I have been mulling over it since yesterday after receiving a call from a retired Air Marshal, about my article on the subject which went viral. I could understand the deep hurt and anguish he felt like many of my fellow veterans, by the conduct of a General, who has joined the political battleground recently. Actually, my excitement knew no bounds when such a senior officer gave a call. My chest kept swelling with pride, but my mind kept working on why it made the Air Marshal react. Definitely, he did not approve of the Generals conduct; he felt that there is more than something amiss. He was convinced that the image of the Armed Forces was being tarnished by such behaviour of such a senior officer. He was sad and deeply concerned about the dilution of the ethics, the traditions and values associated with the armed forces. Sir, my salute to you for talking to a Mr Nobody, I had never spoken to a Chief ever before and I cannot explain my inner happiness speaking to a fatherly figure.
Firstly, any Chief who retires, should he join politics is the question? I say he should never. If still he joins politics what role is he best suited for? Well, to argue that if we as a fraternity do not join politics then how shall “we” be represented in the parliament? How do we get what is needed for the defence establishment of the country including veterans? Fine, so should we leave our military upbringing behind and try and ape the politicians. Some of them are not worth their salt. Simply by wearing a kurta-pyjama we are nowhere near politics per se. Instead, we surely embarrass “our community” more by speaking out of turn, out of place, out of context, basically foot in the mouth disease. I have seen one Chief who joined politics and has never been dealing with the Defence Ministry. There is a Colonel who was an Olympian, but has never been to the starting blocks of the Sports Ministry. The other retired officers I won’t mention. I am sure they all would be doing a lot for the country if not defence to say the least.
Let me just say, all key appointments assisting the Trump administration will be veterans. Why can’t ours be too? Why can’t our chiefs who volunteer after retirement also be made ministers directly? In US the President can choose his team from the experts in the field, in India we have to get elected first, field does not matter, expertise makes no difference, and education doesn’t matter. It is only the votes which matter. So except for a Gen, who could win elections, do we as veterans stand a chance? No way! This OROP and pay commission issue he would have dealt with in various appointments when he was in uniform, and now that he is in the right place where he can make things matter, I don’t find him involved directly at all. He may be justified in continuing his “desh-sewa” alright, but we the veterans feel let down. Can the General save the veterans and their kin from fast unto death, or is he waiting for it to happen and then react. I request him to please contribute rather just being subservient to his political masters.
Be that as it may, can we take a poll of how many Ex Chiefs would like to join politics? Will they like to be nominated to the Rajya Sabha and thereafter hold various ministries like many MPs who even after losing the elections are ministers. Finance Minister who looked after defence and Textile minister who had HRD with her are live examples. Well sir, do we need to take lessons from there. Why can’t our Generals, Air Marshals and Admirals run any ministry? It is food for thought folks.
What does the corporate think of as a retired fauji? Most of us are considered security walas, a head chowkidaar, a chap who will ensure that the corporate toilets are clean, the MDs booking to Pattaya is done business class, his fleet of vehicles is looked after the best, all stationary bills and office equipment is rationalised, food is made of the best quality and served to everyone in situ, all accommodation hired is the cheapest, etc-etc. basically we are head butlers of kinds. Our duties also included looking after and pleasing all senior government guys, collectors, mayors, and police stations in our jurisdictions with cuts and gifts fixed for them. The corporate only uses our ranks and our deportment to breakthrough to senior officials. Well, we are doing it and most of it is against our wishes, can’t help it as have a family to look after, as most of us retired as colonels and below. We have to live a whole life and have liabilities to finish.
Why couldn’t Gen say that he wants to stand for the President of India’s post? Governor is a political post alright, supported by a political party alright, but the Supreme commander of the armed forces, besides being the titular head of the country where the PM and his cabinet are advisors to the President is a different ball game altogether. Why has he fallen from grace to come to the grass roots of Punjab politics? There are many people who become preachers, social workers or run NGOs and really serve humanity. Are you seriously talking about the welfare of the people of Patiala? Sir do not “pill”, don’t pull a fast one, don’t maro satta’s, don’t confuse us veterans in NDA parlance.
Coming to the morals and values of a Chief, the decorum which comes with your appointment, the awe and aura which is affiliated with a General and a Governor, the sense of responsibility which is expected out of such capable people like you is missing. The conduct which is expected of you, the ethos which you should bring with the rank you wore, the purity, clarity and the clear cut aims of your mind should well show. A leader of one of the biggest armies suddenly stoops so low, is uncalled for, unheard of, unacceptable, unwarranted, objectionable to most of us. The language you use in vernacular, the courtesies that you have forgotten, the politeness and gentlemanly behaviour which is expected out of person of such high esteem is nowhere to be found. Sir, may I request you on behalf of most of us veterans, and especially the very senior lot who wore ranks equivalent to you or near yours, to let them live in dignity. Let them not answer on your behalf, as this cruel world is now questioning their integrity and their conduct. The civil now sees those veterans in the same light as you; they are not only tormented but distressed by your conduct and refuse to be equated like that.
I hope you know that people are calling you JAMANAT JABT SINGH, even before you have started your political career. The way you want to knock out the Captain, it appears we need to declare an RSC (Referee Stop Contest), firstly because you don’t know the rules of the game, secondly you only know how to hit foul, most of your boxes are below the belt and lastly lest we forget, let us give some izzat to our senior who all his life has done politics and you only “Jarnailey” and “Governorshahi”. So do you get it General, it is a call from the community which you form part of. Will you pay heed, or will you be used and thrown by the Badals, I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I was reminded of two movies which have been my long time favourites; one was “An Officer and a Gentleman”, and the other “Pretty Woman”. The hero in both is Richard Gere. A poor orphan in the first one and a stinking rich businessman in the other, and in both he proved to be a Gentleman to the core. In the first he did not quit though his sergeant Major, the Drill instructor grilled him till he almost gave up. In the other he decided to bring out the best of a lady in Julia Roberts at whatever cost. From being a woman of ill repute to a woman who is the most sophisticated on earth, he taught her to behave like a queen. A big contrast in the story lines but a glaring similarity too. In the end the goal was to make the man and the lady the toughest, mentally, physically and to be at their behavioural best, to be the best in their conduct, and to be proud of whatever they were and are, isn’t it? Well, now let me bring in a different tadka of General JJ Singh (Retd) in it. I am sure half of your mouths flavour would have got spoilt. Well I am going to discuss a few things of what I see of him on TV now and what I as a veteran feel about it.
I know I should not discuss such a senior, respectable and honourable officer, who served as my Chief of Army Staff, and later went on to become the honourable Governor of Arunachal Pradesh. I am sure all his details can be seen on Wikipedia. I was awestruck at the decorations he has, besides the ones which come with age and profile of service. He has the PVSM, AVSM, SM, VSM, Wound Medal and an Officer of the Legion of Honour of France, in all 21 medals and decorations. I salute you sir. I am sure you would have reached the coveted post of COAS with sheer hard work and toil. Then you also became Governor of a state due to your knowledge of the intricacies and complexities of things there, I assume. Today, you have decided to enter into the political arena and that too against your rival, an Ex-NDA at that. May be you were a course or two junior to the Capt against whom you have decided to contest elections in Patiala. Well, how, when why, what of the decision of you joining politics is purely your internal bandobast, but for me as veteran and mango man, what when why that has gone wrong in the way you conduct yourselves after joining politics has become an issue.
The first thing we were taught in NDA was to respect your seniors, right. The second thing was obey orders, right. Today you are not even a second termer in politics, and you are telling a sixth termer who has lived and fought politics all his life, in NDA parlance been even relegated many a times when he lost elections and you are trying to take his place. You are not even a “Green Horn” where as he in his final term, in fact he is about to pass out and you decide to contest and beat him. Well I wish you luck. I am sure you are getting into the novices boxing ring where you all hardly know one other. You are raw and are put into the boxing ring against your will. Even if by a far chance should I consider the Captain a novice in the game, he has been a champion boxer in his school, TANNNNN, the gong has been struck sir, box on.
Last night I was watching a show on NDTV, where you and Sachin Pilot were discussing your “fight” in Patiala. You know what, you are not even fit for novices boxing is my view. The way Sachin conducted himself with grace and finesse and mind you with so much of respect for you, not as a rival but because you had been a General, you should be grateful. He laughed at your inexperience and thankfully left you with your pants on. Sir, one more thing which the Academy taught us was to be Gentlemen, and I found you to be more of an uncouth person, who suddenly has forgotten all the virtues, values and manners which one has picked up all your lives. Do you remember how the seniors used to treat us? Did you ever utter a word in NDA? Or were you a sissy, that after every fall in you ran to your Div-O to put that senior up. That is what it appeared to me that after leading an Army and a state, today you have turned into a sissy of sorts by resorting to hitting below the belt. You are not talking face to face with the Captain; you are giving an opinion or a statement about him in his absence and comparing yourself with Donald Trump. A gentleman was taught to sort things out face to face, and not use the media as a tool to defame the other person. Let me in the same breadth not give an impression that Capt is my favourite, or I am a congress man. But let me also tell you that you may have joined whichever party; they know they can never win here and shall have this one seat less for sure. The deposit that you give for this election, the election commission has already started to say cheers and party in anticipation that it shall be forfeited.
The basic principal of fauj, when you went to establish a new post was to recce, familiarise, see the routes of ingress and egress, see your bottle necks, look for cover, camouflage and concealment, cover your approaches based on your priorities, in fact get hold of “Khabar Dushman ki” first. You have got the appreciation totally wrong; instead of digging in you have gone for an attack which is an offensive operation. So how many marks should the invigilator give you? If you have got the basic funda of which ops of war to apply, God only help you. You were not made Chief in one selection board; you went through your paces. Here you want to take Pakistan, along with China in one go, without preparation and ground work. Do ponder over it and get the basics right General.
I do not mean to offend you, and I do not mean to hurt you, but I only want you to play the game fair and square like you yourself say. The results would be the culmination of your verbal and other battles. You would know that day as to how much more you got to put in to achieve your goal and again as it used to be drilled into us that JOSH KE SAATH HOSH; I think you don’t have either. I still wish you luck; I would love to see you fare like a gentleman; I would like you to give a fight to the Captain till the last second of the round. I would request you to learn to control your verbal horses, which you leave lose especially when you try to speak your mother tongue when vernacular media is around you. Are you listening officer, will you fight like a gentleman, I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!