General VK Singh heads an army of 1.2 million. It is the third largest standing army in the world, yet the General has not given a thought to an act of his that can have wide ramifications on morale and discipline.
In India the army is a most respected institution and it is not uncommon at get together and official parties, the attendees try and come closer to a medaled army officer. One has only to attend the Republic day reception given by the governor to realize this. Most invitees who themselves are men and women of standing will like to be photographed with a Fauji (soldier). The officer class of the Indian army has a certain aura and Charisma that is all pervading.
Now we have a general who refuses to grow up. General VK Singh after living with a wrong date of birth has petitioned the Supreme Court to amend his date of birth from 1950 to 1951, after 40 years in the army when the time has come to hang up his boots. No matter what the Army Chief claims, the fact is he has not covered himself with glory by this act. The image of the army has taken a nose dive and people are asking ‘Heck, what’s the problem, Is it that the chief wants another year in office? To enjoy the perks and privileges of the appointment?’
I grant that the general is right in his contention and his date of birth may be 1951 in place of 1950, but he has already served his term as the army chief and would it not have been better to just move on and not get embroiled in a case that can do no good to army morale. Look at the soldier facing the Chinese army in the inhospitable region of Ladakh and the McMahan line. What is the effect on his psyche? What does he think? Will he not think that here is his chief who has served his tenure and yet wants to cling on to office for another year? Is this my commander for whom I am braving the icy cold to face the enemy?
I ask the general, is serving for another year so important for him as to upset the apple cart of morale and discipline? What if every general or soldier tried to do these i.e. approach the Supreme Court for any slight or perceived wrong? Where will it lead India? The chief has lived with present date of birth 1950 for 40 years. What stopped him from taking this step earlier?
The general has now opened Pandora’s Box and what ever the result, the effect on the soldier can only be damaging. I have one point beefier I close. If this man could not correct an error in his birth certificate for 40 years, how would he have led India in a war? God forbid!