A matter of honour

A matter of honour

General V K SinghWhy is honour such an archaic concept almost on the same undergrad level as being naïve? There was a time a man would die rather than break his honour. And do the right thing.

The Indian army chief General V K Singh will retire at the end of his tenure. He will do the right thing. He is not going to take that extra year even when he wins the case. You can call him and confirm it. It is all about honour, a commodity that our politicians and bureaucrats will not recognise. It is far too alien a concept for them.Like any individual the General wants to clear his name because the conspirators in the Military Secretary’s Branch have allowed him to be called a liar and that is something no soldier will accept.

So, since the Ministry did sweet fanny Adams to end an impasse that should never have reached a crescendo the General has the same right as 1.2 billion people in his nation to go to court and seek redress.As for all this claptrap about respect for the armed forces and the national consensus that men and women in uniform should be held to a higher code of conduct than their civilian masters is just that…claptrap.At this juncture I have to defer to a writer called Siddhanth whose terse and incisive penetration of the armour of hypocrisy worn by our leaders is doing the military rounds. A three-star General sent it to me so I quote.

“The Indian Armed Forces only find mention in the national dailies in one of two situations. The first, in times of war, when it is but natural to be swayed by the spirit of nationalism and populist fervour and report the heroics of the men and women who go into battle. The second, and this is the more frequent by far, is when there is some sort of scam”.This is so patently true. This constant harping on the different soaring standard by which the forces are assessed is a cruel joke. We are told by the captains of Indian punditry (the media) that it is so because they are held in high esteem, soaked in great vats of respect specially stenciled for them.

This is such a load of rubbish, so blatant a lie that it astounds even a cynic. There is no respect for the armed forces. No one gives a hoot about them until they have to go to war to save the mangy little hides of the political pantheon.You, the man on the street, do not care about them, there is no love, no special regard, in fact, with 41 years of peace, there is almost contempt and derision.

And to quote Siddhanth again, “Why does every Indian considers it his right to hold these men and women to standards that he may not hold himself to. In India, the armed forces are the only institutions in the governmental fold that have maintained a sense of discipline, efficiency and integrity and that civilians look at them with respect and expect its members to conform to the high standards it has set in the years since 1947, blah, blah, blah. All of this is, of course, true. And the central point of my argument is that by consistently setting itself higher standards than the rest of the nation, the army has done itself the greatest disservice possible.”

This is an awesome observation and is drenched with the shame wrung from an ungrateful nation.The forces have become isolated from the mainstream, living a sort of parallel existence with their head in the clouds and a self deceiving admix of righteousness, solemnity and ceremonial panache reflected in tarnished traditions and a threadbare etiquette that on one else follows.What was once seen with envious pride is now a buffoonish parody to the civilian eye. The silver in the battalion mess does not shine that brightly.

Quote: “That the armed forces have been systematically removed from the nation’s decision making matrix by a largely self-serving bureaucracy and intelligence establishment is neither new, nor remarkable. But having achieved the initial objective of keeping the upper echelons of the services out of this decision making process even in matters of national security, the civil establishment was not done demonstrating its ‘respect’. From the third pay commission onwards, the system has systematically screwed the army and skewed the balance heavily in favour of the civil administration.”

Quote; The way forward — the only way forward — is for the armed forces to get into playing the same game.“How many cases have there been of MLAs, MPs, ministers or even members of opposition parties occupying accommodation in prime locations even when they are not entitled to? How many other cases have there been of civil servants holding on to government accommodation in New Delhi while on posting elsewhere? Does it even merit a story in a newspaper? Does it lead to esteemed national newspapers calling for their resignation? Probably not. It just isn’t a big enough deal.”

We expect it from ourselves. But the moment it is a man in uniform there is a howl of pained indignation.Echo answers why.Go on General, get your honour then turn your back and open the door to the armed forces entering the national mainstream. – Khaleejnews