Sunday, 10 July 2016

Burhan Wani Paradox: Civil Military Disconnect Under Modi Blunts India's Counter Terrorism War

Counterterrorism and Counterinsurgency are the two ongoing wars that the Indian Army fights. Islamist, Maoist and other Insurgencies are actively funded, aided and subconventional, or non-state fighters used for plausible denial,  trained by both Pakistan and China, against India. Although a conventional Military, the legacy Colonial structure of Police, Intelligence and a corrupt and incompetent, self serving Bureaucracy, has meant the subcontracting of Internal Security duties to the Army, for the most part except the Maoist Insurgency. The cadre based Bureaucracy, generalist and mediocre, have assumed the role of door keepers to politicians. Both with neither the competence nor, the experience, to run a nation's internal, and external Security function. The colonial dysfunction of Indian Military is further aggravated by its orphan status, where its Supreme Commander is not the Prime Minister of India, but a vestigial President. Essentially a replacement for the symbolic head of British Monarchy in the Viceroy Governor General of India that continued till India declared itself a Republic in 1950. Thereafter a placeholder for Monarch that changed to President of India, and his powers assumed by the Cabinet of the Union.The Commander-in-ChiefIndia was the supreme commander of the British Indian Army based at General Headquarters, India, and liaised with the civilian Governor-General of India

Following the Partition of India in 1947, and the creation of the independent dominion of India. It was briefly replaced by the Supreme Commander of India, before the role was abolished in November 1948. Subsequently, the role of Commander-in-Chief was merged into the offices of the Governors-General of India, before becoming part of the office of President of India from 1950. Prior to independence, the official residence was the Flagstaff House, which later became the residence of the first Prime Minister of India Nehru; who instead of locating his Office at President's Estate or Rashtrapati Bhawan, chose Teen Murti House. In converting Teen Murti House into what is now a museum, Nehru usurped the Office of the Supreme Commander of the Army. 

Nehru, was born into Congress palace intrigue and his Communist leanings made him trust men of questionable integrity, as key implementation bureaucracy. The Sarkari License Raj that yet ails Indian Economy, Foreign Policy and Manufacturing, besides of a plethora of associated systemic dysfunctions, including Police and Intelligence functions are a product of this legacy. It is here that Nehru's distrust of the Indian Army laid the poison seeds of India's continuing Civil Military Disconnect, a malaise that continues 6 decades on. Even after Nehru was shown to lack leadership, ending in the 1962 humiliation of India, the corrupt colonial bureaucracy continued, to consolidate this usurped power. 

From 1965 to Kargil, perhaps with the honourable exception of 1971, where Field Marshal Manekshaw, stood up to Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, Military Reform is a can pushed down the road by successive generation of Politician, Bureaucrat, and sycophant Military brass. The current Chief of Army Staff, appointed under controversial circumstances by the current BJP Neta-Babu Kleptocracy, continues in this tradition of spineless obedience. The Army Chief has forsaken,  the interests of men under his command, the modernisation of the Army, as well as redressal of serious anomalies, in degraded equivalence in Rank, Status, Pay,  and Pension, for the Military.

Enter the majority BJP Government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, voted into power with aplomb, great hope and aspiration, by the citizens of the Indian Republic. 2 years on there has been no movement on Military, Police or Intelligence Reform. To stick to Military Reform for the sake of this story, one must examine firstly examine the definition of the role and duties, of the Military in India. Its duties, and attendant rights. Flowing from that fundamental definition, establish its place among the Government of India matrix. The status of uniformed military, its pay, benefits and pension in accordance with the hardship and privation of the function it executes in the larger Government employee matrix. After this comes the conundrum of the structure of the Defence Bureaucracy, given its steady kingdom building, it has both encroached,  and imposed a non function,  generalist hegemony, employing Defence Finance, Procurement, and Manufacturing, to subvert the fighting arms, and their requirements.

The Narendra Modi report card on Defence Reform is of clear failure. From Pension Reform floundering in diluted One Rank One Pension (OROP) promises to Military Veterans, to the blindly unfair recommendations of the 7th Pay Commission,  without Military input on its committee, there is a sense of palpable anger at Defence mismanagement. The Bureaucracy rules the roost without accountability or competence and failure has no consequence under both the Modi PMO,  or Arun Jaitley, and Manohar Parrikar, as Defence Ministers! 

Make in India is a rancid old socialist wine earlier known as import substitution, sold to the Military. A phenomenon that cheapens soldiers lives, degrades defence preparedness, and destroys the righteous morale of the fighting man. From Jointness of the Armed Forces, to Special Forces Command, reorganisation of Military Intelligence, and Cyber Warfare, the Narendra Modi record is pathetic to say the least. In the classic guns vs butter, this BJP Government has abdicated its Internal,  and External Security mandate, mired in jingoistic rhetoric without teeth or method.

Burhan Wani killing and subsequent turbulence in Kashmir is a good example of the orphan state of Indian Military, as Modi does photo opportunities in Africa, and the Home Minister, Rajnath Singh prepares to go to America for a junket. The Defence Minister, far from praising the Indian Army psychological win in the counterinsurgency and counterterrorism war; the only war fought currently by the Indian Army, remains mute and incommunicado. Same Modi, Amit Shah, Arun Jaitley and RSS Ideologue,  turned BJP Politician, Ram Madhav, who besmirched the Indian Army and RR, in Machhil, are silent in praise for Indian Army for taking down Burhan Wani. The Home Minister is content to subcontract his Internal Security mandate to the Army, as long as someone else,  does the dying and fighting. The morale of the Army Officer and Soldier, his privation from family, inability to send his children to equal schools, housing and social status, all lead to malcontent and disaffection. The entire raison d' etre of the Military and its position within Government must be reexamined in the Republic. Its seat in Lutyens Delhi, a memorial to its martyrs, and facilities for men in uniform, are all in substandard shape.

The SC AFSPA strictures on the Army, doing the Home Ministry's  Internal Security job in Kashmir, and North Eas, t are yet another example of India's Civil Military Disconnect. Armchair jurists, incompetent Government Counsel, and bureaucratic stupidity, on AFSPA have seen the Army, hold the can every time the music stops in the abdication of Internal Security by Politicians and Babu musical chairs. Without legal cover, the Army should refuse to do the Neta-Babudom's dirty work in insurgency. The inability of General Suhag to protect RR in Machhil, from election populism of Narendra Modi, is another such example, which shows the current moral degradation of the Military by Politician, resulting in Civil Military disquiet.

Subsequent Army Chief's, with the exception of General VK Singh, who shut the door in Chidambaram's face on fighting in the Maoist Insurgency, are prone to accept any tasks given to them while wagging their tails, including current General Suhag. The Army is enmeshed in Internal Security, Disaster Relief, Environmental Mitigation, Law & Order, so much so that,  Training, R&R, War Exercises, are all suffering. To add insult to injury, both OROP and 7th Pay Commission have wronged the soldier. The Army Chief is neither seen nor heard. That is not Military leadership but pulling tenure in hope of a gubernatorial assignment, an unfortunate saga for the men he pretends to command.

India is under grave threat and the BJP leadership has largely been found wanting, for its excessive reliance on inertial babudom, unwilling and unable to bring Administrative Reform. The change, governance, and reform,  promised by the BJP, led by Narendra Modi are proving the election lie, of a wily Politician. All well-meaning Citizens must shame the BJP Government and keep it honest. We are a Republic,  after all and not some cult or Dynasty's slaves. The function of Democracy was seen by the Nehru Gandhi Kleptocracy, and if BJP does not perform, it too must be thrown out in the rubbish heap of history,  full of mediocre debris. Nation Building must continue, personalities and cults are dispensable. Jai Hind!




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