Antony a good man but surrounded

Discussion in 'Politics & Society' started by Bhadra, Apr 7, 2014.

  1. Bhadra

    Bhadra Defence Professionals Defence Professionals Senior Member

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    Antony a good man but surrounded by a web of bureaucrats: Gen VK Singh's autobiographer

    Antony a good man but surrounded by a web of bureaucrats: Gen VK Singh's autobiographer

    New Delhi: With the clock ticking down, the fate of 542 candidates that will be sent to the next Lok Sabha hangs in the balance. Amidst the shrill, high-pitched drama with various candidates attacking their rivals, the one issue that is omnipresent is the multiple scams in Defence deals.

    The Gujarat Chief Minister and BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi went a step further, accusing India's long standing Defence Minister AK Antony of being so incompetent that he might well be a Pakistani Agent. Fighting for a seat from Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh under the BJP banner, former Army Chief General VK Singh brought back some sanity by subsequently saying Antony was a good man, though unfortunately surrounded by a web of bureaucrats that virtually hobbled the Minister and his good intentions.

    Marya Shakil spoke to Kunal Verma, the co-author of the General's autobiography, Courage and Conviction

    Marya Shakil: The General is obviously new to the rough and tumble of politics. Not too many politicians would have made a comment that contradicts what Mr Modi had said.

    Kunal Verma: Only time will tell if Mr Antony can seriously challenge Krishna Menon's place in the country's history as the worst ever Raksha Mantri.

    Even though the General himself was the victim of Mr Antony's indecisive and waffling nature, I think the fact that the Defence Minister was always willing to look at how to improve the lot of the troops struck a deep chord with him. When we were working on the book and had to comment on his actions, the General maintained it was important to understand the mental make up of the man and view his actions accordingly. That Mr Antony was completely at the mercy of the machinations of the then Defence Secretary and his pals in the PMO comes across quite clearly. These people were ruthless in achieving their own objectives and protecting the institutional integrity of the Armed Forces was no where on their radar.

    Marya Shakil: So is Mr Modi's statement uninformed?

    Kunal Verma: Well, when one looks back at some of the events, one can only hold ones head in ones hands. I think the most absurd statement to ever come from his was that bit about raiders in Pakistani army uniforms when our boys were killed and beheaded. What the hell was he thinking? Even a spokesperson in the Pakistani government could not have done such a slick job of exoneration and deflected the attention towards non-state actors.

    The examples are endless - but in a way, the RM's performance will have to be viewed as a part of the UPA's manner of functioning where all the Ministers seemed to have collectively sworn allegiance to a family rather than the Constitution of India. Here we had a PMO which had it's hand on the head of a Track-II team headed by the former Air Chief, ACM Tyagi which was happily negotiating India's withdrawal from Siachen in October 2012. When the balloon went up and some of us made a noise about it, we copped a lot of personal abuse from some of the main protagonists. The story was ignored by the national media completely and other than Mr Modi and Mr Subramaniam Swamy, no one in the political circles seemed to understand what was happening.

    Marya Shakil: After the dust settles post the election, do you see most of these charges just fading away. After all the noise around the Bofors scam, no one was really booked during the subsequent six years of NDA rule.

    Kunal Verma: If the country needs to take itself seriously, both at the national and international level, whatever shape the next government takes, all these scams need to be looked at in all earnestness and the culprits brought to book ruthlessly. Unless that is done and time bound enquiries are put into place with sweeping judicial and executive powers, the people of this country will never know the truth. The biggest failing of the UPA has been its unwillingness to probe any scam seriously, maybe because there was always someone 'higher up' in the scam-chain. The real challenge here lies not just for the new government but also for the judiciary and the bureaucrats who have to redefine their roles keeping the interest of the country in mind.

    Marya Shakil: Considering the fact that most people involved in these mega-scams are those in high positions in the current government, will it not look like a witch hunt?

    Kunal Verma: When details of the Sukhna scam initially began to emerge, VK Singh was the Eastern Army commander and was faced with a Hobson's choice. He was cautioned by some very senior well wishers in Army HQ that should he take the bull by the horn, the 'system' would close ranks and do its utmost to destroy him instead. If anything, it was VK Singh who stood to loose the most. We touched upon this briefly in the book, but frankly in my opinion, it was the defining moment. As far as VK Singh was concerned, I don't think for him the option of not doing anything was ever on the table.

    There are multiple layers involved in most of these scams, and the politician is just one of those layers. Those who have been manipulating the system will come hard at the new government in many different ways and will not just fade away - it would be naïve to expect that. I think the key to the entire process will have to be transparency, and the media will have to play an extremely important role.

    Marya Shakil: After having thrown himself into the electoral fray in Ghaziabad, do you see a different side to VK Singh, the man?

    Kunal Verma: Just as a leopard never changes its spots, a tiger doesn't change his stripes either. Frankly, I was surprised when someone sent me a mail pointing out his statement about the RM, for I was not aware he had commented on that. I couldn't help but burst out laughing, for it was so typical of the man. I've never ever heard him say or do something that is even remotely against his principles, most of which are very clearly etched in his head. He has always been like that - as a young Company Commander he stood up to everyone, then he did it again as a Commanding Officer so much so that his Brigade Commander virtually fixed him. Even in these two-three years when the government threw the kitchen sink at him, he stood there steadfastly absorbing all the nonsense they could hurl at him.

    For those who have known him in the army, he is not the sort of man who gets affected by either triumph or disaster. What I feel really good about is that in the Armed Forces, especially at the junior level, we have hundreds of VK Singh's who are as committed to the country as he is. His success will hopefully encourage them never to loose sight of their goals.

    Marya Shakil: Some of his political opponents have been quite vocal in criticizing him. The General's labeling of the AAP as anti-national seems to have particularly ruffled Shazia ilmi's feathers.

    Kunal Verma: I've not heard a single comment that punches holes in what the General has been outlining to the people as his vision for the future. Shazia Ilmi has been referring to the General as 'the guy' who did this and that. Being deliberately disrespectful towards a former chief is one thing, but she seems to be parroting the very charges the UPA government had thrown at the General when they were desperate to somehow sully his reputation. If anything, General VK Singh's stand against corruption would have found resonance within the Aam Admi Party which at first claimed it was fighting against corruption.

    Members of AAP have made some stunning statements about Kashmir and plebiscite. These statements are not only irresponsible, they undermine everything the Indian Armed Forces and the country have fought for since Independence. There are nine parties in the fray from Ghaziabad - each with his own thinking and ideology. There are bound to be differences, but we must also recognize that each brings to the table what he or she sees as being the best for themselves and the country. Shazia should realize that the only reason she has been fielded by AAP from Ghaziabad is the large muslim vote which they think she could tap. If that is not cynical politics, what is?You only get nasty when you have nothing to say about policies, or if you don't have any yourself. Its then up for the people to decide.
     
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  3. JBH22

    JBH22 Senior Member Senior Member

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    What's the purpose of being the boss and getting bogged down by bad men?

    High time for accountability being a "good" man is no longer the excuse. If he is good and yet all this happens then this implies he is incompetent and he should pack off.
     
  4. Bhadra

    Bhadra Defence Professionals Defence Professionals Senior Member

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    I agree.

    On the other side it shows how powerful and hostile the higher bureaucracy is and also how pathetically anti forces they are !
     
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  5. happy

    happy Senior Member Senior Member

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    MMS is an even better man than Anthony.......what use is it ??
     
  6. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    What is praiseworthy of a good man, when he is impotent to do his duty?
     
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  7. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    A DISAPPOINTING SHOW

    - UPA-II has fulfilled few of its promises to the armed forces


    Writing in these columns when the United Progressive Alliance II commenced its innings (“Through Thick and Thin”, June 3, 2009), one was optimistic that the new dispensation would not sit idle whilst the nation’s armed forces continued down a slippery slope. This hope was driven by the belief that the prime minister, Manmohan Singh, who had earlier not shied away from bold decisions, would again not hesitate to look for innovative solutions to save the one institution on which rests the entire security edifice of the nation state.

    On the morrow of the release of the Congress manifesto for the forthcoming elections, it is appropriate to reflect on how the armed forces have fared against the optimism then expressed by this writer. To put no gloss on it, one must admit that from the earlier slippery slope, the armed forces are now on the edge of the proverbial precipice with only their tenacity and grit holding them from the unknown. And judging by the recent resignation of the chief of naval staff on moral grounds and the vulgar haste with which the government accepted, it would seem that this tenacity has also reached breaking point.

    In the interim, we have had the spectacle of an open war between a serving army chief and the ministry of defence with the former taking the unusual step of approaching the highest court. The extent of distrust is exemplified by media allegations of a secret military intelligence unit formed by the chief, purported to be snooping on conversations of officials in the ministry, and of unexplained army movements close to Delhi, with unsaid hints of the dreaded word, ‘coup’. Strangely, none of these stories have as yet been satisfactorily explained and put to rest, thus leaving not only a festering wound in civil-military relations, but also a sulking army deeply hurt by the open lack of trust in the institution itself.

    When two of our soldiers were killed at the line of control and one beheaded by elements across the border, we had the unusual occurrence of emotional outpourings by relatives of the one mutilated when the bodies were brought home, but not one leader of significance was at hand to provide the families and the army with a healing touch. More recently, when five soldiers were ambushed and killed on the LoC, which, according to the army was the work of the Pakistan army, the defence minister told Parliament that they were “terrorists along with persons dressed in army uniforms”, thus offering Pakistan a readymade alibi.

    In the operational domain there are not only severe shortages in armaments, but modernization is severely handicapped for various reasons, not least because of allegations of corruption, the blacklisting of various companies, and bureaucratic lethargy. A severe shortage of officers in all the three services continues with perhaps the army facing the severest shortages at the operational levels.

    When allegations of corruption surfaced in the AgustaWestland helicopter purchase, the defence ministry was quick to order an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation and later cancel the contract. But months have elapsed and it is now learnt that the CBI still awaits the president’s nod to question two governors, who, in their earlier appointments, were party to the decision making process. Clearly there appears little urgency to get to the bottom of the case. Let us bear in mind that the case itself came to light not because of a deft effort on our part, but because of investigations in Italy where it is the subject of a trial. Italian prosecutors suspect that kickbacks worth almost $67.6 million were paid to Indian officials to secure the contract.

    We continue to pay lip service to indigenization and to cast aspersions on the armed forces for their love of imported hardware, but we make no effort to address policy, and structural and management issues that plague our defence research and production systems, which are archaic and not accountable. The issues are all too well known and are the biggest impediments to the introduction of a healthy measure of authority associated with accountability. Indeed, reports of committees like the Rama Rao committee on measures to improve the functioning of the Defence Research and Development Organization, the Kelkar committee on the acquisition process and the enabling of greater private sector participation and the Naresh Chandra task force on reforming the national security system have met the same fate as many earlier such attempts.

    It is in this bleak backdrop that one was looking for some light at the end of the tunnel in the form of a national security manifesto from the ruling party that would at least provide the institution of the armed forces of India a ray of hope for the future. Sadly it is a disappointment.

    The manifesto lists achievements of having hiked the defence budget from Rs 60,066 crore in the financial year 2003-2004 to a mammoth Rs 2.03 lakh crore in the financial year 2013-2014, of announcing India’s biggest defence modernization plan and giving India the fourth generation plus Tejas and our biggest warship, INS Vikramaditya.

    It is disingenuous to claim credit for programmes that have been in the pipeline for decades and have had their share of cost and time overruns, amongst a host of other issues. The Tejas MK 1, for example, is still to obtain full operational clearance, which is not due soon whilst the MK 2 is not in sight. The INS Vikramaditya, originally slated to cost around $ 800 million, ended up at some $2.3 billion. Long Term Perspective Plans are periodic exercises and are by themselves no cause for breast beating. The true test is not making plans, but being able to implement them. Here the government’s performance has been patchy at best. Whilst there have been some notable procurements, most of these are through the government-to-government route with the United States of America; when it comes to purchases through global tenders, our lily white consciences balk at the slightest whiff of corruption, thus freezing the procurement system in its tracks. It is hence no surprise that all the three services are on oxygen as far as their modernization status is concerned.The manifesto may try and make the point that the financial year 2013-14 defence budget is a ‘mammoth Rs 2.03 lakh crores’, but this needs to be tempered with the fact that of this Rs.1.17 lakh crore is revenue expenditure, which is needed just to keep today’s armed forces afloat. Inflation, the steep fall of the rupee and rising costs of men and material all add to make the return on what the manifesto terms a mammoth increase, barely modest. That the defence budget as a share of the gross domestic product was a mere 1.79 per cent in 2013-14 and has dropped further to 1.74 per cent in 2014-15 explains why not just modernization of the armed forces, but even current war fighting inventories are under stress. As a point of reference, the strategic community feels that for India this figure should be pegged at 2.5 to 3 per cent.Two other aspects of the manifesto need brief mention. On the strategic front, the commitment to “maintain a credible minimum deterrence and second strike capability”, whilst being laudable, need to be matched with action. If one winds back to the heady days of UPA I’s crowning achievement of the Indo-US nuclear deal and the 123 Agreement and India supposedly having been admitted to the nuclear club, it will be recalled that this came at the heavy cost of India foregoing voluntarily the option for further nuclear tests. The fact that there was a difference of opinion amongst the scientific community at large and between the DRDO scientists and the Bhaba Atomic Research Centre specifically, on the partial success of the thermo nuclear device tested during Pokhran 2 forever leaves a question mark on the credibility of our strategic deterrence. This seems to have been forgotten. These issues were discussed in these columns earlier (“The Bang and a Fizzle”, September 14, 2009 and “A Nation and its Toothless Nuclear Doctrine”, October 2, 2008). Its time our security managers revisited these issues in the absence of which those we wish to deter are happy for us to live in a make believe world of our deterrent capability!

    The last is a promise to set up a national commission for ex-servicemen. One has no hesitation in saying that this last decade has seen the worst humiliation of the veterans of the armed forces by none other than their own government. They have been forced to resort to holding public dharnas and returning their medals to their supreme commander who has not even given them an audience. Adding insult to injury, when the Supreme Court issued directions for Pay Commission anomalies in favour of veterans not only has the MOD gone into appeal but on losing, continues to procrastinate in implementing the honourable court’s directive. In another first, the veterans have approached the honourable court with a contempt petition against the MOD, which stands admitted. With this history, any promises made to veterans sound not only hollow, but also look mocking. So much for the manifesto of the party whose one-time prime minister coined the phrase. “Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan”. One wonders what surprises the manifesto of the principal Opposition party now holds for the beleaguered armed forces of India.

    The author is a retired air marshal of the Indian Air Force
    A disappointing show
     
  8. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    He was a tool, Used via present Government, His views or him personally does not matter ..

    We know who is responsible, And we know how to solve issues ..

    Lets hope for the best and prepare for the worst ..

    ===============

    Corruption in defense being overwhelming, The grunts and tax payers the one paying off, Some of them with their lives ..
     
  9. anoop_mig25

    anoop_mig25 Senior Member Senior Member

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    India always had GOOD men but then india had to pay for it

    Nehru was good men and we paid it through j&K,china

    Lal bahudr shashtri was good men and then he paid through his life

    Rajvi Gandhi was good men and we paid it in srilanka

    ABV was good men anf then we apid it in kargil

    MMS is too good men but then now he is paying

    I think now it time to have men who can do rather then GOOD men

    second i donot think higher bureaucracy is too powerful to over rule minister who is considered to close to 10 Janpath
     
  10. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    The world is more complex than one believes ..



    Watch it completely

    ====================

    From the article >

    ====================

    What said by Gen VK Singh is true ..
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 10, 2015
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  11. laughingbuddha

    laughingbuddha Regular Member

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    AKA a good man perhaps. Even MMS. But not cut out to be politicians. Disastrous they have been in this field.
     
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  12. parijataka

    parijataka Senior Member Senior Member

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    From interview with Arun Shourie by Shekhar Gupta -



    ‘All depends on persons Modi will choose. He must not take any tainted person, not worry about Oppn here, and make CMs partners in governing India’ | The Indian Express | Page 99
     
  13. Bhadra

    Bhadra Defence Professionals Defence Professionals Senior Member

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    Higher bureaucracy itself is close to 10 Janapth or they can not be "higher" and in my view is capable to deriding or overthrowing a minister...
     
  14. Singh

    Singh Phat Cat Administrator

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    Yes, Bureaucracy can throw out ministers and CMs.

    But then AKA had a good reputation and blessings of 10 J, so he could've affected a change in MoD if he wanted to.

    All he did was stall everything to preserve his reputation.
     
  15. laughingbuddha

    laughingbuddha Regular Member

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    He will be remembered. In anger.
     
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  16. Bhadra

    Bhadra Defence Professionals Defence Professionals Senior Member

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    Yes you are right....

    Hoever when PMO is directly misguiding the RM then the pressures become clear..

    PMO articulated the statement on Paki Army beheading Indian soldier..

    PMO is behind many Defense deals

    PMO actively participated in VK Singh being denied his rights.. and the fiasco !!

    Someone in PMO made VKS secret letter public..

    PMO had a hand in The Coup theory...

    There are many more such example reported in the press..

    God knows what all was unreported....

    What VK Singh was hinting is perhaps that....
     
  17. Sea Eagle

    Sea Eagle Senior Member Senior Member

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    MMS is still among the best economists in the world. But Indian economy in such a poor state even under his governance shows he is not the one who is the head. Someone is even above him and takes all desicions.
     
  18. Singh

    Singh Phat Cat Administrator

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    If such shady things were happening then VK Singh should've resigned and not put up with it.

    VK Singh only acted when GoI made it clear his tenure won't be extended.
     
  19. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    That is your motivated opinion.

    I don't agree with many things VK Singh did or did not do, but we are no quitters like your hero Kejriwal!

    VK Singh is a Command.

    Their motto is:

    The tough gets going, when the going get tough!

    The PMO under MMS was the dirty tricks dept!
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2014
  20. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Hype and not the Truth,

    If here were the best, then why this state?

    Lots of non economists have salvaged their nation to some degree.

    Take Obama, Cameron or Merke!
     
  21. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Anothony is an ass.
     

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