History has an uncanny habit of repeating itself and looks like the foibles of Nehru are being repeated by the BJP government under Narendra Modi. Nehru feared a #military coup and downgraded the armed forces in perks, privileges and weaponry and the result was an Indian defeat in the 1962 war with China and a stalemate with Pakistan in 1965 war though it was 1/5th the size of #India.
Though the armed forces won a shining victory in 1971, the political masters were always wary of the armed forces and the systematic degradation of perks and privileges continued.
In 1973 the higher pensions of the armed forces in vogue for decades were drastically cut. It led to an agitation but somehow the government continued. In particular, the Congress government guided by the bureaucracy kept the army at an arm's length. ManMohan Singh the Congress prime minister just sat on the demands of the Armed forces. He continued to think of the armed forces as a necessary evil. The armed forces due to a policy of selection had chiefs that kept silent as only pliable men were promoted.
The armed forces
Narendra Modi started his election campaign with a massive election rally of ex-servicemen at Rewari in Haryana in early 2014 and promised that discrimination against the armed forces would end when he came to power. Now after being in power, Modi has forgotten his promise and most of the demands of the armed forces are not actioned. The old policy of Nehru still seems to cloud the government's thinking. It was expected that the political leadership will rise to the occasion as the country is being presently held together only by the army with an insurrection in the North in Kashmir as well as the East in the border states of Nagaland, Assam, and Tripura.
There is also an insurgency led by Maoist rebels in Central India.
Demands of the military
The long-standing demand of one rank one pension has been sanctioned but it is not as per the approved definition as accepted by two parliaments. In addition blatant difference in pay by a whopping Rs, 30000 pm is created in favor of the civilians and the armed forces who serve in operational areas. This has affected the rank and file and the three service chiefs led by Air Chief Marshal Raha, who is the present Chief of staff has protested to the defense minister Mohan Parrikar. They also issued a signal to all troops that the recommendations of the 7th pay commission will not be implemented till the anomalies in the report are removed.
The future and onus on Modi
The DM had a meeting with the service chiefs on 13th August and has instructed that the pay commission recommendations be accepted and the anomalies will be looked into. This is a familiar statement and one wonders what the 3 chiefs will do now. The only course is to resign forthwith as keeping silence for decades has not resulted in any good for the military.
It is now up to Narendra Modi to bite the bullet. Can he break out of the anti-military syndrome that has so dominated India since independence and perpetuated by Nehru? One will have to wait and see.
In the meantime, Pakistan and China the two adversaries cannot be anything but happy at these developments that affect the armed forces. Even the USA which is in a strategic partnership with India will be worried. #NarendraModi