‘Prime Minister had assured his wife that General Bikram Singh would be the next COAS’- An IAS officer’s Claim (See at the end)
Unwarranted Intervention in Military’s internal Domain
Personal Note; The author spent the year 1976 at New Delhi’s prestigious National Defense College, the highest level institution on security threats and strategic affairs, composed of majority of Indian and foreign brigadier level military level officers from all branches and some civil services officers too.
The author hosted General Vaidya’s first ever visit abroad in 1983, when posted as ambassador at Bucharest (Romania). He also hosted two NDC delegations at Ankara in 1990s. Taking advantage of the visits and his NDC background, for the first time he established relations with Turkey’s powerful Chiefs of General Staff and organized the visit of General Ismail Hakki Karadayi to India in 1996, thus initiating military level exchanges and interaction with a powerful NATO member.
The author regularly attends NDC annual dinners for its Alumni and has maintained close contacts with his course mates, with many reaching the level of Lt Generals. The author has studied, lectured all over India and written extensively for foreign and Indian media on the role of military in politics, especially in Turkey and Pakistan.
The author began his career in early1960s as Assistant Press Attaché in Cairo, after learning Arabic and has been associated with the media for half a century. He spent more time in media offices and with journalists in his 35 years as a diplomat, half as head of mission and saw the transformation of media unfortunately into a communication technique from the noble calling it once was. Since retiring in 1996, he stayed abroad as a freelance journalist till 2007.
After writing a few dozen articles for print media in India, Turkey, Dubai and Beirut, he has written over 400 in-depth online articles mostly on international affairs, which have been translated into a dozen major languages of the world and copied by scores of websites/blogs including think tanks and universities around the world commented and quoted in books and articles by among others Frederick Starr, Graham Fuller, Tom Engelhardt and William Engdahl etc.
Try some samples;
Led by military-industry complex, energy and other corporate interests under corrupt bankers and financiers, US media has been reduced to disseminating corporate handouts. In India too corporate owned media and trivia and celebrity obsessed TV channels with Radii tapes compromised, shrieking, ignorance based arrogant anchors keep spewing official and corporate viewpoint. The discussions on the Gen VK Singh by officially approved IAS and IFS officers has been biased, pathetic and slavish to earn brownie points, specially by a former spokesman, who can hardly speak coherently.
The vigorous one day fast by Anna Hazare at Jantar Mantar on Sunday, 26 March was boycotted by most TV channels, at the behest of the establishment and corporate owners. Only the brave and challenging statements and barbs by Bhiwani district origin Arvind Kejriwal and the unhealthy and impotent rage in Indian Parliament against him brought the fast held to highlight the crushing murders of whistleblowers like IPS officer Narendra Kumar in Morena back to channels and media (Gen VK Singh’s family also comes from Bhiwani district, where too yours obediently was born and had early education. Haryana has provided a huge number of sturdy and upright military men and officers.)
The brazenly corrupt and arrogant ruling classes in India composed of politicians, corporate fat cats, conniving officials and hangers on have reduced the Indian republic to a laughing stock, almost a Banana Republic. Whether it is corruption with almost daily revelations of mega scams involving politicians or anything else the political class will neither introspect nor come out with correctives. Instead it is heavily trying to squelch even criticism of its crimes. The whole political class is up in arms in the Parliament making scenes unworthy of peoples’ representatives. Whether the LokPal act will resolve and curb corruption is another matter, but the political class, after having dillydallied on it for almost half century, continues to do so. The tyranny of the elected and electable will continue (P.S; Manish Tewari, MP, should read Greek history to comprehend the word Tyranny, which fits the current ruling political dynasties across the political spectrum)
There seems no attempt to be serious about a decent Ombudsman bill. One Member of Parliament had honestly claimed that they do not want to pass a bill which will consign many of them to jails.
India is a feudal polity in the grip of political feudal barons like the state leaders and corporate barons who have acquired spectrum, oil, gas and other resources of the people for nothing.
Even the Egyptians, as lazy as Indians, have rebelled against tyranny and loot by the rulers but not Indians. They have made sacrifices and continue to do so, against US machinations to highjack a revolt against Washington’s puppet of four decades Hosni Mubarak. India is unlikely to have a revolution and hence no equality before law or the rule of law.
Everyone knows that fat contracts for equipment, especially for the military are used to collect commissions for fighting elections and amassing huge wealth for lavish lifestyle of the ruling class, apart from daily Maratha rule style extorted contributions like Chauth and Sirdeshmuki. Like the most Indian rulers in history, the current ones hardly provide any protection from outsiders, say against the 26/11 rape. The government is still discussing details of the publicly televised 3 day rape of Mumbai with Pakistanis. Yes, security of the political class has been further augmented and ministers like Vilasrao Deshmukhand R.R Patil are back into saddles of power.
The revelations of a bribery attempt of an honest Army chief Gen Vijay Kumar Singh shows that the armed forces have been infected with the cancer of corruption, cronyism, caste and religious virus.
In the wake of revelations of corruption within the Army i.e. Gen V.K. Singh's allegations that he was offered a bribe of Rs. 14 core by a lobbyist, Red Lt Gen Tejinder Singh, the former Army Chief, Shankar Roy Chowdhury, said on Monday, 27 March that attention should not be restricted to the Army alone. “Other quarters,” including the Ministry of Defense, should also be examined.
“Why focus attention particularly on the Army? The Army has very little scope for corruption as it has a limited role in procurement. The whole process of procurement, where these alleged payments change hands, takes place in the Ministry of Defense,” Gen. Roy Chowdhury, who served as the Army Chief between November 1994 and September 1997, told The Hindu.
Asked about Gen. Singh’s assertion that the row over his age was “a manufactured controversy,” Gen. Roy Chowdhury said although it was “all speculation,” there were many who still believed it to be so.
“When the present Chief took over the office, he did say he was seriously going to clean up the system. There are many linkages outside the system as well. May be this could be a reaction to that…But this is all speculation,” he said.
Gen. Roy Chowdhury said Gen. Singh could be facing conflict “as he pushes against these outside agencies” in a bid to clean up the system.
Referring to the current controversy, Gen. Roy Chowdhury said a person's refusal to accepting bribe showed that “everyone is not corrupt and the whole system cannot be subverted.”
Below is a perceptive and courageous article by M.G. Devasahayam, a retired IAS officer, who had served in the Indian army before he joined the civil service. So he is an insider from both the words.
The public must insist on a Supreme Court monitored inquiry under a senior judge since the whole episode concerning Gen Singh vitally affects the defense of India and its sovereignty and security.
Former army chief J Singh worked out the plans
to make way for Bikram Singh to take over
by M G Devasahayam
First published in The Weekend Leader
As is well known, bureaucracy is an organization of non-elected officials of a government or organizations who are rule-bound and function under institutional norms and standards. Adhocracy operates in opposite fashion and cater more to individual or group agenda rather than functioning under institutional norms and standards.
In the last few years, Indian Administrative Service, the bulwark of India’s bureaucracy, has been mutating itself into an agenda-led adhocracy. This ‘liberalization’ agenda, co-promoted by Government, Multi-National Corporations and India’s Corporate Sector, include 100 percent FDI by real-estate; land-grab license for SEZ; surrendering tribal forests to mining giants; billions worth of nuclear bonanza and feeble civil liabilities for energy behemoths; ramming GM-cotton and food down people’s throat; mortgaging India’s farming to US interests through ‘Knowledge Initiative in Agriculture’ and ‘Agriculture Cooperation and Food Security’ MoUs; globalizing retail trade and grand entry of foreign universities into India!
This agenda is in vast variance with the ‘growth aspiration’ the country started with at independence. In the vision of the Father of the Nation, Independent India would be suigeneris, a society unlike any other, in a class of its own.
Gandhi’s India would not go for gigantic, FDI-funded development projects and large-scale industry and mining, typical of market-led growth under capitalism. Instead, India would pursue an equitable, participatory, small-is-beautiful, need-based, inclusive, balanced development while conserving nature and livelihoods. It is to nurture this socio-economic ethos that IAS was established and covenanted in the constitution.
The present-day neo-liberal agenda is just the opposite, seeking an India of market-making MNCs, millionaires and billionaires, a middle class of 300 million providing that market and the rest of 800 million Indians surviving as barely literate, malnourished multitude. This agenda is being driven by a new breed of adhocracy within the IAS that has come about through inbreeding and rank favoritism.
Ever since UPA government under Man Mohan Singh assumed power (2004) two kinds of adhocracy have been shaping up. One was born of the ‘clan-within-clan’ inbreeding being practiced by a ‘linguistic-parochial’ group that at one point of time occupied almost every top-job in Delhi’s corridors of power.
The other is the ‘loyalist-core’ put together to implement the neo-liberal agenda. With the active participation of PMO patriarchs, spread of ‘clan-within-clan’ adhocracy was fast and furious capturing several key positions of ‘might and money’. And barring honorable exceptions, other coveted positions went to agenda-men anointed by the ‘Moneyed and the Mighty’.
Bureaucracy was meant to administer through laid down rules. The ICS was called the steel frame, precisely for this reason. ICS men viewed any deviation from the rules as a misdemeanor. Its successor, the IAS endeavored to keep up the standards. Though there were hiccups, the bureaucratic system by and large ensured that men/women with merit were not denied their due place in promotions and postings.
Adhocracy on the other hand is being nurtured through blatant violation of processes and procedures to ensure that the top positions of Government, Joint Secretaries, Additional Secretaries and Secretaries, are held only by the clansmen and their agenda-abiding loyalists. Such adhocracy, which is antonymous to rule-bound bureaucracy, has substantially skewed and compromised the decision making process and standards. The result is for all to see; policy failure in almost all fronts, suffocating corruption and near total collapse of governance.
As if by intent, adhocracy seem to have permeated the Army Headquarters also as it did in the civil citadel. Sometime in 2005, out of the blue, the then Chief of the Army Staff (General JJ Singh) initiated the unique ‘look down policy’ to determine the ‘line of succession’ to the top position in the Army.
He was not looking for immediate succession but was looking deep-down to the year 2012 and found one favorite - Brigadier Bikram Singh. The Chief also realized that events and dates relating to the then Major General VK Singh, who was sure shot to become Army Chief in 2010, needed to be manipulated if Bikram Singh was to succeed him in 2012!
Once this sub-agendum was set, things started moving. Someone in the MS Branch ‘discovered’ VK Singh’s UPSC application form mentioning 1950 as his year of birth and this was the ‘brahmastra’ to be used to truncate and restrict VK Singh’s tenure as the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) to a two year period, so that the passage could be cleared for Bikram Singh to take over in May 2012. The massive documentary proof establishing 1951 as General’s YoB was ignored. A dismal charade of seeking ‘acceptance’ of 1950 from VK Singh as his YoB was played out.
But there were more hurdles. At that point of time, this favorite was not a front-runner as there were other officers ahead of him, who needed to be ‘eliminated’ at the COAS’s level itself with a bit of deft maneuvering. A list was prepared, nick-named ‘Op MOSES’ which implied that the Chief would part the waters like in the ‘Ten Commandments’ for Bikram Singh to smoothly walk through! Like a family tree in reverse, Op MOSES listed few potential threats - Brigadiers and Major Generals of higher caliber - who were dealt with and pushed out one by one either through supersession and non-empanelment! For this purpose even ‘records of service’ were tinkered and tampered with and some even made to disappear.
The fallout of this crude manipulation indulged in by the military adhocracy was the sordid age-row of VK Singh that has rocked the nation. The actual DoB is a matter of record as rightly observed by the Supreme Court. But what is of concern is the manner in which the controversy was first stoked, then fanned and finally, brought into play. This calls for thorough investigation.
This is all the more urgent because it is alleged that TKA Nair, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister was behind this brazen maneuvering. Well before the age controversy came out in the open, Nair is reported to have told his confidants that VK Singh had to go in May 2012 because the ‘Prime Minister had assured his wife that General Bikram Singh would be the next COAS’. Incidentally this gentleman was the chief mentor of the civil service adhocracy!
We have seen the neo-liberal agenda for creating and nurturing the civil adhocracy. But what is the agenda for the military adhocracy? This begs the question. But corruption and carpet bagging could be a possible answer. It is believed that there are IB reports about massive kick-backs in the still-born Eurocopter deal and a top Army brass has reportedly transferred 22 million Euros (Rs. 145 crores) to his relative in Paris through hawala post. But unfortunately for him the deal fell through and he had the consternation of returning the moolah! As if to compensate, this man was rewarded with a coveted civil position with powers to award thousands of crores worth of construction contracts! Now, with huge weapon/equipment purchase deals either being processed or pending in the Army HQ a pliable adhocracy is needed to serve the MNC agenda.
With the state turning into anon-functioning kleptocracy, corruption is the common denominator between civil and military adhocracy. Of late we have seen several cases of swindling and misappropriation in which General Officers have been court-martialed and dismissed from service. Many more must be lying buried.
Sensing danger the civil-military adhocracy has combined to hound out General VK Singh who does not fit into the adhocracy mould. Bulk of the media including ‘reputed’ scribes and defense analysts partnered with the kleptocrats in this despicable task, which indeed is the real tragedy!
(M.G. Devasahayam is a retired IAS officer, and had taken part in the Indo-Pak War of 1965 and counterinsurgency operations in Nagaland. The views expressed in the above article are based on information from his sources in the defence establishment.)