A FAILURE OF THE GENERALS
(D S SARAO)
I ask a simple question--Who is ultimately responsible for the present state of affairs in which the distrust between officers (those who are supposed to lead) and the men is becoming more and more palpable every day?? If you say that it is the Commanding Officer , you are only 30% correct .
My dear Generals (and Brigadiers) , 70 % of the blame lies at your doors .It is the dog eat dog race to the top which has resulted in the Country , the Bureaucrats and the Media playing merry hell with the reputation of the Armed Forces , specially the Army.
You can have any number of enquiries , any number of GCMs , any number of studies and any number of Do's and Dont's (and for your information,stoppage of leave is not a reason any more) , but unless you get over your Ostrich Policy and desist from pushing substandard material to higher ranks (for considerations other than merit) , you will soon be in charge of a rag tag force with mediocrity rampant in the Flag Ranks from Lt Gen to Brig--it is visible today , and it has resulted in the hierarchy being unable to discern the difference between good officers and well qualified officers . Do the mandatory courses (which will make you 'well qualified to keep rising'), have a good staff tenure (ji hazoor , do not annoy the boss -always say YES) , have a two star or a three star General as a God father , a short tenure in a difficult area (with a unit due for relief) , atleast two/three tenures (in each rank from Col onwards) in the IHQ --and you got it made . Just have a copy of the old Army List by your table for ready reference , remember senior offrs do become LMC's or jump off roof tops , the room at the top sometimes gets vacated sooner.!!
But lets agree on one thing first. Atleast at the the Bn/Regtl level, the issue being debated just boils down to one thing---The 'Offr- Man Relationship'. No more and no less. If there is a gap between the hierarchy and the men , there will be trouble and it can be ignited by any incident . The men are more literate , economically much better off , more aware and wordly wise : just a plain 'CO sahib ka hukum ' is not good enough now!!
So what differentiates a good unit which has a happy team from the not so good unit??? Very basic---in a good unit offrs and men work , train ,play together and spend a lot of time with each other.In a good unit the jawans are clear that there is impartiality and no double standards in the dealings of their ''afsir saiban'' with their subordinates as well as their with their superiors. Yes, note my words-- ' with their superiors'. The pressure of that mandatory race by the unit offrs for a flag and a star is not felt by the men. Period. And many a time this CO may not even have the urge or as some of our Generals say , -be 'qualified' to go up.
One of the British CIG'S had once remarked that the strength of the British Army was ' that Commanding Officer who aspired to be a Commanding Officer and no more.'
All of us who have ever donned the olive greens will guarantee that the Indian Soldier is one of the most loyal and trusting of human species!!
The whole problem arises because of mis-handling , discernible double standards, communication gap between the offrs and the men , lack of respect for offrs born out of a lack of faith and lastly when the men see the un-officer like behaviour over a period of time (by some offrs , if not all) . I need not elaborate what un -officer like behaviour is. This behaviour is now seen very often from the highest rank of Lt Gen downwards--just have look at the JAG Dept rank wise record of Indian Army offrs court martialled for misdemeanour and un-desirable activities , vis-a-viz their cadre strength . You will be surprised. The Indian Army jawan is watching non deserving material going up and also seeing this non deserving materal pulling its ilk upwards!!!
The hierarchy has to wake up. the Indian Army definition of a 'good offr ' requires an immediate and drastic re-think.But definitely not by the present lot of General offrs . They are part of the system and what is happening is a systemic failure and not a failure of Commanding Officers alone.
Not only this , there is a requirement to change the selection pattern of officers (for NDA.IMA,OTA,ACC) as well as for SELECTION GRADE RANKS , SPECIALLY FOR THE 'GENERAL RANK'. We have to learn that the so called well qualified offrs may not be qualified enough to go up and beyond or to hold their present positions.