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.

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