming of a General of the Indian Army.  As per military law (AA Sec 45), “Any officer, JCO or WO who behaves in a manner unbecoming his position and the character expected of him shall, on conviction by court-martial, if he is an officer, be liable to be cashiered or….” (‘Cashiering’ means ‘Disgraceful dismissal from service’).  
3.      Army Act Section 63 (Violation of good order and discipline): He committed a second misdemeanour under the same section of the Army Act (AA sec 45) and/or AA sec 63 when he went to the Supreme Court challenging the Government on his DoB anomaly.  He submitted before the court that it was a question of his ‘honour’, which must be vindicated by the apex Court accepting his plea. The Supreme Court, however, was not convinced and, fearing an adverse judgement, he quickly withdrew his case without redeeming his ‘honour’! The Government was generously kind to him in not prosecuting him for his un-becoming behaviour (AA Sec 45) and/or ‘violating good order and discipline’ under AA sec 63.
4.      Army Act Section 47: (Ill-treating a Subordinate): We know how a fully uniformed army officer on official duty was publicly humiliated at Gen VK Singh’s residence (20, Mandir Marg, Delhi Cantt)  by his family members. In terms of AA sec 47, the offender is liable to suffer RI for up to seven years. For unnecessarily detaining and/or wrongful restraint/confinement, Army Act section 50 (a) and Section 339 and/or Section 340 of IPC also would be relevant. That an officer would be treated like this in the house of his own erstwhile Army Chief defies human prudence and compassion to comprehend.
5.      Funding/Bribing J&K Politicians: Gen VK Singh is on record having accepted that during his time, the Army in J&K had been doling out cash to the J&K politicians.  It is fair to presume that it had his full approval. If true, he could be in serious trouble even today.  Thankfully, all army officers – serving and retired – who have served in J&K have vehemently denied the preposterous allegation that not only tars Army’s image but endangers national integrity and security.  
It would be ridiculous to suggest that he was a tender boy at that time and filled in a wrong date of birth.  It is even more ridiculous that he did not care to repair the ‘falsehood’ by taking up appropriate action.  Instead, he continued hoodwinking the system by using whichever of the two dates of birth was more beneficial from situation to situation. Even in his final tryst with the Supreme Court, the mention of ‘honour’ was merely a red herring. He continued all along in service letting both the dates hibernate in his records because it gave him a ‘either/or’ flexibility to manoeuvre his ambitions in service – a unique option not available to any other officer! In going to the Court, his only intention was to have the more advantageous of the two date accepted by the Government. To get in, 1950 was more advantageous! To hang on a little more at the top and stymie Gen Bikram Singh’s chances to be the next Army Chief, 1951 was necessary! Where is ‘honour’ in it?  
Recently, in media interviews Gen VK Singh has talked about ‘fake encounters’ ‘botched cases’ and court cases implicating Lt Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag. Intriguingly, there is a terrific similarity in the two ‘fake encounter’ cases against the Army filed in different states at different times. One implicating Gen Bikram Singh was filed in the J&K High Court at a time when he was being considered as Gen VK Singh’s successor. Now, just as the name of Lt Gen Dalbir Suhag came up as Gen Bikram’s successor, a case of ‘fake encounter’ was filed implicating him in the Manipur High Court (later, in Guwahati High Court).  Some of the facts that Gen VK Singh has not revealed are as follows:-
(a)    The Dimapur Case: The Dimapur ‘fake encounter’ case relates to March 2010.  Lt Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag assumed command of 3 Corps in March 2011. Maliciously implicated in the said case, his name now stands removed even from the list of Respondents. The fresh list of respondents now includes Army Headquarters/COAS (then Gen VK Singh). Yet, Gen VK Singh has been dragging the name of the Army Chief-designate even as not even an iota of speculation can link Suhag with the case.     
(b)     The Jorhat Case: The Case refers to a search operation by a Captain led search party of 3 Corps Intelligence and Surveillance Unit in Dec 2011. Theft of some items was later alleged by the residents after the operation was over. A Court of Inquiry was appropriately ordered to enquire into the complaints. It found some allegations true and blamed some individuals who were punished as per law.  The Case was duly transferred to Army by High Court as per law and the progress of Court Martial was monitored by the High Court. The guilty were awarded exemplary punishments ranging from RI and dismissal from service to reprimands, admonishments and recordable displeasure. Final report submitted to the High Court and military dispensation of justice has not been questioned by the honourable High Court. Yet, it has continued to be scandalised at Gen VK Singh’s behest till this day.   
(c)    The so-called ‘Parachute Scam’: The ‘scam’ never happened! Gen VK Singh alleges involvement of Lt Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag in it even as the tender process was cancelled when samples from two Ukranian companies were found too similar. No contract was signed, no orders were placed and no finances involved. The CBI, SFF, R&AW, Cabinet Secretariat – all are satisfied that no irregularities took place. Yet, thanks to Gen VK Singh’s fiction manufacturing skills, a ‘non-issue’ is being hyped in the media as if there were a scandalous ‘scam’!   
(d)    Lt Gen Dastane’s Case:  Like all other insinuations and allegations against the Army Chief-designate, this case too is misleading. Dastane’s claim rests on the plea that being the next senior most Corps Commander after Suhag, he should have been posted as Army Commander Eastern Command on 01 June 2012 because on that day Suhag was under DV Ban in the last week of May 2012 by Gen VK Singh. That the DV Ban was a product of malice and sinister design is too evident from the manner in which it was frenetically imposed by Gen VK Singh at the fag-end of his tenure in office in the last week of May 2012. The DV Ban was found unjustified and rightly revoked later. Having lost his case at the Armed Forces Tribunal (Principal Bench, New Delhi), Lt Gen Ravi Dastane has gone in appeal to the Supreme Court. A pertinent question arises: Was Suhag placed under DV Ban to make way for Dastane?
As hinted by Gen SK Sinha in his article, if Lt Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag is removed from the way, Lt Gen Ashok Singh currently GOC-in-C Southern Command and Samdhi of Gen VK Singh becomes the next pick to be Chief of the Army Staff. A question arises: Will the Modi Sarkar allow this kind of intrigue to succeed? An even bigger question gasps: What will happen of the military command and morale if Gen VK Singh is saddled in a position to meddle with defence affairs?
Agencies like CBI, CVC, IB and a number of other government departments have found no truth in allegations against the Army Chief-designate. We must also believe that performance of these agencies has not been always as poor as it is often made out to be, a few question marks on their functioning style notwithstanding. If hiding or creating evidence was that easy, they would have hanged Narendra Modi long ago. But no blot from the relentless smear campaign and false cases filed against him stuck on his spotless character and bold performance.  On the flipside too, if the UPA Government could hide their own corruption and misdeeds, no scams would have come to light. Therefore, while it is grossly unfair and undesirable to tarnish the reputation of the Army and its institutions, it is equally laudable that Lt Gen Suhag has emerged spotlessly clean having endured so much of this maligning campaign.   

Friday, May 09, 2014

The Army Chief Imbroglio –

Speculations and Manipulations
Karan Kharb

I am flooded with comments on my article ‘Battle of Army Chiefs – Former and the Next’. While the majority of readers have endorsed the views expressed in the said article, there are some who have a different perception of the on-going Army Chief imbroglio. Interestingly, I have received calls from some common friends requesting/advising me to “withdraw or at least revise and soften” the said article. Then there were calls – some from known and some from unknown persons – warning me to “desist from such writing in your own interest or else you’ll repent.” Sadly, my candid and dispassionate analysis of simple facts has been misconstrued to imply ‘defamation’ even as I have equally candidly praised Gen (Retd) VK Singh in the same article in these words, “No doubt, in his (Gen VK Singh’s) rich military experience the next Government might find enough potential to uplift the sagging morale of the Defence Services due to continuing bureaucratic red tape and neglect.”  Even today, I believe that there is ample wealth of experience and wisdom in our former Chiefs and senior military veterans, which must be harnessed in formulating national security policies, foreign relations, indigenisation of defence industry and in other areas where their expertise can be of material value. But if such talent comes riding on self-serving and parochial tendencies, it might be rather disastrous for national security than an ignorant greedy politician.     
Curious queries as to who would succeed Gen Bikram Singh who hangs his boots on 31 July 2014 are natural and persistent. Will it be the senior most Lt Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag or his immediate junior Lt Gen Ashok Singh or someone else? Guess and gossip are rampant at a time when a government reference to the Election Commission is pending and has made it more tantalising. What is interesting, however, is the fact that while not much is publicly known about the shortcomings of the other contender/s, Suhag's trivial deficiency of not doing 'Staff Course' is now being unfairly traded to portray him in poor light. We all know that the aim of the staff course at DSSC is 'to train potential staff officers', not higher commanders. Also, while qualification on this course carries weightage for promotions up to Col/Brig, it is not even prescribed as an essential criterion for such promotions. Anyone rising higher despite this deficiency is itself an ample proof of his bigger strengths and overriding positive criteria that would have been thoroughly scrutinised through the series of tough selection boards and screening system in place. If 'psc' were so vital a criterion, one should have been stopped at the early stages and not been entitled to command a unit either. Yet, if the suggestion is that even spurious material has been rising to as high levels as Army Commander/Vice Chief, then we should be shocked and have no faith in our system.  That would raise serious questions on the quality of our Chiefs and higher military leadership.
Leadership is different from academic excellence. Two personalities of modern India explain it manifestly. India’s outgoing Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has been academically world’s most qualified politician but, at the same time, he has also been called India’s most incompetent, invisible and silent Prime Minister who presided over a dysfunctional government in paralysis.  Mrs Indira Gandhi, on the other hand, did not possess even a matriculation certificate.  Yet, as a leader, her intellect, shrewdness and cunning compelled many in the world of politics to come around and bow before her.   
Careerist mind-set and opportunism are, in fact, the prime culprits that have come to hold sway over our military culture these days. Maturity, vision, capacity to relate with wider spectrum of nation building, unimpeachable character, readiness to sacrifice and courage to put Organisational and national interests ahead of one's own …….are some vital pre-requisites that can give us the right kind of Chiefs. Self-serving indulgence and pursuit of personal ambitions have often exposed some of our Generals in the past.
I have never met or known Lt Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag. On the other hand, Lt Gen Ashok Singh has been an old friend whom I like, respect and admire. His relationship with Gen (Retd) VK Singh notwithstanding, personally I should be rather happy and proud if Ashok became the next Chief of the Army Staff. But that is only if my whims and fancies were to prevail.  Ethics and the rule of fair play, however, compel me to respect and support the ‘seniority principle’ in this context.
All army commanders are our top generals who are equally competent and fully fit for the top job. Suhag, however, is the senior most who stands first in this elite group of equally eligible generals. As is well known, he has been cleared by IB, CBI and the CVC. The 'fake-encounter' case recently filed and dismissed in the Manipur HC is curiously reminiscent of a similar case filed in J&K against Gen Bikram Singh to stymie his appointment as COAS to succeed Gen VK Singh in 2012. As shocking as it is shameful!
This sinister game must stop and the perpetrators taken to task. Solidifying the seniority principle at the top stage is the only way to prevent politicisation, manipulation, vendetta and opportunism that are making dangerous inroads in the Defence Forces today.
Modi Sarkar is arriving riding on the popular expectation of 'good governance'. Narendra Modi's proven credentials of honesty, selfless dedication and patriotic vision for a strong unified India infuse hope in the masses and Armed Forces alike. If manipulation triumphed in installing the next Army Chief, it would be the first blot on Modi's spotless reputation of sterling leadership poised to lead India to glorious heights. The moot question is: 'Will he succumb to these wily machinations and palace intrigues?' No; perhaps, NEVER!!