Appointment of the Army Chief – If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it

Amidst speculation and heated debates about the delay in appointment of the next Army Chief, rumours about the two senior army commanders likely to be superseded are doing rounds. One argument being forwarded is – “shouldn’t merit rather than seniority be the criterion?” As arguments go, it is a tempting one, one which is difficult to disagree with. But it’s not without its pitfalls.

For the sake of argument, let’s assume that there is significant difference between Army Commanders in terms of their merit or suitability for the job. What would be the parameters on which such differences could be measured? How would the performance of a Northern Army Commander dealing with Counter Insurgency operations be compared with that of, say the Western Army Commander who’s peacetime deliverables would be substantially different? Or with the Vice Chief, who may have nothing to show but procurement projects which are delayed for no fault of his?

Since there is no objective mechanism to ascertain any differences in merit, even if they do exist, there is bound to be subjectivity in making such a choice. Even this may work without causing much of an upheaval as long as there is a strong government in place. But imagine this scenario sometime in the future.

- Advertisement - - Article resumes -

Say there is a weak coalition government in place at the centre. There are three or four regional satraps jointly keeping the government afloat, each with just enough MPs to bring the government down if it comes to a crunch. And you have seven Army Commanders, each of whom is now in the running for the Army Chief post based on precedence set by selecting a chief ‘on merit’ rather than on seniority as used to happen earlier. Imagine if each of them is lobbying with one or more of the regional satraps to help them. You will have a situation where politicians are rooting for their ‘candidate’ to be the next Army Chief. Regional, cast and religious affiliations would come into play.

We recently saw the CM of a state creating a huge controversy over a routine army exercise. In future such controversies could become a way of ‘eliminating’ a candidate in the race for chief. Matter would be further complicated by the central government rooting for its own candidate, advised by the incumbent chief, probably based on Regimental or arm affiliations. Further unfolding and ramifications of such a scenario are actually too disturbing to imagine.

For the past seven decades, the Armed Forces have carried out their role professionally, having earned universal trust and respect in the country. They have remained steadfastly apolitical, and though appointment of the chiefs have been a political decision, there has been no politics involved in the decision itself. This is because the principle of senior most army commander becoming the chief has been strictly followed, leaving the government of the day very little room for playing favourites.

When the system has worked well for the past seven decades, there shouldn’t be any reason to tamper with it unnecessarily. Even if well intentioned, a move which is presently unnecessary and potential damaging in the long run, must be avoided at all costs. So, Si fractum non sit, noli id reficere or as the Americans, now our ‘major defence partners’ say, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

(Author is an ex army-man; the article first appeared on author’s blog)


Share This Post and Support:
We need your support to survive in the media industry. Please consider paying us for the content we produce:

To know more about these payments, please click here.


Most read articles recently

AM Sheikh Dawood promised of offering 10 litres of free liquor monthly to the families in his constituency on his victory

Independent candidate from Tamil Nadu promises 10 litres of free liquor every month on winning elections

An independent candidate from Tamil Nadu has come up with a strange promise of offering 10 litres of free liquor every month to every family in his constituency

Nitin Gadkari at the receiving end: Is there a pattern?

Indian Express has a massive interview of Union Minister Nitin Gadkari in its March 23, 2019 edition.

Rahul Gandhi’s lucrative and seemingly clandestine means of income and his links to scam accused FTIL, Unitech

How does Rahul Gandhi earn to buy land and other properties? A mystery we try to unravel

Shunned by the BJP, jilted Shatrughan Sinha goes on a rampage against the party, rumoured to join Congress

Shatrughan Sinha was visibly irked and had a Twitter meltdown after the BJP declared Ravi Shankar Prasad's candidature from Patna Sahib constituency

NC Lok Sabha candidate Akbar Lone begins a rally with ‘Pakistan Zindabad’, says will abuse anyone who abuses Pakistan

Akbar Lone, NC Lok Sabha candidate for Baramulla, said that the country across is a Muslim country and abusing Pakistan would mean he is abusing himself
Owner of AAP propaganda blog agitated when Sushma Swaraj stands up for two underage Hindu girls

AAP propaganda site owner gets angry after India expresses concerns over atrocities against Hindus in Pakistan

Sushma Swaraj's move to seek details of the Incident had agitated quite a few people in Pakistan, including their Information and Broadcasting minister Ch Fawad Hussain, who saw it as an intervention in Pakistan's internal matters.
'Rahul Gandhi is running away from Amethi, not me': Smriti Irani on rumours BJP might field her from Wayanad

‘Rahul Gandhi is running away from Amethi, not me’: Smriti Irani on rumours BJP might field her from Wayanad

Smriti Irani rubbishes rumours that have surfaced about BJP thinking about fielding Smriti Irani from the Wayanad constituency too, to counter Rahul Gandhi. 
Sapna Chaudhary denies rumours of her joining Congress

Embarrassment for Congress: Sapna Chowdhury says she never joined Congress, picture with Priyanka Gandhi old

Denying rumours, Sapna Chaudhary said that the photos in circulation on Internet were old

Where is the money? Rahul Gandhi’s promise is going to cost a whopping Rs 3.60 lakh crore a year, 13% of union budget

Minimum Income Guarantee Scheme of Congress party ensures monthly income of Rs 12,000 for 20% of India's population

After ‘Modi removed your name from voter list’, AAP allegedly calls up people pretending to be radio channel

'Who will you vote for?' People speculate if Aam Aadmi Party call centre is up to new trick again

Latest articles

Connect with us

149,063FansLike
120,645FollowersFollow
31,479SubscribersSubscribe

Don't miss these


Share This Post and Support: