Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Three Star Discontent: Lt Gen PC Bhardwaj versus Lt Gen PC Katoch

Lieutenant General Prabodh Chandra Bharadwaj (see photo, left) is a name you've probably seen a lot in the press lately. Well for those who haven't been paying attention (or couldn't care less, as could well and justifiably be the case!), he's the general who recently took over as General Officer Commanding-in-Chief (GOC-in-C) of the Army's Udhampur-headquartered Northern Command -- the command vacated by Lt Gen HS Panag after he was shunted out to Lucknow to head the Central Command.

Well anyway, Gen Bhardwaj is in the centre of a sticky HR mess in the Army's most sensitive command. After commanding 14 Corps in Leh, he took over as Northern Commander on March 1 this year, but he's been commanding without his crucial Chief of Staff, Lt Gen Prakash Chand Katoch (see photo, right), an Uttam Yudh Seva Medal awardee for Kargil. Katoch has proceeded on 90 days leave because he refuses to serve under Gen Bhardwaj -- a junior officer, 172 places below Katoch in the ladder of Army seniority. Gen Katoch is certain to be accomodated at Army Headquarters in Delhi very shortly as Director General Information Services -- such is the fever-pitch of angst, while Lt Gen JS Lidder will fill Katoch's position. But here's the glitch -- even Lidder is senior to Bhardwaj, but his relations with the Army top brass are not quite as healthy as Katoch's. You see what I mean? The incidence of such situtations has increased over the last ten-odd years.

A lot of officers now live in a constant state of equivocation about whether they'll have to serve under their juniors in the future. Remember the whole Lt Gen Raj Kadyan fiasco, where he was forced to serve under a junior at the Eastern Command. It's no longer a singular case. A lot of people are ascribing these skewed conditions -- where juniors are allowed to command their seniors -- as a result of postings being shuffled at the whim of the Army top brass, with little or no interference from the Defence Ministry. We saw how the Panag drama unfolded. There still hasn't been a satisfactory response about why he was given marching orders after just a year in Udhampur.

Even Defence Minister AK Antony was chuffed enough by the circumstances of the last few months to go off on a tangent about "fair and transparent promotion boards" while addressing the IAF Commanders' Conference in the Capital on Monday morning

On a final note, and for information's sake, Gen Bhardwaj himself is no stranger to media attention. After serving as GOC Delhi Area, made it to the three-star rank on his second attempt. After promotion to Lt Gen, he was immediately posted to command the sensitive Leh-based 14 Corps. Outlook magazine ran a piece last year about the "Rs 5,000 crore" high altitude ration scam which took place when he was Corps commander. The magazine wondered how Bhardwaj could be posted to such a sensitive corps on promotion when he was first denied that very promotion.

13 comments :

Anonymous said...

have heard a lot of muck about bharadwaj. especially when he was goc delhi area. how in hell did he make it army commander. just goes to prove that most of the crooked ones make it to the top. i hope he's not in the reckoning for chief? oh sorry, that's vk singh!

Anonymous said...

My opinion is seniority doesn't come from the number of years but from the intellect. If he really is worth for the position then the integrity of Prakash chand is questionable other wise he has a point in resisting

sniperz11 said...

Even Patton served under Ike, his junior by quite a few notches, even by Rank.

Thats not the issue here... the question that we should be asking is why there are so many skeletons in the Promotion closet. This isn't a solely Army issue; its happened across services.

But why is the Army doing it the most? Corruption and lies of this magnitude at the top levels is concerning, especially if it puts the lives of the soldiers in the hands of officers who may not be the best to preserve them or gain victory - We need more Sundarjis and Pattons, not Andersons and Fredendhalls.

If Gen. Bhardwaj got to his present position due to exceptional talent, great! But if he was promoted inspite of ineptness, I'm scared.

Anonymous said...

Whatever guys, but both are PCs....all said and done!!

Not just their initials but also "Purane Chutiye"

Anonymous said...

Once you pick up the rank of Lt Gen in General cadre you are lined up to become army commander when vacancy for the appointment occurs and you have two years of residual service.The question of selection by competence doesn't come in at that stage- it is just the age factor. Lt Gen VKS and Lt Gen PCB (Jun 1970) were appointed Army Commanders on 01 Mar 08 as none of Lt Gens of Dec 1969 had two years residual service on the day the vacancies for the appointment occured.I think it is very fair to move out Lt Gen PCK to a post in staff where he doesn't have to serve under any body commisioned after Dec 1969. It is just a courtesy to avoid embarrasment when you have lost out the appointment due to age factor and not competence

Anonymous said...

Well said, sniperz11.

Eisenhower (Lt Col) was a full 2 ranks below Patton (Brig Gen) few years before WW II. Patton not only serverd under Ike without complaining, but also served under Omkar Bradley, who was also his junior. This kind of show of open defiance is a disgrace in the Military and Lt Gen Katoch ought to be reprimanded for this.

left wing nut job said...

Promotion should be based on competence and class rank (lineal number). Age should not automatically equal competence, intelligence and wisdom.

The Indian military in particular and Indian society in general needs to move away from the notion of "elders know best" mentality.

Anonymous said...

in the olden days, officers graciousyl resigned when they were superceded. Now they cling to their post with the hope they will get promoted - sad!

Anonymous said...

I LIKE THIS COMPARISON OF COMPETENCE VIS-A-VIS LOSING A PROMOTION BECAUSE OF AGE. PCK DID NOT MAKE IT TO AN ARMY CDR AS HE DID NOT HAVE TWO YEARS TO COMMAND AN ARMY. IF PANAG CAN COMMAND AN ARMY FOR JUST 10 MONTHS BEFORE RETIREMENT AFTER HIS SHIFT, WHY CAN'T PCK DO IT FOR MORE THAN 20 MONTHS THAT HE HIS BALANCE WITH BEFORE RETIREMENT. WHY THE TWO YEARS CLAUSE AT ALL. I THINK PCK'S RESENTMENT IS JUSTIFIED.

Anonymous said...

I have served under both officers during OP Pawan in Sri Lanka. They are both good officers. However, PCK is a more no-nonsense officer, and PCB is more of a politician.

Regardless, the policy of residual service v/s capability is ludicrous. All promotions should be based on command capability, and I can tell you, that PCK would have been the clear choice of the two.

Anonymous said...

You Guys are all so ignorant. I have known both these Officers for the last twenty years. There are both from the Special forces and it takes balls to do what these guys have done. They were'nt in special ops because they were required to be there - they were there because they wanted to be there - evey heard of elite units???? Anyways PCK and PCB are the smartest officers I have come across - and no matter what you think - reading things and forming oppinion is a lot easier than being there ! I wish them all the very best ALWAYS....


Cheers
KU

Anonymous said...

It's really sad that people like you post such articles n' call in for all those crappy comments.

Remember one thing, being an India, learn to be proud of your country. A guy who does not respect his country does nto deserve to stay in here.

Do you also publice problems goin' on in your family.

It's human nature, I don't think anyone would be comfortable workign under his subordinate. Would you be?

But never mind, it's not your fault, I guess your mom dad probably did not teach you those basis attecates one needs to have. They're the once to be blamed.

Never mind.
You please do it for your kids. ATlest the next gen would be okay

sandy said...

it is sad to read comments from people who do not know these officers. they are both extr good officers infact pcb is the most decorated offr of para regt.they are best of best anywhere. i say this cos iserved under both of them in war and peace.