Stepping in tune

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 1/2/2020 12:51:36 PM IST

 General Bipin Rawat has taken over as the first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) on January 1,2020, a new position created by the central government to serve as a single point of contact for three different services. The outgoing Army chief retired on December 31,2019. The appointment of a CDS is seen as a feather in the cap of the Modi government because political and bureaucratic resistance had stymied these reforms despite the recommendations of the Group of Ministers (GOM) Report which followed the Kargil War. The CDS will function as head of the Department of Military Affairs (DMA). As the CDS, General Rawat will be tasked with trimming weapons procurement procedures and integrating operation of the armed forces, besides acting as the principal military advisor to the Union Defence Minister on tri-service matters. He will also head the Department of Military Affairs and be paid a salary equivalent to a service chief. Gen Rawat moved up the highest ladder of the army even though he was supposedly the third ranked in terms of seniority. The Modi government favoured Gen. Rawat over Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi, the Commander-in-Chief of the Eastern Command, who was widely expected to take over as the next chief. The officer next in line in terms of seniority, Lt Gen PM Hariz, was also superseded. He was equally respected as an outstanding professional of rare calibre. It must be understood that selection of the chief of army staff does not necessarily follow the order of seniority but merit. Many observers see Gen. Rawat’s rise to his close friendship with India’s powerful super sleuth Ajit Doval. Both Rawat and Doval are from Uttarakhand whose fathers are said to be close friends. However that alone is not enough. The Modi government chose Gen. Rawat on the strength of his impressive service records and so was given the nod over his superiors. As CDS, Gen Rawat will report directly to the PMO while the other defence chiefs of the army, air force and navy would report to the defence minister. Gen.Rawat’s tenure as army chief was also mired in some unnecessary controversy which were largely seen as toeing the political stand of the ruling government. He courted controversy in the Major Leetul Gogoi episode by awarding the officer with the COAS’s commendation card. Gogoi sparked outrage by tying a Kashmiri civilian in front of his jeep in an apparent attempt to prevent stone pelters from targeting his convoy. After being awarded Major Gogoi later fell foul of the army law when he was involved in an altercation by trying to forcibly enter a hotel in Srinagar with a local woman. Rawat also caused another controversy by suggesting a code of conduct governing retired soldiers. The army headquarter clarified that it was not interested in such a code of conduct that is advisory which could even withdraw pensionary benefits in the worst of cases. His recent speech on leadership also drew flak from various political parties as it was seen as being clearly in favour of the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act. Government servants who speak in favour of the political establishment is a short term gain but it will result in long term damage to constitutional probity. Under such a cloud, it would need some effort from the new CDS to restrain from straying into forbidden territories if the military is to remain strictly apolitical.

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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