My comments on Asian Age writings are:
On any issue especially at the level of the Government, effective leadership demands application of mind. Legal opinion is not the end all. If one is to go entirely by the views of the junior bureaucrat, a financial advisor or a legal opinion, leaders become redundant. The elected leadership in particular, is meant to moderate the views of all concerned and take appropriate decisions in the country’s interest. In the instant case the country’s leadership has failed in its obligations.
What is mutually acceptable solution? Accepting a date mid way? In cases like this, truth cannot be altered. If one were to ask if the officer would have been allowed to appear for the examination without proper verification of the educational qualification and date of birth by the UPSC or permitted to join the NDA by the Army Headquarters, the answer to the entire puzzle would have emerged. Ask any official of the UPSC handling these cases and they would have given the answer. Instead, the Government chose to confuse the issue beyond rational resolution.
A question has also been raised as to why the General did not accept the Government’s orders as he is covered under the Army Act. The Army Act mandates a soldier to obey only “Lawful Command”. Asking the Chief to accept a wrong date as his date of birth is falsehood and hence not a lawful command. On the same breath one would like to ask the proponents of this view, if in case the government wants a Lieutenant General to accept a date of birth which makes him 2 years younger than his correct date of birth for reasons that the Infantry Directorate maintained that date and being an Infantry Officer the Government is obliged to go by that date, should the officer accept that date? Why this double standards?
It is also being professed that the morale of the Armed Forces is being affected by the Chief going to the court and that this act of the Chief going to the court is not good for the Army. Rational thinking and a soldier’s mind suggests that in case the Chief had accepted the Government’s version of the date of birth and had decided to retire in 2012, the junior officers and the troops would have got away with the impression that the Army Chief indeed had told a lie to hang on to his post for a year longer and probably since the truth had been found, the Chief was saving his own face by accepting the Government’s version on the pretext of being a disciplined soldier. I leave it to the, people, the fraternity of the serving soldiers and the Military Veterans to decide which of the options would have affected the morale of the troops.
No one has so far clarified as to how the Chief going to the Court is not good for the Army. Are they suggesting that the bureaucracy would block all legitimate cases of procurement and modernization? If that be the case, so be it. Indian Army is not the Indian Army’s Army. It is India’s Army and it if for the people to decide what the country needs in terms of defence needs. The bureaucrats are no one to stand in-between the people and national interests. If the bureaucrats decide to field an ill equipped Army against an adversary and if lives and territory are lost, those concerned will be made to pay a very heavy price by the people.
Brigadier V Mahalingam