The debris he leaves behind

Due to General Singh, when Indian politicians attack government for this crisis, they are aware of the damage he did.

Aakar Patel March 31, 2012

The reckless general is one who rides for glory, which is a narrow pursuit. He chases victory and often he succeeds. According to Greek historians, Alexander the Great fought only two major battles in his life. Both were against the Persians, and the first was at Issus just as he crossed into Asia from Europe. The second was at Gaugamela, where Alexander defeated Darius the Great (thereby inheriting his title).

In both battles he was reckless —putting his life, his army at risk — and in both he won. His goal was to achieve immortality or death. He did not care about what happened to his army, or his country, in case it was the latter.

According to Pakistani writer Mustansar Hussain Tarar, Alexander fought a third major battle. The Greek historians papered over it because Alexander lost this one. He strategically divided his army in two but was still unable to defeat Porus.

Tarar thinks Alexander’s Army mutinied because the Hindus defeated the Greeks at Jhelum as they were returning to Macedonia down the Indus. Reckless generals do not always win the day for their side. India’s army chief has been dismantling the dignity of his office in an equally single-minded pursuit for justice, or vengeance.

Having lost a skirmish he should never have taken to the Supreme Court, he is avenging himself by attacking his own side. In the last few weeks, he has informed the world through interviews with the press, a letter to the prime minister, a letter to the Central Bureau of Investigation and through assorted press releases that: Serving (unnamed) officers of his army are corrupt, serving officers are spreading lies about him, eavesdropping on their own government, a retired general has offered him a bribe, India’s air defence is almost useless and its tanks have little ammunition, and that the future army chief of India must be investigated for corruption.

Hardly a day passes by without his not setting off another round of alarm — if not panic — in the citizenry he is paid to defend and among the men he must lead.

In doing all this, he believes he is acting selflessly because he is honest. This honesty drives him on. He seems possessed by its spirit. In all the things he has done, he has believed that he has put the services (as India’s armed forces are called) before himself.

When he took the matter of his date of birth to Court, it was not about his extension. It was about his honour and integrity. It was a “purely personal issue”, he said, and perhaps, he believed it.

When the contents of the general’s astonishing letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh were leaked (on the day the Chinese president was in New Delhi), his concern was that the “cynical approach to tarnish my reputation” should stop. Nothing was said to reassure the nation about the alarming content of his note. Someone else could do that.

What the nation should look forward to instead, is the next episode of the general’s truth revelations: “Things are fast unravelling and you will soon see the hand behind the drama. You will soon see who the sutradhar of the play is”, he told The Hindu this week.

Is this the sort of statement that the head of the Indian army should be making in public? He might want to consider that the people want this drama to end and not continue for another episode.

It is difficult to escape the suspicion that after being denied victory in Court over the age issue, he is now seeking martyrdom. He wants the government to sack him by behaving as outrageously as he can, so that he can then play victim. He has already divided the army’s serving senior command into two: those who are aligned with him (honest) and those who benefit from his retirement in May (corrupt).

It is a rare event that unites Indian political parties. General Singh has brought India’s alarmed politicians together. Even when they attack the government for this bizarre crisis, they are aware of the damage this man has done. They are greatly concerned about how unprofessionally he is bringing his term to an end.

His successors will long suffer from the distrust that India’s leaders will now have of the army leadership, thanks to the recklessness of General Singh.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 1st, 2012.



Dr Priyanka | 10 years ago | Reply

@Faesal: Agree with you!

Dr Priyanka | 10 years ago | Reply

@Arindom: I don't mind being a taxi driver [but still can't drive but taking lessons], hope I could own a B&B but my managerial skills are'nt any good, don't mind being a waitress but honestly can't do a balancing act with a tray so ended up being a dumb doctor instead! I think you and again I say you should do some soul searching and introspection and tell yourself that there is nothing wrong in doing the above mentioned tasks. And coming down to the main question, I think the armed forces in India should have some extra powers. As to what they are they themselves should decide! The politicians have gobbled up the defence budget [those before defence minister Antony of course] and they are accountable and of course answerable to the people and the armed forces.

Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ

Most Read