Modi and the Armed Forces; a lack of Strategic Vision
Modi and Military Doctrine Practice and Theory
Narendra Modi came to power on a wave that wanted to throw the UPA led by Man Mohan Singh out into the Arabian Sea. The public had genuine grievances about the Congress party which had been promising so many things for the armed forces but granted nothing. One of the contentious issues was OROP or One Rank One Pension; it didn’t see the light of the day for 33 years with the Congress in power. But once in power Modi has shown that he knows very little about power politics and the role of the armed force in furthering India’s image on a global scale. I wonder if he has seen how Russia, America, and China treat their forces. To start with Modi in his manifesto had promised ‘One Rank One Pension’, National War Memorial, Veteran’s Commission and a greater say for the armed forces in the decision making process.
Sadly none of these things have been fully implemented. The PM has presided over an OROP that is not in consonance of what is approved by 2 houses of parliament. Modi has thus only partially implemented OROP and that is telling on the army’s morale. Modi must look inwards and tell the Indian masses how many nations in the world the Veterans are on a hunger strike and asking for their dues? Modi like Queen Victoria is impervious to this and that is the sad part.
This is not all the Armed Forces in the 7th Pay Commission have been marginalized and their status lowers to that of the Central Police Forces. This shows two things a lack of appreciation of the strategic importance of the army in the furtherance of national policy and the Constitution of India whereas per Article 310 the armed forces are above all Groups A officers.
The PM seems to have little comprehension as to what constitutes morale. He has compounded his apathy to the men in uniform by recommending stoppage of free ration and replacing it with a paltry Rs 96 per day which is taxable. This privilege was granted by Indira Gandhi in 1983 and there is no reason to have stopped it, but alas the Prime minister is smug in his belief that he is 'right'
The Pm has thus shown his lack of concern towards the officers of the Armed Forces. The recent instructions to the CSD canteens to reduce turnover by half in the guise of stopping its misuse only shows an indifferent attitude towards soldiers. The canteen cards have been given to all servicemen and veterans are digitized with strict monetary limits, then how is it possible that there is misuse. Not possible! especially when monetary limits are laid down for each rank? The sad part is that Modi has little comprehension of the world of power politics and role of the military. Maybe he should read Sun Tzu, Clausewitz, and our own Chanakya. He has swallowed hook line and sinker the recommendations of the 7th pay commission, headed by Justice Mathur.
PM Nehru paid a terrible price for his lack of strategic vision and lost out to both Pak and China. Modi is also in the same boat as he is demoralizing the entire armed forces by his actions like cutting rations, proposing stoppage of canteen facilities and not sanctioning OROP.
The PM also no military doctrine and one can gauge his mental makeup when he has not appointed a full-time defense minister. India has a man who is part-time DM and at the same time no knowledge about the military. Modi has let the Indian nation down and now one can see that he is also getting rapped on the knuckles on foreign policy with the USA and China not giving India the importance due to it. Trump has a low priority for India and he has not come out in support of the Indian side in its confrontation with China on the Doklam issue.
Top Brass; a Letdown
After the departure of the British, the top brass of the army is guilty of towing to the government. It’s not something new as from the days of Cariappa and Rajender Singhji when the status of the commander in chief was downgraded under Nehru to Gen Bewoor and Maneckshaw who saw a cut in pensions and perks the armed forces leadership is supine and scared. These are harsh words to use, but probably these men had not the mettle or the ability to stand up and call a spade a spade. I am afraid General Rawat the present chief is in the same mold. He is gratuitous to Modi for being made the chief( he superseded two senior officers) and now he is probably justifying decisions of the government on OROP, canteen, and other matters. This is the bane of India.
Modi will go but he would have done incalculable harm to the morale of the army. I wonder if he has ever read the military history of the world by Barnard Montgomery. If he had he would have realized that the only way to dominate the world is through military power. Pacifism leads nowhere after all Lord Attlee has confessed that freedom for India was not because of Gandhi.This is the elementary lesson in world history One wonders whether the PM is aware of what factors constitute morale of a soldier and officer. Not by cutting rations and not granting full pensionary benefits. This is sad.