The coup that wasn’t… The threat within? - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Friday 6 April 2012

The coup that wasn’t… The threat within?

Our civil-military relations are in ferment. Was the night of January 16 really a routine exercise or was the army chief playing mind games with the government?

By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 7th Apr 12

It is a question to which we might never know the answer. Did the army chief arrange for two military units to “practice mobilisation” on the outskirts of New Delhi as a warning to his boss, Defence Minister AK Antony, on 16th January? That was the day that General VK Singh took the unprecedented step of challenging the government in the Supreme Court.

The controversy broke as a news storm on Wednesday. Screaming, full-page banner headlines in The Indian Express, reported that political alarm bells had gone off in New Delhi on the foggy night of 16th January, when intelligence agencies detected an army battalion from the Hisar-based 33 Armoured Division and a Special Forces unit from the Agra-based 50 (Independent) Parachute Brigade moving unexpectedly towards the capital. According to the Express, the government reacted to this “unexpected” and “non-notified” military move by recalling the defence secretary, Shashi Kant Sharma, from Malaysia. Sharma arrived in Delhi and summoned the army’s Director General of Military Operations (DGMO), Lt Gen AK Choudhary to a late-night meeting in his MoD office to “explain what was going on.” The general “was told to send the units back immediately.” The report does not feature the word “coup”, but instead highlights “confusion and unease” within the top echelons of government at a time of a “strained… political-military relationship.”

The army’s outraged denials have been immediately challenged. Breaking ranks on Thursday, one of the army’s most upright and cerebral recent generals, Lieutenant General Harcharanjit Singh Panag who was an army commander till he retired in 2009, suggested on Twitter that General VK Singh had engineered the move to spook the government into believing that a coup was possible if the government tried to sack him. Since the move of the two units was a legitimate training activity, malevolent intent could credibly be denied, suggested Panag. And with the units being given only innocuous training orders, only a handful of people need know the real intent of the move.

In five linked tweets, Panag termed the move a “demonstration”, an action designed to “alter enemy decision-making.” Deniability was created through a “Cover Plan,” which Panag explained as “a credible cover to operations undertaken to deceived the enemy.” The troops that participate in a military demonstration “do not know the real aim,” but senior commanders do. Overall, said Panag, the move of the military units to New Delhi was “A Pre-emptive demonstration with a Cover Plan (sic),” which “implies acting before the enemy does to upstage him from implementing his strategy, plan or operations.”

The government, the military, and even the media are treading carefully around what, if Panag is correct, could be termed a near-coup experience. Public discourse has referred coyly to “the C-word” with even Shekhar Gupta, The Indian Express’ chief editor who also wrote the article, disingenuously telling a probing TV anchor, “I used the C-word but I call it curious, not coup.”

Much of India’s reluctance to intellectually confront and discuss the phenomenon of military coups appears to stem from the apprehension that public discussion might have a self-fulfilling effect, indirectly legitimising military interventionism and fuelling praetorian behaviour (the ancient Roman praetorian guard was an elite corps that eventually grabbed a political role).

Praveen Swamy, New Delhi Bureau Chief of The Hindu newspaper, regrets that this incident has ended up on the front page of a newspaper, generating fear and suspicion that will continue to cloud the minds of future army chiefs and PMs. “The reason why we have never had to fear a coup is not because of a piece of paper called our Constitution. It is because of a complex set of unstated understandings between key actors in our polity, which we call convention. Those convictions rest on trust. That trust has been the real casualty of this whole, sordid business,” points out Swamy.

Is this really a watershed event in the relationship between the government and the military? Will historians look back on 16th Jan as a key moment when VK Singh challenged the government’s processes in court; and simultaneously (if Panag is right) its steeliness and resolve on the highways to Delhi? For now it would appear that General VK Singh’s confrontation with the government is working well for the military. With sections of parliament baying for blood, MoD officials are in a flurry of activity, clearing policies, procurements and promotions that had needlessly languished, in some cases for years.

On 20th March, the MoD cleared the results of a promotion board for major generals, which it had obdurately blocked for the preceding six months. On 2nd April, the MoD cleared the long-delayed revision of the Defence Offset Policy. The same day, Defence Minister Antony reviewed equipment procurements, calling for quicker trials. Although finance has been a key instrument of civilian control over the armed forces, Antony suggested delegating greater financial powers to the services to catalyze speedier acquisition of equipment, platforms and systems. The military’s 15-year Long Term Integrated Perspective Plan (LTIPP), a crucial document that establishes a roadmap for indigenous development and procurement, could be cleared soon, say sources.

With the Naresh Chandra committee finalizing its recommendations on defence preparedness and the restructuring of the higher defence organisation, insiders have begun betting that the government might soon accept the long-standing suggestion, offered by multiple committees and even a Group of Ministers, to create a Chief of Defence Staff, a five-star general who will sit atop the tri-service pyramid.

For now, the army is flatly rejecting any link between the ongoing confrontation and the MoD’s new sensitivity. Serving generals are even more emphatic in dismissing accusations emerging from The Indian Express article that General VK Singh exerted illegitimate pressure on the government.

Officers currently serving in army headquarters emphasize that The Indian Express is wrong in saying that there are protocols and regulations that require army movement, at any time, in the NCR (National Capital Region) to be pre-notified to MoD. “Army units move every day of the week towards Delhi; into Delhi; and within Delhi. These include vehicle convoys of units going on firing or training exercises; as well as vehicle convoys of units that are moving on permanent transfer from one station to another, a journey that every combat unit makes every two or three years. These unit convoys often make administrative halts in Delhi,” says a brigadier who coordinates army movements.

Serving officers also question how the move of two units (physically, just 500-odd men) to Delhi could possibly be seen as a threat, when two frontline infantry brigades and an artillery brigade (over 10,000 combat soldiers) are permanently located in the capital. This permanent garrison in Delhi was supplemented during that period January by thousands of additional troops that had come to participate in the Army Day and Republic Day parades.

“Let’s assume for a moment that some crazy army chief was bent on a coup, and wanted even more troops than were already in Delhi. Why would he move troops from Hisar (165 km away in Haryana); and from Agra (204 km away in UP); when there is a full infantry division sitting in Meerut, just 70 kilometers away?” asks an officer.

A recently retired lieutenant general who wishes to remain anonymous because of the sensitivity of discussing even a hypothetical coup points out that, “any successful military coup would require the active support of all six geographical army commanders, and also the air force chief. If even one army commander were not on board --- and we would be foolish to assume that the incoming chief, Eastern Army Commander, Lt Gen Bikram Singh, would associate himself with a military coup --- an attempt could quickly degenerate into a fratricidal civil war between loyalists and rebels,” he says.

While a successful military coup may be hard to imagine in India, the issue that sparked the ongoing furore is not an actual coup attempt, but --- as General Panag suggests --- the suggestion of a putative attempt to arm twist a weakened government by the subtle application of military pressure. “It would be difficult, if not impossible, to determine conclusively the intention behind the move of these two units from Hisar and Agra. All that the paper trail will reveal is a chain of legitimate orders for a practice exercise. It is the intention behind this move that counts, and intentions lie in the mind,” says a former army chief.

Just as cerebral are the government’s perceptions that determine how it reacts at a particular moment. “I moved 3-4 complete divisions through Delhi at the time when we were pumping troops into Punjab to combat the insurgency,” says the former chief. “That did not create even a moment of tension with the civil administration. But relations between the army and the government were on even keel then, and there was no suspicion between us.”

It is for this reason that a country’s civil-military relations must be based on well-established structures, procedures, and spheres of influence; rather than on the mood of the moment that could shift based on circumstances and events. There is unanimity on this issue amongst the established theoreticians of civil-military relations like Samuel Finer, Alfred Stepan and Charles Moskos, who have distilled lessons from praetorian behaviour by militaries worldwide, including in our immediate neighbourhood. In India, there is little understanding or public discussion of the demarcation between the government and the military and the responsibility and connections between the two.

Samuel Huntington’s masterpiece, his seminal 1957 book, The Soldier and the State, spells out the concept of “objective control” of the military. This model of civilian control, which is implemented in all successful modern democracies, allows the services full autonomy in their professional realm. A military that has ownership of its professional bailiwick, or so the “objective control” thesis postulates, does not involve itself in the political sphere. Civilian control, therefore, is asserted on broader political issues, rather than on day-to-day military functioning.

In contrast, “subjective control” neutralises the military’s influence through restrictive civilian controls, extending civilian oversight into spheres within the military’s internal domain. Subjective control is predicated on “civilianising the military”, while objective control aims at “militarising the military”, encouraging professionalism and responsibility within its realm.

Students and observers of the Indian military and the structure of its relationship with the defence ministry and the government of India unanimously agree that, over time, the boundaries of “objective control” have been breached. From long-term planning, to equipment procurement to promotions, to dates of birth of army officers, the influence of the civil bureaucracy is pervasive. Ask any military officer his key resentment and there is near-certainty that he will name “the babu”.

While a military coup in India is hardly impending and the structures of parliamentary democracy seem likely to endure, grievance and resentment have been simmering within the officer corps. Eric Nordlinger argues in another must-read masterpiece, Soldiers in Politics, Military Coups and Governments, that government failure is seldom more than a triggering condition for a coup. The actual causes of military intervention are civilian encroachment into what the military regards as its legitimate, four-fold sphere of corporate interests: adequate budgetary support; autonomy in managing internal affairs; preservation of its responsibilities in the face of encroachments from rival institutions; and the continuity of the military itself.

Is it time for a broader debate?


  1. "In India, there is little understanding or public discussion of the demarcation between the government and the military and the responsibility and connections between the two."

    Major understatement india there is hardly any understanding of separation of powers ..we celebrate courts that make policies, media that decide criminal cases, legislators who administrate ...

  2. with regards to the four areas
    1)budget:everyone wants a bigger pie..someone has to decide
    3)encroachment:surely this works both ways...and cannot be a completely internal matter.
    4)continuity:[i assume you mean the matter of who sits on top although i could be wildly off mark in that assumption]sticky this one....shouldn't it be joint would be hilarious if the army headed by the chief gets to decide the next chief

  3. Excellent article Ajai. I too concur with views of anonymous Gen that any coup would require support of all top army commander and IAF; given the news of in-fight and differences among about top echelons of Army that we hear it would be 'stupid' to assume that any coup can happen in India. Lets us remember that any differences between commander and chiefs (eg: Lt Gen Panag vs then Gen Kapoor and V Adm Sushil Kumar vs Adm Vishnu Bhagwat) are often brought to RM's notice which shows that not all chiefs and commanders share good rapport.

    However I really liked the analogy of Gen Panag. Thanks.

  4. Very aptly put Ajai...your last two paragraphs sums it up nicely...

  5. PARA and mechanized; these are just perfect units for any coup and their movement towards Delhi given the timing raises more question than it can ever answer.

  6. Sir

    Good article but cleverly restraint himself to give own view.

    Well nothing unusual about movement.
    but more about understanding between two

  7. When for the first time, I came across the story of army mobilization on 16-17th January. My first reaction was the same as elaborated in you story. But after thorough brainstorming I could not point finger on the integrity of The Army chief. Your story begins where Shekhar Gupta’s ends. In today’s world where we can say that corruption is most in the media world, it is very hard to believe any story run by the media. So first thing which I do is to find out the motive of the journalist which runs the story & try to reason out what is right & what is wrong. Who gets benefited from the story & who is on the losing side.
    It has been observed that someone is trying to defame the Army Chief. First the story related to Spying of MOD. Then the Leak of PM’s letter & now this. The Indian Express story though raises doubt on the intentions of Army Chief, but it is the govt & particularly the defense minister who is getting embarrassed most. It signifies that the current govt does not have faith on its own army. The larger question is on whose behest Shekhar Gupta ran this story. Now the arms lobbyist / dealers / middleman come into picture. These are the people who are not only annoyed with the Army chief but also with defense minister, who is on a spree of blacklisting defense companies with dubious character. They want the defense minister to be ousted at any cost.
    Now I tell you what has happened & frankly speaking I don’t believe your version of the story. I would elaborate this with a story. During my childhood, on the corner of our playground few gamblers used to gamble daily. One day, a police jeep made a normal visit to the area. On seeing the police, these men started running away like anything. The inspector innocently asked his fellowmen, what happened to these persons? Saab jua khel rahen honge. The gamblers never showed up again. The same has happened in this case. Now just like you, the people at the top echelon of the power still do not know what was in the mind of the army chief then. Now they realize that dealing with the army cannot be as easy as they think. As a result the MOD is clearing all the matters which had been in bureaucratic delay.

  8. Good theorizing here. By adding positive adjectives in introducing Gen. Panag you lend greater but unjustified credence to the Coup attempt theory. But its a theory.

    Imagination will continue to thrive.

    One of the tenets of the Army is shoot for effect. No firing in the air.

    Nevertheless, its a great theme for a fiction book.

  9. Harcharanjit Singh Panag is I believe is the father of that flop B-grade movie actress Gul Panag. If he is honest and upright, then Rahul Gandhi is the Einstein of 21st century. It is clear where your loyalties lies Mr. Shukla. You follow well on the footsteps of the UP politicians who make parks with public money.

  10. the terminator7 April 2012 at 02:09

    Colonel Shukla,
    If the so-called 'coup attempt' by a mere two units of the IA has spooked the GOI and MOD into running helter-skelter, it serves the netas and babus right for trying to lord over the Armed Forces with their childish penchant of showing they are the masters who hold the purse string.

    When there is already a sizable number of soldiers in the Federal Capital, why would any right-thinking and strategic general get two measly army units to stage a coup?

    India is notorious for its inefficient press who are more prone to sensationalize any happening to sell a few more copies of their papers. There is no or very little research, verification process before publishing their drivel. While these guys who call themselves journalists more apt at covering a village or small town incident/occasion, they should refrain from making mischief which in this case unnecessarily causes friction between the Political and Army leadership.

    Ex Army generals such as Lt Gen should think of the nation before giving their two paisae worth creating more non-existent conjecture and intrigue.

  11. Good read.Had a good insight about Military Matters.Look 4ward to ur views on more military related issues.Nd Lt Gen Panag says yu were his student in IMA 79/80.......Only thng is yu look 35 and i was wonderin why wud yu hav left Army early.......but now i knw the answer :P

  12.!/FlyboyRahulMeel7 April 2012 at 02:23

    Great Read. :)

  13. The line '' “Let’s assume for a moment that some crazy army chief was bent on a coup, and wanted even more troops than were already in Delhi.'' actually highlights 2 very important aspects.
    1) An anrmy chief intending or working on a coup can be termed crazy, yet his actions will remain justitifed in India populace due to the sheer frustrations and anarchy created by the politicians and the iditoic babu IAS Pscycopaths

    2) Isnt it time that due to the inefficiency of the beureucrats and politicans, the commandeers have a chanel to remove corrupt Prmie ministership. Take the case of VP Singh, came into power, created panic thru bofors, took India from the brink of Asian power( read the strength to act in sri lanka, maldives and nepal) to a toothless tiger which cant even battle insurgents from bangladesh!!! and vp sing also opened the Babri case which was forgotten by the coming generations, paving way for the biggest divide of populace.So if the MoD is inefficient, leaving young soldiers to die in vain without ammunation, the President a dumb mute spectator cause her knowledge of military is zilch and the PM not addressing the issue, the chief has infact taken a oath to protect the country and his men. In that circumstance what does he do...what power has he at his behest, idiotic DRDO chiefs already negate any decision power of the Chiefs as seen by recent statements.

    Another facet happening here is the division within the army vis a vis, sikh soldiers v/s rajputs/rest.....someone who wanted India to be weakened and had VP Singh chanelised in the prime office of India ias again at play....

    It shows poor or incoming general Bikram singh as he should have stood behind his chief, kicking the babus and their games, instead he buckled to the profit of fame and is being used by those who will tear him apart if he sticks to his oath as a cadet officer

  14. This is a media imagination and as is the Indian media and reporting, it has been overblown. If there was even one "intelligent" media person, he/she would have realized that a movement of 1000 army men 200 km from Delhi, out of an army of 1.34 Million would not be able to do anything nor does it signify a coup.

    Secondly, Gen VK Singh is an intelligent man. If he really did want to stage a coup, would he do it with 1000 men 200 km from Delhi?

    Very sad. The mixture of an Indian media which will do *anything* for sensationalism including broadcasting commando heli drops when terrorists have led siege in Mumbai and a corrupt political establishment have taken the country to the dogs.

    Why does not the media give details of the loot done by A Raja, Suresh Kalmadi, Madhu Koda, the Asst Engineer from MP who is worth 10 crores, the IAS couple worth 370 crores, the Reliance Telcom top brass in jail? The real enemies of the nation. If you are so good at investigation, tell me the results of your investigation and how the country was looted.

    Indian Express was a newspaper which had a inkling of respect. Probably, this was a way of letting India know that they are now competing with the rest of the Indian media.

    I feel sad for India. We are a country of corrupt people and the corruption has replaced our blood.


  15. I don't buy the argument that since there were 10,000 troops in Delhi, there was no reason to bring a mere handful of troops from hundreds of kilometres away for a show of strength.

    Indeed, if the only intent of the movement was a show of strength designed to kick the civilian side of the defence mechanism into action, this is exactly what one would do. A movement of this sort would be hard to convert into an actual coup, the the message sent out would be loud and clear.

  16. @dinesh
    really lend a lot of credence to your logic starting out with how his daughter's acting career has gone...

  17. If indeed the idea was only to threaten a coup but not actually pull one just yet, it couldnt have been done by the forces in delhi without possibly setting off unstoppable chain of events???

  18. Nice article Ajai... I would be really surprised, pleasantly if i may add to see any major being man enough to even attempt a coup in a country as large and as diverse as India...
    It would be nice to hear from you any analysis of sort what if the Military really does intervene in the political sphere... From what i see most of the major modern democracies first became modern and then became democratic... Germany was made a superpower by Hitler... Same applies for Turkey... Even in Pakistan, except for ziaulhaq's fundamentalist approach, Pakistan saw good economic growth under military leadership than civilian... We have waited for more than 60 years under our nethas only to see another bottom... WHY NOT TRY OUR MILITARY... WHATS WRONG IN IT... I STAND BY MY COUNTRY'S ARMED FORCES THAN THE "DRAMA-CRAZY" GOVERNMENT...

  19. The problem is not of mere 'babudom',but that of attitude and outlook.All force officers are brought up in a system,they have an ethos and are used to work in a methodical fashion.Even Civil servants of technical services like accounts,telecom,engineering and other specialized services have an idea of working in a structured way.The real problem are the generalist IAS who actually occupy all the senior positions.They come from all sorts of backgrounds and prefer to work less and boss around more.They are only used to work under political orders and compliance of their masters wishes,rather than than the requirements of law or work is their first priority.There forte is to delay,speak on issue,form endless committees,working papers etc etc.But decide they will not.Quite a few are ignorant of what they are deal with and prefer to deal with thing either by pulling rank or dishing out fancy words and terms.
    When the British formed the Indian Civil service,it was simple world,things were not so complex and specialized.
    It is foolish to think that the same approach will continue to work in today's specialsed world.
    Those days are over when all the IAS had to do was speak well,spout a few managerial terms and read out from prepared briefs.

  20. Perhaps, Colonel, you forgot to mention that the scumbags allergic to, and adversely affected by the good General's clean ways might have got this story planted in the media?

  21. It is good that it was not a see.

    It is still better that it was misunderstood as something like a see by some concerned peoples.

    It is best that the long pending problems are now being resolved rapidly as a general consequence.

    Anyhow any active survivor of 1857 could have been able to deliver the best understanding.

  22. This article from Times of India is not ignorable.Arms dealer lobby is utilizing this situation to out Antony who is a pain to their chucked business.

    "The decision to scrap the Rs 3,000-crore Eurocopter deal at the last minute in December, 2007, might have been the flashpoint that convinced arms lobbies that defence minister AK Antony was a serious thorn in their flesh.

    Antony took the tough call to cancel the order for the 190-odd attack helicopters for the Army due to irregularities in the bidding process and deviations from established procedures and this brought home to defence lobbyists and vendors, who were used to having their way, that it would not be business as usual anymore.

    Sources said the Eurocopter decision sent shockwaves through the defence and business establishments as the contract was all but sealed and the firmness with which the French government's vocal protests were ignored induced a sense of panic among arms-dealers and lobbyists.

    Long used to peddling influence so that shortlists and seeding were altered and technical parameters re-jigged to disadvantage rivals, the new regime in the defence ministry after Antony took charge began to bother several interests. Soon, Antony was accused of slowing down defence acquisitions due to his fear of taint.

    The charge of a defence freeze is contested, with official sources pointing out that budgets have been utilized. Even last year, 66% of the defence budget was utilized by December

    With a series of decisions indicating policies benefitting select vendors and procurement procedures open to manipulation were being replaced by a more predictable and level-playing field, the utility of power brokers itself became questionable. "

  23. Dear Colonel,

    Can you cite any one instance of Indian History except for 1957 or many others under Mogul rule when coup happened and changed the political order of the Kingdom or society.

    Can you please define coup? If it is seizing the thrown or legitimate political power by military means. Forget about Samuel Huntingdon or other you liberally quoted. I wish to ask you that in Indian civilisation considered to be oldest, there have been revolts, mass uprising, insurrections, power struggles amongst kith and kins but tell me about coups. Even Sepoy mutiny was a mutiny and not any where connected to the concept of coup. Bolshevik or Menshevik revolutions or The PLA manoeuvres were social mass movements and not coups.

    Would any sane person apply those post renaissance European concepts in India is questionable. Coups became famous in post colonial military putsches in smaller states of Asia and Africa largely engineered by either the ex colonial powers or superpowers, including those in Pakistan or Bangladesh or Myanmar. Why there have been no coups in Nepal, Sikkim and Bhutan? Because of its Hinduism past or Hinduistc driven Buddhism or may be no one from outside was interested.

    In Hindu concept there is no place for removal of king but treachery and only military. Kings must be removed through the path of Dharma even if it included inviting a war (Geeta and Mahabharata). King is the embodiment of righteousness, justice and fair-play. Kings removal is justified to meets the ends of those objectives and not to seize power.

    There unfortunately are uneducated sick minded intellectuals like Sekhar Gupta and may be you included who would scare the hell out of Nehru or Rahul Baba of the reports of coups that is not part of Indian culture and ethos !

    India is India. It is not Mali. Ok. There can not be coups here. Indians have far better and sophisticated means for regime change as exemplified by Mahabharata.

  24. Sir I have followed your stance on various issues related to the continuing Army Chief saga and mostly agree with it. Some points though for your consideration:-
    First related to this article. I find it rather unfair on the part of Gen Panag to simply super impose the Deception theory on what seems to be a very routine movement and make it the basis of a dangerous conclusion.
    What eaxctly is the basis for this assertion? It is sad that while even the Indian Express has restrained itself, the guys who actually dug out and worked on the story. Gen Panag chooses to put on display his 'cerebral' insight.
    Has he considered the possibility of his assumption being wrong. Besides what is the conclusions the nation might draw from the fact that a Retied Army Commander of Gen Panag's stature thinks that an Army Chief could be applying a Principle of War (namely deception) to such ends, misusing the trust placed by his soldiers in him.
    On another note I quite liked your rebuttal to Gen Prasad on his reaction to your 'Generals warming the chair' remark. Surely the Generals cannot be hiding behind letters to deflect the blame of ill equipped Army. However this again, is in contrast with your earlier defence of Gen Singh's age row, justifying his actions as perfectly natural being consistent with preserving his next rank and career.
    Maj (Retd) Amitabh Coomar, Ex 81 Armd.

  25. HI All,
    I conclude this way from this on-going tussle between MoD and IA.

    Remember what Army Chief said when he became the chief of Indian Army when he said his 1st job is the internal health of Army. Since then he stopped the Tatra truck purchase. He was disappointed with the delay in army procurement. I am not sure what he talked with Mr. Anthony. Definitely a lot about corruption.

    Primary duty of raksha mantri is to serve Gandhis, rest of the services come later.

    Somebody got alarmed when Gen VK Singh started taking action to clean the internal 'health' of army. So they found that if he got extension their healths & pockets will get deteriorated as they do not care about the health of Indian Military. So through raksha manthi they cut short the Army chief's age by one year so that he 'retires' in May end, 2012. The earlier he retires these people's internal health will be fine.

    Whenever one commits a crime against another person he or she has fear that the other person will react if he found out. So here, when MoD turned against chief, they feared that he will act against them. Remember this "attempted coup" news only came out more than 2 months after the troop movement that happened in Jan middle.

    So in this case, they wanted to malign army chief so that before chief expose the 'health,' these people will be in a better position as the blame goes to 'a maligned chief.'

    So I feel that that is why one after the other one sees the news related to Army chief, but not related to IAF or IN come in media. Why only Army chief's letter to PM got leaked? Why Raksha Mantri's room was bugged by Army personal?

    Now looks at who publishes the news. Sekhar Gupta is another servant of Gandhis.

    Now ask yourself, who will benefit if Gen VK Singh stays for one more year and who will benefit if he retires by May end of 2012?

    BTW, General election is due in 2-3 years time. From where do the black money come using which these people can influence and con the voters?

  26. @Suyash - do you have any clue how many Central forces protect Delhi? I have ans for u - approx 1 lacs including DP commanded by Home Min. So Gen, baboos and paid media all these possibilities have been worked out and therefore there is trust. Do you know it will take under 10 mins for PM to be in air to secure loaction. Certainly, units moving slowly towards Delhi from 100 km or so cannot be that fast.

  27. Sir, ur/Panag's theory is based on assumption only and u r chalanging the character of othrs pls can i assume that you n Panag are may be payed by sm pimps fr deception to rmov chief

  28. Broadsword,
    This is a much better perspective from a non military jurno rather than yours:

    "Going cuckoo 
over the ‘coup’

    Bikram Vohra (Perspective)

    7 April 2012

    If it wasn’t so comical, it would be grand tragedy. Except for embarrassing 1.2 billion Indians and providing gales of mocking laughter for India’s detractors and enemies, real and imagined, the report on the ‘coup’ attempt by what amounts to a possible maximum of 4,000 soldiers from two battalions is farcical.

  29. Well a coup or No coup, what has clearly come out of the stories is the arrangements and resorces that the Home Ministry devoted to keep that so called coup under watch. Their contingency plans !! It is also strange the PM did not call up Eastern Army Commander to thwart that Coup and lined up planes in the Eastern Command ??

    This story has been a big demoraliser for a common soldier. And lo and behold ! an ex army commander is propagating a new theory of coup called "demonstration"... ! shame.

  30. Veteran Officers of the rank of Army Commanders MUST NOT fly kites in the manner Lt Gen Panag has done.He has done a great dis-service to the Army.He has his theories and is welcome to them.You don't need baseless and unnecessary 'cerebral insights' from the likes of Panag to hold the attention of your readers who are fairly well read,intelligent people. We are generally quite satisfied with just your unadulterated insights.

  31. Ajai

    The larger issue is not only of civil-military relations, but also of army's internal functions and group-ism.

    Some of the retired generals you have quoted here have had their own set of embarrassments in the recent past as well.

    And in this game, it is easy to paint someone as belonging to a particular camp depending on one's views, especially for people with known army backgrounds or interests.

    And talking of Gen VK Singh, the country and the armed forces have their utmost faith in his abilities, honour and faith in India's democracy. So for me the people(like the 'celebral' generals you have quoted) are acting under the influence of their own vested interests and prejudices.

    It is an open and shut case, as repeatedly said by both Army and Political class.

    Rather the more important issues are the ones stinking of corruption which the serving chief has mentioned and the changes he has brought in, and whether and how it will be carried forward by people who succeed him, with so many power sharks lurking around!

  32. Col.Shukla it has been a long time since you have posted on the Tejas program. Can you do an article on Tejas program please

  33. Anon@19.04

    Totally agree with your view. The way India is sliding into Anti-gandhi camp, could there be possibility of Quit India campaign against Gandhis in years to come?

  34. The COAS attempts a coup and succeeds! What do you think will be the reaction of Indians? My guess is they will welcome it. They are fed-up with corrupt politicians. Nk Anna Hazare can bring a few lakhs of people on the streets to weed out corruption. A general surely can do more. People will stop being corrupt not out of conviction but out of fear of conviction!!

  35. Very interesting. I always felt that Express did no wrong in carrying that story.

    Just curious, is the name Broadsword inspired by "Broadsword calling Danny Boy" or "Broadsword and the Beast"?

  36. I am not sure of Lt. Gen. PANAG but the well known lack of credibility of Mr. Shekhar Gupta must be discounted before presenting your views.

    He is a living example of the dumb and the douche in the cadres of Indian media.

  37. Let us remind ourselves of the task General VK Singh set himself at the start of his tenure. It was to restore 'internal health of the Army'. Now let us Refresh our memory of recent controversies surrounding the Army and it's Chief. Media campaign to depict VK as tenure hungry person - mastermind serving and retired senior army guys. Offer of bribe - by retired senior army guy. Alarmist report on troop movement, as per Hindu of 10/04/12 originated from a senior officer posted at Western Command Chandimandir. There you are. True state of internal health of Indian Army is indeed rotten!

  38. Antony on top of the tank is a major coup! How did he get there in that lungi of his and yet keep it spotless!

    Now *this* is a coup!

  39. do u still salute Army, airforce, navy personnels, especially of senior ranks both in service and retired?? is there any code or convention tat exists for this.

  40. Just shows why the babus are nincompoops.
    a) 1000 odd troops moving to delhi
    b) All or at least a majority of Army Cdrs will have to be in the loop for a Coup or an attempt.
    c) To bluff there must have been some traffic
    IF, none of this had happened did the Govt or the babus create a scare to frighten the Politicians into beliving that their kurssi was under threat of a Military take over?
    Are Panag and some Generals trying to communalise the issue by backdoor politics?
    Will the IB/CBI be able to give a fair report especially since they could do nothing about the bug in the FMs office.
    Is the malaise to deep and have our Polticians and Babus been compromised to such an extent that the rot will end in terminal extinction?

  41. To unknown
    It is Broadsword enlightening the "UNKOWN".

  42. I just cannot believe some of the comments made about the 'the coup'.
    What has the relationship of the Defense Minister with the Gandhi family? Why are we so biased and easily swayed into bashing the Gandhis for all the ills in the country.

    FYI, I am not a Gandhi fan or a rabid supporter of the ruling party. I support candidates who show their political maturity and acumen and who can fight for the progress of our motherland.

    Still, as an Indian I just cannot stomach utter rubbish and drivel being spewed under the guise of intellectual discourse.


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