“Another male bastion falls as women are inducted into the Corps of Military Police!”
“One more bastion crumble as women are granted permanent commission!”
“Yet another military bastion falls as the NDA is thrown open to women!”
“Cantonment roads opened to the public, a huge victory for the civilian population!”
“No more expensive Scottish booze and high-end cars for military officers!”
There is a depressing pattern in the headlines that one sees lately. Every ruling that is against the interests of the Armed Forces is celebrated as a victory for certain vested interests and a defeat for the military. Why this sudden disdain bordering on hatred for the Armed Forces of the nation?
Is this not a peculiar dichotomy where on one side we hear a loud chorus of shrill nationalism and patriotism, and on the other no efforts are being spared to emasculate the Armed Forces? Are all these issues unrelated, or is there a hidden agenda? And who will win if the military loses?
For the majority of veterans who have been watching this not-so-gradual erosion of everything that the military stands for, this is a losing battle. Like the different stages of grief, veterans are going through various stages of frustration-horror at what is happening; anger at the lack of a befitting response from the military hierarchy; despair at their own helplessness; and finally, resignation and acceptance when they realize that there is nothing that they can do to stem the rot.
It would, of course, be blasphemy to question the wisdom of the powers-that-be regarding the directions that are been meted out to the military. When the honourable courts decide that women should be inducted into the National Defence Academy, or be allowed to participate in active combat, we must assume that they, the judges, the politicians, the bureaucrats would have obtained first-hand inputs from their own sons who are undergoing training in the various military academies or serving in combat units on the Line of Control in Siachen or the Northeast.
Surely only someone with deep knowledge of the ground realities in these areas would have carried out an in-depth analysis before passing a ruling that would allow their own daughters to join their brothers in the battlefield!
Can the destroyers of all the bastions of military tradition, ethos and culture guarantee the nation that the other bastions, the ones along the Line of Control, the International Borders, and the maritime borders, will remain as strong despite the weakening of the foundations? Will the loss of a bastion on the borders also be greeted with triumph in the heartland of the nation?
The Indian Armed Forces are at a crossroad. Taking the wrong turn simply because the road looks smoother may have disastrous consequences. The harder, but more appropriate one would come at a cost, probably a personal one for the decision makers. Can they, do it?
As some wise person has said, “The military that we have inherited is not our personal property. We merely hold it in trust for future generations”.
About the Author
Colonel (veteran) Shivaji Ranjan Ghosh was commissioned in the Punjab Regiment in December 1974. He is an alumnus of the National Defence Academy, the Indian Military Academy and the Defence Services Staff College. He has commanded an Infantry Battalion on the Line of Control and in Counter Insurgency operations and has served with the National Security Guard.
Subsequent to taking premature retirement from the Army in 2005 he has been working in the field of aviation emergency response in the Middle East and in India and is one of the pioneers in this subject in the country. Currently he holds the position of Associate Director Emergency Response in IndiGo Airlines and is based in Gurugram.