Monday, June 15, 2009

Mail from Maj Gen Rajendra Prakash ..Dehra Dun

From: Rajendra Prakash

Subject: Internet and Soldier-Bureaucrat Imbroglio.

To: "Defence Watch" , "Kamboj,CS, Brig"
Date: Monday, 15 June, 2009, 1:16 PM

Below is a recent letter from (an unnamed) officer, presently serving in the 'mad house' in Delhi, addressed to a senior retired friend. The letter contains the writer's reactions to the large number of articles and opinion pieces lately appearing in the print media, on the plight of the ESM community, as also, the large 'outpourings' of our 'grief', presented via cyber-space !

The tone of the text below is cynical and light-hearted, but I think it contains much hard-headed wisdom.
Maybe, your readers may find it amusing (and perhaps instructive) to look at the piece below !

(Maj Gen Rajendra Prakash, Dehra Dun)



I enjoy most of the inputs you forward (even if I [sensibly] don't reply
to the vast majority of them). However, on this Sunday morning, with at
least a few moments to breathe after several weeks of death-by-South Block,
I think that I ought to share some thoughts on this and similar pieces.

To begin with, Sir, NOBODY in the civilian bureaucracy of the Ministry of
Defence accesses the Internet. Very few of the worthies in that lot read
newspaper reports from Kolkata or Chennai or Mumbai or Bangalore or
Chandigarh (everything outside of Delhi is the 'boondocks').

So when we write in these sorts of media (critical blog-sites such as
Pragmatic Euphony included) we are, for the most part, "preaching to the
converted", looking for sympathy and empathy.

What type/ form of media does the defence establishment bureaucrat read?
If he/she is between the apointments of Under-Secretary and Joint Secretary,
the answer is "nothing" but the Delhi dailies.

Even when a bureaucrat does deign to read something (if it's more than 4
pages in length,it must feature a Garfield-type Comic-Interlude), as soon as
he sees that the article is written by a retired member of the Armed Forces
fraternity (or more correctly, now that we are graced by the presence of
both genders, the Armed Forces 'Community'), bias is immediately ascribed.

SO: either we get the well established/iconic doyens of the Delhi
mainstream media (both print and electronic) to espouse our cause, or we
look at sites such as "Whispers in the Corridors" or magazines such as the
newly-launched one by India Today entitled "Bureaucrat" [Today?] (or some
such name).

In sum, Sir, if we cannot figure out what the bureaucrat is reading and
what he considers to be a medium that is worthy of his 'razor-sharp and
well-honed' intelllect (for the IFS this is nothing less than the "Foreign
Affairs"journal), all this breast-beating of ours -- howsoever justified and
howsoever emotive and heart-wrenching -- is utterly in vain.

Get hard intel on what types/forms of media are accessed by the defence
and financial bureacuracy. Of these, get refined intel on which of these
types/forms influence them. Within these, whose articles/pieces does he
consider to be influential? Target those.

The other option is to recognise that the Superior Judiciary of India
still stands independent of the Executive and the Legislature. So if the
Executive -- largely subverted by the bureaucracy -- remains unmoved, our
best options lie with the Judiciary (the Superior Judiciary).

Finally, we have our [largely-geriatric] Think Tanks (which all-too-often
follow a predictable life-cycle : 'Think Tank' to 'Ink Tank' to 'Drink Tank'
to 'wink Tank' to 'Blink Tank' 'Sink Tank' to 'Septic Tank' and repeat. Do
not cross GO. Do not collect $200!). Almost all our think-tanks end-up,
once again, as Old Boys Clubs, preaching largely to the converted (and often
to the somnolent). Yet, their greatest potential lies untapped. Many of
the erstwhile bureaucrats who are members of these think-tanks are still
influential with their serving counterparts. Now that they have finally
found the time to be enlightened on matters security (which includes, of
course, the whole business of how a society ought to regard its armed forces
and vice-versa) they need to be sent back to the cocktail circuits and
power-lunches that their serving brethren attend. Here they need to bring
their influence to bear upon the file-and-safety-obsessed ladies and
gentlemen that form the rotting and badly rusted steel frame of India. That
might facilitate some 'Awakening of the Bureaucratic Cerebral Device' that
passes for a brain (that lot can, of course, become an awfully contrived
acronym : ABCD", which even South Block ought to be able to handle (but only

Let's stop lamenting to one another. We already wear the shoes and we
already know how they pinch

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