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.
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@Faesal: Agree with you!
@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.
insights that will change the world one code found in all major religions
Is Gen Singh actually the destroyer that Akash Patel paints him to be. Let us look at some facts first, interpretations may be left for later.
A. In India, Birth Certificate or the Matriculation Certificate is taken as proof of date of birth. Why, in the case of Gen Singh, has reliance been placed on another document?
B. When the Gen approached the SC to adjudicate in the matter, why did the SC take to the pulpit instead of doing what it is supposed to do i.e. Justiciate.
C. If the Gen is all wromg why is the ED alleging wrongdoing in the accounts of Tatra? And why is the CBI looking for Ravi Rishi?
D. And who leaked the letter to the media? And why?
@Optimist: this is opinion of many indians in saudia also.
@Sinclair: Fair point - totally agree.
My only hindsight on this issue is that the DOB (date of birth) was an issue known beforehand to AK Antony. This question was asked to Gen Singh, and something of a gentleman's agreement was worked out (?) If Antony thinks he can run the Defense Ministry with so much blind trust, god bless our country.
I dont mean to get into a fight with you on this. Just that, nobody in this mess is without blame. Gen Singh, AK Antony, and our Dhritarashtra MMS. All of them are culprits.
Sorry dude. ET, start an Indian edition please. We would be glad to comment.
@Faesal: ALso note that Indian internet users have crossed 100 millions and growing still at breaknexk speed of 20% plus.....
Even if a microscopic percentage visits Tribune, it gets inundated!!
@Sinclair: @Optimist The Indians in UK today are taxi drivers and waiters and B&B owners - the best and brightest Indians are in India.!
@Ahsan Raza: The excessive number of indians posting here has increased in past 2/3 months and its really annoying to see them meddling in each and every affair of us.
Hardly i mean rarely any one of us visits their site or take interest in their matters let alone visiting daily multiple times. Talk about severe case of obsession
I have also heard this in India a couple of times, but only from people who are frustrated (and dare I use the word, losers in the competitive race). Indians in UK saying this? Boy do we have some problem if reverse brain drain happens!
@Sinclair: Dude - it is not my position to argue on behalf of Gen VK Singh. However, since the Indian govt and all of us do not have the benefit of your hindsight based on which you decry his elevation, let us consider a few points: 1. The army chief is a highly decorated military officer (Ati Vishisht Seva, Yudh Seva etc) awardee and the first Indian army officer to be invited to the US Army war college International Hall of Fame (this is not done for every serving Army Chief - in fact I believe less than 40 international invitees exist). He is also an expert in counter-insurgency and high altitude operations. 2. He had hands-on experience in Operation Parakram, which we all agree was a disaster. These learnings were then used in a project to determine the deficiencies the army was facing. Ever since this report has been submitted, progress has been very slow - which is frustrating for the entire army (not just its chief). 3. Given his experience as GoC in various roles and his insight developed in the project mentioned above, I see no reason for the Govt to sideline him in favor of any junior officer (seniority is the criteria normally used in appointing the Army Chief - helps ensure that the Govt does not have to deal with any one officer for very long).
As mentioned in my earlier post (and somewhere else), Gen Singh has definitely been rather immature in his dealings with the Govt in the last one year - and we as a nation are more prudish than most when it comes to airing our dirty laundry. However, this has no bearing on his distinguished career till date or his ability to command, so let's not mix the two. For example, AK Antony is also extremely honest and highly mature, but he seems to be a lousy defence minister.
A day before this article, General Singh says that the Army is a part of Government and some rogue elements are trying to create a wedge between the Defence Minister and the Army. This statement of Mr Singh suggests that now he wants to contain the slide in the relations of two personalities. Its all rubbish. It was he, who had raised the issue of his age despite his being agreed to his date of birth recorded in the Army records. He strted to raise issue of his date of birth forcefully, immediately after from the date of his elevation to post of Chief of the Army. When failed in his motive, he lodged a case in the Supreme Court of India. And when he was shown the door by the Apex Court, he purposefully gave interviews to a media that someone in the past (one and half year back) had tried to bribe him for clearing file for the purchase of 'sub-standard' Tatra Vectra trucks which were being procured for the Indian Army since 1986. The Army Chief should have sought permission of his boss, i.e. the Minister of Defence, to air his views in media on such a sensitive issue despite the fact that he was already told to give his complaint in writing when he verbally brought this issue to the knowledge of his Minister. This is mandatory for any government official as per the Central Government Conduct Rules of India. For the record, the present cheif of Defence, Research & Development Organisations (DRDO) has found the so called 'sub-standard' Tatra Vectra trucks as the best vehicle to carry the heavy war machines.The person, allegedly tried to bribe him has filed a suit of defamation in the court of law. The present day Government in India is running with the help of some coalition partners. Had there been a government of majority parliamentarians, this Chief of Army would have been thrown out without a second thought. The government is avoiding controversy. But it would be advisable to get rid of him before his date of retirement to set a clear precedence for any person harbouring any notions of his liking. It is necessary to tell him that India is not a banana republic which runs on the whims of army junta.
@Optimist: I have heard similar sentiments from some Indians. But it's near impossible to have a military coup in India. The system and relationship between various services is designed that way.
Sometimes I forget this is a Pakistani News Source
@Singh: a good opinion writer should be willing to attack whoever deserves the attack depending on the topic under discussion. The target of attack is not mutually exclusive.
A very incisive article which gets to the heart of this drama.
"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"
This explains what the General Singhs real grievance is and it's nothing to do with the "honor of the services".
Bravo Mr Patel, You are good at attacking Army chief than Congress.
This is your second comment along this reasoning, and I have to disagree. Honesty would have been if Gen Singh came out with all of this immediately after he took office. Now, it is just a lack of discipline. His behavior is more like a child throwing tantrum since he could not get what he wanted. Dont elevate Army or its generals to high and mighty pedestals, where they cannot do no wrong. Or any wrong they do, they do it with honesty and integrity. Gen Singh should never have been made the Chief. That is where the mistake was made by the Government.
I have met some Indians in the UK who think a Martial Law in India can put things right!! I was shocked! . From all these press about Indian army, I think there is something fishy behind all these stories!
While Gen VK Singh is not doing country any favors, I think the Indian media is also playing its usual negative role with aplomb - by blowing this issue out of proportion; in an era of Wikileaks, embarassing disclosures is clearly the way to go for your ilk. The man is an upright officer who wants to leave on a high - unfortunately, the means employed to bring the Govt (and the nation) to its senses are questionable. I am sure that delays in military purchases is having its impact on our preparedness for any war, although the 97% figure is possibly for Armageddon itself. Anyway, I do not see this resulting in any lack of trust in future armed forces leaders - this is clearly a person-specific issue that has gone out of hand.