, by KS Ramaswamy


      BJP government of Narender Modi completes four years today. At the outset, let me stress forcefully that in the 2019 General Elections , I will vote for Narender Modi to ensure his return  as PM because there was  no worthwhile alternative to him at present. Even Times Of India online poll made public on 26 May , 2018, has given Narender Modi a whopping 71.9% acceptance rate. However, in this piece, I will only write about two most important factors which militate against him and might pull him down and consequently affect national security.

If one has to review Narender Modi Government's performance one must begin by asking as to what were the two major negative takes from these four years? First point which stands out is that its focus was on  winning elections and not on governing this country. It might seem insignificant but it can shake the foundations of its hope for 2019. To put it straight , BJP government might even lack the art of governing because it has not been able to deliver on  corrupt and corruption. While people like Vijay Malaya, Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi , Mehul Choksi & Jaswant Mehta escaped to foreign lands; proven corrupts like Karti Chidambram and his elk are allowed to roam freely. Again, in public perceptions at grass root level,, Narender Modi's pre- elections tall  promises have turned out to be damp squib. It suffers from not only "Self- Righteousness" but also the arrogance accompanying the same.  Its "India - Shining" boast in 2004 led to losing of General Elections because of this very arrogance and it is sure to bite the dust even in 2019, if its leadership does not renew her connection with grass root level. Fact  is BJP is her own enemy. Intolerance complaints against her are really not lies. Karnatka Assembly elections Result must tell her the fate which awaits her if it does not mend fences.

      Her second major shortcoming is that it has managed to not only antagonise the soldiers and the armed forces but it has also demoralised the soldiers by insulting them and disgracing them. Not even once the PM has met the representatives of veterans to mollify their grievances. In fact soldiers and veterans feel being frowned upon. Some of the recent orders like opening up of Cantonment (Cantt) roads to civil traffic are seen as cheap gimmicks, weighing more in favour of  elections than genuine public convenience. This order is also jeopardising the national security . Further, ordering suspension of military operations against terrorists in J& K is another reflection of this election gimmick. By doing so, BJP is losing her biggest constituency which voted for it wholeheartedly in 2014 General Elections, after Narender Modi made big promise to soldiers in his Rewari Rally in September 2013. BJP forgets that soldiers can influence 150 Parliamentary constituencies. By demoralising soldiers , BJP government is seriously damaging not only national security but also minimising  her chances of  coming back to power at the centre

Any way my focus is on National security and the profession of soldiers. Someone has to warn the nation about the impending turmoil if armed forces become demoralised and disconnected. The party with a difference has turned out to be party with a preference. Her priority is shifting away from national security to business agenda., It must note that armed forces were the pillars of her secular democracy. Weakening them at the cost of promoting paramilitary forces is to weaken the country. This has been the trend ever since ex IB man became the NSA. Government must realise that paramilitary forces can not replace armed forces.

Anatole France, A French Philosopher, once asked a soldier, " Do you think you die for your country?"  When the soldier replied in the affirmative, he said, " Wrong! You die for the Industrialists." He might be right but I would, in thue Indian context, like to modify his suggestion to read as : WRONG, YOU DIE FOR THE CORRUPT, UNGRATEFUL and UNCONCERNED. Bureaucrats and politicians head this list, followed by bulk of unscrupulous businessmen who would qualify to be included in the list. Indian Soldiers, today, must learn that they NO MORE fight Nation's wars but they are cannon fodder for the conflicts started by inept, inefficient and incompetent bureaucracy  of India, in league with self-centered, greedy and corrupt politicians.

All political parties have maltreated soldiers over the last 70 years. A Nehruvian distrust of soldiers continues with great aplomb by Indian bureaucracy. Till 1962 debacle had happened, Nehru had boasted that India sees no military threat and it needed needed no Army. Bureaucracy has picked up this Nehruvian disdain of Army and it has been instrumental in degrading and denigrating soldiers while Soldiers have been remained NOT only apolitical but also held the nation together from Nagaland to Assam ,Manipur, Mizoram, Punjab, J& K and even when other crisis hit the civil authorities. Bureaucrats and politicians disdainfully think that soldiers are paid to die.

Veterans and soldiers had pinned a lot of hopes on BJP and Narender Modi prior to General Elections in 2014. But they now feel cheated and disgraced. It is not the money but the disgrace which has been heaped on them by the government of Narender Modi. Most supporters of BJP claim that BJP has given the OROP which was the demand of veterans for 40 years. Answer is that BJP has done NO favor. Still it has given a truncated OROP after more than 500 days of agitation by veterans. What is worse is the fact that soldiers have been made to beg and cry. Disgrace and insult heaped by by the bureaucrats  and politicians have brought the armed forces to a breaking point. God save the country if this institution collapses!

Slowly and steadily, the BJP government has been short circuiting the armed forces. It backed out on its pre- election promise of full OROP; ordered army to clean hill stations; it disallowed free rations to soldiers in peace stations; it is propping up para military forces at the expanse of army; it allowed police arrest of an army officer who fired in Self- defence on Stone pelters in Kashmir, till SC intervened to stay it; unilaterally ordered suspension of military operations in the month of Ramzan and now it has thrown open the Cantonment ( Cantt) roads to civil traffic.  There are many more such irritants . These orders , based on Election considerations have not only endangered national security but also heaved insult upon the armed forces, which will affect their morale. Issue now is not of full OROP or NFU-denied and anomalies of 7th Pay Commission but the honour and "IZZAT" of the armed forces.

In July 2011, I was travelling by road from SFO (San Francisco) to LA ( Los Angeles) , in USA On Highway 5. We stopped at TEJON FACTORY OUTLETS--- for refuelling and refreshment. It was 04 July---American Independence Day. I saw a notice on the restaurant entry---- Free meal and Drinks for veterans. I casually mentioned to owner that I was a veteran of Indian Army. Lo! He said " It is honour to have you here, Sir. We will give the same treatment to you". To say the least, he did not charge anything from us. What a respect for an alien soldier, who is disgraced and dishonoured in his own country! No wonders, USA is world's only Super Power!! It reminded me of atmosphere in Punjab vintage 1971 war--- when I was respected like this. Nations do not become great by lofty talks but by respecting the men who safeguard your honour. Respect and "IZZAT" a nation pays to its veterans, is the national premium for safety and security.

American national war memorial in Washington DC, is manned round the clock by serving soldiers. Come rain, snow and thunder, sentry stands unmoved right in the open. In our country war memorials are desecrated and disrespected. Stray dogs and wandering cows find a shelter there. A few years back, a war memorial statue at Ludhiana in Punjab was uprooted and thrown away. Nation can not keep disgracing soldiers like this and then expect them to win wars for them. Nehru's neglect and insult of armed forces led to humiliation and a military debacle in 1962. It can repeat itself,

I remember when General Douglas Mac Arthur was the Chief of U.S. army in 1931, American president Franklin Roosevelt proposed to cut down defence expenditure. In a meeting with President , Mac Arthur pleaded with the President not to cut. But Roosevelt did not listen to him and dismissed him. Mac Arthur got up and walked away but then turned and said: "Mr. President, when in the Next war , an American Soldier with enemy bayonet piercing his abdomen, spat out his last curse, I do not want the name to be Mac Arthur but Roosevelt." It is NO gain saying the fact that Roosevelt reversed his decision.

Compare this with Indian Generalship. They do not even have the guts to cry on the insults being heaped upon them publicly by bureaucrats and politicians. How sad , the three Chiefs have been treated with utmost disdain. Bureaucrats might have a hearty laugh.

Time has come for three Chiefs to say, "Mr. Defence Minister, please tell your Prime Minister that it was a biggest insult you have heaped upon the armed forces. Hereafter, we  will not remain the same." In other words, if the mistake is is not rectified soon, the last bastion of holding together of Indian nationhood would get disintegrated. But would the Chiefs muster the courage and tell the Defence Minister "Sir, enough is enough"? Or would they meekly surrender as has been done by their predecessors in the past. Remember the quote by Sun Yet San, an ancient Chinese Military philosopher : I AM NOT AFRAID OF AN ARMY OF 100  TIGERS LED BY A SHEEP BUT 100 SHEEP LED BY A TIGER. Well! We can now assess the impact of SUCCESSION PLAN of Chiefs of Army Staff , initiated in 2005 , during the tenure of General JJ Singh as the Chief of Army Staff.

There is a wrong notion that Military strength flows out of Economic strength. In fact,  it is the reverse of it. China was NO where in sixties and seventies but it successfully used its manpower to flex its military muscle to send cold sweat down the spine of USA and even USSR. Today its economy is of ten Trillion dollars while India is at Two Trillion Dollars. Mind you China became independent two years later than India.

Look at USA. Their economic strength draws out of their Military power. In USA other than military arsenal and space research, nothing is manufactured. Everything comes from outside, at terms dictated by USA. And it is a 16 trillion economy-- merely because of its military muscles. Look at your neighbour Pakistan. It is reckoned at par with India purely because of its military powers. Giant like India is a helpless spectator to Pakistan's pinpricks because we do not have the proper military muscle to shut her up.

Mr Natender Modi must know that it was not the machine but the man behind the machine which matters. Pakistan's Sabre jets and Patton Tanks in 1965 war fell prey to Indian Gnats and Sherman tanks respectively. The Kargil war of 1999 was NOT won by the Generals sitting in the AC rooms in Delhi or Srinagar but by motivated soldiers led by spirited Captains and Majors . What Nirmala Sitharaman has done by ordering  the opening up of Cantt roads to general traffic, is to create a security threat to these Cantts . Unless quickly rectified,  our nation will pay a heavy price for this. And in the next war with China or Pakistan, when an Indian soldier flees from the battlefield, shame will be on this BJP Governments with veterans like General VK Singh, General BC Khanduri , Col Rajverdhan Rathore , and not the soldiers because you broke their very spirit. National humiliation would be worse than 1962 war. All your Raffles or Chinook deals or FDI investments would not be able to prevent this humiliation because what matters more in war is the man behind the machine.

The question is how long the nation and the army can keep its soldiers in a 'DENIAL MODE' from their LEGITIMATE DUES and RIGHTS? Today's soldiers are more aware of their rights and previleges. Education and literacy is making them INDIVIDUALISTIC. Time is NOT far when they would behave like the EDUCATED SOLDIERS----Yes, its implications must be understood by all and sundry---even the army. They will question every one--from their own bosses to governmental orders. THEY WILL NO MORE BE SOLDIERS OF THE 'LIGHT BRIGADE'---WHO WILL AUTOMATICALLY MARCH INTO THE 'VALLEY OF DEATH' WHILE THE BULLETS FLY LEFT AND RIGHT OF THEM. They will no more sing the hymn: THERE IS NOT TO REASON WHY; THERE IS BUT TO DO AND DIE. Therefore , please do understand that ignoring SOLDIER's MARTYRDOM and his SACRIFICES was going to be very costly for this nation.

Finally, nation has to pay the PREMIUM for the Soldier's SACRIFICES and MARTYRDOM. Nation has to pay this premium for its own security and safety. It is NO FAVOUR nation is doing to its soldiers---whether they joined voluntarily or due to some economic pressures. Would Bureaucrats and BJP noise makers and the government apologists understand this? I am as clueless as most of you are.


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