ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Growing Military Assertion

What has made the country's military top brass increasingly more forceful vis-à-vis the civilian authority?

Increasingly, in recent times, factional feuds within the Indian Army and the hand of the Ministry of Defence in these rivalries, as also public assertions of the top brass of the armed forces on policy matters are being played out in the mainstream media. A front page sensationally headlined story in the Indian Express (4 April 2012) of unauthorised troop movements near the capital on 16 January and how this “spooked” the government is certainly an instance of journalistic overplay. The suggestion is that Chief of Army Staff General V K Singh is supposed to have engineered the troop movements to coincide with the filing of his affidavit in the Supreme Court that contested the Ministry of Defence’s claim that he was born in 1950, and not in 1951 as in the Army’s personnel records. The general, it seems, wanted to “spook” the government for insisting on pensioning him a year earlier than he thought his retirement was due!

Predictably, Defence Minister A K Antony rubbished the news report as “totally baseless”. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described it as “alarmist” and the army chief himself termed it as “fables of a sick mind”. But the general’s claim to be younger than he was shown in the fi rst records, the government’s bid to retire him on the basis of these and not later records, the subsequent allegations about an attempt to bribe him, and many other sordid details that are now tumbling out may have more to do with struggles in the top echelons of the Indian state over access to riches.

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