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Assertive Military

In your editorial “Growing Military Assertion” (EPW, 28 April 2012), you state: “Little wonder then that the country’s military leadership is now increasingly more assertive vis-à-vis the civilian autho rity”. This needs to be juxtaposed and judged against Stephen Cohen’s observation that “in no other middle or great military power is the military advice so detached from political and strategic decisions” (Emerging Power: India). Your view also needs to be assessed in the light of the “dislike and distrust” that Nehru had of the soldier and the threat of a military coup that he apprehended, both of which have come down as his legacy to the present day.

The biggest chunk of the national budget is passed in the shortest time with the least discussion. The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) has continued for decades. In the total absence of sociopolitical will of the governments in power to solve the problems in Kashmir and the north-east, this has only emboldened agitators and barbarised the security men who are charged with putting down agitational violence. Is not the military leadership responsible for ensuring legal protection for its soldiers as long as the AFSPA exists and is to be enforced? How naïve is it to think that the army enjoys extension of AFSPA or resists its removal or dilution, without changing its role and tasks?

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