The revelation of the confidential letter written by the Army Chief General VK Singh to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh amidst the summit of BRICS nations has not only caused a lot of embarrassment to the government but it has also marred the global image of India. Whosoever be the person responsible for making this issue public, the people of the nation are quite aware that there seems to be a cold war between the army chief and the government for the past couple of months. The issue arising out of this cold war had come in the public domain when the General knocked the portals of the Supreme Court in order to seek justice in the controversy of his date of birth issue.

Prior to the controversy over the letter by the General to the Prime Minister, the government was at a loss following the media interview of the Army Chief in which General Singh had alleged that he was offered a bribe of Rs 14 cr by a retired Army Officer to clear the procurement of sub-standard trucks. According to General Singh, he had intimated the Defence Minister AK Antony about the fact, who did nothing except expressing grief over the matter. Clearly, this issue has caused a lot of embarrassment for the Defence Minister who had to order a CBI probe in this connection. As soon the controversy triggered by the General on bribe-allegations surfaced, his letter written to the Prime Minister appeared in the media. Both the Army Chief and the Defence Minister reacted sharply to the allegations made in the letter and termed it as an act of treason. Though, nobody knows that who had made the letter public, it is very much sure either it has been briefed up by the Army Chief or the government strategy, however suspicion is smelt at both the ends. The Defence Minister has assured to probe the matter, but mere announcement is not going to bail him out of the controversy. The problems of the Defence Minister have mounted further after the revelation of another letter. The second letter narrates the recommendation of the Army Chief for a CBI probe against a serving Lieutenant General who has recently got approval of the Defence Ministry for his promotion. Nevertheless, it does not sound well between the government and the army chief. Some speculations have been substantiated after the rage on the controversy on defence deals. It can’t be viewed as a coincidence that the Army Chief General VK Singh is expressing concerns over the modernization of the army and process for the procurement of the arms.

After the expression of the letter by General VK Singh to the Prime Minister, the nation has incurred a lot of shame and the reality of Indian Armed forces has also come to the fore. The letter reveals the woeful state of preparedness of the army. The tanks of army lack sufficient number of ammunitions and the army personnel lack the night vision devices. Moreover, the system used for the protection from the air attack has also become outdated up to 97 percent and even the infantry is also facing the crunch of arms. If it is true, then it is definitely going to demoralise our armed forces. Despite all these deficiencies, our armed personnel are working day and night with dedication and diligence to protect the nation.

It is not a simple development that the whole world as well as the nations which are inimical to India got to know that the Indian Army is not well prepared to protect the nation from external aggression. It may be true, there is no immediate threat to the nation’s security, but some of our neighbouring nations have perceived it an opportunity to ridicule the state of preparedness of the Indian army. Pakistani media widely flashed these reports to take a dig at the Indian army. Chinese President Hu Jintao was in New Delhi when the loopholes in the Indian Army system were being debated. All are aware of the fact that after Pakistan, it is China which is India’s most inimical and arrogant neighbour. It doesn’t matter whether China acts to capitalise the present situation or not, but one thing is quite clear that our neighbour, China, is now aware of the poor state of preparedness of our armed forces to deal with any external aggression. When these kind of serious revelations are made about the military capabilities of a country then it has an adverse impact on the diplomatic relations of the nation with other countries or international forum. It could cause a situation in which India will have to put a lot of efforts to regain its lost position in the world and even after this, it will be impossible for it to make up the loss.

There is nothing wrong in knowing about the facts mentioned in General VK Singh’s letter as an instance of treason, but it is certain that this issue has raised a question on the woeful state of the Indian Army. This has been an agony of the senior officials of the army that they have to confront with the hurdles created by the bureaucrats sitting in the Ministry of Defence. Such officers are used to imposing their decisions without going in depth about the requirements of the military preparedness. The attitude of the bureaucracy is not only against the requirements of the armed forces but at the same time it also adversely affects the abilities of the army to take quick decisions. Owing to unnecessary delays in the defence deals, the army personnel as well as the pilots of IAF fighter planes feel demorlised due to the lack of sufficient arms and ammunitions. Despite tall claims of the Ministry of Defence, all are aware about the impoverished state of the IAF’s fighter aircrafts. It is also believed that the growing incidences of accidents of the fighter planes are caused due to the lack of required spare parts for their proper functioning. Undoubtedly, it is thought that the letter of the army chief should not have been made public. It cannot be denied that despite allocation of hundreds of crores every year, why does the pathetic condition prevail in the army where necessary equipments are also not provided many a times. It is sure that the government will either refute the contents of the letter of the Army Chief or will act to cover up the matter to save its face. It will also not be surprising if the government is seen waiting for the retirement of the General who is set to retire from his office after two months. Whatever be the situation, it is ominous that the Army Chief and the government, both are apparently bent on to discredit each-other. Actually in public, both are claiming that all is well, but it is a matter of fact that a sense of negativity has clouded the nation. Given this, it is an unfortunate situation and matter of serious concern and never in past such a sharp decline in the relationship between the government and the army was ever witnessed. 
(An original copy of the article published in Hindi on April 1, 2012 translated by the English Editorial. The author is Group Editor of Dainik Jagran)