<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Eastern Army Commander Lt. Gen. Praveen Bakshi finally broke silence on his resignation on Saturday. “I won’t resign. Extending all support to Lt. Gen. Bipin Rawat,” Lt. Gen. Bakshi said, while addressing the officers of Eastern Command via teleconference.This statement by the Lt. Gen. Bakshi comes in the wake of rumours and speculations doing the rounds that he might resign after being superseded by Lt. Gen. Bipin Rawat as the Army Chief.However, the Defence Ministry is yet to consider Lt. Gen. Bakshi’s name for the post of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) that could happen in the coming year.Lt. Gen. Bakshi is likely to meet Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar in January. Sources in the ministry say Lt. Gen. Bakshi could be offered an appointment outside of the military. Lt. Gen. Bakshi was to be leave till January 1. He joined office on Saturday at the Fort William, the army’s Eastern Command Headquarters.
The appointment of Lieutenant General Bipin Rawat as new Chief of Army Staff has snowballed into a controversy, once it emerged that Rawat was not the senior-most officer in the Indian Army. The officers who were bypassed to let Rawat become the new army chief were not only more senior, but they were also in command positions, placed there because they are capable enough and experienced enough to become chief.
They have been on the frontline as active commanders. You don’t get to become an army commander unless you’re ready and trained, as simple as that. It’s not just a question of seniority; hundreds of very senior people get bypassed, sidelined, passed over, and continue to serve “juniors” for several years if they wish to stay in uniform. In all these cases, the officers are competent field commanders, and have already touched the stars…literally.
But then, it’s no secret that there is a coterie at the army headquarters. The Gorkha Rifles are so strongly represented at the highest levels that it raises eyebrows even within army circles. The incumbent Chief of Army Staff, Dalbir Singh Suhag, is from the Gorkha Rifles, as is Bipin Rawat, the man who will replace him on 31 December. In April this year, five of the 14 major generals promoted to their third star were from the Gorkha Rifles. The director general military intelligence, Lieutenant General SK Patyal, is from the Gorkhas. The director general military training Lieutenant General AL Chauhan is from the Gorkha Rifles.
These, by the way, are the top jobs at army headquarters; they oversee all strategic matters. Another very important position is director general military operations, currently held by Lieutenant General AK Bhatt, again from the Gorkha Rifles. Even the adjutant general Lieutenant General RK Sharma is from the Gorkha Rifles.
What are the odds that in an army of over a million, with dozens of battalions and regiments, all with glorious histories, the top five jobs would be held by officers from the same section of the army.
None of this is rocket science. And it’s all available on the public domain.
Sure, the Gorkhas have a proud history, but so do the Sikh Regiments, the Maratha Light Infantry, the Rajputana Rifles, the Madras Regiment, the Guards, the para regiments, the Punjab Regiment, the Grenadiers, the Bihar Regiment, the Jats, the Dogras, the Assam Regiment, J&K Rifles, the Armoured Corps, the Mechansied regiments, etc.
Handing command to a Gurkha is not a flaw in itself, but it means one regiment will continue to hold sway at South Block. If it is happening at the expense of others is a question worth asking.
Retired Lieutenant General Ike Singha, as head of the Peacekeeping Mission in Golan Heights in Syria and Israel from 2012 to 2015, has seen more action than anyone else in the Indian Army. This is what he has to say about the controversy over Bipin Rawat’s appointment. “The NDA government launched a surgical strike on the Indian Army by superseding very competent generals and selecting Bipin Rawat as the next COAS. In the past, only once has the seniormost army commander been passed over; when Lt Gen. Sinha was overlooked and Gen. AS Vaidya appointed COAS by the Congress government led by Indira Gandhi. History punished the nation for this folly. Gen. Vaidya lacked the moral guts to tell Gandhi that the army, an apolitical organisation should not be dragged into storming a religious place like the Golden Temple. Gen. Sinha, a strong man, would have perhaps resisted and that is why he was overlooked. The BJP resurrected Sinha, and he was appointed a member of the Rajya Sabha. Unfortunately, the NDA government has made the same mistake and overlooked two very capable officers. I have very closely served with all three senior officers and we have grown together. All three are thorough professionals and Praveen Bakshi and PM Hariz lacked nothing.”
“Modi, like Jawaharlal Nehru, feels that the country is not going to fight a war with any of its neighbours. Nehru showed Chou en Lai all our defence establishments, and the shrewd Chinese leader saw the chinks in our armour and annexed Tibet in 1959. India was stunned, but before it could recover from the jolt, China affected an embarrassing defeat in the 1962 war. Modi has a disdain for the Indian Army that I watched closely as General Officer Commanding in Gujarat. It seems he is going the Nehru way and has no inclination to learn from history. (Manohar) Parrikar is a technocrat and has been chief minister of Goa, a state with two districts. A novice in security matters, he thinks he has a magic wand and has a solution for all the complex problems and challenges facing the defence forces.”
He does not.
First Published On : Dec 20, 2016 15:26 IST
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With the Centre announcing the name of Lieutenant General Bipin Rawat as the new Chief of the Army Staff superseding two seniors for the coveted post, the Congress on Sunday demanded an answer from the government over the decision, while asserting that the Army is a public institution and the nation deserves an answer.Lieutenant General Rawat, who took over as the Army vice-chief in September 2016, bypassed Eastern Command chief Lieutenant General Praveen Bakshi (armoured corps) and Southern Army Command chief Lieutenant General PM Hariz (mechanised infantry).After taking to Twitter to voice his annoyance with the decision, Congress leader Manish Tewari assured that this was not a personal attack on the new Chief of Staff but a legitimate question.
ALSO READ Lt Gen Bipin Rawat is next Army chief, Air Marshal Birender Dhanoa to head Air Force”With all due respect to General Rawat’s professionalism and brilliance as a soldier and no personal animosity to anybody, there is a legitimate question as to why has this supersession taken place. After all, Lt. Gen Praveen Bakshi who commands the Eastern Command, the Southern Army Commander Lt. Gen Mohammed Ali and the Central Army Commander are all senior to the gentleman who is being designated,” Tewari said.Reiterating his demand for an answer to the legitimate question as to why this supersession has taken place, the Congress leader added that the government?s defence saying the grand old party superseded in the 80s and therefore the ruling dispensation has the right to do so is complete ‘non sequitur’. Expressing disappointment over the controversy surrounding all high-level appointments during the NDA regime, the Communist Party of India (CPI) said that transparency should go along with integrity in the appointment of new Army Chief Lt. General. Bipin Rawat, adding the decision is not in the interest of democracy.Rawat was found the best suited among current batch of candidates of Lt. Generals, to deal with emerging challenges, including a reorganised and restructured military force in the north, continuing terrorism and proxy war from the west, and the situation in the North-East.According to Ministry of Defence (MoD) sources, Lt. Gen Rawat has tremendous hands on experience of serving in combat areas, and at various functional levels in the Indian Army over the last three decades. This is very unfortunate that the appointments in Army have become controversial. All the top-level appointments are becoming controversial. Transparency should go along with integrity and nobody should raise question. Now, questions are being raised and it is not new,” said CPI leader D. Raja.The CPI leader demanded a justification from the Centre and Defence Ministry over the new appointment of new Army Chief.”It is very unfortunate. This is not in the interest of our democracy, our country and of course there should be transparency. It is a question about the Army and not about any political party. Army belongs to the whole country and the nation should be convinced,” he said.Lieutenant General Rawat has remarkable experience of serving in combat areas and at various functional levels in the Indian Army over the last three decades.He has handled various operational responsibilities in many areas, including along the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan, the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China and in the North-East.He is known for his balanced approach towards soldiering, compassion, and his connect with the civil society.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Lt. General. Bipin Rawat, who has been appointed as the next Chief of Army Staff, was found the best suited among current batch of candidates of Lt. Generals, to deal with emerging challenges, including a reorganised and restructured military force in the north, continuing terrorism and proxy war from the west, and the situation in the North-East.According to Ministry of Defence (MoD) sources, Lt. Gen Rawat has tremendous hands on experience of serving in combat areas, and at various functional levels in the Indian Army over the last three decades.He has handled various operational responsibilities in many areas, including along the LoC with Pakistan, the LAC with China, and in the North-East.
ALSO READ Lt Gen Bipin Rawat to be new Army Chief, Air Marshal BS Dhanoa to head IAFHe is also known for his balanced approach towards soldiering, compassion, and connect with civil society.His experience as GOC-in-C Southern Army Command in Mechanised Warfare has been focused towards the western borders, in coordination with the other two services.Also, Air Marshal B.S. Dhanoa was appointed the next Chief of Air Staff. He was commissioned into the fighter stream of the IAF in June 1978 and has served in various squadrons, and in the Intelligence Directorate of Air Headquarters.Meanwhile, the Congress has slammed the Centre over the appointment of the new army chief, as the government overlooked a tradition of elevating senior-most officers as service chiefs.The Congress asked why the Centre did not follow the seniority principle in appointing Lt Gen Rawat, the vice-chief in the army.”Why has Seniority not been respected in Appointing of Army Chief? Why have Lt Gen PRAVIN Bakshi & Lt Gen Mohamed Ali Hariz been superseded Mr PM,” questioned Congress leader Manish Tewari on Twitter.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Lt Gen Bipin Rawat is next Army chief, Air Marshal Birender Dhanoa to head Air ForceThe Centre on Saturday named Lt Gen Bipin Rawat, Vice-Chief of the Indian Army as the next Army chief, succeeding General Dalbir Singh Suhag. The decision could trigger a controversy as Rawat has superseded Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi, who is heading the Eastern Command, and Lt Gen PM Hariz, heading the Southern Command. Read moreTwo more RBI officials held in currency exchange fraud, arrests a big blow to regulatorTwo more officials of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) were arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Saturday for their alleged role in currency conversion fraud cases. Read moreThree soldiers killed in militant attack on Army convoy in J&KMilitants sent a chilling reminder to the Mehbooba Mufti-led government on Saturday when they attacked an Army convoy on the strategic Srinagar-Jammu National Highway at Kadlabal, Pampore, in south Kashmir, leaving at least three army men dead. Read moreCricket prodigy Pranav Dhanawade’s brush with lawFifteen-year-old Pranav Dhanawade from Kalyan, who took the cricket world by storm with his 1,000-run world record knock in a local game in Mumbai in January 2016, was on Saturday detained by the police after he allegedly got into a spat with them on being prevented from practising on a ground being used as a makeshift helipad for a Union minister’s visit to the city. Read moreNo New Year cheer for gay couples as restaurants, bars shut their doorsSame sex couples wanting to ring in the New Year with a bang are in for a rude shock. Not only are high-end bars and nightclubs turning them away, they are actively stating that they will only accept heterosexual couples. Read more
Many senior army officers will not only be surprised but also deeply dismayed at the government’s decision to supersede the Indian Army’s two most senior officers while appointing Lt Gen Bipin Rawat as the next Chief of Army Staff. For, not only has seniority been given the go-by, the two officers who command almost unparalleled professional respect have been humiliated.
Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi, the Commander-in-Chief of the Eastern Command, was widely expected to take over as the next chief. Many in the Army looked forward to that eagerly. Not only was he the senior most, he is respected as an exceptional officer.
The officer next in line, Lt Gen PM Hariz, is equally respected as an outstanding professional of rare calibre. He has also been superseded.
General Bakshi had been the Chief of Staff of the Northern Command at Udhampur before he took over as Army Commander in the East. He has had hands-on experience of the current situations on the major fronts on which India faces threats from both Pakistan and China. He was perfectly trained, prepared and suited for the top job.
Some senior army officers have even compared generals Bakshi and Hariz — and Lt Gen BS Hooda, who retired at the end of last month as Commander-in-Chief of the Northern Command — with the exceptional General BC Joshi, who was chief in 1993-94. Some rate Joshi as the best Chief of Army Staff India has had since Field Marshal Manekshaw retired in January 1973.
“It is very rare to have three such extraordinary officers near the top of the pyramid at the same time,” another very senior officer had remarked earlier this year. Now, the country faces the prospect of losing all three officers. For, it is possible that Generals Bakshi and Hariz may resign rather than serve under their junior.
The worst part of this denouement is that it comes at a time when the country faces a huge security challenge from the Sino-Pak axis. It would be a grave error to think the challenge in Jammu and Kashmir is a thing of the past. Militant attacks keep occurring (three soldiers were killed in one of two attacks reported on Saturday). There has been a lot of infiltration over the past couple of years, and unrest in such disturbed districts as Pulwama continues.
To lose three extraordinarily fine top officers at such a juncture is a compromise on national security. More importantly, this could have an adverse effect on morale down the line — particularly in the higher echelons of a force that has been through a lot of hard knocks in the past few months. Both superseded officers are hero-worshipped by many senior officers.
The fact that Lt Gen Hariz is a Muslim is irrelevant in the Armed Forces, which are more inclusive than perhaps any other major national institution. However, given the doubts that hang over the current government’s commitment to the country’s secular ideal, both domestically and internationally, his supersession gives a negative signal.
The greater irony is that this move has come from a government run by a political formation that strongly criticised Prime Minister Indira Gandhi for years after she superseded Lt Gen SK Sinha in 1983. Until now, that was the only time in the life of the republic that the senior most officer in the army was superseded in the appointment of a new chief of army staff.
This sort of thing is far more common in Pakistan, where the army is much more political than the Indian Army has so far been. If supersessions become the accepted and expected norm, officers would tend to invest in relationships with political parties and build other sorts of political alignments in the course of their careers, hoping for rewards.
That would not be good for the army.
It would be even worse for the country.
First Published On : Dec 18, 2016 08:35 IST
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Centre on Saturday named Lt Gen Bipin Rawat, Vice-Chief of the Indian Army as the next Army chief, succeeding General Dalbir Singh Suhag. The decision could trigger a controversy as Rawat has superseded Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi, who is heading the Eastern Command, and Lt Gen PM Hariz, heading the Southern Command.The government also appointed Air Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa, a Kargil veteran, as the next Air Force chief. He will succeed Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, who, along with Suhag, retires on December 31.“Government has decided to appoint Lt Gen Bipin Rawat, Vice-Chief of the Army staff, as the next Chief of Army Staff with effect from the afternoon of December 31,” the Defence Ministry said in a tweet.Sources said Lt Gen Rawat was found best suited among the Lt Generals to deal with emerging challenges, including a reorganised and restructured military force in the north, continuing terrorism and proxy war from the west, and the situation in the North-East.They said Lt Gen Rawat has tremendous hands-on experience of serving in combat areas and at various functional levels in the Indian Army over the last three decades. He has handled various operational responsibilities in many areas, including along the LoC with Pakistan, the LAC with China and in the North-East.According to convention, chiefs of armed forces are announced at least two months in advance, but the delay this time was leading to confusion. Lt Gen Rawat was commissioned in Eleven Gorkha Rifles in December 1978, from IMA, Dehradun, and was awarded the ‘Sword of Honour’.An alumni of the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, the Higher Command and National Defence College Courses, Rawat, in his over 35 years of service, was awarded for gallantry and distinguished service.Supersession in the Army is not new. There has not been any such instances in the recent past though. In 1983, then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi appointed Lt Gen A S Vaidya as Army Chief superseding Lt Gen S K Sinha, who resigned in protest.In 1972, the Gandhi government side-stepped the very popular Lt General P S Bhagat, one of the handful of Indian Victoria Cross awardees from World War II, who was in line to succeed General (later Field Marshal) Sam Manekshaw.Defence ministry sources said that Lt Gen Hariz had no experience in operational areas in terms of counter-insurgency or seeing action along the LoC.—With inputs from PTI
Hyderabad Central University (HCU) on Thursday claimed that water and Internet facilities on the campus were “never” disconnected by the authorities but “temporarily” halted as these were affected by the ongoing protests.Refuting the allegations by a section of students that varsity authorities disconnected these facilities for the past two days, the officials today said water supply was temporarily stopped as some miscreants damaged the pump.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The university never cut off water nor electricity on the campus. Some miscreants damaged the pump on the campus and (it) has been since restored. It may also be noted that there is a general water shortage to the campus for the last two months,” the officials said in a statement.With regard to Internet service being cut off, HCU faculty member Bipin Srivastava told PTI that “Internet facilities are managed by non-teaching staff. Since the non-teaching staff went on strike, Internet services were interrupted for that time.” The HCU administration officials said, “The varsity did not disconnect Internet facility on the campus. The Internet facilities have been restored on the campus.” After the violence by some students, the varsity administration is making all efforts to restore normalcy on the campus. The Vice-Chancellor has already declared that the classes will resume from Monday, the statement said.There is no restriction of movement on “legitimate or authorised” members of the university community. The administration has decided to restrict the entry of only the outsiders on the campus, it added.