Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Here Onwards by Brig RS Chhikara


Subject: Here Onwards

To: "REPORT MY SIGNAL(CS Kamboj)" , "Lt Gen RS Kadyan"

Date: Thursday, 21 May, 2009, 6:05 PM
Dear Chander , Gen Kadyan and Satbir,
I have been shying away from congratulating and thanking you all since the election results were announced.
Needless to say; the advisory was well thought out and well articulated. Brooks no criticism on either count. We must keep our thoughts positive and constructive.
The IESM campaign so far has achieved not only a considerable degree of understanding and co-operation among the ESM community it has generated wide awareness of the problem and appreciation of the justness of the demand. It is necessary to build on this progress.
Every or any Government that comes to rule India is indeed our Government. The IESM and the serving soldier, sailor and airman are not anti Govt or anti any political party. We chose to recommend our vote for one coalition that promised the most fair resolution of the problem as a onetime measure. Our appreciation is similarly due to the Left Front parties not withstanding their inclinations towards larger issues of national security because of which our advisory did not extend to them. We also appreciate the personal views of those Congressmen and women who were highly sympathetic to our stand although they were not able to influence the policy decision of their government. There are many such voices in the Congress and other UPA parties.
The Sixth Pay Commission has indeed created a serious chasm between the soldier and the Government of the day. There is a serious loss of faith and a severe erosion of morale.
A healthy and satisfied defence establishment is a National imperative and not a matter of turf war between a section of politicians and bureaucracy on the one side and the soldier, both serving and retired, on the other. The nation can ill afford such a chasm and urgent steps need to be taken by all to set matters right. The IESM needs to do so as much as the newly installed government and the Bureaucracy.
In our widely held perception, much of the blame lies with the overzealous and overbearing bureaucracy. Perhaps the Political bosses have either been misled of misinformed and ill advised. Alternately, the bureaucrat rode rough shod over either the political figurehead or the political establishment themselves desired to put the military down. Personally, I discount the last proposition completely.

Nevertheless, The new political government can be expected to be much more confidant and self assured which fact enables them to resist bureaucratic arm twisting much more effectively. I believe that our battle is with the bureaucrat and not with the politician. Our best interest therefore demands a better Military- Politician relationship based on trust and National interest. This means repairing our relationship with the congress party based on shared national interest and mutual faith.
In the euphoria of victory the congress party can be expected to adopt either of the following lines of thought and action.
(a) A vindictive approach towards not only the IESM but also the serving chiefs. It is possible that the Babu lobby will like to egg the politician on to go right ahead and teach the military a lesson. This is the worst case scenario not just for us but even more so for the Nation. The inherent dangers associated with this approach need to be actively and effectively brought home to the politician. This thought needs to be articulated through multiple channels.
(b) A confident and sympathetic approach based on a belated understanding of the injustice caused by ill motivated and injudicious influences of the bureaucracy. In fact, the newly acquired sense of self confidence among the ruling political class can be steered to promote such an attitude where they can take credit for being magnanimous in victory while doing the right thing in National interest.
Our best instruments for achieving our objective in the current circumstances appear to be the following.

(a) Articles and letters in the media by eminent friends.
(b) IESM Congratulates the Congress for their decisive mandate.
(c) We must meet and brief maximum number of new MPs and ministers on the importance of taking bold positive steps to regain the trust of the Military and ESM.
(d) We must also and more importantly work our concerns through the serving chiefs.
(e). MPs in the opposition should also be constantly encouraged to list this relationship problem as one of the most urgent points on the new agenda of Govt.
Views submitted for whatever these are worth.

Brig RS Chhikara. Veteran


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