Sunday, June 15, 2014

A well wisher's advice to a flloundering, mud-slinging General -


From a Concerned Veteran as others may be hesitant in even trying to do this

Bold & Italics are mine.
Dear General,
I write to you with anguish at the way things have recently played out for someone who most veterans hold in high esteem. Having said so, we who have directly or indirectly ensured that you are where you are today would greatly appreciate if you place your energies towards the alleviation of your former colleagues and towards whom you have a duty to perform rather than get involved in the unsavoury episodes of the past that have cropped up now or may happen in the future as you are now a “Public Figure” outside the purview of the Army Act 1950 & the Official Secrets Act 1923, or even the DSR, for the General public, more so with regard to your personal matters.

I have taken the liberty of copy/pasting your profile from Wikipedia, with the Bold and italics being mine..

“General Vijay Kumar Singh, PVSM, AVSM, YSM (retired) is an Indian politician and the Minister of State of External Affairs and Minister of state (independent charge) for North East Region besides other portfolios in the MEA, in the National Democratic Alliance government that was elected in the Indian general elections, 2014. He gained his seat in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of the Parliament of India, in those elections, defeating the actor-turned-politician Raj Babbar in the Ghaziabad constituency of Uttar Pradesh by a record 567,000 votes, the second-highest margin of victory after Narendra Modi.
Singh was previously a military officer, serving as the 24th Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army. He was the first commando to be promoted to the rank of General , (A bit of a misnomer as we all understand that you are an Infantryman to the core who has done his share of Commando training & Instruction as have so many others and have done the Rangers course which too has been done by many, also that you were never part of the SF) and was also the first serving Indian military chief to take the Government of India to court. In 2014,(Something that traditionalists do not accept as a factor of “Just Not Done”) after his retirement from the military, he joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
From your profile, in my opinion, correct me if I am wrong, other than the general views shown in red, three specifics stand out.
1.     You are an Indian Politician.
2.     You are a Minister in the Central Council of Ministers.
3.      You won the elections by a record 567,000 votes.
4.      You were previously a Military Officer.
Your journey to this point in life as seen by me goes back to July of the year 1968, 46 years ago.  As I know you, my earliest memory of you goes back to the NDA in my first term, where as a fifth term sergeant you use to take post around the Ashoka Pillar and closer to No 2 Bn, better still Hunter Squadron. A chance encounter along escaping the ring around after movie function on the presidency drive via the drill square-QM fort-Dhobi Ghat route with my course-mate NKS Yadav brought us face to face with you. Magnanimously or possibly out of sheer boredom you let us go. Your sixth term memories are scant since you had become a BCC and glimpses of marching down the Presidency drive, starched KD’s, swinging canes and uncrossed satchel to boot is all that one recollects. A sight a number of juniors were inspired by. All this while we, as second termers were at the mercy of your course-mate, late VKS Pundir and his rather infamous ideas at disciplining a collection of goons who had no respect for “Mother India”. His tear jerker in the Assembly hall is a legendary tale though you may not have heard or witnessed it as you would have walked off after the movie, out of squad, using the NTT shortcut to the mess, as was the accepted privilege of sixth termers more so of appointments. Having done so in my own turn one has no regrets or acrimony on that score…..We just followed you because we thought what you did was right. The same way you would have followed your seniors..
I did not get a chance of ever serving with you ever in service. Our diverse arms, appointments, seniority levels being the reason for the same. However one did get a chance of distantly associating with you thrice in service. Firstly while handling the Samba case; I did get some cross references of a fracas in your unit then in the North East where you figured rather prominently. The second was closer home when I, as a DQ of an Infantry Brigade oversaw the mess created by your unit while handing over vehicles, battalion support weapons and accommodation and the like to you relieving unit. Maybe the name NK Gupta, SM will strike a chord. The last time one really saw you up close was in the movie “Prahar”. By the time you took over as the COAS I had hung up my spurs.
As the COAS when the controversy of the alleged move of units followed by your date of birth erupted I was one of a handful of veteran TV commentators who held forth of your correct approach at redressal of a grievance.
As hindsight I now wonder, though procedurally correct was the move ethically correct? It is for you to answer your inner conscience. We who thought you were right….We followed you.
We did have occasion to meet post your retirement if you recall, Once at your Delhi Cantt residence, the next at the Rezangla Memorial function and finally at the Dinner you hosted prior to your formally joining the BJP. In the interim period, I was fully involved in the propagation of ESM in Parliament as the only means of having our grievances, that are still aplenty, to be addressed at the National level. My original paper given to your principal advisor is proof enough of my involvement.  Your appearance at the Rewari rally gave most ESM a ray of hope towards this end. You are well aware of the stand taken by various ESM organizations and you became a binding factor of this common aim…….We continued to follow you.
You began consultations with the high and mighty of the BJP and we were told that you were in the forefront of espousing the cause of this mighty churning and that you would be instrumental in ensuring that adequate representation of ESM would figure in the ticket distribution for LS 2014. The original demand of 50 whittled down to 25 and finally to 5-6 was an exercise in futility. Relying on your leadership to achieve this, all other avenues were either blocked or forsaken at the behest of your advisors. Some ESM did bite the bullet of the ballot but came out croppers, barring the favoured few including you who now sit in the sanctum sanctorum of our democracy….. We continued to follow you.  
Your victory and elevation to ministerial rank was welcomed by all and the sweet feeling of “Achhey Din Aayenge” for this marginalized segment of society was echoed amongst one and all. We hoped that you would rally the motley group of 6 ESM MP’s all from your party towards solving our problems………We continued to follow you.
The incidents of the last two days have left a bitter taste in most veteran mouths. As can be seen from the outpourings on the social media, the sense of being let down seems to have set in and needs to be arrested.
 What led to this turn around?
 Let us look at it objectively.
1.     You have played your first innings rather well having reached the top of your chosen profession. That you went back to the pavilion, more as a case of Hit wicket or in current FIFA fever as a self goal is for you to introspect.
2.     Your acrimony towards Suhag and his appointment as the next COAS was a subject of contention during electioneering, taken up by Dr Swamy apparently at your behest.
3.     The Govt of the now ruling dispensation upheld the appointment of Lt Gen Dalbir Suhag as the next COAS as promulgated by the previous Govt overruling all dissent from within the party and outside. Remember what you told us…Rule No 1…”The Boss is always right.” The matter was considered “CLOSED”.
4.     Your angst, acrimony, authority, views on the subject as a COAS, action taken as COAS became inconsequential and irrelevant. It is quite common in any uniformed or non-uniformed service from unit level upwards that decisions taken by someone in the chair at any given point in time are overturned by their successors to suit their style of functioning. You had your way now let others have theirs. In the instant case of 3 Corps/4 Corps Intelligence operations, accountability of the Corps commander, you had an opinion and you took action as deemed fit. Your successor did not agree and overturned it. The apex body, the MoD concurred. So where does it leave you? Irrelevant, to my mind, notwithstanding your personal opinion.    
5.     The MoD submitted an affidavit in the Supreme Court pointing fingers at you in the case of Lt Gen Ravi Dastane as it was linked to that of your actions as a COAS, which as far as you were concerned was a closed chapter.
6.     You go and Tweet, using rather abrasive language implying that you still considered that you were right and the MoD, previous Govt, present COAS were all wrong.
7.     The opposition, media, anti VK factions, pro Suhag factions go to town with a smirk on their faces….saying and implying….”I told you so” “VK has an unfinished agenda”, “Suhag should be given a pink slip” and so on and so forth.
There are certain forms and customs that are demanded of a serving officer and a subsequent veteran, as gleaned from a pamphlet called, “Introduction to Services”, that are taught in the 4th term at the NDA. Not that one paid heed to it as a cadet but imbibed from it much later when I was teaching the same as an Instructor there.
An unwritten custom passed on from most seniors, those who could qualify as leaders was that post retirement you did not meddle in the affairs of the unit/formation you once commanded. In your case it extends to the entire Army. Breaking of the umbilical cord with the uniform is again an unwritten law, some cannot get over this is a separate issue. The link through three smart cards is all that is expected, viz, CSD, ECHS & Club Memberships. As a former COAS you have enough privileges that are outside the purview of this letter. Now that you have entered the political arena you are under further and intense scrutiny. Words and actions need to be very carefully articulated.
The purpose of this diatribe and rather unsolicited advice is due to the fact that a number of us veterans sense danger ahead. A sixth sense feeling of an ambush lurking in the dense foliage of the political jungle. For a first termer in parliament, that you are, you need to understand the various circumventing methods of falling into such a trap. Much as the circuitous routes to squadrons to avoid F parades, the methods to skip ED’s and restrictions and of course the dreaded Sinhgarh hikes. The aim of veterans was to have representation in Parliament. Amongst the 567,000 votes polled for you there must be at least 100,000 such votes of veterans, families, relations and their friends.
You cannot afford to walk into an ambush and let them down and through them the 43 Lakh ESM and dependants who are counting on you to deliver. We are still prepared to follow. you.
However I would like to caution you and add a caveat here. If you permit, here are a few submissions and suggestions: -
1.     Steer clear of the day-to-day happenings of the MoD & service HQ. They have people there who are now doing what we once did. Perhaps they will do a better job than us failing which they will perish. It seems the mandarins of the MoD, irrespective of the ruling dispensation would not have ESM running the show. With or without the active connivance of the present political authority above them.
2.     Concentrate on the awesome responsibility given to you to resuscitate NER. Having been the Eastern Army Commander, you know it better than most others.
3.     Beware of some of your advisors as their advice maybe detrimental to you in the long run. If they do not perform or are prone to pushing their personal agendas through you, show them the way out.
4.     With the massive mandate you carry based on the unequivocal support of veterans and serving soldiers, ensure speedy “IMPLEMENTATION” of the following amongst other equally important issues: -

(a)  OROP in its expected form, No Less.
(b)   Representation in the 7th Pay commission of our stakeholders.
(c)    NFU.
(d)   Lateral movement into CAPF& PSU’s with original seniority.
(e)   Relief as expected to the War wounded and other disabled personnel both serving and retired at par as given by MoSE to civilians.
(f)   Construction & Completion of the National War Memorial.   

I feel, I may have stated the obvious, or exceeded my brief, but believe you me, this is straight from the heart, and as a well wisher who has the overall aim of veterans getting a just deal, thereby ensuring, that serving soldier also gets his due. Please do not let go of this opportunity of rising above personal prejudices for achieving the larger picture.
We will continue to follow you subject to your heeding the direction the wind is blowing. Otherwise Sir, you would be treading a lonely path with no succour from this large mass of willing, disciplined and faithful followers of a cause dear to us. Individual personalities do not matter.
Sir, remember…..The honour……your own comfort and well being comes last, always and every time.
 For any back end work we are always available.
With Warm Regards,
Anil Kaul


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Now, in its early display of transparancy the Modi Government calls a spade a spade and stands solidly by the Army Chief designate Lt Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag - the General who has emerged spotlessly clean and meritorious despite a smear campaign unleashed against him by Gen VK Singh. People respected the Army believing that men of high character and unimpeachable integrity commanded it. That aura has been shamelessly destroyed a man who reached the top but remained busy in pursuing personal agenda - the DoB case or fixing able officers to make way for sychophants and relatives. He had no time to look into higher military needs. Anyone ever heard him speak about OROP, National War Memorial, Pay Commission anomalies, Pakistan, China, Af-Pak et al? We hope the higher calibre influence of the Prime Minister will help him improve in his new role. We pray and wish him best of luck!

The Indian Express
V K Singh’s ban on Suhag premeditated, illegal: Govt tells SC
Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi | June 10, 2014 1:5
In a twist to the legal battle involving the Army top brass, the government on Monday defended Army vice chief Dalbir Singh Suhag’s promotion as Army commander — entitling him to be the next Army chief — and described the disciplinary ban on him by then Army chief and now Minister of State Gen (retd) V K Singh as “illegal”, “extraneous” and “premeditated”.
In the Modi government, V K Singh is a Minister of State with Development of North Eastern Region (independent charge), External Affairs, Overseas Indian Affairs as his portfolios.
The UPA II government had approved Lt Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag as the chief-designate — incumbent General Bikram Singh retires on July 31. The convention has been to name a successor two months in advance.
Responding to a petition by Lt Gen Ravi Dastane, who alleged favouritism in selection of Dalbir Singh Suhag as Army commander — making him next in line to succeed General Bikram Singh — the Ministry of Defence, in its affidavit to the Supreme Court, said that the disciplinary proceedings against Suhag between April and May 2012 by then chief V K Singh was “without any basis or material on record”.
Suhag was placed under a Disciplinary and Vigilance (DV) ban by V K Singh for alleged “failure of command and control” in an operation carried out by an intelligence unit working directly under Suhag, the then Dimapur-based  3 Corps commander. But Suhag’s promotion as Army commander was cleared by Gen Bikram Singh a fortnight after V K Singh retired, by reversing the ban. This delayed promotion, after reserving the vacant Army commander’s post for 15 days, was challenged by Dastane in the Supreme Court. He contended he was eligible to be Army commander but was denied the opportunity by General Bikram Singh who favoured Suhag despite the latter being placed under a ban at the relevant time.
The affidavit filed by the Ministry of Defence on Monday not only nixed Dastane’s challenge but also censured the manner in which V K Singh placed Suhag under the ban. “The alleged lapses observed by the then COAS, as reflected in show cause notice, were premeditated and issued in utter disregard to the legal provisions governing the court of inquiry, principles of natural justice… the lapses were vague, based on presumptions and legally and factually not maintainable.”
“Evidently, the entire exercise to issue show cause notice was premeditated and as per records, the directions issued in this regard, including imposition of the DV ban and issue of show cause notice were found to be illegal,” the Ministry said, adding Suhag was appointed “in acting rank” (from the date he became eligible) as a matter of policy and not to favour him.
Relying on the findings of the competent authority, the Ministry stated that Dastane could not stake any claim to the top post once the DV ban on Suhag was held to be illegal. It added that closure of the case against Suhag could also not said to be hurriedly done and it was “most unwarranted” that an Army Lt General was making unfounded allegations of favouritism.

Even as (it) criticised V K Singh’s decision, the Ministry went on to state that “there was no conflict of interest in the office of the COAS only because of change of appointment.”

Countering Dastane’s challenge to the selection process, the affidavit said the COAS and the Ministry played the selection board and independently examined the case of as many as seven officers, including Dastane, for consideration as appointment to Army commander. It was only after scrutiny that Suhag and Lt Gen Sanjiv Chachra (who has since retired) were recommended for appointment.

It claimed there was nothing wrong in keeping the appointment on hold for some days as the Ministry awaited details of the DV ban on Suhag. On June 6, 2012 the Ministry was informed about the closure of the case.

“Once the imposition of the DV ban itself was found to be illegal, then the same would be non est ab initio (nullity from the inception) and it cannot in any manner come in the way of either the consideration or appointment of Suhag,” the Ministry said.

 The Supreme Court will next hear the matter in September.