Civilians holding a variety of positions in different persuasions have very oblique opinions about what Armed Forces personnel should comment on. Unless blood and guts are spilling out, Netas and journalists are particularly vociferous in their condemnation when any military man or woman comments, on what they consider are non-military matters. Their choices of words are poisonous and hurtful, as if they were just waiting for an opportunity to spew their acidic barbs on someone. These two types build up bile in their spleens and wait for any opportunity to spew venom, it being their only pastime and constitutional right, and sadly we have a lot of them in India.
We are stuck with them. This disquiet and uneasiness also adorns the faces of self-styled keepers of our strategy and freedoms; who without so much as by your leave, take over our lives. They shed treasonable tears in their cognac goblets and champagne flutes, during their evening soirees, talking fearfully of military coups because a General/Admiral/Air Marshal talked about something that they believe, is not military business. This recurring phenomenon from the high and mighty showing pedestrian levels of intelligence is becoming irritating to most Indians, and particularly to serving military personnel and more so to us veterans. It needs to be robustly countered.
The most recent blasts are about General Rawat’s speech about leadership during the innumerable protests against CAA/NCR and NPR. Rawat spoke about lack of leadership during protests that eventually precipitated into rioting, arson, deaths, not about the protests themselves; because the shining example of poor leadership was visibly demonstrated by those who organized and then lost control of the protests. Such protest, need huge logistic support, vast amounts of money, protesters have to be corralled, transported, fed, watered and guided towards the goal.
But most of all they need solid, substantial, worthy and mature leadership. The protesters have to be kept safe, unexpected violence is the hallmark of massive protests, with abundant global examples. The primary aim of the protest leaders is to get their message across without personal danger to even one protester. It is well-known that organisers never caution protesters that life threatening violence is very much possible, and they build up such frenzy with misinformation and lies, that young minds lose their ability to discern fact from fiction. This is not leadership, never will be.
That is what Rawat was talking about – leadership, and the immense burden that goes with it. Rawat knows, he has carried that burden for decades, just as do so many serving soldiers and Veterans. As can be expected, those who have thrown their venom at Rawat have no idea about leadership, never having the desire to learn that skill, and therefore never being able to execute that skill. Their objections have no basis, because they have foolishly caught the bull by its scrotum. Now the bull is going to retaliate, as would any male in such a predicament.
These ill-informed and self-appointed men and women, who loudly proclaim the supremacy of civilian control over the military in a democracy, are really the dregs of leadership. Civil control over the military means, the Armed Forces do not conduct the business of waging war, their primary job, without explicit approval and orders of the duly elected government of the day. It does not mean, and has never meant, that the military leadership is a dumb goat to be sacrificed at the altar of political autocracy. Military business is dangerous stuff, every day, and those who have not understood this, need to educate themselves. The Owaisis, Chidambarams, Manoj Joshis, Karats, Rajas, and so many others of their ilk, consider themselves the last bastion of preventing a coup by Rawats, VK Singhs, Dhanoas, Lanbas, Manekshaws, Sinhas, Thimayyas, Tyagis.
These fellows are poor judges of the Indian military machine, worse, they have pathetic knowledge about leadership in their own field, and zilch about military leadership, and they refuse to learn leadership. So self-centred and immersed in their thirst for votes/readership/ viewership/TRP ratings, that the obvious evades them. They consider themselves to be the repository of all that is noble and democratic, and the way they interpret others‟ utterances, statements, and even thoughts; is supposed to be their innate inborn ability, which cannot be challenged by anyone, least of all, military men and women.
What arrogance? They speak about military leadership as if we soldiers, sailors, airmen are second grade individuals with limited intellect; who do not understand the complex equation between the Armed Forces and netas / journalists/strategic analysts/upper crust gentry. Absolute piffle needing some hard truths; to liberate young Indians from the shackles of this fake glue that binds you to the wrong men and women, who are only rabble rousers without any leadership attributes. India’s youth beware, these are yes men & women.
They will cunningly deceive you, exploit you and then discard you like tissue paper, they will be disliked by their peers, and despised by their subordinates. It is a grand tragedy that young minds permit themselves to be repeatedly deluded into self-destruct mode. Let’s take a few examples of some supposed giants on the Indian political and journalistic canvas who have thrown jibes at Rawat. One is a small time MP, the other is considered a colossus on the Indian political canvas, and the third is a pedestrian scribe of limited intellect, who over the years has forced his hollow noisy deductions upon us Indians as truth about India’s security.
Owaisi is an MP of Hyderabad that is all, it needs to be stressed, that is all. He has no all India responsibility, his sphere is limited to Hyderabad, and he should stick to that, something he neglects and Hyderabadis suffer. Before you tell Rawat what to do, start doing what you are paid to do Mr Owaisi. The Hyderabadis elected you, now Owaisi, work for them. The institution that you head needs leadership, not jingoism and falsification of data, and you have demonstrated the lowest level of leadership by tearing the Bill in Lok Sabha. This is what you want the youth of Hyderabad to remember you for?
This is what boys and girls of Hyderabad will emulate as they grow up into responsible citizens of that beautiful city? They will tear up question papers which they cannot answer? This is what all members of AIMIM will be expected to do when they disagree with anything? What blundering leadership is this Owaisi ji? That is what Rawat was saying, the leadership displayed by the organisers of the protests is poor and misguided. Rawat, now the CDS in the Govt of India to remind you, was neither supporting any act of parliament, nor backing govt policies, nor condemning the protest marches. Your ability to comprehend what Rawat said is crippled by your misunderstanding about what actually is civil control over military, change it, you will see the truth. The responsibility of Rawat and his successors spreads right across India, yes it does Owaisi, yours is limited to Hyderabad, the sooner you interpret this difference, the better for you. In the Armed Forces, honest, courageous, balanced, steadfast, exemplary leadership is the bedrock of success. The very same leadership that is necessary to lead protests.
Sadly it is missing; leading to tragic avoidable deaths which would have been obviated had sound leadership been available. That Mr Owaisi, is what Rawat was talking about. He has not transgressed any line and has not entered political discourse, he does not need to do that and he knows it. You on the other hand, wish to be seen and heard on the national scene every day, 365 days a year, and thus shoot off your mouth on any subject that can get you at least five precious seconds at prime time on TV. What leadership is this? Were you there with the protesters when the rioting started? No. Military leaders are there right in front when the enemy opens fire, you are always at the back in front of TV cameras?
Take care of Hyderabad Owaisi, leave the Armed Forces alone, you are incompetent and ill-informed to talk about them, especially their leadership. It takes fortitude, gumption, grit and discipline to become a leader, you have shown very little of it in the years that India has seen and heard you Mr Owaisi. Rawat has demonstrated this in India and abroad. So when he talks about leadership during protests, he knows. He also knows what not to say, you Owaisi do not know when to keep shut. You sir, are not God’s gift to Indians, we will flourish without you and even with you placing impediments in the civilian –military equation, but remember Owaisi, you do not matter, Rawat matters. Most important message to you from us Veterans is, lay off, you are out of line.
Chidambaram says Rawat should mind his own business. He is doing that Chiddi, you are so confused with those years in power and now those months in Tihar, that logic evades you. Leadership is Rawat’s business; the whole edifice of Armed Forces depends on leadership, not on politicking. Not on misinformation, not on false promises, not on evasive diversions, attributes you are superior in. Rawat is telling those who inspired the protests that they lack vision and leadership skills. He is not telling you netas how to do your jobs, why are you feeling guilty?
If a neta is the leader, then he needs to pay heed. If not, then Chiddi baba, do not interfere in what is not your business. Chidambaram’s lack of leadership has been profusely proven by his financial mis-dealings that forced a court of law to incarcerate him in Tihar jail for more than 100 days. Can there be a more telling story about poor rudderless leadership and crossing the line of correct behaviour? And the Armed Forces current leadership as well as lakhs of veterans are telling you netas that we will not swallow such unacceptable conduct from you anymore. People like Chiddi have failed the Armed Forces and the nation, time and again. Wayward leaders are the bane of our young nation; the youth is starved of leadership.
Each one of you needs to know that the Armed Forces, their leaders, today and tomorrow, are also one of the many pillars of Indian democracy. Yes Chidambaram, the Indian Fauji does not need the likes of you to tell him or her, what is our business, we know it, and we also know what not our business is. Tell your tribe not to forget this truth. The simple verity of this statement is that in spite of repeated shoddy treatment by netas of all political hues, including present dispensation, and persistent poor management of our nation, and worse, giving away military victories for political expediency, we Faujis have scrupulously kept away from interfering in matters within the political domain. If after 70 years of constant distancing from political matters, under most disquieting and many times wretched situations and downright abuse with wilful neglect, the military leadership remained out of politics but is still suspect, then the confusion is with politicians, journalists, petty chiefs, rabble rousers, armchair strategists, not us faujis. Understand that.
When displayed leadership during protests, violent or peaceful, is poor, failing in direction, badly managed and cowardly, then it is the sacred duty of the military observer to say it loud and clear without pretensions. That is our business Chiddi, to tell you that political leadership is failing. Your poor leadership has an adverse impact on us military men, women and our families; we have the right and duty to express our anguish about it. We are not telling you whether the protest is good or bad, whether it should be done or not, Rawat simply told you that the leadership was bad and misguided. That is not his business? These young men and women have to make India function after you and I have gone, neither of us is immortal, though you behave like one with an “amar patta”. These lakhs need to know that their leaders are wanting.
The protest leadership did not have one grain of worry about the safety of their flock, this is immoral leadership. And more, we faujis are not Indian citizens? Only you netas are custodians of India’s future? For the record, the Armed Forces have done possibly 100 times more to protect and preserve the Constitution of India, than all you politicos since 1947. India belongs to us faujis and our families just as much as it belongs to you and your family Chiddi. I have a big stake in India’s leadership, then how dare you prevent my colleague from commenting on leadership of protesters? Rawat correctly observed that the leadership of the protesters was badly flawed, and you have the gall to say that this is not the business of the Commanding General of the Indian Army? What cheek Chiddi, how dare you? You too are out of line, lay off, and keep off.
Everything that happens on the streets and gullies of Indian cities and towns as well as in her villages has an impact on India’s Armed Forces. Our manpower and culture comes from these places. Our families and children come from these very streets and gullies, our aged parents live in these streets and gullies. We marry here, we christen our children here, we send them to school right here, and our funerals are conducted here. This is also our land Chiddi, just as it is yours. If it is unsafe, uncertain, riot prone; then me and my family is in danger, and I have the inherent right to protest against the leadership that creates this dangerous environment. It is my business, and you Chidambaram cannot ask me to be silent.
It is the sacred duty of the Army Chief to say so, loud and clear, and you Chiddi must listen and accept that call. When buses burn my family and I are in danger, when houses are damaged and cars are smashed, my property is destroyed, when rioting happens and curfew is imposed, my family suffers the impact. Me and my family live and travel on these streets and gullies Chiddi, you and your family do not, so it is my business to demand better leadership from protesters.
Your homes, cars, wives and children are safe behind Z security, mine are vulnerable, defining the leaders of protest marches as bad is my business, and the business of General Rawat, now the CDS in the Govt of India, and please note, he has not been to jail for fraud. When will you, and your tribe learn what is within your scope and what is not in your arena. Just being an MP today and a minister yesterday is not enough to shoot off your mouth. Now, let us address the media stalwarts who have failed India, and keep failing Indians.
Manoj Joshi, self-styled strategic analyst, self-appointed expert in defence matters, all knowing security Moghul, master controller for all occasions who decides which of us ordinary Indians can open our lips. For long India has suffered Joshi’s waffle and misguided deductions, and behold he gets paid handsomely for this misinformation. He finds General Rawat loose lipped, really Manoj? Have you observed how flabby and uncontrolled your lips have been for decades? Who and what gives you the audacity to make such an uncharitable remark on a serving Chief of the Indian Army, now the CDS to Govt of India? Keep that in mind. How much do they pay you for writing and speaking such falderal and tripe?
And having done that you can face your family at dinner? Persons like you, reasonably ossified now, and certainly dyslexic, have regurgitated so much muck and passed it off as brilliant strategic intellect, that we faujis are fed up now. You find our general “loose lipped”, and what about your lips, teeth, jaws and the little grey matter? In your assessment all these parts of you are true gold, stamped by the Reserve Bank of India as “saccha sona”.
You delude yourself. You have arrogated to yourself and to your clan of journalists, the singular and sole right to comment on any matter under the Sun, and make it appear to be unadulterated accurate incontrovertible honest truth. Rubbish Manoj, it is pure bile, slime and sludge. Journalists of your calibre should pause, hark, and look over your shoulder to see how much muck you have left behind in your utterances and writings. Till now we faujis, from Lieutenants to Generals have never opened our lips despite what historians, analysts, strategists, diplomats, politicians, bureaucrats, technocrats and you journalists, have written and spoken about us. The law of the land, all of you say, permits a military man to speak on only issues that are purely and distinctly military, and he can do that only to an exclusive military audience.
The Fauji, of any rank, is debarred from commenting on politics, finance, economics, public transportation, education, journalists, food supplies, health care, national security and diplomacy, in short, everything except distinct military issues. That all these other topics directly impact the Army, Navy and Air Force personnel and their families, is irrelevant, the rule cannot be violated. And if violated, then everyone has the right to condemn and castigate that military man in public for transgressing the line. Manoj Joshi, that era has gone and buried, we can do it and we will. We owe it the nation and to ourselves and our families. Look at your lips, not ours.
Admirals/Air Marshals/Generals have an intrinsic value addition to governance. They do not interfere nor intervene, but they contribute towards building the morale and tenacity of the women and men of India. The vast informed population of our nation has realised that journalists like you are poisoning their minds with fake data and lies wrapped in disheartening propaganda. Unless you promiscuous and unrepentant journalist are not exposed, the TV viewers and editorial readers will buckle under fictitious and delusive information that they correctly suspects is untrue, but need a more reliable source to guide them.
Many times in the last three decades, that man has been from the Armed Forces, and he has removed the curtains of uncertainty and fear that had been lowered upon the unsuspecting Indian public. Loose lipped you called Rawat? Be grateful Joshi that the likes of Rawat and many similar faujis walk the Indian scene where the uninformed public are looking for true value in assessments about India’s security. What happens inside India directly impacts external security, the adversary willing to unleash his hounds when uncertainty is spread by the Manoj Joshis of India.
The enemy gets strengthened by violent internal disruptions, especially those that have unscrupulous leadership. That Manoj, is what Loose Lipped Rawat was talking about, regrettably it is beyond your understanding, blinkered as you are with your unassailable self-delusion that your lips are the only ones that can be loose. You have got it wrong Manoj, very wrong. Speak with some reverence when you refer to those who have been leaders of men in battle where buddies fall never to rise again. In your writings there is reverence only to yourself, like all others from your tribe, men and women.
We Faujis have torn that curtain of self-approbation by the so called defence or security analysts who are truly far away from battlefield realisms. You use inexplicable terms that Indians cannot comprehend and you call that strategic analysis? You spray sulphuric propaganda, to demean soldiers who do so much to ensure that you can write the nonsense that you do, and earn a living. Manoj Joshi, you are well over the hill, you also are out of line and off the track, time to quit, just do it. I cannot but add the name of Rajmohan Gandhi who has wrongly accused Rawat of publicly criticising civilian protests. Who asked you Rajmohan ji? Jabardasti. One would have expected the grandson of the Mahatma to at least inherit and retain the gene of “viveka” or discrimination. Rajmohan you are ignorant of what Rawat said and did not say, check things before you throw such comments, your grandfather always did.
The Fourth Estate of India has grown in leaps and bounds with staggering cash flows and power to make or break politicians, businessmen, film stars, sportspersons, judges, policemen, rape victims, activists, protesters, trade unions, artistes, just about anyone who breathes in India. When the media displays falsehood under the guise of Right to Know and Freedom of Expression, then it must be ready to get a swift kick for that slip of falsehood, as often as that slip occurs. The likes of Owaisi, Chidambaram, Joshi cannot be permitted ceaselessly to speak and write tastelessly about anyone without fear of being taken to task. This time they attacked a serving Chief of the Indian Army, unjustly so.
They conveniently spoke about what Rawat had not said, nor implied, hoping their transgression will be forgotten, not this time sir, you have to be told where you stand, and you stand in the spotlight of shame for showing the lowest level of courage and leadership, which is what Rawat was talking about. It is time for us Indians to become aware and wary of the men and women who are illuminated by that powerful shaming spotlight:
Rarely Have India’s Armed Forces, Ever Loyal and Adept, Been Entrusted With So Much; And Yet, Are Being Distrusted so Much, at the Very Same Time.
Gp Capt AG Bewoor was commissioned in the Indian Air Force in 1965 into the transport stream. He was one of the pioneer members to induct the IL-76 into the IAF. He flew the first IL-76 into Male during the abortive coup in Maldives in 1988. This, along with the other operations, earned him the Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry) in 1990. He took premature retirement in 1993 while serving as the COO of 3 Wing at AFS Palam. He is the son of former Army Chief, Gen GG Bewoor, and lives in Pune. He regularly contributes to military journals and magazines. He can be reached on Email: [email protected]