It was directed from behind the scenes by vested interests represented by the political class and an arms lobby that are feeling restricted under an honest general
It is a sad commentary on the media when a leading newspaper carries a full front- page report, signed by its editor- in- chief, to push through a complete lie. The newspaper committed an act of treason with dangerous ramifications in claiming that the Army had moved its troops into Delhi with the aim of effecting a coup. Of course glib innuendoes were used instead of direct words, but readers were left in complete shock as a mainline newspaper not yet accepted as a rag sheet sought to inform them of a possible coup that had failed.
The story was farcical and one wondered how journalists of some caliber had lent their name to what could only be described as a mischievous act intended to strike alarm bells across the country, and polarize opinion against the Army and its Chief General VK Singh. What is worse is that the editor stuck to his story the next day, instead of withdrawing and abjectly apologizing. Unfortunately there is little ethics left in the media and no institutions within that could have taken the newspaper and the journalists to task, and ordered not just an apology but some level of punitive action to ensure accountability. The watch- dog has started to bite the people it is supposed to watch out for, and when that happens steps have to be taken to bring in the accountability that once was in- built into the profession.
The question that needs to be answered is why did the newspaper write what it did? At whose behest, with what intention? The bylines were of seasoned journalists who know the ropes and clearly gave their names to a concocted and totally false story with a purpose. What was that purpose? To understand this it is essential to look at the kind of reaction that was generated, and the only reason it did not spread was because of the genuine outcry from the more sensible sections of society.
The intention was to use the little remaining credibility of journalism to cash in on the general ignorance about the Indian Army amongst the civilians, and convince them, or at least set in serious doubts, about the intentions of the Indian Army under the stewardship of General VK Singh. The argument woven into the story was: an independent General is dangerous for the nation while a Chief ( Lt General Bikram Singh) appointed by the political establishment will remain under control which is absolutely necessary if India is to be saved from a coup.
Absurd and ridiculous! And clearly an indication of how intolerant and insecure the political establishment has become. Everyone knows that the story was directed from behind the scenes by vested interests represented by sections of the political class, a deeply interested bureaucracy, and of course arms lobbies that are feeling restricted under an honest general. Several names are known, but then good journalism does not allow stories to be written without proof and sufficient documentation so remain in the realm of ‘gossip’even while being closer to the truth than the fabrication that appeared in the said newspaper.
A line of succession in the Indian Army has been determined by the government in the process to control what and where the Army goes. The argument being floated is that the government wants a pliable Chief who can give teeth to its political requirements, such as withdrawal of troops from the Siachen glacier and withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act. This has not happened even under pliant Army Chiefs like Generals JJ Singh and Deepak Kapoor, and even the Chief- designate Lt General Bikram Singh might find it difficult to take a decision without becoming totally unpopular amongst the men he aspires to lead. Besides it is well known that these decisions have to be political, and once taken, the Army will have no choice in India but to follow the political will. The current shenanigans hitting at the defence service will in no way give a weak government the political spine to act on issues that are essentially a matter of governance, and clearly the reasons lie elsewhere.
The Indian Army Chief can at best control defence and defence procurements.
And it is well known that despite any other shortcomings General Singh has a reputation for honesty and integrity. In an increasingly compromised world where the corrupt political and business class feels more comfortable with persons they can control and manipulate through commissions and bribes, an officer unwilling to become part of the ” system” is seen as an obstacle, or even a threat. In the Defence establishment, General Singh and Defence Minister AK Antony are sitting over a burgeoning budget, and that makes them vital to the interests of the strong and influential arms lobby that has penetrated the corridors of power. At the same time Antony is averse to open corruption, and refuses to sign on the dotted line at the slightest whiff of controversy. This makes him a liability in the political/ business establishment of today, and clearly there are many who would like to see him go. Along with a general who has been taking an independent line too, and is not vulnerable to bribes and commissions unlike some in the past.
The result is that one of the last remaining institutions is being beaten down by the system. The UPA government has certainly not covered itself in glory when it comes to maintaining institutions, with senior ministers being fielded to attack any and every institution that comes in the governments way and tries to hold it accountable. The Chief Election Commissioner was attacked at different levels during the Assembly polls; the Chief Auditor General has been castigated severely for his free and independent audits that have exposed the corruption in different government departments; the judiciary has been attacked for independent judgments curtailing the powers of the political class on occasion; Parliament has been misinformed and often manipulated with the cash- for- vote scam still biting into memory; the media is purchased or threatened or both into taking positions supporting the political class with proprietors often being made to sack editors with increasing frequency… In short, the institutions that hold up a democracy, and ensure its health and vibrancy are being whittled away as powerful cabals work to set up a pliant system, without checks and balances, so that their avarice need respect no limits.
What can one say about a political/ bureaucratic system that spends days and months in attacking an individual like the Army Chief, and not even seconds in curtailing the corruption that is eating rapidly into the foundations of Indian democracy? FRANKLY SPEAKING SEEMA MUSTAFA