Placed in-line below is an open letter written by Lt Gen SC Sardeshpande,UYSM, AVSM, VSM addressed to elected representatives and leaders of political parties regarding the dangerous and messy state of affairs relating to the defence of the Nation. The Lt Gen requests that this letter may be freely forwarded amongst the Veterans community, and also forwarded to the target audience who may be on your mailing lists. ________ An Open Letter to Elected Representatives & Political Party Leaders In my personal capacity, I am inviting the awkward distinction of adverting to you regarding the recent defence scams, deficiencies, neglect, delays, procedural tardiness and the like, which are disturbingly dangerous for the defence of the country. The Air Force strength sanctioned for 42 squadrons has come down to 32, and, at this rate of obsolescence and ageing, will dwindle further to 29 as appears in the media. The MiG 21s have started failing and killing pilots. The Air Force and Naval aviation basic trainer HPT 32 have all been grounded; the next in line, Kiran trainers have dwindled to a handful; the next MiG 21s are already too old. The Naval pilots are being sent to USA for their basic flying training (TNIE of 8 May 2012), and the Air Force may have to send theirs perhaps to Sweden! Navyâ€™s Sea Harrier aircraft strength too has come down to a handful. Our Submarine fleet is not up to challenging the Chinese counterpartâ€™s entry into the Indian Ocean, which is the maritime area so vital to our trade, economy and security. The Army Chief has brought out a list of obsolete, ageing and deficient items in the Armyâ€™s vital weaponry, ammunition and equipment. What the Army Chief said early this year about the Army, the Air Force and Naval Chiefs had said about their Services two years ago, as reported in the press. Despite the deteriorating and unsatisfactory state of our Armed Forces as reflected by all the Chiefs, every one of them has said that they â€œwill fight with whatever they haveâ€. Which, when translated into reality on the battle ground, will mean only one thing: that the soldier (includes naval person and airman) will sacrifice himself and be converted into a martyr by the government, by the political parties and by the people themselves. Does this require any bright brain or complex logic to conclude? I am making bold to ask you elected representatives, party leaders, government officials and intellectual fraternity a few questions in this regard as a common citizen, as an educated and responsible person and as an old soldier of 35 years service in the defence of our country: Why have all of you, each one of you, permitted this downslide? Why have you not raised these issues in the parliament and other relevant for a, or with the elected representatives/ party leaders? What has been your contribution to arrest this downslide? Why are you trying to glorify the soldier and his martyrdom more than ensuring healthy, well equipped, well armed, well oiled and well provided defence forces and defence preparedness? Why is it difficult for you to understand that the clichÃ© of the man behind the gun being more important than the gun has its limits, beyond which that man behind becomes dead and useless? Why do you act so negligently as to treat the soldier as gun fodder, to be raised to glorified martyrdom deserving tears and garlands? What efforts have you made, or are making, to become aware of defence and military preparedness issues to ensure the countryâ€™s and its peopleâ€™s security, both external and internal, even as our history shows repeatedly that we received frequent beatings precisely because we neglected these very issues? I know you will find these questions hard to answer. You may even vent your displeasure over my temerity to confront you on the issues. I am posing them as a common citizen, affected citizen, in our so-called democracy. Yet, I do very sincerely and seriously request you to consider the issues and attend to cleansing the muck we have created. Dharwad -/signed (SC Sardeshpande) ********************************************* Dear all, hope this article is readable. Regards. Harwant. PMâ€™s authority has taken a hit Gen Harwant Singh When Dr Manmohan Singh first appeared on the Indian political scene in early nineties and took charge of a faltering economy, he displayed a vision, grit and skill rarely seen in India. He gave the economy a new thrust and direction. Inspector raj, which had stifled growth and led to corruption at lower levels, was shown the door. Singh became King. However the exit of inspector raj resulted in the onset of secretary-minister raj. While crony capitalism and secretary-minister class flourished, alongside expanded the middle class and the poverty line moved down a bit. Momentum of that growth was frequently stymied, partly due to gyrations in the world economy and more frequently due to procedural hassles of governmentâ€™s own making. POLICY PARALYSIS During the UPA 2 regime inertia and policy paralysis set-in, resulting in economic down turn. While the GDP growth hovered around 5 percent, corruption in government gained a new high. Alongside this, the centre of power and policy formulation shifted more and more into the hands of â€˜higher command.â€™ Cabinet ministers looked increasingly towards â€˜higher commandâ€™ for direction, undermining the position of the PM. Policy formulations emanated from National Advisory Council rather than from the cabinet. In the case of â€˜coal-gate,â€™ allotment of blocks were made by the ministry based on chits emanating from certain power centers, often without the knowledge of the coal minister (in this case, the PM ) Gradually PMâ€™s authority diminished and he became a cartoonistâ€™s delight. REPEATED RETREATS Undeniably he is not even a lightweight politician, but once in that august chair he cannot possibly cede even an inch of authority inherent in that post. Unfortunately, he has repeatedly retreated and never came to a point where he could say, â€˜enough is enough.â€™ He had been against giving extension to bureaucrats, but the latter instead of seeking extension have been creating permanent establishments and then, on retirement, get into these newly created jobs, where tenures often extend from five to ten years. IN ALL THIS LOOT OF THE TREASURY AND RAMPANT CORRUPTION WHICH HAS ENGULFED THE NATIONAL SCENE, PRIME MINISTER MANMOHAN SINGH HAS BEEN A MUTE SPECTATOR A weekly magazine has called it,â€˜ The Revenge of the Babus.â€™ The magazine goes on to list innumerable permanent regulatory authorities, which have been created to rehabilitate most of the retiring babus. Even in the Central Pay Commission, babus gave themselves, most scandalously, what is called, Non Functional Up-gradation. Which in simple terms translates into every one, at the very minimum, ending up in additional secretaryâ€™s pay bracket, even when there may be no equivalent post (s.) There are over fifty, class A services whose officers fall in this category. So you might find that the officer in your next door post office, draws the same pay as a three star general or the forest officer, who may have been left with no forests, draws the pay and consequently pension of an additional secretary to the government of India. In all this loot of the treasury and the rampant corruption, which has engulfed the national scene, the PM has been a mute spectator. It was left to the vice president of the congress party to pull the rug from under the PMâ€™s feet, just as he was to confabulate with the President of the United States of America and strike a friendly note with the PM of Pakistan. The ordinance, overturning the decision of the highest court of the country, was drawn after careful considerations and reflected the collective wisdom of the party, cabinet committee and the PM. Could this august body not sense the mood of the nation while drafting the ordinance! How did this young man after a long slumber, suddenly surface during a press briefing being held by a spokesperson of the party, extolling the virtues of this very ordinance, decide to rubbish it. His choice of words apart, one may want to know as to how and when did he discern the sense of the national mood and this sense dawn on him! After all it is the very same nation, which has repeatedly sent criminals to the parliament and state assemblies. Could he not have displayed some maturity and put forward his point of view, in a dignified manner to the PM, once he was back in the country. There could possibly be no, more crude and disparaging way to undermine the position of the cabinet but more so that of the PM. Once it became apparent that the President was not going to sign this ordinance, the situation had to be retrieved, but the method could have been less clumsy. No matter how one may view these past developments and the sordid drama, the point is that, Singh is no King. **************************************** "Gen Oberoi has very precisely put things in the right perspective for the common citizen. Playing about with intelligence agencies, both present & disbanded ones, or even publicly discussing the nature of their operations, successful or failed ones, is a cardinal sin any where in the world. The Govt quite evidently has committed the clumsiest of blunders & has indeed become a laughing stock among the intelligence 'communities', especially of the adversary countries".--- Maj Gen (Retd) Harwant Krishan. Source: Blunders galore - The New Indian Express "Blunders Galore" by Lt Gen (Retd) Vijay Oberoi General V K Singh, the erstwhile chief of the Indian Army, is back in the news for the wrong reasons. What started as a â€˜politicalâ€™ issue has gathered momentum and is now becoming a security issue, which is harming the nation. A slanderous and largely speculative leak by the UPA and its minions was the start of this unfortunate episode. It has now developed a momentum of its own, which is doing incalculable harm, not only to the dramatis personae involved in this episode, but to the security of the nation and the image of the country. A great pity indeed, as such blunders by the government cost the nation dear. They also affect the image of the ruling party adversely. Although I am an apolitical person, I am not ignorant of the shenanigans political personalities and parties in our country resort to. My interest is neither in parties nor personalities but in my country, which seems to be irrelevant to the political class! With this clarification made, let me shift gear and share my perceptions relating to this sorry episode, by first placing the main issues in their correct perspective. The persons charged with the ruling partyâ€™s campaign in the run-up to the General Election, were so rattled by the grand success of the veteransâ€™ rally at Rewari that they decided on immediate retaliation. Unfortunately, the method they chose of leaking so-called â€˜hotâ€™ news to a supportive newspaper was the one that had not worked over a year back. In their hurry, they ignored that not only the newspaper but also the minions of the government who had initiated that particular operation last year to discredit V K Singh had failed miserably. On this occasion, they picked up an enquiry that had been conducted by the army in respect of a small unit of the Military Intelligence that had allegedly been misused during the tenure of Singh. The enquiry had been finalised early this year; had been seen by various functionaries of the government; the unit had been disbanded; and the case had been closed, with no wrongdoings coming to light. Despite this, the â€˜wiseâ€™ campaign managers of the ruling party chose this case to discredit Singh, thinking that this would help them control the damage inflicted by the Oppositionâ€™s â€˜successâ€™ in making inroads in a so-far untapped segment of voters, viz the veterans and serving personnel of the military. The events that followed are too well known to bear repeating, but I do want to dilate on the security aspects of this unfortunate episode. Intelligence operations, whether by the military or other agencies, have two cardinal principles. The first is complete secrecy about planning and conduct, as well as the intended targets. The second and more important is the methodology adopted. Let me state unequivocally that cash inducements have been and will continue to be a method all intelligence gathering agencies, of all countries, employ. So, those who are pretending to be â€˜holier than thouâ€™ should pipe down lest additional details get revealed! Counter-intelligence agencies of our adversary countries and other entities are constantly on the lookout for any information that will give them an inkling of such operations, so that they can take action to counter them and launch their own operations. Agencies of third countries also want to know about such operations, for using at an appropriate time in future, either to curry favours with the adversary countries or employ similar methods by their own operatives against countries inimical to them. The government and party functionaries, who have spilled the beans by roping in a willing, albeit discredited newspaper and leaking classified information that they thought would help them in their partyâ€™s campaign, have jeopardised many important aspects of intelligence operations that both the military and other agencies of the nation conduct. Singh, having been bombarded with all kinds of allegations, had his back to the wall. He was therefore forced to respond. This was a natural reaction, especially as the allegations were very serious and were meant to tarnish his character. In the bargain, he too came out with some aspects that were best not made public. Unlike the party functionaries and the bureaucrats holding important offices in the Central government, who have little or no knowledge of strategies and tactics that professional outfits employ, the General, being a highly professional person, fully â€˜au faitâ€™ with security matters, should have been discreet while defending himself. The Military Intelligence unit that apparently was the cause celebreâ€™ of this entire episode had provided extremely valuable information to the security forces that had enabled them to take timely action against a number of Jehadi groups. Its disbandment for electoral and personal reasons of some inimical dignitaries has created a big void and given a setback to the workings of our intelligence organisations. This vilification campaign needs to stop forthwith, before more damage is caused to our intelligence efforts and the nationâ€™s security. The political parties should also learn that using foul means of this type, wherein the office of the chief of the army is attempted to be sullied, has highly negative connotations for the nation as well as the army. Our apolitical military must not be made a football for the politicos to play their games, in a bid to boost electoral prospects. The military and its hierarchy, past or present, must be left alone. They have always served the nation with loyalty and are now probably the only organisation left in the country that is holding it from going down the abyss! The writer retired as the Vice Chief of the Army.