Thursday, January 5, 2012
GO HOME, THEN GO TO COURT
Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major (retd), had a word of advise for General VK Singh, Chief of Army Staff, the other day. Speaking to a newspaper over phone from Bangalore, the former air chief said he was of the view that the General would be better off if he took off his uniform before taking on the government in court over his age issue.
While no one can deny that as an individual, Gen VK Singh has the right to every legal recourse available to him, the fact remains that for a man in uniform who is at the apex office of his organisation, rights can often get limited. Not because of law, but because of tradition and a sense of honour or 'izzat', which the General himself has evoked in his confrontation with the establishment over the age issue.
It is already looking pretty bad with the Army Chief having filed a statutory complaint over the controversy. And it will look worse if he goes to court in uniform. And while the General may say this is all about 'izzat' and 'integrity', the fact remains he will have much more of both if he does this while out of uniform.
Enough has been written ad nauseum over how the disparity over the age came up so we can skip getting into that because everything is well documented. No one can deny that the disparity should have been corrected many, many years back. But now the issue is of the COAS taking on the government over this alleged anomaly.
For many years we, who have been associated with the defence services in one way or the other, have laughed at the feeble attempts of those in the IAS or the IPS to 'correct' their age while at the fag end of their careers or when they have reached the top. To see the COAS do the same is painful to say the least. irrespective of the merits of the case, it still looks suspiciously as if he is trying to get extra mileage. He has said categorically, he is not doing so, but public perception is fickle, sadly.
The government too should try to look at the situation from the General's point of view. Being pig-headed will not do anybody any good. This should not degenerate into a slugfest. The Army is the last bastion of integrity in this country, and if it falls, all will fall.
And all those politicians who are jumping in to help Gen VK Singh do not understand that they are doing more harm then good. Capt Amarinder Singh's letter should also be seen in this context, though he may have written it with all the feelings of an ex-Army Officer. And the fact that he had to issue a clarification that he wrote it in his personal capacity, shows that his intentions were taken amiss by the 'party high command'. And I am attaching a copy of his letter, which is doing the rounds in the media, to show that it was written on the letterhead of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee. So much for "personal capacity".
Air Chief Marshal Fali Major may indeed have a point. If convictions are strong enough then perhaps the right thing to do may be to quit and then fight the good fight.