India’s Army Chief Gen V K Singh is held in high esteem for his honesty ,truthfulness and for attempting to clean up system of procurement for army. His retired colleagues and the people who know him would endorse it. He recently invited some controversy by bringing up to matter of his date of birth which in fact revealed only the weaknesses of the establishment at not being able to resolve such simple matters by evolving a just practice. If the date of birth in record is wrong by a wider margin than was the case with birth of date of army chief would it not make mockery of the fact that the retirement age should have some meaning to it. If General attempted to get his record corrected why just an official entry was taken to be sacrosanct , will remain a valid question. Any way this was one point which put him in a kind of unsavory situation viz a viz govt for not so much of his fault.
The latest round of controversies surrounding his disclosure about bribe being offered to him and then his letter to Defense Minister/PM about ill-preparedness of the forces and poor procurement policy getting leaked , brings forth an indigestible attitude of the govt . Its response has been why raise a matter at all or why raise it at this time. Everybody knows that its never late to mend then why question the timing . And if the matter is of importance but has leaked then the ones who leaked it should be caught but the highlighted subject should be dealt with properly without any reflection of impropriety clouding the vision.
The skeletons that are coming out of the cupboards are too many and cover a whole spectrum of defense related issues. Would this not bring down the morale of forces ? Would it not give enemy a chance to defeat us beforehand by buying a few with big money ? Would it not encourage an honest supplier to also make extra money by diluting standard of the material supplied by keeping some people in chain happy? Is it not keeping our poor ill-fed for the defense budget eats away all the surplus that could be made available to them without defense itself getting any better?
In fact the defense procurement has been an area which has been taken as something not reflecting in terms of loss in the balance sheet even if the costs have been high. The input cost is never tried to be recovered by out-put value because the army is not a business enterprise. There is one thing , however, that our soldiers have not been profiting generally in the despicable procurement processes . It is the middle-men and the other influential people who take the country for a ride. The generals of our neighboring country are invariably men of riches just because they are their own bosses for all matters concerning the army . In both systems , the price paid by public is the same even if the set of people gratifying themselves are different class .
Once V.P.Singh raked up an issue in defense malpractice but converted it into political capital for himself without any attendant sincerity at cleaning the system. This time too the opposition may make a big hue and cry but with an eye on weakening the govt or bringing it down only. Now is the time when ordinary citizens of the country understand that they have to use the voting power only with utmost care and caution , they should see that character is more important than the qualification.