Wake up, generals! - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Monday 29 October 2012

Wake up, generals!

by Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 30th Oct 12

The Indian Army fish is rotting from the head. Memories are still fresh of the bruising confrontation earlier this year between the politically ambitious General VK Singh and an inept government that had precipitated a civil-military firestorm over the army chief’s quest for an extra year in office. Now, as Broadsword reports (see article above) another aggrieved general is going to court in his quest for the top job.

The current chief, General Bikram Singh, who took over from the divisive General VK Singh in June, has singularly failed to apply a healing touch and to undo the partisanship his predecessor unleashed. Most new bosses, even sports coaches, are expected to provide a new direction. In five months on the job, General Bikram Singh’s new direction consists only of orders that officers must greet each other with the salutation of “Jai Hind”, instead of merely giving each other the time of day. The new chief also wants meetings to end with everyone chorusing “Bharat Mata ki Jai”.

Intelligence reports have not yet confirmed that the Pakistani and Chinese militaries are quaking in their boots.

Let us be charitable; perhaps General Bikram Singh needs more time. His arrival in Delhi was traumatic and uncertain, since his predecessor assiduously sabotaged his elevation in the internecine fighting that now seems to be a part of the game. Once in Delhi, the new chief’s priority was to set himself up in the five-star style that now defines our culture of generalship. In his first days in the hallowed office of legends like General KC Thimayya and Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw, the new chief and his staff busied themselves with putting together a retinue of a dozen waiters, cooks, dhobis and assorted tradesmen to sustain life in Army House.

Called upon for retainers, a bevy of army formations milked out these retainers from combat units, where tough young officers and the legendary Indian jawan have learned how to make do with the dwindling resources that their own generals leave them. At least two senior flag rank officers personally screened the men who would serve their chief, knowing that a spilt drink or over-salted soup could reverberate unpleasantly in their own careers.

The chief will naturally deny this since none of these tradesmen are officially posted to Army House, his tony residence on New Delhi’s leafy Rajaji Marg. Conveniently, this entourage is on “temporary duty” with army units in the capital. But any visitor to Army House would find them working there, just as visits to many army posts and picquets would find combat soldiers cooking and washing instead of training and patrolling, simply because their cook or dhobi is languishing in Delhi.

This travesty faces no resistance from subordinate generals, many of whom are hardly angels themselves. Lieutenant General Nobel Thamburaj, who headed the Southern Army, was arrested by the CBI for gross irregularities concerning defence land. Two army chiefs, Generals Deepak Kapoor and NC Vij, along with several army commanders, received illegal flats in Mumbai’s infamous Adarsh Housing Society. Lieutenant General Shankar Ghosh, the Western Army commander until June, had his medical category downgraded last year, entitling him to disability pension. But when General VK Singh’s confrontation with the government made dismissal a possibility, Ghosh (then the senior-most army commander) upgraded his medical category to be eligible for a move to Army House.

If the generals believe that these shenanigans go unnoticed by junior officers or the rank and file, they are mistaken. The recent face-offs between officers and enlisted men in military bases near Samba, Amritsar and Leh suggest a decline in the ironclad faith that the army jawan has always had in his leaders. Today’s culture of entitlement at the top, where funds, resources and manpower are poured into supporting the five-star lifestyles of a few dozen senior generals, threatens to seep downwards poisoning the entire system. It is difficult to remain idealistic, motivated and dead straight --- the defining characteristics of young Indian officers --- when so much wrongdoing is evident at the top. Even honest officers are inevitably corrupted by a system in which outright financial dishonesty is condoned as “perks and privileges of office”.

As worrying as the corruption is the lack of intellectual direction that generals provide the army’s young leaders. This was evident from the recent flood of chain emails between mid-level and junior officers, expressing outrage that the army was being blamed in the media for the 1962 debacle. In the intellectual desert that the generals have made the army, every red-blooded officer has bought into the “Haqeeqat myth”, in which gallant soldiers, badly deployed by incompetent politicians and bureaucrats, mowed down hordes of Chinese before laying down their lives. While this is true in several cases, there are many more cases of entire Indian sub-units fleeing from strong defensive positions into waiting Chinese ambushes. Any professional military studies its defeats even more deeply than its victories. But professional study is not on the army’s agenda. The generals believe that officers and men must be busy with creating the illusion of command success, howsoever transient. With no time to read or guidance and inspiration from the top, human development is merely a buzzword.

Preening incongruously amidst this crumbling edifice, General Bikram Singh has taken his media managers’ ill-considered advice that controversies are best dealt with by avoiding the press. General VK Singh’s mistake lay in seeking out the media say the same advisors who had advised the previous chief. But with controversy increasingly swirling, the army’s leadership can no longer deal with its growing image problem by sticking its head in the sand.


  1. Excellent article, Col. Shukla.

    But it will fall on deaf ears, and on the ears of a few vengeful babus.

    Absolutely loved " Intelligence reports have not yet confirmed that the Pakistani and Chinese militaries are quaking in their boots."

  2. Barah Bajeh... nautangi wallah...

  3. A very telling report..well known, but seldom reported with such candour. Army House is probably 'over-stocked' by zealous surbordinate generals, not only out of sychophany, but more so to justify the many privileges that they can bestow on themselves, with moral justification. Which rule/law permits them to get free service from such a large retinue of staff, while the junior officers must pay to hire a single private helper?
    However, the more profound statement that you have made, is about the need to study our defeats more critically than our victories. Both hold important lessons, but to ignore the latter can only be done at one's peril. In a recent TV interview, a former Air Chief categorically stated that there were no lessons to be learnt from the 1962 debacle. This shocking statement reeked of intellectual hollowness of an unparalled degree. This is also the result of promoting mediocrity/sub-mediocrity to the highest aechelons of military ranks. In the Army and IAF, the peer seniority is determined by the 'service number' decided on at the time of commissioning and no cognizance of the service rendered over the next three decades can change that. Though elevation to the top most rank by virtue of this service number is most uncontroversial, but it it does not necessarily put the right man in this job. The accusation of 'lobbying' with the dhotiwala and babu for the top job, if 'deep selection' becomes a reality, also has merit. But if a candidate is aware that a quirk of his date of birth and his service number are the only criteria to make it to the top, this culture will continue to flourish.

  4. had nice laugh... you are good in satire..

    Why can't you write a book on army affairs and i would certianly buy one...

  5. This General seems to be another showoff like the great JJ Singh who per media reports ran his wife's import-export business with IA soldiers. Then ended up being a Governor.
    VKS may have been controversial but a far sight better than our luxury loving Punju Generals. Next, they'll ask for air conditioned taxis to watch the battlefield from, while being served white wine and canapes by other soldiers drafted for that purpose

  6. Well written, Ajay. But, General Bikram Singh appears to have been underestimated by you. While I took pre-mature retirement from IAF in 1998, I still remember two of my Defence Services Staff College course mates - Now Gen Bikram Singh and erstwhile COAS Gen Deepak Kapoor - way back in 1985. They wont remember me. Deepak Kapoor was a considered fraud even thenwhen he was a Major. But, Bikram Singh was a lot different. Deep thinker, less talkative and 100% humane. Such persons of Bikram type are understood to be not very aggressive leaders. But I saw a sparkle in him and am sure that Army is in very able hands now.

    The problem is different and corruption is linked to age old system. I have seen my father, a Health Superintendent in SHO of Military Hospitals till 1967 fighting corruption single handed against the All India Defence Civilian Employees Union - with the then Raksha Mantri - Krishna Menon - heading the union. With all the threats he got from politically strong union, he succeeded to hold the flag as one- then Brigadier (Doctor) Nandkoelyar from Army HQ was supporting him against Krishna Menon. Rumour is that Brig Nandkoelyar resigned because of his differences with Krishna Menon. The problem is that there are not too many Nandkoelyars in Defence or IAS.

    But Bikram Singh has the "Soul" that fights for the truth.

    We are all aware how bad is CSD Canteens running system with totally corrupt chain all through. When CAG points it out we bring out welfare of jawans. System is corrupt to the core.

    Where to go ?? ...............

    But the system is still good enough to be remedied. Better help Bikram Singh and let country gain.
    How ?
    There are sure ways ...if we have the will. If you are ready, many of us shall be with you.

    Lets start helping out the serving soldiers as ex-servicemen....All have not been corrupt and all are not cowards.

    Good Article. God Bless !!

    1. With due respect your assessment of Gen Bikram is absolutely wrong and misplaced.Gen JJ and Gen Bikram are two sides of same coin

  7. This bastard seems to be some Pak ISI or chinese agent. The kind of bad mouthing you are using is in no way going to help either me ie a ground soldier or a young officer. Rot is every where and there are systems to put people in place but not by articles like this. This is sheer instigation. Dare you do this against a politician and you will bw found slain somewhere so instead you choose the mouthless army men, be it top brass or jawans. You are of no one, sleazer...we know that....we have seen you people in Kargil. With regard to fleeing units in 1962 war.. the events like that happen in war. That was not marriage of your sister..Few things go wrong under pressure and no one runs away after compromising their subordinates safety. Shit I feel low for even considering this article worthy of a comment.

  8. @ Anon 21.07 30 Oct

    Get well Soon....

  9. Anon 21:07,

    There is no need to get so agitated when Col. Shukla has just pointed something which is already well-known. Taking the example of babus and politicos to justify falling standards of men in uniform is an old trick. If civvies like me still have a lot of admiration for men in forces, there is a reason for that. And that reason has little to do with how dashing a young officer looks in his uniform or how religiously the regimental traditions are followed. It has more to do with that old-fashioned but rapidly disappearing virtue - called "sharafat" (to quote Gen. Sundarji) which defines an Officer & a Gentleman.

    1. What Col Shukla has written is absolutely true, in fact he has not exposed fully the rot in Army. There are very few senior officer you can look for high moral values and professionalism. But there is a silver lining, the new lot of Generals have some really good officers and gentleman

  10. This Guy Named Ajay Shukla is not a patriot instead a lowlife crook.
    What Nehru & Menon duo thugs did in 1962 everyone knows.
    He should think & investigate before making these kind of low comment.
    This guy is nothing more than a shit.
    People like Gen. VKS is not sent as a Governor, Ambassador or High commissionaire why because where ever he goes these corrupts can not perform & their black money will stop.

  11. Interesting, what happened for this article to come out? Clearly your role in the track 2 dealings with Pakistan over Siachen seems to have changed many things.

  12. Thanks for writing this Ajai. Bharat mata ki jai and jai hind are no substitute for professionalism. Sad to see this institution turning pear shaped.

  13. Col Shukla,
    Kindly ignore this hysterical idiot's remarks.Its fools like him who fail to see the rot that has set in and will probably rise high with his idiocy n dumb ass attitude.Its a very well written article by you and does expose the seamier side of our Army.

  14. Great article Ajay. Keep it up, a true Sanawarian, soldier,

  15. At a personal level, I feel that maintaining the decorum and standards associated with the official residences of service chiefs is in the interest of the services. It would be churlish of formations down the line to complain about sparing a bit of manpower to serve at the official residences that represent the services themselves, not just the individual Officers occupying the residences.

    In this case, sparing one cook or a safaiwalah clearly won't cause combat soldiers across the border to start cooking or cleaning up themselves. It is the general shortfall in manpower that needs to be addressed.

  16. @ sunlit

    At the outset, I agree completely with your comment that the army chief's house needs to be well-maintained and serviced because he performs an external "figurehead" function as well as purely internal functions.

    But why then doesn't the army strongly take up a case for civilian bearers, waiters, cooks, sweepers, washermen, etc for select ranks? They'll tell you that it is because the babus scuttle such proposals.

    But the real reason is that it is much easier to just order subordinates to send uniformed tradesmen and even soldiers to perform these tasks. One phone call... and the GOCs are already interviewing waiters to serve His Highness.

    After all, the babus also tried to scuttle pay and pension increases for the officers... but there was no lack of fighting spirit that the generals displayed then. There was no hiding behind that tired old excuse, "the babus have said no!". At that stage, their pay and perks were at stake and so the generals went out and fought.

    So let them go out and fight for "entertainment allowances" and "establishment tradesmen" as well.

  17. Great article Col- Shukla! loved your writing style! You have pointed quite good points here!

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  18. Hey....ex Col Ajai Shukla....have a prespective. In an earlier blog you had written that for the first time the army will be getting the attack heptrs. maybe the chinese and the pakis are quacking in the boots on getting to know that the next time they ruffle the Army's feathers, the Army will get its own aviators on them instead of waiting around for the decorative 'air warriors' who can't even consider taking a risk in peace. So, were you not yet called by the Chief for free booze at the Army House and is this biased, unworthy blog a result of you ...the great ex Col Ajai Shukla who left the hard life for a easier civil life....being ignored?

  19. The most damning and scary comment in the article is not about the cooks and the bearers, but this:

    "In the intellectual desert that the generals have made the army, every red-blooded officer has bought into the “Haqeeqat myth”, in which gallant soldiers, badly deployed by incompetent politicians and bureaucrats, mowed down hordes of Chinese before laying down their lives."

    An organization that can not analyze its own failures is doomed to repeat them.

  20. Dear Sir
    If system at all wishes to grow with time line in any respect.....has to accept criticism at any and every level
    more so we need to do more and preach less as commanders
    may be we should be looking on strengthening defenses than facilities at delhi..thats far sure than debating any thing

  21. I agree with Broadsword entirely. The administrative frills that the Army's Flag-rank officers 'rob' as perks / privileges of office are at the cost of administrative self-sufficiency of units. And its not only manpower (tradesmen), but vehicles, generators etc. And these waiters, cooks, masalchis are pulled out from Officers' Messes of units where ordinarily only two waiters or cooks or masalchis are posted. As a result, units employ combatants in their Messes - which most soldiers find demeaning, humiliating and loathsome. The result - a growing No incidents of insubordination and collective indiscipline like the ones that we have recently heard of.

    The Navy, I believe, has legitimately provided for Stewards and Chefs to flag-rank appointments (in command). The Army - if someone has the balls and the brains - can re-appropriate a battalion worth of combatants as Chefs, Stewards, washermen, sweepers and masalchis (yes the multitude of Generals & Brigadiers are too poor to hire domestic help or pay for part-time help).

    It does not need sagacity or foresight to see where the Army is headed. Guest rooms and parties receive far greater attention and resources than officers' reading rooms and professional grooming.

    The Chief is expected to set an example of what is RIGHT - morally, ethically and professionally. Gen Bikram seems to have faltered from the outset itself. If he is truly made of sterner stuff, let him banish administrative frills to what is rightfully entitled - to him and to the multitude of Brigadiers and Generals who bleed units of administrative manpower and equipment to live like Mughals.

    And this one is for the old retired buzzards who pontificate from their high horses during TV panel discussions on the crisis of increasing indiscipline and moral decay in the Army, "Gentlemen, these are the seeds you foggies sowed when you served that are bearing fruit today, so pipe down will ya !"

    Jai Hind

  22. Broadsword comments on the matters military have by and large been well appreciated, however this time around I think it is his personal dislike of the present chief which has come to the fore and that is why he has hit below the belt, talking about retinue of staff. This is not something new, it has always been there, in fact even he himself would have benefitted from it while in command. Yes there is a point about civilian staff, but a better option is to get the staff authorised but not civilians as there are host of issues associated with that, reservations, recruitment problems, permanency of staff..... where as the uniformed man comes and goes with the incumbents. The scale of staff should be laid down for all such appointments and the manpower authorised for these highly legitimate requirements. I believe Navy has a model in place, which could be emulated.

  23. @Broadsword:"..much easier to just order subordinates to send uniformed tradesmen.." :-) True, I've seen a lot of that happen. But it has become a practice and everyone has gotten used to this wau of doing things. Perhaps the remedy lies in a number of measures that can be taken. One would be, as you stated, to lean on the bureaucracy a bit and the other could be to rationalise some of the archaic customs and ceremonials that are 'manpower-intensive' so to speak. We can't go wromg in adopting some of the attitudes and practices of, say, the Armed Forces of Great Britain. I doubt if nowadays they need retinues of the sizes we've gotten used to after inheriting the establishment sizes from them.

  24. Shukla Ji,
    Just like anyone who reads the newspaper, I have got used to the kind of coverage that the military gets now-a-days as compared to the last year.
    As far as the Army is there,off late, I have been reading about 1962 war, terrorists in Kashmir and achievements in Olympics.
    The Army Chief is not required to update the media about every small / big policy decision he takes (as long as they dont affect international relations. If he is keeping the Army ready for war and guarding our borders. I would be happy, even if media guys like you are unhappy about the small amount of info coming out of headquarters.
    You seem to be a retired fauji, write about operational improvements needed and not glamorize small issues.

  25. Mr Shukla - its very sad that ignorant people like you are able to write such uneducated articles thru the medium of internet about a professional org and distinguised people - men who have faced bullets and not sit in the comfort of their air conditioned offices and pass such uneducated comments.

  26. I think the article brings out the true happenings in the army today. I remember long time ago when posted at the Institute of Armament Studies at Pune, I was aghast to see that the chicken served had no leg and breast pieces, when the head waiter was asked why so his reply - CO saab ke ghar me aaj party hai saab, this is a very small incident but it gives you an idea of things in the army, this happened in the officer mess, so you can well imagine what happening in the ORs mess, in fact airmen and sailors visiting army units on duty refuse to stay/eat in ORs messes preferring to spend their own money to eat outside.
    The CSD, ECHS ets - schemes created by the government with the good intention of helping men in uniform have be hijacked by senior officers for their own benefit, a visit to any ECHS/CSD would be a revelation to anyone as to how the heard earned money of the soldier is being squandered by red-tape and corruption.

  27. Flowery English should not be a key consideration for well written articles.The Army is the last bastion and one should be proud of the same.Amidst scandals of multi crores if there is one org that is being looked up it is army. Pl dont defame it. Also there isnt is a single positive article in your blog,is it 'cause it does not sell. If research alone is journaslism then google is the answer.

  28. Dear Col Shukla.

    Sprouting eloquent and churning phrases from outside the ring which few understand is absolutely fine. However, you do forget what they taught us way back at our training Academies...to follow an order...and to lay down our lives, if need be, for the same. This seriously makes me think as to which Academy did you go to.????

    So the system is rotten ,you say. Is that the reason why you quit or is it the other way round. Its indeed the second question which is on my mind since I read your diatribe against Army in general and Generals in particular.

    Just for the record (and your ego-massage), I went through all your previously published blogs and was proved right, although unfortunately, that there was nothing Positive you have said about the forces. I guess that would make most of your observations prejudiced anyways.

    So our Chief has told us to shout "Bharat Mata ki Jai" and "Jai Hind" and its scaring neither Chinese nor Pakis. Indeed, it isnt. Its not meant to.

    Let me tell u this, Sir, that they have been using JAI HIND as salutation in Indian Air Force since ages. So does that make ALL our Air Warriors redundant and ceremonial.?

    By the same logic, I guess it was wrong for all our freedom fighters to shout and espouse BHARAT MATA KI JAI in face of colonial masters' assault and exploitation...because it never scared them Britishers either. They would still kill and maim these freedom fighters, so what was the point anyways, right.???!!

    Sir, it is indeed shameful that u even suggest these insinuations. In fact, there is another question (third) cropping in my mind "which uniform did u really wear.??"

    When I, along with my comrades-at-arms, shout BHARAT MATA KI JAI or JAI HIND, trust me--scaring Chinese & Pakistanis (who anyways are scared witless for past 65 years of this country and its army) is the last thing on our minds. Believe u me sir, we dont need to scare either of them. pakis aint even worth it. Those who want to "scare" others by rhetorical shouting seldom deliver the knockout punch, which, I assure you, our Army is very capable of delivering.

    I do this as it reminds me that in middle of all the political and ideological muck surrounding me, these slogans tell me I am an Indian and a PROUD one at that. I say it as it gives my "job" the legitimacy. It makes me feel proud-of my history, my heritage. I say it cause this is what makes perfect sense as to why I should don my uniform and go to my work-station daily, living in a place surrounded by hostile enemies and ever-doubting civilians.

    Things are not rosy but that wasnt the sales pitch of Army Recruitment when I joined in anyways. I wanted this and I am happy with what I have. You, if I aint wrong, were not and hence decided to quit. Not only quit, but like an immature first-termer at Academy in his first Novices Boxing Bout, you continue to throw in punches from outside LONG AFTER you have been defeated.

    You, Sir, really need to visit that Academy again where U went to train, all these years back. If indeed you did go to one(my original question).



  29. what does one do to get into liimelight ? generate controversy ,resort to slander make wild allegations and anttempt to sesationalize issues where perhaps none exist .the artilce byt he author seems to be all of this and perhaps just so.actually this shoould have been relegated to the dustbin purely on account of it being extremely weak in subject content but also distastefully written .infact one can even go to the extent of ssurmising that the writer on seeing his peers now be come 2Star generals is venting his frustrstion through this article .some people have made it a habit of making a living by tarnishing the image of the Army .and this is a prime example . in the garb of being a self acclaimed moral and ethical guardian of the Indian Army.the problem with some of us is that we must be bothered or atleast outewardly show our concern.why dont we leave the army to be run by the persons selected to do so .freedom of speech is okay but that does'nt mean that one crosses the limit of decency and propriety while airing ones views .Our army is a great org. and doesnt need authors as these to correct its course as it were ,the Army is doing a great job ,notwithstanding an odd aberration in fact it is people as these who are superficial in their concern and who make a hole in the same plate in which food is served .first desperately seek the hospitality and goodwill of the Army for pursuing own ventures,and when that is over,turn around and vilify the organisation.And What is this lack of intellectual direction?we can appreciate his new found 'wisdom 'in his reading of 1962 archives in pursuance of the book which is apparently being written but I'm sure every right thinking honest and patriotic Indian knows that 2012 is not 1962 nor will history be repeated as is being apprehended.we have come a long way and the entire world knows this .

  30. well, Col Shukla.

    This seems a one-sided affair.

    I posted my comments on your blog but as they were not exactly in consonance with what U have written so U or the blog admin has decided NOT TO PUBLISH them.

    talk about being fair.

    NOW, I am sure where U come from and how you handle things. Its people like you who, when INSIDE the system use all its perks & privileges and when OUTSIDE the system, lambaste it using Internet and social media to hide behind them. You wont even allow a TWO-WAY traffic on your blog because someone else has a different view.??!!??!

    I am sad.

    But, I am also happy that U QUIT. whats the point of having someone in Uniform if he cant take a slug on chin..??

    However, I'd re-submit my questions to U yet again (and this time I will SAVE both your blog AND my comments so as to publish them on Social Media Networks.

    1. which training academy do U really come from.??
    the one I come from taught me to feel proud and honored to say phrases like BHARAT MATA KI JAI & JAI HIND.

    2. do we consider our complete Air Force redundant and all our gallant air warriors insane as their standard salutation has been JAI HIND (across ranks) since ages..???

    3. If u are so enraged/hurt by the system, what did YOU do to change it...besides quitting..???

    4. Would this site ever have FAIR MODERATION wherein the author DOES NOT HAVE TO APPROVE the comments before they are published online.???

    5. Would this comment be published.?


  31. Sir,
    some of your comments are right but some are hitting below the belt and not warranted. we need to respect our org thats Army and its traditions. traditions must be followed religiously. i feel there is always a way to convey a thing. we must have faith in our seniors and let them perform. our duty is to follow the orders and not to question them. that is our strength and we must live by it.
    Jai Hind

  32. Unfortunately we are still in the Mughal Army. i am convinced that noting can change in the Army till such time some serious measures are undertaken right from the top to cleanse the system and i feel at this rate it has to happen from outside and not from within the org as the rot is at the TOP. The young guys are really good and doing a great job. GOD PL SAVE THIS WONDERFUL ORGANISATION BEFORE SOMETHING DRASTIC HAPPENS>

  33. The polarised comments that Broadsword's present blog post seems to have evoked are so damn indicative of institutionalised resistance to uncovering and stemming the rot in the system. The sheer stench and malignity of some of the comments is a dead giveaway of those commenting being folks who nurture, and revel in, the current climate of systemic sycophancy, debased patronage and professional drought. There is NOT one dishonest fact which Broadsword has cited - they are hard truths and hence the perpetrators are hurting and hurting bad !

    There is no other organisation which diverts large portions of regimental funds ostensibly meant for Welfare of troops to pay for establishment costs of senior officers - and the Army has official SOPs and policies for sanctioning such diversion.

    It would be an education for these putrid critics to check, for instance, the expenditure pattern of CSD profits accruing from sales by the over-stocked station canteens in Pune, Calcutta, Lucknow, Chandimandir, Simla and of course Delhi Cantt. Check the actual expenditure of MES maintenance funds on the accommodation for Other Ranks (& families) versus that spent on senior officers' residences annually. Check how often and how heavily officers, especially senior ones, underwrite parties and entertainment in the garb of official social interaction. Check how many officially-bought ACs are fitted in the sprawling residences of Flag-rank officers and, more importantly, WHO PAYS THE ELECTRICITY BILLS FOR THE MULTIPLE ACs that keep the Barha Sahibs cool.

    As an organisation, the Army (more than the other Services) has institutionalised corruption despite purporting to be an epitome of integrity, morality, professionalism, honour and personal values. For God's sake, follow in deed and not lip-service atleast one sentence from the NDA Prayer :-

    O God, help us to keep ourselves physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight, that in doing our duty to Thee and our country we may keep the honour of the Services untarnished.

    Strengthen us to guard our country from external aggression and internal disorders. Awaken our admiration for honest dealing and clean thinking, and guide us to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong.

    Kindle our hearts with fellowship for our comrades at arms and with loyalty to the men we command. Endow us with the courage which is born of the love of what is noble and which knows no compromise or retreat when truth and right are in peril.

    Grant us new opportunities of service to Thee, to our country and to the men we lead, and ever help us to place such service before self.

    Screw the NDA prayer if it has become irrelevant.

    Compare our Flag-rank officers with those in other Services and enlightenment shall dawn. Black sheep are everywhere - but the Army promotes them to higher ranks to perpetuate the rot.

    While more than half of the 700 million eligible voters of India are illiterate, yet they hold the key to electing a political party to power. Compare the same with the Army which baulks from even considering 360-degree appraisal based on a flawed argument that trained & literate subordinates aren't competent to assess their superiors ! To my mind this would be the single biggest check-an-balance against the runaway moral perversity and ethical corruption that dogs the Army's rank and file today.

    Well that's something for the Generals and Brigadiers to chew on while their misappropriated retinue of administrative staff serves them special rations and subsidised liquor in their establishment-furnished residences fitted with TVs and ACs bought from regimental funds.

  34. Views of Col Shukla reflect sincere concern of who were associated with armed forces in anyway. Armed forces have adopted and cherished bad parts of british legacy. Col had not touched growing discontent and mistrust between commissioned and non-commissioned personnels. Not only Army, but all three sisters are living in fools paradise and think that only commissioned personnels are rulers and non-commissioned are subjects. Anybody can visit barracks of jawans and see their pathetic conditions, a charpai full of bed bugs, a balti & plastic mug, a rope/ donnet wire tied to hang wet towel & underwear and black trunk. What a beautful living condition for 21st century India Soldier (Non-commissione)(sic)? ...if somebody want to see things please visit area of some cantonment where non-commissioned personnels are forced to live....

  35. why go wild at the messenger. See the message of Col Shukla. Is there any element of truth in the message without going into the specifics of Army House? Is there a shred of truth in what he is saying about the lifestyle and expectations of senior officers? Or is it all false? The critics will have their answers.

  36. @ Akash

    Your earlier comment was posted (scroll up and see again) and this one is being posted too. I never hesitate to post adverse comments. Most of them --- yours being just one example --- rant and rave in a manner that discredits the person posting them without my having to do much.

    But I am answering your posts since you raise the question: why do I insist on approving comments before posting them.

    For a long while, Broadsword allowed posting without approving. But then I found people posting obscenities and communal and racist comments. So now I block such comments while still allowing comments like yours that ramble on at length without making much sense.

    As for your questions! Who do you think you are: Arvind Kejriwal's ADC? But just to keep you happy, since you seem to be one of those people who constantly feel victimised, here are a couple of answers.

    I am from the National Defence Academy. And I'm from the 55th course, when the NDA was a real military academy, not a college like it was in your time when the corporals came to tuck you into bed just so that you would feel adequately cared for!

    Next, I have no problem with people saying Jai Hind and Bharat Mata ki Jai. What I have a problem with is unprofessional people believing that saying Bharat Mata ki Jai is a substitute for real soldiering. I would suggest that you focus less on these stylistic issues and more on the substance of soldiering.

    Finally, your question about what I did to change things within the army! Perhaps you should speak to some of the officers who served with me. They would be better judges of what I did or did not do. I'm a votary of 360 degree performance assessment, where an officers' ACR has inputs from his subordinates as well as his superiors. So I'd go with that in my case too.

    Finally, Akash, from the way you write I can tell that you don't do much reading. My advice to you would be to read more. Being a soldier involves more than just physical and professional training. It involves shaping the way you think.

  37. @ Furious Fauji

    I agree with you when you say that the flag rank officers of the air force, and especially the navy, are of a far higher calibre than those of the army.

    That having been said, let me also say that my coursemates who have become two-star generals are of a uniformly high calibre... the best of my course. The common belief that the good guys are left behind and the mediocrities rise to the top is entirely discredited by the example of my course. Here, the good guys have risen to the top.

    But the question that worries me is: will these good guys remain good guys? Or will the system force them to start acting in the spineless and unprincipled manner that characterises so many of our three-star generals. Here again, let me clarify that there are very prominent exceptions at three star rank.

  38. Brig S.K.Mehta,AVSM2 November 2012 at 23:41

    To every ailment there is a diagnosis and there is a cure. But you have picked up on a very trivial ailment,expanded it and given no remedy.The battle readiness of a nation depends on the weaponry it holds and the men who man them.For years since the bofors scandal, nothing has changed except that a nuclear threat has prevented us from going into another war and the outcome of which could be like 1965.The man with the gun is only calculating his pay and pension denied to him.Now that is what needs to be highlighted and not a few orderlies here and there, though i agree with you mostly on this inconsequential topic, I admire your expression, but like NDTV, it has a flavor of pro UPA.You have earned enough TRPs.congrats. My credentials,1962,1971 wars and the construction of the road to Siachen Glacier.Meet me at DGC and i could tell you revelations of the start of militancy in J&k when i was there and perhaps it may help lead you to a proper diagonosis.

  39. shukla sir,

    well, why do not u do armed forces a favour?

    for say next two months, could u just concentrate on the important issues like rank pay case, NFFU, grade pay, OROP which affect faujis financially and status wise and utilise your good communication skills coupled with media power to put across the deliberate delay and demoralising approach that bureaucray, politicians, etc etc have for the fauj. Just do it for two months till the time these issues get resolved. Thereafter u can be back to what u intend to do.. and in these two months, u could have done the Fauj that u seem to be so proud of , a world of good. we will then believe that u are a good fauji and a good journalist. till then , the onus is on you sir..

  40. Greetings Sir...

    Very thought provoking indeed, especially for someone from the olive green.

    And, I am totally convinced that this article brings out the ground realities...


  41. Sir,
    My compliments! Finally, there’s someone who has hit the nail right on the head. The few gentlemen or ladies above either oblivious to the present state of affairs in organisation or are too obsessed with it and chose to be ostriches, at the peril of a bigger institution called Indian state. Instead of reading the article carefully, here people are indulged in nit-picking to suit the content to their pre-conceived notions, even to the extent of shooting the messenger.
    As an Institution Indian Army can hardly be an alien to the social reality. It is as honest or as corrupt as everything else. The difference is striking in form but may be less in degree given the tighter financial and political control.
    Today young officers are very early in their career handed down the mantra of "projection" and the emphasis is on being 'seen', dosen't matter if you can wield a guitar instead of a rifle and can serve the gastronomic desires of the "ladies" and "gentlemen". Every activity is meant to be projected and is carefully stage managed.

    The officers have a career to look forward to and the formations are seen as means to that end. Every subsequent commander comes up with his own KRAs (some as queer as changing salutations and mandatory kitchen gardens, apiary, “organised excursions”....the list is exhaustive), which are nothing but just cosmetic changes.

    And the soldier out there, being better aware now, sees everything, and sometimes questions through the acts of indiscipline as we are witnessing.

    In your article though you seem to have missed the “welfare activities” and the dual chain of command, which Gen Jacob also alluded to in a recent media interaction. We would have loved to read your take on that too.
    And yes I would rather use the phrase 'painted rust' for the organisation. I guess the amount of paint spent in cantonments would be enough to paint the whole surface of earth in rainbow colors.

  42. @ Col Shukla.

    1. Just as I assumed that U havent done anything but quit, U assumed that I don't read much. I read your Blog, though...must change my selection of reading material, I guess coz all it offers is problems and no solutions, a hallmark of better writing.

    2. Like most of the officers, the REAL Academy was when U were cadets, the REAL Army went out of fashion after U retired and the rest of us just went to colleges and learnt how to tie our shoe-laces in NDA/IMA/OTA.
    You guys are th real soldiers, aint it..?? I wish U all had fought the Kargil War as well...That way we would have changed the course of History instead of merely securing our Lost real estate (& Pride) back, right..???
    How I wish U guys had served in the times of Peak-Insurgency in J&K. The problem would have been solved ten years back.
    I'm sad to observe that in spite of my limited reading and your vast knowledge & expertise, U havent been able to shake off the typical cliches of "hamare time pe asli fauj thi, ab to bas mauj hai."

    3. And of course, being a votary of 360 degree appraisal makes you the moral authority on the Army and all its ills.
    It would jus take a bit of google and a little more of reading history of 360-degree appraisal in US Army which first started it in WW-II. It would tell U how effective, objective OR OTHERWISE the system is. Oh.!! But thats the US Army...Not as good as ours (another cliche I am sure u would espouse)

    It works perfect for Fortune-500 companies where they dont HAVE TO OBEY orders unquestioned.

    But then, who am I to tell YOU to "read"... I am just a guy whom the NDA corporal tucked (is that what they called it in your time.??) into bed comfortably....

    I wish U & ur blog well, Sir. Now, that my scholarly skills (or the lack of them) have been highlighted, I must switch to some serious, beneficial reading.


  43. Yeh to Begining hai....the way promotion boards are happening a lot of mediocrity is going to se in IA....where officers from Inf and Arty are having a blast on the cost of cream of officers of other arma and services.

  44. Some observations. Senior leadership is unable to change the mind set even in the face of adverse incidents happening in the units related to leader- soldier relationships.The military units and leadership can retain the traditions but moderate the lavishness, make people from the bottom and middle order participate in deciding what is needed and not what is wanted. Is so much pomp and show needed and at what cost. Reduce the magnitude.Time of so many SOs is wasted in coordinating uncalled for ceremonies, visits,useless get togethers, events. Let junior leadership have breathing time.Stop assigning tree plantations in appointment houses to SOs. Hire a gardener and pay him. Stop freedom fighting and you will have at your hands to address many significant issues.Make thins efficient and transparent and participatory. Learn to respect democratic values of your subordinates. Stop this nautanki.

  45. You hit the nail n the head colonel - fair & square. But this article for sure is going to heckle a few bigwigs who will, by way of clever manipulation or change in policy will continue to reap the ill gotten gains of higher ranks - like a retinue of tradesmen and privileges.

    The COAS should lead by example. But that is the moot question, how many officers actually do?
    If the Army House is to maintain a standard of decorum and is required to host dignitaries, let the Army project a case in proper manner to the MoD and employ proper civilian employees. However, the Army it seems is reluctant to ask for what is rightfully and genuinely their right.

    This case of the Flag Rank officers grossly misusing their privileges is definitely not a one off case. This is prevalent all across the length & breadth of the country , more so in the field formations. Pop into any division, force or corps headquarters in field (Like the one you delivered a lecture in recently) and you will be amazed (or maybe not) to see the hordes of tradesmen and drivers (with vehicles - vehicles that are sourced from battalions fighting insurgency or are deployed to prevent infiltration on the Line of Control/LAC, leaving the battalion stranded to 'manage' on their own) attached to cater for the comforts of a multitude of appointments - COl 'Q', Colonel General Staff, Brigadier General Staff, Brigadier in charge Administration etc. And it is bound to happen. When the General Officer Commanding can have a retinue of combatant soldiers (sourced from combat unit 'actively' engaged in combating insurgency or infiltration) attached to his household, what is stopping the minions mentioned above to make themselves comfortable? Well, if the GOC can have two cooks, two waiters,three sahayaks, six gypsies with drivers and a safaiwala, what difference will it make if the Colonel Administration or the Colonel General Staff also asked for a cook or two vehicles with drivers- combat efficiency of the unit be damned.

    It's called 'बहती गंगा में हाथ धोना '

    What is the net effect?

    Well the combat unit that is supposed to provide these- its efficiency is definitely degraded. If out of the 20 or so cooks authorised to a unit, it sheds 5 then the cook-houses , that are meant to cook three square meals for 120 or more people 365 days a year are surely going to have a tough time, leaving frontline unit to fend for itself. But then, who gives a &*#%$,? Surely not the people who are enjoying these privileges. No Sir . THeir mentality is - मैंनू की फर्क पैंदा है ?

    So it is a fair & square article, which, as I mentioned earlier hits the nail on the head. It will ruffle more than it's share of feathers, but things will not change..........they'll continue to be the way they are. You know that. Alas !

    Anyways colonel, gallant attempt.

    Bravo !

  46. @ Aakash

    Don't take it personally. The good thing about a dialogue is that both the parties are right ! anyways , your smarting at being pooh-poohed at being a less than a tough Fauji is justified, but then, that's the way the oldies would like to brag - that "their times" were tougher, fairer and more disciplined. Maybe so. But I bet you'd do the same (in a perfectly lighter vein I suspect) to your youngsters too. Anyways what the Colonel is trying to bring out here is the rot within, which needs to be aired too heal (of course some medicine also has to be applied, but that's for later)

    @ Baba kaamdev @4 November 2012 16:45

    Astute observations. But what has anyone done about it ? The moment a CO stands up to speak out what's right, it's the end of the road for his career. What does the poor blighter do. Though you're spot on with the unwarranted excess of AWWA activities which lead to disillusionment and disgruntlement for the young officer and soldier alike, who passed out from their respective training academies/centres with dreams in their eyes - dreams of fighting for their country and annihilation of the enemy. Sadly, his "josh & junoon" is (mis)directed towards preparing an officers' mess towards a Ladies' Meet of deciding the floral arrangement for themed AWWA do's . So much for efficient utilisation of the vast human resource we have in the army.

  47. We are a nation of wannabe brown sahibs. The army is merely a reflection of this reality. Of course its colonial history may play a role but as a society we are obsessed with hierarchy, and what better place to practice hierarchy than the armed forces!

    Meanwhile in more egalitarian societies (Israel, US) teenagers/ORs/outsiders develop cutting edge weapons and tactics and are given the opportunity to climb up the ranks. Yes I know there are elements of meritocracy in our system and hierarchical bureaucracies in the West, but that does not change the underlying reality.

  48. This one is for Akash who graces these comments above.

    Akash, whoever you are pal, you have absolutely no standing in the matter and therefore your comments ought NOT to have been published. Alternatively, identify yourself positively while taking thoroughly irrelevant pot-shots at a blog author - there's a COAS Commendation Card for you in there somewhere as a defender of the faith! Blogs are a matter of personal expression of views - visitors read them and move on or counter them with merit. You have done no such thing ! I do wish your tirade had been screened out by the author, what a waste of good fonts !!!

    For others who have questioned Broadsword's stooping polemics vis.a.vis other pressing issues like parity in emoluments etc, I can only retort that we need to set our house in order first and start small - revive / resuscitate and promote a culture of ethics, integrity & honour. These are not stocked in CSDs, don't need a Statement of Case for the MoD to act on; they are free and need to be nurtured and rewarded. Instead of these core values growing substantially as an officer progresses up the ranks, these core values are the first victims of career progression.

    With due apologies to the Navy, as they say the Vice Admiral's vice is the Rear Admiral's rear sums up the perversity of the existing value system in the Army.

    Adios Akash - get your own blog - lets see what can you write about !!!

  49. dear all
    nice to see people write blogs
    my observations
    1 this has been happening from time immemorial.
    2 this is not a news scoop.
    3. babus r eating away money ,at least our gens call it perks and previledges.
    4 we r just another org like any other PSU trying to justify to the country our existence.
    5. all malpractices r known to all senior people and hence r equally party to curtailment of facilities to us all.

  50. What IA needs is a Musharraf and Kayani, in one....look at them. They looked after their Jawans....and NCO's. Even their paramilitary units have more cohesion then our regular army.

  51. One of the problems with our brass is that they are quite schizophrenic (in fact some are prime candidates for the funny farm!!!) : on one hand, they think they are something very special in this country, in fact, God's gift to India, perhaps even left by the "BIRTISH" to sort out the natives; on the other, they always justify the rot within by saying, oh, look at what is happening in the society outside and we cannot be divorced it.
    Please make up sun-and-golf addled minds. Either you are that something special, in which case special privileges are yours - but also, you should be judged by special rules of ethical and moral beghaviour. If you are going to justify bad conduct by comparing to the society at large, well them you are no better and that is how you should be treated and judged.
    Here is a man who is more of a soldier than the lot who is cursing him - at least he is truly loyal to the flag; as opposed to those who are cursing him merely for holding a mirror to the self-serving. The fact is that Ajai Ahukla may be a Colonel, but he is younger than most Generals and senility has yet to set in his case. That is another problem : some bums rise to the top like scum and then think they have achieved Nirvana and have found all the answers to life's problems. I think that is why bum-sucking in the Army is such a paying venture, a la "Sir tussi God ho!!". What makes you think that guy think he is smarter than Ajai? I do not reacll the Army ever conducting IQ (and psychological) tests for Generals, though it is high time they started them.
    Lastly, do look, and this time without any bias, at how other nations have treated their Generals. Russia/Soviets and China have sluaghtered them in numbers; the US has sacked even iconic Generals like Patton and MacArthur, who then died in ignominy. Former Secretary Robert Gates sacked six, including CENTCOM chief Admiral Fallon and ISAF chief McChrystal. Sri Lanka put its former chief in jail. Turkey has locked up just a few hundred of them. In fact, India has treated its Generals with the greatest respect, despite the f---ups like 1962, Kargil, etc, for which no one has been held accountable. It is very easy to blame politicians and bureacrats, but my question is : why did you not do your best and why did you come back alive? After all, countless Indians paid for what sustaining you and the Army? So, just for that, you should given your utmost. In sum : stop bitching and start cleaning your house out.

  52. Dear Ajai,
    Your articles are normally well-researched and well-written, as well as being informative and thought provoking, but this article was deeply disappointing. I thought it was crass – singularly lacking in taste and loyalty – and, may I add – intellectual honesty. There is a grain of truth in every issue that you touch upon, but the sweeping generalizations, exaggerations and illogical conclusions you’ve drawn on flimsy evidence, do your Army service little credit. You’ve obviously cut your umbilical cord with the Army and sound more like a journalist with a little knowledge about the Army, rather than the other way around.
    Let me elaborate: your outright condemnation of both Gen VK Singh and Gen Bikram Singh in the very beginning imparts a negative tone to your whole article. We cannot condemn any Chief, past or serving, just on one action/set of actions. His performance must be viewed holistically and his overall impact on the Army seen, before pronouncing judgement. As far as the current Chief is concerned, I don’t think you are qualified to comment in the definitive manner that you have. "Most new bosses, even sports coaches, are expected to provide a new direction.” Silly comparison and a sillier joke that follows. Sports coaches are invariably changed after a debacle and a new direction may be in order. Army Chiefs, on the other hand, are not ‘supposed’ to invariably provide a new direction. As if the appointment of a new Army Chief is for the express purpose of prompting radical change. It most certainly is not. If Bikram stays out of controversy and leads the Army in a fair, impartial and proffessional manner, then he would have done his job. Not everyone can be a Sundarji or a Bipin Joshi.
    The next three paragraphs on the supposedly ostentatious life-style of the Chief are a body-blow to the Army, coming as it does from an insider. The pomp and ostentation that even junior IAS/IPS officers live in has to be seen to be believed. Indicting the Chief for living in Army House in the manner befitting any Head of an organisation (in India or abroad) is hitting well below the belt.
    Saying that the “recent face-offs…suggest a decline in the ironclad faith that the army jawan has always had….” is hugely misleading. Such incidents have happened on and off in our Army throughout my service and point to a localized lack of leadership, man-management and compassion, rather than an across-the-board drop in disciplinary standards.
    “Lack of intellectual direction” and “intellectual desert” are phrases that you used in casual disdain. Agreed there are no great intellectuals in our Army. But the amount of intellectual activity that our Army does is astounding. No other institution prepares their officers so thoroughly for their next rank/assignment. I’m not sure which fabled intellectual desert you allude to. Overall, Service officers are more intellectually enabled than any other profession in India, where “on the job training” or “experience” doubles up as education.
    Today, politicians and bureaucrats are hell-bent on denigrating the Army. We need our Veterans to support the Defence Services, especially those in influential positions in the media. We have a host of unresolved issues – like the OROP, the 6th Pay Commission inequities, the CDS issue et al, but most importantly; restoring pride and honour to the Defence Forces. I’d gone to South Korea, – and for a Country that has fought one single war in its entire history, they have a wonderful, comprehensive War Museum. Isn’t it shameful that we don’t have a single War Memorial/Museum in India ? See the izzat that the Americans give to their soldiers – in every speech made by Barack or Michelle Obama, they talk about and thank their “men and women in uniform, who sacrifice a lot”. Not a single word is ever mentioned by any Indian Minister/Dignitary/Official about our Forces. I’m ashamed of my Country for this. It doesn’t deserve a dedicated, apolitical, proffessional Army like ours.

  53. @furious fauji....at least let us know your rank and regiment....are you serving or a veteran ? u seem to be one frustrated guy !

  54. Q1) shukla, why did you "quit" the Armed Forces?? or were you kicked out?? i dont want this comment to be published or rather i know that it wont be.........but anyways the message is for u.

    now what do u actually want???
    should the chief of one of the largest and strongest armies in the world live like a saint in an ashram?? or you mean to say the he doesnt even deserve the bare minimum. grant him something dude. he is afterall the CHIEF.

    more than being critical about things i think u r jelous......

    am sure u were one of those who always would have got the complete course screwed in whichever academy u were in...
    but do think it over before u sleep tonight....is whatever u r doin and writing justified?? or u are betraying the strong force which even today stands guard on the frontiers selflessly and people like you write crap and not very encouraging articles projectin the complete force as bad in the light of the civil stream: where u also belong today and lowerin the morale of the other serving and retired personnel who still have the sense and feelin of patriotism,,,,,,, and pride of being a soldier.

    sorry dude u got to be a little positive in life.......

  55. Dear Col Ajai Shukla,
    I know their is truth and substance
    in your article, but it also reeks of commercial and journalistic gains.
    Let us not get into this kind of diatribe specifically about the only surviving institution with some semblence of propriety in our
    great Nation. Let us all do our little bits in our own little ways
    and fade away as we all should one day.
    No hard feelings, but to be fair, You have not done justice to the better aspects of the Services. We need to motivate youngsters to join
    the Forces, we need to follow our value systems, we need to restore the respect and faith of the Services in the eyes of our citizens. Be a doer AND NOT CRIBBERS.
    Hum honge kaamyaab ek din...
    just keep the faith old boy!!

  56. Apropos Army Fan's comments, about ascertaining Furious Fauji's anonymous identity; this is another example of a perfectly inane and nonsensical comment - the author (of the comment) has no take on the blog or comments therein but is keen to uncover authors of 'treasonist' comments. He certainly IS a serving fauji - it shows in the expanse and scope of his interests and views, I am NOT one - not any more.

    And Brigadier Nair's comment, amongst others, that "the pomp and ostentation that even junior IAS/IPS officers live in has to be seen to be believed," unambiguously conveys a call for matching the civil servants and the political class in the scale and scope of abuse of perks and privilege of office. Well Brigadier Nair, we have to clean up our house first! we owe it to the country which pays us in cash (pay) and kind (perquisites). Unless you feel otherwise, which I think you do, as do a number of others commenting here, that non-entitled perks of office are cherries for the plucking on a whim.

    As far as matters of official parity, denial of perks and degenerative protocol are concerned with respect to the bureaucracy - why leave it to Ajai Shukla to take up cudgels alone? How may Generals or Brigadiers resigned (or threatened to resign)in protest? Did you? On the contrary other than the Lieutenant Colonel & Pay Band III concession, it's the Generals who helped themselves to the biggest pay raise vis.a.vis any other rank. It's the Generals (Army Commanders and Chiefs) who manage to squeeze out outrageous 'Disability Benefits' from conniving Pre-Retirement Medical Boards. Some example that flag-rank officers are setting for others to emulate - in your time and now.

    Your comments are hollow, sir, and lack any merit that the issue deserves.

  57. I agree with Furious Fauji entirely and seek to publicise the opinion of Lt Gen (Retd) H S Panag in the context of his disagreement with both sets of views, the elaborate comments by Brig (Retd) Ajit Nair as well as the detailed rebuttal by Col (Retd) Ajai Shukla in the matter at http://ajitstraightfromtheshoulder.blogspot.in/2012/11/ajai-shukla-replies-to-my-response.html#comment-form

    Gen Panag,who was renowned for his uprightness, and often inconvenient adherence to a professional ethos and soldierly conduct, admits as much at http://rwac48.wordpress.com/2012/11/16/15/ that :-

    'IA Officer Corps is suffering from crisis of character. The problems of the IA Officer Corps are systemic and cultural in nature primarily due to poor leadership development and lack of application/enforcement of Military Ethics. In this environment while senior officers are seen as the the main violators of ethics,the juniors are virtually renegades in waiting. After all they rise to be senior officers.'

    Need anyone say more ?

  58. We are still in denial that there is a problem. As far as not washing dirty linen in public, that stage is long past. Even the Tatra case is perceived as an army scam where serving army personnel benefitted. The time has come for the Indian Army to not only do the “right thing” but also to be seen to be doing the “right thing”.
    The Indian Army is trying to be more “British” than the “British Army” by not wanting to discuss “internal” issues in public. The British Army, in the meanwhile, has evolved not only in tactics & technology but also in the way it projects itself to the nation. Why else is it that even in this day and age, they do not face a shortage of qualified men and women ready to join the officer cadre while we have a shortage of about 15,000 officers?
    Even if we want, the army is no longer isolated from the civilian population of this country. Thirty years ago in IMA there was just one demo on what was euphemistically called “aid to civil authorities” as that was not considered the army’s primary task. Today the army is largely involved only in “aid to civil authorities” which puts them in the spotlight on a daily basis and usually for all the wrong reasons. If anything, CI ops demands higher ethical and moral standards in addition to physical courage from the junior leadership than what is needed in conventional ops.
    In the US an Indian born neuro-sciences major from Johns Hopkins joins the armoured corps to serve on the frontline in Iraq. A Wall Street executive quits his job to serve in Iraq. The US Vice President’s son does a tour of duty in Iraq. The British Army has Prince Harry flying Apaches in Afghanistan. In India we do not have the same level of enthusiasm or patriotism (?) among the qualified young people to join the army.
    I think the army needs to send a clear message to the nation that in this age of scams and corruption here is one shining example of how to do things right. That the Chetwode motto ”…. Your own ease, comfort and safety come last, always and every time" is not just something inscribed in the academy but something we live by.

    Old Crow

  59. While debating over the issue we have forgotten what Brig Nair’s objections were! In short he had objected to Ajay’s comments on:-

    • The sweeping generalizations, exaggerations and illogical conclusions drawn by Ajay.
    • Condemning Gen VK Singh to be politically ambitious and being divisive
    • Ostentatious life-style of Army Chiefs
    • Concluding that there is a decline in the ironclad faith of the army jawan in his superiors from stray incidents.
    • Equating number of causalities sustained with valour displayed by an Army

    What should be our response as veterans to someone who denigrates or condemns our Army? Should we say “Ajay well done you have proved to the world how useless we are” Or shall we ask him to shut up? We know what the problems are but this is not the solution.

    To give a “twist to the tail” I would like to argue that the present problem that we face is due to one singular fact. We have not failed often enough! Are you surprised? The country simply does not know what will happen when an entire Army fails to deliver. That is why we get no respect. We are taken for granted. The politicians, bureaucrats and the police thinks that only they have any right to be corrupt. We should be able to show them that we can be a hundred times more corrupt than they can ever be. Footloose soldiers who kill at will, wreak havoc where ever they go, loot & plunder, demand and receive protection money and run a parallel government. What do you think will happen? Suddenly everyone will start praying for protection. They will say the Indian Army is the greatest. And we should say no, you are wrong, we are the worst of the lot, and we will remain so until you realise what were you missing.!

    We can do a war gaming simulation to perfect this plan. What do you think are the chances of success?

  60. Dear Sir

    Just happened to visit your blog by chance for the first time today. Didn't know about it. Went through your article and all comments, including the very adverse, which you certainly don't deserve (I know you as a professional soldier and a thorough gentleman). I may or may not agree with all that you have written but there is certainly a need for our Senior Commanders to introspect (on the direction that our Great Armed Forces are headed to) and ensure course correction before it's too late.

    Well, if things go wrong in any organisation, the organisation has to sort them out, rather than sleep over them (let my time pass kind of attitude) and all of us who have been or are still a part of this great organisation, know that all is not well. Enough has already been in the press/media. I would rather take a pragamtic view of all such reports/articles. Criticism should be accepted and taken positively for improvements to take place. I am reminded of an old saying - 'Nindak niyare raakhiye, aangan kuti chhaway. Bin paani bin saabuna, nirmal kare suhaaye'.

    However, I feel things have still not reached a point of no return. As they say -Night is darkest before dawn. There are still many good men (not only A few good men) in the Armed Forces and they would steer it clear. Only their WILL has to be strong. Faith and Hope should never be abandoned.

    At the end I would say that your article is thought provoking (as is evident from large number of comments, both 'for' and 'against'). Wake up calls are needed from time to time. Keep writing.

    Ram Avtar

  61. we dont want the countrys chief to become holier than COW!! we all know what holy men do...@ asaram bapu

  62. Owing to understandable restrictions, this comment has to be anonymous..
    I am a third generation officer - my grandfather & father have served in combat arms of two sister services in the 1971 war. I was brought up in a home where the Indian Armed Forces were held in such high esteem.
    Just this morning, I was involved in organising a garish display of "fake" prowess - to impress a senior officer. As though that wasn't sad enough, I am sorry to report that the senior officer was duly impressed. My immediate superior & his superior are now very likely to attend "prestigious" courses of instruction - thereby guaranteeing their next ranks.
    Not to sound like a pessimist sir, but I think the rot has now reached & surpassed the level where it can be corrected. There is NO "generation" left which as been through the straight & narrow. Our entire hierarchy has used the "fast track" to get where they are.
    Sorry to have to say this.
    Best regards and apologies for being anonymous.

  63. @ Anonymous 20:48

    Got to admit that the trends are worrisome. But, as long as there are officers like you who can see the trends and who are inclined to fix them, there is hope. Don't give up... live by your values.

  64. Dear Akash,
    Thank you for putting Col Shuklas blog in the correct prospective. I was never in the Army (regrettably) but I am a son of a retired Brig. My dad was from the 17 Para Field regiment and has faught all three wars. His IC number is 4841 which would indicate his seniority, I as a civilian feel ashamed at the way Col Shukla take pot shots at the army. I think he is a disgruntled ex -officer who may have got superseded a few times and only became a Col because of time bound promotion.
    I am proud of our Army. God bless them and their families. These guys make the extreme sacrifice because of which we civilians lead our lives. Thank you Armed forces. I have learnt a lot from the army while my dad was in service. Thank you for every thing.

  65. Raking up an old thread - apologies

    The comment by anonymous 4 August 2014 at 20:48 was intriguing while being hilarious. It does bring out the sad reality of our army. Talent and hard work aside, unless one does something different (like beautifying the cantonment or making labour saving devices by blowing away regimental funds) one cannot be graded 'outstanding' in the Annual Appraisals and there remains not a chance in hell of him making to the next higher ranks./ This leads to the officers of all seniority stooping to new levels of low in garnering that elusive '9 Pointer' ! This includes all the dirty tricks in the trade - sycophancy and being a yes man are the barer basics, some surpass themselves in setting new lows in moral degradation....expensive gifts for the immediate senior and his family (funded by the regimental and 'black' funds of course'), extremely hyper active PR (knowing your immediate boss's mom in law's birthday is the norm I guess !), learning the boss's interest and then becoming a self professed fan of whatever is the boss's hobby - be it golf, yoga or the share market. The same was espoused by a General in a public forum none too recently.

    Alas, in the pursuit of happiness by most officers (brought about by an 'outstanding' report and ascension to the next higher rank) professionalism , training (for the next war , remember?) and welfare of troops under you command, takes a back seat. It comes somewhere between remembering to clip your nails on a sunday and getting your car serviced, not necessarily in the same order !

    So, colonel , you are right in stating that the rot has set in in the army and the rot is indeed systemic and deep. And what's sad is that we are teaching the same things to our jawans and young officers who instead of learning more about their profession and sweating it out with the men (on a LRP or on the cross country route) are learning how to chart their career progression through such 'get rich quick' schemes. We are digging a hole for ourselves, and we'll sure fall into it when the next war happens and everything unravels. Until then, it is business as usual - in keeping the boss and his wife happy and laughing all the way to the next rank .


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