The Indian Military, The Generals And The Dance Of Democracy In India

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Indian Army’s Retired Generals have long been nurturing ambitions to fight elections, and have their say in democracy. However, their performance is far from satisfactory. In recent Punjab legislative assembly elections, retired army chief General JJ Singh fought against Capt Amrinder Singh and lost his deposit!

Capt Amarinder bagged 72,586 votes, almost 70% of total votes polled. General JJ Singh was polled only 11,677 votes

The result of Gurdaspur Loksabha seat’s by-election was declared very recently. AAP contested Maj General Suresh Khajuriya, hoping to get vote share of retired faujis from a seat where ex servicemen voters are in decisive majority. General Khajuriya lost the election, like anything.

Captain Amrinder Singh said, “This underlined the political annihilation of the Aam Aadmi Party(AAP) in the state.”

The Punjab is heartland of the Faujies then how can a so called fathering figure like a ‘General Saab’ a retired “Army Chief” gets such low vote share that he goes on to lose his security deposit.

This lesson is an eye opener for all the Army top Brass and the General Himself. When you do appeasement of only one community which makes for only 03 percent of the serving and the retirees ‘THE COMMISSIONED OFFICERS’ and relegate the other 97 percent ‘THE JAWANS’ to a corner and enslave them, do not empower them even after 70 years
of Independence all you are bound to get from The very Mature Indian veteran Jawan class is ‘a big nothing’.

The Retired General saabs were fielded in the election to get votes from the serving Jawans and Veterans but the politicians did not know of General Dyers’ humanitarian records while dealing with his own fauj.

The recent barrage of criticism of the army chief and loss of election by the General saabs is a signal for the times to come. The armed forces can never be above criticism in a democratic setup, in a RAM RAJYA. In each case of criticism of the Armed forces, it
would be important to think logically and think about its merits. The Armed forces are no ‘HOLY COW’.

Maj General BC Khanduri and General V K Singh are exceptions in this gambit. Maj General B C Khanuri is a well respected veteran of the Bhartiya Janta Pary who has been a Member of Parliament from the Garhwal Lok Sabha Constituency in 10th, 12th, 13th, 14th and 16th Lok Sabha an chief minister of uttarakhand from 2007 to 2009 and 2011 to 2012.

General VK Singh entered politics after the Anna movement and joined the BJP. The year 2014 was a period of the great Modi wave, whatever Narendrabhai touched turned to Gold. He campaigned tirelessly for an eternity, it seemed. BJP also took a correct decision to choose General V K Singh as the party’s candidate in Ghaziabad. That was a very safe decision for many reasons. General V K Singh’s Rajput background played a major role in his win as he was preceded by another Rajput candidate Mr. Rajnath Singh. Since caste usually runs the show in Uttar Pradesh, General VK Singh polled 7,58,113 votes as
against 1,91,188 votes for his nearest rival Raj Babbar of the Congress.

In the years 2016-17, the country has seen some Army Generals, Naval Admirals and One Air Chief indulging in scams such as Adarsh Building scam and Augusta westland scam.

In the backdrop of such contemporaneous scams, some ex-servicemen organisations, political activists, NGOs and human-rights groups have now started challenging certain actions of the top brass of the military. It has irked many serving and retired military honchos.

However, in a democracy criticism cannot be avoided. The openness to disparagement and Questioning by everyone makes India what it is today, ‘World’s Biggest and happiest Democracy’. We are neither Russia nor China nor are we Pakistan. The right to question was there during RAMRAJYA, when a certain DHOBI raised suspicion about purity of Sita
Mata’s character as she had lived with other man’s custody for around a year. Maryada Purushottam Lord Ram abandons pregnant SitaMata into the forest but didn’t kill the washerman.

If it was today’s time of honour killing, hate mongering and fake news spreading via social media, one wonders what would have happened with Mother Sita!! And, we are talking about bringing RamRajya! We the followers of lord Rama still curse the washer man for his deeds and Lord Rama for not standing up for his sahdharmacharini. This is the beauty of India, where we do not shoot the messenger.

Owing to the media, certain military actions get undue publicity. Simultaneously, the interaction of the defence community, serving and retired of all ranks with other members of the society is found increasing significantly owing to various reasons. Because of social
media open debates like Rank Apartheid, Sahayak system, continued suicides of Jawans, rehabilitation and resettlement of Jawans and Veer Naris and various other military issues are now coming under close public scrutiny.

Some Big Moustached Nationalistic Generals and a few junior ones have converted themselves into a shouting Brigade on media. They act and look like the Biggest War Mongers of all time, even bigger than the Hitler himself. They are live all the time on Nationalist news channels. Few have installed 24×7 camera feeds from their residence.
They get more viewership by warmongering and debating hawkish views.

While these warmongers were in service they might not have killed even a single insect but every day on TV screens their job is to tear apart Pakistan into many parts.

Indian democracy is said to rest on the venerable four pillars of the legislature, the executive, the judiciary, and the press. The representation of the majority of the military, the Jawan class, who consist of whopping 97% of the serving and retired lot, is zero in
either of the democracy’s three resting pillars. Owing to which real issues of Roti, kapda aur Makan and above all Izzat of a Jawan or the veer Nari are considered as taboo and they never come up for any debate in parliament, media or judiciary. The Jawans’ saga of
suppression has its roots in them being kept away from society and Politics!!

When ‘Anti Discrimination Core’ a Jawans’ organisation went to court complaining about discrimination in ECHS. The high court of Delhi openly submitted the following:
“We are also of the view that even if we were to issue a direction for all members of the ECHS to be treated equally and even if the offending display boards were to be removed, the same may not eliminate the problem inasmuch as, the Doctors / Physicians and other
Paramedics are likely to continue to give priority to the officer ex-servicemen. It cannot be lost sight of that the Defence Forces, more than any other, are steeped in hierarchy and the Doctors, Physician or Paramedics of a lower rank are likely to, out of habit and deference, give priority to those superior in rank, even if ex serviceman.”

It is such a shame in a democracy that none of the three holiest institutions running its functions want to mend the very oppressive, colonial ways of the Indian Armed Forces!

Instead of using curse words against the army top brass or playing the Blame Game, we need to understand that the Armed Forces are no holy cow but are integral part of the Democratic system. We must keep asking them difficult questions. The very patriotic soldiers of this nation deserves our respect, love and solidarity as much as their
colonial laws and practices needed to be immediately reformed.

Jai Hind!

Manan Bhatt is a Retired Petty Officer of Indian Navy. This article has been posted with the author’s permission. The views expressed are personal.