‘Sense of Denigration Pervades the Field’: Ex-IAF Chief Spells Out Challenges Ahead of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh
In the list of suggestion for the newly-appointed Defence Minister, former chief of the Indian Air Force urged him to trust the chiefs of the Army, Navy and the Air Force.
File photo of Rajnath Singh taking charge as Defence Minister.
New Delhi: Days after Rajnath Singh took charge as the Defence Minister, former chief of the Indian Air Force Marshal PV Naik wrote to him, suggesting welfare measures for the forces.
Pointing towards the ‘sense of denigration’, the former chief of Air Staff said that the there is a growing perception among the armed forces that ‘they have been hard done’ by the successive governments.
“A sense of denigration is slowly pervading the field. When the need for National security arises, they are made much of, and studiously ignored thereafter. Not to mention discriminatory deals like Warrant of Precedence, MFU or Pay grade anomalies. A soldier’s prime mover is ‘Izzat’,” Naik wrote adding that Singh’s prime task would be to restore the pride of the soldier.
Quoting Chanakya on the role of armed forces as the basis of nation building activity, he urged the defence minister to make this the ‘cornerstone’ of his policies for the forces.
Naik also called for the integration of armed forces with the Ministry of Defence to make them a part of the decision making apparatus. He also pointed towards the bureaucracy for acquiring ‘disproportionate powers’ vis-à-vis the service chiefs.
“The bureaucracy conveniently points to the ‘Government of India Transaction of Business Rules’ framed in 1961 under the constitutional powers of the President of India. These documents continue to guide the conduct of business by the Government of India. It is instructive to read the document,” former chief of the Air Staff of Indian Air Force said in the letter to Singh.
Lauding Singh for the ‘care & concern’ shown towards the Para Military Forces(PMF) over the last five years, Naik asked the defence minister to ‘shift loyalties’. “Excessive use of the AF in aid to civil authority is detrimental to morale and training suffers. The same care you lavished over the PMF now has to go to the Air Force also,” Naik said.
He also urged Singh to visit armed forces deployed in places like Arunachal Pradesh, forward areas in Rajasthan to boost their morale.
“Mingle with soldiers. Share a cup of tea in an enamel mug. Eat fresh pakodas in a cracked plate. Do not give them speeches but talk to them & listen to them. You will get an idea of their life spent in the service of the nation. Appreciate the hardships. Please visit the forward Air Force and Naval bases too. The aim is to gain the trust of the soldier. Promise them only what you can deliver. But deliver on your promises,” Naik further wrote.
In the list of suggestion for the newly-appointed Defence Minister, Naik urged him to trust the chiefs of the Army, Navy and the Air Force.
“Their loyalty is already absolute. As a corollary, you, too, must gain their trust,” he wrote and asked him to not to take military decisions solely based on the inputs from bureaucrats.
“For military grievances, ask military advice. For a solution, involve both the military and the babus,” he wrote.
On the selection of chiefs, Naik suggested the formation of panel comprising the PMO, defence secretary, National Security Advisor and a former chief of the respective staff. Naik asked Singh to give priority to the equipment and fix the accountability for the delay in acquiring the weaponry, adding that that the current cycle of procurement is about six to eight years long. “PM’s policy of ‘Make in India’ is vital for us. Try to clear the way for Private sector to participate in Defence production. Try to create a level playing field. They are ever so willing to contribute. I would urge you to view HAL and DRDO with more than a modicum of concern. They are monolithic and need critical surgery. Ideally, they need to be sub divided into manageable entities under professional management,” he wrote.
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