Thursday, June 12, 2008

EXCLUSIVE: Concluding thoughts by Admiral Arun Prakash on "Izzat-O-Iqbal"

Admiral Arun Prakash's piece, Is “IZZAT-O-IQBAL”? published in FORCE magazine and reproduced here on LiveFist has received a lot of response, in terms of e-mail, calls and comments. Fittingly too. I asked the Admiral if he'd like to make some concluding remarks on the piece, considering its reception, and he has kindly offered us the following:

Admiral Arun Prakash: I share a couple of concluding thoughts with the more serious of the bloggers.

As a 60 year old nation state, we have evolved a system of democracy as well as a societal model which are uniquely Indian, and not to be seen anywhere else in the world. In the evolution of both templates, we seem to have preserved the worst, instead of the best features of our rich and ancient culture. Criminalization, corruption, sycophancy and incessant intrigues for power have completely displaced National Interest from the political scene. Since politics seem to dominate the national outlook so completely, a natural corollary is that casteism, intolerance, dishonesty, and greed have become the accepted norms in our society.

Into this milieu, the Indian Armed Forces (despite all their own flaws) try to bring a modicum of sense with values of patriotism, selfless service, integrity and honour. No wonder the Soldier perhaps appear somewhat alien to the average citizen, and is a cause of much unease to the politician.

This acute discomfort is clearly apparent in the Government, by the fact that the politician wishes to keep the Soldier at arms length, and insists that “civilian control” over the Armed Forces should be exercised on his behalf by the Bureaucrat. This is a seriously flawed concept, which does not exist in any other democracy world-wide, and is now beginning to cause deep dismay in the Armed Forces. The non-inclusion of a Serviceman in the Pay Commission, as well as in the Review Committee; and the ESM “agitation” are all consequences of this unfortunate misperception. One has to observe with sadness, that the events unfolding currently can only serve to weaken, erode and demoralize the stoutest pillar of the Indian State; its armed forces.

In a separate context, views have been expressed here, by serving officers, which convey that there is dissatisfaction amongst the middle and junior ranks of the Armed Forces. This is a fact attributable perhaps, to the inadequate leadership provided by senior officers of my generation. In hindsight, one can also try to pinpoint the cause and say that senior rank in the Armed Forces tends to engender two illusions: One, that you are not just perfect, but also the repository of all wisdom; and second that you will remain a senior officer for eternity.

I have no magic cures to suggest, except that every senior officer should declare to his command on taking over: “Ladies & Gentlemen, there is no point lecturing to you. I will merely show you how things are to be done here. Just watch my personal conduct closely and continuously, and ensure that you follow my example in every single thing that you do.” This should hopefully bind the leader and the led in a mutual and sacred contract of honourable conduct.

18 comments :

Anonymous said...

i guess that is the last word on the subject!

Anonymous said...

I am a common man and I really want to know when was I treated right by the Politicians, Babus and militarywallas?

What salary figures he is talking about? These are very few ex-service men who actually get high salaries.

My father is a ex Junior Co missioned Officer. He retired and can't find a decent job. They want him as a security guard in front of a corporate gate.

The discontent is mostly among officer class. This officer class has been living in luxury that is unknown in 1970's and till now. Go to the officers quarters and messes. You will find they live better than upper middle class of the society.

Here the issue is not corporate pays, here is the issue of babu Vs Military officer (not PBOR).

Its ok to make noise, unless you don't make noise , no one listens. But its high time the "Officer Class" of armed forces making it a patriotic deal.

Let ask ourselves if these officers can actually do better in military.

If you see the constitution of the officers in military only very few have some technical competence and higher administrative stills. Except for few pilots and mantainanece officers, who else will give these people even a decent job?

Another issue with these officers is that they do not have civil manners. They have some kind of aparthide kind of attitude to civvis they claim to protect. Just go t any of the officers house or retired officers house, you will feel it. Getting into a general unit or other non-critical areas too, you will see the hostility to the civilians.

Its better if nation sheds a tear for th PBOR's and give them a raise. While the officers can fight for themselves for salaries, I cannot see them fighting for their duties like inducting Indian weapons etc.

My opinion is and Indian Armed Forces officer is just another Indian citizen and they should not expect Indian citizens to treat them as British Raj officers.

gagan said...

nicely put, sir! i guess there really is nothing more to say on the matter! shiv, please do keep posting adm prakash's columns here. they are very fine.

Anonymous said...

This Arun Prakash is an eloquent Admiral, has a huge house in Dehradun, no liabilities, speaks very well, speaks good English...all this is ok for a blog like this...but they should not expect anything more than what they are getting...I agree with the second guy above...very well said

Look at the way they treat civilians and then they say that the civilians are becuase of them etc....for them its a job, for some its status symbol...no one is here to protect us.

Anonymous said...

For the very first comment about Indian military are just another citizen. NO. They are not. None of the other Indian citizen has a contract with the union of India which states they will die for the country. So they are different, and they should be paid well...and for the arrogant behaviour which you still; I do find some truth in it but is Indian civi babu's, their red-tape and corruption. Any different.

I am civi with no links to military at all. When a call center employee gets 20,000, a jawan shouldnt die earning 4000, And your father shouldnt have to stand as a security gaurd.

Anonymous said...

And Yes, India is as it is because of them. With 3 attacks from Pakistan and 1 from China. Yes. We are holding the current landmass because of them.

saurabh said...

I think it is not your mistake. You guys will know what you have heard/read thru media. Do you know Adm Arun Prakash? You don't know anything about him, you dont know anything about armed forces but you have your comments like any fool in india has. Why should a soldier lay his life for his country/countrymen? Is he getting paid for dying? How much do u think is the cost of one solduer's life? Will u be ready to die for your countrymen for few thousand rupees. Yes, a soldier has joined the forces to earn a living but why should he fight in the war with full dedication and be ready to do highest sacrifice, he can also pretend to be doing his duty as our babus/politicians/policswalas do. Please think about this and stop criticising armed forces which has become a fashion now a days. If you can't respect your soldiers atleast don't disrespect them.

Anonymous said...

As per the learned admirals comments there seems to be a wide divide between the armed forces-politicians-civilians.

Each of the above are not perfect and all have their own cons.

So instead of critisizing, what i would like to say is what my dad (god bless his soul) taught us kids.

"God helps those who help themselves"

What I would like to see is more ex-officers join the main-stream politics. That way they can bring about some change in our political structure to one of honesty, responsibility and accountability.

Who would'nt like to see an ex-service officer (for example Admiral Arun Prakash) as India's Defence Minister (instead of some dhoti clad babu), who not only knows our strategic requirements first hand but also will ensure decisions taken are in our national interests be it arms procurement, defence expenditure or taking care of the armed services requirements.

I do strongly believe that this may have a positive outcome and will also safe guard our nations interests.

Anonymous said...

What is armed forces without tax payers money? They defended India because we pay them to. They are just another citizens. If private sector does not perform, will they be able to get a pay raise. they are more of our paid body guards.

J P Joshi said...

Everything in this world is relative - the good old theory of relativity. I am an ESM and can say this first hand that the armed forces morally and ethically operate on a much higher plane than the ordinary educated class that comprises the urban population of India. Our rural masses are true Karma yogis, and have no time/ money to ponder over issues like corruption and the like. They are too busy trying to make two ends meet. These are honest, hardworking people, and are also the ones who send in their sons into the armed forces to fight and protect the Indian nation state - if and when the need arises. It is urban folk, I suspect, that feel that the armed forces are just another job, like someone said - a paid bodyguard's job. They probably have never seen any of their near and dear ones in the armed forces. Donning the uniform is an honour, and comes with a number of responsibilities (including the responsibility to lay down one's life to protect India and its core values), which an ordinary citizen cannot even dream of, let alone fathom. Yes, everyone joins of his own free will and has to take it or leave it, but do you know that you cannot even leave at your own free will. You can only serve, or leave, at the pleasure of the President of India. Can you fathom this?

The armed forces are not fighting for a raise. They are irked about a principle - a principle of representation at the decision making body. Civilian control of the military is very well understood by our armed forces. You only have to look around in the neighbourhood to understand this. However, in India, civilian control has more and more come to mean bureaucratic control. This is not desirable, or good, for the military as well as the country. Civilian control implies control of the military by the ordinary citizens of India, of course through their duly elected representatives. This is slowly but surely being eroded. In case it continues to worsen, it can only bode poorly for the country and the armed forces. Nowhere in the democratic world do the armed forces get the highest salaries but they surely do get the appreciation of their countrymen. Maybe those democratic nations have fought two world wars and have a majority of their citizens who have lost near and dear ones during war. An all volunteer military force is a big boon for any country. In case the country cannot muster enough people to join the military, the citizens through their representatives will have to legislate to conscript. This should not be a major problem considering that we have a large population. However, it may be a problem for able bodied men/ women who have a very distorted idea of the military.

Anonymous said...

I think this country needs a mutiny by armed forces like in Pakistan. Military rule for 10 years will set everything right.

Anonymous said...

Oh No, Let them keep the army out of revolt. Else We will replace politicians with bhura sahibs!

Anonymous said...

but if they dont get decent pay package, the day is not far when the country man face a mutiny. already many cases r being reported where soldiers r killing officers out of disgust.

Anonymous said...

You know, why the state of armed forces has become like this today because they are not a vote bank. Govt does not get anything in return by providing any facilities to them, thats why armed forces are ignored now a days. armed forces should fight to play an active role in politics by casting their votes. proxy voting and postal ballot system should be done away with. whoever is posted at which ever constituency should vote in that constituency. for example, if a jawan is posted at lucknow, he should vote in lucknow for assembly as well as general elections. he should not send a postal vote to his home constituency. if this gets implemented then these politicians will definitely listen to the armed forces and pay commission will also do justice to them. i feel three service chiefs should take up this issue with the govt and this govt may implement this because as it is they are in troublesome times, they might get some votes from armed forces on this issue. any takers of this idea???

Anonymous said...

Why do I still serve you?

How you play with us, did you ever see?
At Seven, I had decided what I wanted to be;
I would serve you to the end,
All these boundaries I would defend.

Now you make me look like a fool,
When at Seventeen and just out of school;
Went to the place where they made "men out of boys"
Lived a tough life …sacrificed a few joys…

In those days, I would see my 'civilian' friends,
Living a life with the fashion trends;
Enjoying their so called "College Days"
While I sweated and bled in the sun and haze…
But I never thought twice about what where or why
All I knew was when the time came, I'd be ready to do or die.

At 21 and with my commission in hand,
Under the glory of the parade and the band,
I took the oath to protect you over land, air or sea,
And make the supreme sacrifice when the need came to be.

I stood there with a sense of recognition,
But on that day I never had the premonition,
that when the time came to give me my due,
You'd just say," What is so great that you do?"

Long back you promised a well to do life;
And when I'm away, take care of my wife.
You came and saw the hardships I live through,
And I saw you make a note or two,
And I hoped you would realise the worth of me;
but now I know you'll never be able to see,
Because you only see the glorified life of mine,
Did you see the place where death looms all the time?
Did you meet the man standing guard in the snow?
The name of his newborn he does not know...
Did you meet the man whose father breathed his last?
While the sailor patrolled our seas so vast?

You still know I'll not be the one to raise my voice
I will stand tall and protect you in Punjab Himachal and Thois.

But that's just me you have in the sun and rain,
For now at Twenty Four, you make me think again;
About the decision I made, Seven years back;
Should I have chosen another life, some other track?


Will I tell my son to follow my lead?
Will I tell my son, you'll get all that you need?
This is the country you will serve
This country will give you all that you deserve?

I heard you tell the world "India is shining"
I told my men, that's a reason for us to be smiling
This is the India you and I will defend!
But tell me how long will you be able to pretend?
You go on promise all that you may,
But it's the souls of your own men you betray.

Did you read how some of our eminent citizens
Write about me and ridicule my very existence?
I ask you to please come and see what I do,
Come and have a look at what I go through
Live my life just for a day
Maybe you'll have something else to say?

I will still risk my life without a sigh
To keep your flag flying high
but today I ask myself a question or two…
Oh India…. Why do I still serve you?

Anonymous said...

Oh! Dear, you almost made me cry. you question is very apt, "Why do I still serve you?"
But its like, bhains ke aage been bajana, yahan koi nahi hai sunne wala.
kudos to a wonderful effort, your poem is indeed a masterpiece. Jaihind.

Anonymous said...

"MR. common man" i think u have not at all seen military life with your dad. Because according to you- offrs only live in lavish quaters and enjoy lives in messes nd its the common man who keeps wandering in jungles of the north-east or keeps scaling mountains at 25000 ft. no?? the soul problem is because of people like you- there was a time when we had respect in the eyes of citizens- now i ask you that will you get aside in a que to let a military man pass?? no, because you think that he is just doing a watchman's job for the rich of our country... if u r very much impressed with military officer's lifestyle why didnt u join the forces? I tell you why- because you will CALL YOURSELF A MARTYR BY CUTTING YOUR TOENAIL... now this is the difference between you and a militaryman....

Anonymous said...

A war with China or with Pakistan backed by China will prove how important the Armed Forces really are to India. Probably India will lose the war , but the armed forces will get the image and the rewards they deserve for generations to come.