Former Signal Offr-in-Chief responds to Express Edit

Responses to this Indian Express editorial just won't end! Most of the stuff I'm getting is rants, but I'm posting all the coherent responses here. Here's another response from Lt Gen Harbhajan Singh (Retd), former Signal Officer-in-Chief, based in Chandigarh:

The Gentlemen of Indian Express,

Yours is a very esteemed newspaper. You have often taken independent and even anti establishment line and one looks forward to reading point of view on national matters written in your daily and in particular the Editorials.

However, your Editorial dated 3 Sep 2008 titled "It's the Uniform" is ill advised and written by some one ignorant about Defence Matters and working. Some glaring aspects are -

1. It is apparent that the person writing the Editorial did not carry out required research, before passing judgment and using impertinent and derogatory language towards highly respected icons like Chiefs of Defence Services. He should have discussed with senior spokes persons of the Defence Services their apprehensions and then written such an immature editorial. Especially so, since he himself has conceded in the Editorial that it is not often that the three Services address joint letters to the Raksha Mantri and that also against a Government decision!He obviously failed to do this, thus causing great pain and anguish to the Defence fraternity due to wrong and biased conclusions drawn and derogatory language used.

2. And you Mr. Editor Sir, should have used your maturity, experience and sense of judgment to examine the draft critically, before letting it be published. Just look at the language used while ending the Editorial given below-When the senior most of those wearing that uniform write letters of the sort that the defence minister just received, that hope receives a small jolt.Do you really believe that the Service Chiefs do not know when and what to write to the Raksha Mantri!! You think they are frivolous functionaries!! It does not behoove Indian Express Editorial to use such words for the Service Chiefs!!!

3. This just proves the point that the Services are not getting the required respect. If this is the respect shown for Service Chiefs by an esteemed Newspaper like yours, what is the Izzat and status the Jawans will get !! This is a very dangerous trend and sad for the Country indeed.

4. It would therefore be in the fitness of things for the Editor to meet senior officers dealing with this letter and fully understand the Services point of view.

5. However, a number of letters have been written to you regarding this Editorial by senior retired officers. These can be seen at

6. These explain why the persistent effort of the bureaucracy to downgrade in-terse status of Defence Services Officers vis a vis IAS and Para Military Forces is not acceptable and needs to be reversed. The game being played by them is anti national since it is anti Defence Services.

7. Please read this ancient Indian wisdom and ponder over it-

Kautilya's sagely advice to Chandragupta on the Mauryan Soldier. "Pataliputra rests each night in peaceful comfort, O King, secure in the belief that the distant borders of Magadha are inviolate and the interiors are safe and secure, thanks only to the Mauryan Army standing vigil with naked swords and eyes peeled for action, day and night, in weather fair and foul, all eight praharas (round the clock), quite unmindful of personal discomfort and hardship, all through the year, year after year. To this man, O Rajadhiraja, you owe a debt: please, therefore, see to it, suo motu, that the soldier continuously gets his dues in every form and respect, be they his needs or his wants, for he is not likely to ask for them himself. The day the soldier has to demand his dues will be a sad day for Magadha; for then, on that day, you will have lost all moral sanction to be King!"

8. Defence Services are not "cannon fodder" sirs. They have hearts and souls too and are the only organization functioning effectively in the Country. It is suffering casualties day in and day out since the dawn of Independence on 15 Aug 1947 but not flinched. There is no other military in the World, which could bear such hardships and casualties for 60 years, non stop!! And there is no other organization in the Country which could be so patriotic and disciplined.

8A. Who saved Kashmir in 1948. Indian troops air lifeted a few hours before the Raiders could enter Srinagar !!

8B. Who saved Amritsar and area West of Beas River in 1965 and carried the War to enemy's heartland !!

8C. Who liberated East Pakistan, helped form Bangladesh in 1971 and bombarded Karachi !!

8D. Who suffered over 500 casualties in Kargil in 1999 but evicted the intruders from our sacred land !!

8E. Who were the first to arrive and help survivors after Bhuj Earth Quack in 2001!!

8F. Who were the ones to help effectively in Tusami in 2004 !!

8G. Who are the ones now evacuating people in Bihar floods and providing them food and water as also medical aid !!

8H. Who are the ones fighting terrorism in J&K and insurgency in the East for years and years !! Every day our brave officers and men are losing their lives in faithfully carrying out their duties. Situations created due to greed, lethargy, dis interest of the Politicians and the Bureaucracy, who are just not interested in resolving such issues.

9. How short can be the memory of even enlightened people like you and how ungrateful you can be!! Sirs, Defence Services are the sentinals of this Country and in case they are demoralized, the safety and security of the Nation cannot be assured.

10. Let us keep the status and Izzat of the Defence Forces high. The Press/media have a very crucial role to play to keep reminding the Nation in this regard

11. Sir, you need to tender an apology to the Nation and the Defence Serices for denegrating the three Service Chiefs in your Editorial dated 3 Sep 2008. It will be in the fitness of things for you to write another editorial explaining the Defence Services point of view.


Lt Gen Harbhajan Singh
Former Signal Officer-in-Chief

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