by Brig Arun Bajpai

Neta responsible for Indian debacle and shameful defeat of India in the hands of China in 1962, Indian PM Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, may have died a broken man in 1964, but Indians in particular and world in general blames Indian Army when the truth is that Indian Army fought this war with great valour despite being ill equipped and out gunned by Chinese troops, fighting on impossible heights under bitter cold with hardly any acclimatisation in summer uniforms and torn boots. It was their valour which forced China to unilaterally withdraw without coming into plains.

Fifty-six years have passed since then, but have our political masters and their advisers the Babus changed their outlook, are they ready to shoulder responsibility and accountability? The answer is firm NO. Then how come these very Neta’s and Babus still decide what Indian AF will get in terms of weapons and equipment to fight the war with not a single Armed Forces representative present in all weapons deal done by the Government in power. This is decided by the Neta’s and Babus, role of the Armed Forces finishes after they have tested and allotted priority to the equipment/weapon to be purchased. It is Neta’s and Babus who select one weapon/equipment out of various tested by the Armed Forces for purchase and deal with the foreign country/firm producing this weapon/equipment directly. This system is so designed that all foreign purchase deals are kept hush hush with these Neta’s and Babus getting their commissions in their Swiss bank accounts with no questions asked. In other words, Armed Forces get their toy and Netas and Babus get their money and all are happy.

All was going hunky dory till 2007. After that arrived Saint Antony as Defence Minister of Congress enjoying a Mr Clean image. In his seven-year rule he ensured that India goes for no major weapon purchase abroad. His good intentions of keeping his clean image would have been fruitful if he had ensured that India starts producing the same weapons indigenously. however, nothing was done. Imagine 7 long years were allowed to go past with Indian Armed Forces acquiring/producing nothing new.

Then in 2014 came the Modi Government. Everybody thought that with this nationalistic Government having come now Ache Din of Indian Armed Forces were just a matter of time. However, 4.5 years of Modi Government have also passed but nothing has changed, rather things have gone worse. In these 4.5 years we have had four defence ministers, with two of them including the current Defence Minister totally green horn with no experience of minister ship at the centre. The third and fourth Defence Ministers were part time. Imagine a portfolio like Defence of the country held by a part time defence minister, that also when we are facing a combined threat of China on our East and Northern Border and Pakistan on our Western Border? This is only possible in India. By having green horn Defence Ministers and part time Defence ministers, Modiji is ensuring that the clueless Babus straddling the Ministry of Defence rule the roost and create chaos. This these Babus have managed to do.

They never got this much leverage earlier and have ensured with their stupid orders from MOD, including fighting cases against war wounded solders disability pensions, cutting down education grants for those children whose fathers have been martyred by fighting for the country , cutting down entitled rations being given to officers in peace time since 1983, opening of all Cantonment Roads and jeopardising security of armed forces personnel specially separated families, cutting down condiment allowance of troops and so many other things that today Indian Armed Forces stand totally demoralised a dangerous thing to happen at this time. India is only country in the world where its Armed Forces are run like any other Government department with its MOD staffed 100% by the civilian Babus. In all other democracies in the world their MOD is staffed 90% with military men who know all about matters military. No green horn minister dare annoys these Babus of MOD since it is, they who guide the defence minister, as it is happening appointing a green horn defence minister like Nirmala Sitharaman, Modi Government has also suffered badly. The current Rafael deal of Modi Government which is government to Government deal with France with no chance of any hanky-panky, has been mired in controversy and ballooned into a scam because it was handled badly by this green horn defence minister.

Today state of affairs in defence and security of the country is such that leave aside Doklam Indian Armed Forces are not capable of fighting even Kargil type of war. Modi Government takes advice from policeman Ajit Dovl who is the current NSA. His three deputy NSAs are also police men. Imagine a country like India with ambitions of becoming a superpower taking external threat assessment and strategic advice from police and not the Armed Forces whose job it is. The Chief of defence staff system was sanctioned in 2003, after detailed study of Kargil War by group of minsters headed by LK Advani to enable Government in power to get military advice from a single window. 

However, 14.5 years have gone past, the Netas of both Congress Government and Modi Government who have not seen any war except may be in Bollywood movies and know all Babus of these governments, apparently do not need any military advice. They are quite happy with policeman Doval playing the role of General General and being de facto Chief of Defence Staff. This is only possible in India. So what wonder if our yearly defence budget is just 1.58% of GDP, even less than 1962 days, while we are facing combined threat of China and Pakistan, Our Air force which is authorised 42 fighter squadrons is down to just 31 fighter sqns, Navy which is authorised 200 ships and 24 submarines are down to 140 Ships and 13 rickety submarines, Army chief is reducing army strength by 1.5 lakh troops because he says he does not have any money. With this state of affairs of Indian Armed Forces, we are hurtling for a major defeat in any regional war. May be Doval Sahib is advising our Netas and Babus that we should not worry because we are a nuclear power. As if when Kargil happened and Pakistan surreptitiously occupied large tract of our territory in Kargil, we were not a nuclear power?

Now the question that arises is that in any defeat tomorrow, who will bear the brunt, the ill equipped and ill paid Armed Forces of India or the Neta’s of India busy in their Kootneeti, Rajneeti, Karj Mafi, Vote Banks and what have you? Needless to say, it will be the Armed Forces. In other developed democracies that is why the Armed Forces are given the first priority because everybody knows if they fail then country fails. However not in India. The uneducated and uncouth Indian Netas feels that armed Forces are like any other force like Home Guards meant to die so why should they bother. Time has come that like any other developed democracy, Indian public now must now take interest in the well being of the country and their Armed Forces instead of leaving it all to our Netas. Is not one 1962 debacle enough? a system must be devised where apart from Armed Forces, Indian Neta’s and Babus must also be made accountable for any military debacle. Why should only Armed Forces be blamed? why not those Neta’s and Babus who are responsible for their Equipment, weapons, clothing and well being?

Brig Arun Bajpai (Retd) is a distinguished Defence and Strategic Analyst. Views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of IDN. IDN does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same