End the Uncertainty, Please by Dr. Mohammad Manzoor Alam (APRIL 03, 2012)

Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam on the dangerous drift in the country following Gen. Singh’s indiscretions.

A strange situation is developing in the country following the army chief’s uncalled for remarks and unprecedented moves that one of India’s leading publications has rightly called “Gen. Singh’s war on India.”

Even Gen. Cariappa, India’s first army chief, despite his familiar audacity, would have stopped short of going to the extent Gen. Singh has chosen to go.

The first principle regarding the armed forces in a democracy is that it will be subordinated to the civilian authority in war and peace. The founders of the US Constitution saw to it that the armed forces belonged in the barracks or on battlefield, not in the public square. The same holds true for India, the largest democracy.

The way Gen. Singh tried to publicly confront the defence minister, and with him the prime minister, and the nation as a whole, would have occasioned summary dismissal. We all remember how the bright US commander in Afghanistan, Gen. McChristal was summarily dismissed by President Obama for his indiscrete remarks.

The inadequate preparedness of the army should not have been made public at a time when the Chinese supreme leader Hu Jintao was in Delhi. Now Gen. Singh is saying that somebody else leaked his letter to the PM, but the fact is that all that had been the talk of the time since weeks.

Gen. Singh has pointed fingers towards Lieut. Gen. Suhag, the former chief of military intelligence. The poor guy is already retired.

One of the most serious aspects of this unseemly episode is the rumour circulating in Delhi’s power corridors that the army had bugged the Defence Minister’s office and was snooping on Mr Antony. That is the worst that an army could do in a democracy. Again, we are told that this was the doing of Gen. Suhag, who had retired already. This mischief must be investigated quickly.

As far as the Rs. 14 crore bribe offer to Gen. Singh is concerned, it does not look credible, because in a weapons deal this is peanuts. This amount is less than $ 3 million, which is unconvincingly small.

To understand it better one should remember the volume of bribe money alleged to have changed hands in Bofors or HDW deal. Of course, nothing was proved and nobody suffered for wrongdoing, but the alleged bribe money many many times more.

Although Antony’s public posture was most immature and wimpish during the peak of the crisis, so far this man has kept a clean image. He is unimpressive and unstatesmanlike in crucial moments, but he cannot be faulted for not making a knee-jerk reaction to the bribery charge and gone into a fit of frenzy. He has the priviledge not to act quickly where quick action is not required.

All said and done, the government should clear the widespread feeling of uncertainty in the country and make a public announcement on the issue to reassure our people. It is normal for mature democracies for their head of state or government to come forward and personally address the people on TV, radio and / or newspapers. That should settle the issue.


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