Speaking at the ‘Six Sigma Healthcare Leadership Summit’ last week, the army chief, General Bipin Rawat, stated, ‘Leaders are not those who lead people in inappropriate directions, as we are witnessing in a large number of universities and college students.. the way they are leading masses of crowds to carry out arson and violence in our cities and towns. This is not leadership.’ This is what the press quoted and as usual, it quoted only a small part of the same paragraph of the speech.

The balance of the paragraph which if linked, stated,‘A leader is one who leads you in the correct direction, who gives you correct advice and then ensures that you care for the people you lead. Leadership is through personal example and that is what we in the armed forces are proud about.’ Present in the audience were Param Vir Chakra award winners, Honorary Captain Bana Singh and Subedar Major Yoginder Singh, who had led by example in critical operations and hence his mentioning this was to impress upon the audience the role played by such leaders in the army.

There was immediate response from politicians. Owaisi from the AIMIM party stated leadership ‘is about knowing the limits of one’s office’. He tweeted, ‘It is about understanding the idea of civilian supremacy and preserving the integrity of the institution that you [Gen Bipin Rawat] head.’ Digvijay Singh of the Congress tweeted: ‘Leaders are not those who allow their followers to indulge in Genocide of Communal Violence.’

While there was no mention of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the violence it followed, nor was there any mention of any political party or event, yet politicians jumped into the fray linking his small portion of the speech with the recent violence, ignoring the balance and the larger picture.

This is not the first time that the current army chief has been criticised in his talks. The questions which arise this time as has been the norm earlier is why did the army chief mention this aspect and why are politicians scared when he even makes general statements.

In Kashmir, violence by the youth is instigated by comments from the Hurriyat, political leaders and over ground workers of terrorist organizations. In retaliation, it is the protesting youth which suffer casualties. During the violence, instigators remain in the background, while those protesting face the wrath of security forces. The instigators then exploit the subsequent casualties for greater violence. There is no member of the family of instigators who participate in the violence. All major entities, Hurriyat and political parties only exploit the situation for furtherance of their political gains.

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Recent violence and protests by the youth are also politically motivated. Those who motivate and push youth into protests are not in the frontlines to face police action. Their only intention is to gain political brownie points and display their relevance in national politics. Many political leaders have gone on record stating they would desire that protests by students continue. This has been the bane of Indian politics. The reality is that it is the students, who have been wrongly led who suffer.

To further add to problems of protesting students, many of whom would desire peaceful protests to register their disagreement with government policies, members of political parties, who are not students, join the protests and commence violence, the retaliation of which is borne by the students. This enables exploitation by politicians.

It is this leadership which the army chief decried. He compared this exploitation of youth in protests,including by pushing in members of political parties to instigate violence, with leadership in the armed forces, where leaders led from the front, were the first to face bullets and become casualties, rather than expose their followers. There are hundreds of such examples within the armed forces and some of them were present in the audience.This is the tradition of the Indian army, which the chief described.

The fact that he spoke the truth on the poor quality of political leader’s level of leadership caused anxiety within their ranks. Rather than admitting their failures, they jumped to attack him.

They forgot a few major facts. The first is that in his forty years of military service he has faced bullets and shelling by Pakistani troops to ensure security of the nation, unlike political leaders, who exploit Indians to gain power and have no idea what it is to be on the frontline and risk life and limb daily.

Secondly, he represents the Indian army, soldiers of whom are deployed well away from home and many of whose families would have been affected by the violence. Thirdly, the army is a secular organization, representing each part of the nation, whose fabric must not be disturbed by polarization between religions.

Rather than seeking to criticise him, political leaders should have, apart from listening to the complete talk, understood his intention of guiding youth, the future of the country, from being falsely led and exploited. Politicians reactions, half-baked and ill conceived only displayed their own shortcoming and narrow mindset. It is a pity that the nation considers these individuals as its leaders.

Disclaimer: The information, ideas or opinions appearing in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of N4M Media.

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  1. Whether General Rawat erred or not is a question that doesn’t concerns me at all.
    But I really think the article by Maj Gen Harsh Kakar and his Comment above should really worry the political leaders – and he should be hauled up before both the Parliament and the Courts.
    While its fashionable to be “radical” nowadays, people yet expect sagacity from senior officers – and not “miltry man” outbursts.
    His article, inter alia, says, “The fact that he spoke the truth on the poor quality of political leader’s level of leadership caused anxiety within their ranks. Rather than admitting their failures, they jumped to attack him.”
    So, now, the military leadership is being entitled to tell the political class how to run this country? Isn’t that how it all started in Pakistan, where the Army now wields disproportionate influence – and whose example we love to bemoan daily? In the US, Trump has made a mess of things – but the Pentagon directed the military to absolutely abstain from any political comments. That’s democracy.
    Next: in his Comment above, the worthy says “Why India can not be another China ruled by Indian Army for peace & prosperity of its citizen & nation as a Super Power Nation? Neither we deserve democracy not the situations permit but it is democratic by accident.”
    Now, that’s truly seditious. Here’s a retired military officer prescribing military rule for India.
    But, is that what we want?
    The democracy we have is far from perfect and may not have delivered as per the expectations of many including this general – but to date, its the best governance system the world has.
    I would hate my country to be like Pakistan – or Uganda of yore, or North Korea or a sub-Saharan nation run by a military regime.
    Do note – Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Hitler, Pinochet, the Kims of North Korea, tin-pot despots of Africa, or military rulers have only brought doom on respective nation. And in each, they slaughtered lakhs and millions as per whim. In contrast, countries which have really flourished in the 20th and 21st centuries are liberal democracies.
    We started from scratch in 1947 – and haven’t done too badly – just look around the neighbourhood – Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, CARs, Myanmar – and carry out an objective assessment.
    Advise the Major General to truly educate himself, particularly on geopolitics, models of governance, the conditions that prevailed under Kings and tinpots rulers, how and why people fought for democracy, how we reached here, the Social Contract Theory, etc. As also learn objective, dispassionate discourse.

    • But Brigadier Sir, as a Fauji shldnt you be happy that Major Gen Jakarta is batting on behalf of the Army, to effectively get some say in Governance & you are a part of the Army or at least symbolically.

  2. But don’t you think General that Army Chief should mind his own business as pointed out by Shri P Chidambaram of Congress

    • Well, it is because of neutrality of the Army, ‘chor’ Chidambaram looted the country and is on trial now. Look at all the political leaders! Late Karunanidhi, former CM of Thamizh Nadu, has amassed wealth beyond one’s imagination. Then you have Lalu Prasad, Mulayam, Mamata…. the list goes on. Under a military rule, we could confiscate all this ill-gotten wealth and distribute to the people.

  3. Well said Gen Harsh. I am sure the Chief’s words must have been taken in good spirit by the students at least as no doubt the only organization they respect is Armed Forces and on second position it must be the Supreme Court of India.

  4. Whatever happens when the nation is threaten externally by War or internally by any means be it natural calamities like earth quake, flood or riots, public disturbance etc for all & every problem ultimate solutions is one and only one call “Army”
    India having rough neighbors,long territory,illiterate & irrational masses ,all states based on different languages & casts,so many religions & above all dirty politicians and handle all these by democratic means is not possible.If we observe even low populations & educated and prosperous nations like USA & many European countries democracy has failed. Why India can not be another China ruled by Indian Army for peace & prosperity of its citizen & nation as a Super Power Nation? Neither we deserve democracy not the situations permit but it is democratic by accident.

  5. Well said General. These politicians are out maligning the whole nation, spreading hate & bigotry. Need to be called out.


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