Posts Tagged ‘Indian Army’

(With due apologies to the sage Confucius)….We live in depressing times. You might smile as you read that Saina Nehwal has won another badminton tournament or India has beaten New Zealand in cricket or that Bhupathi and Paes have reunited. But the story next to these is all about a certain Raja and the 2G scam. And the one next to that one is a point-by-point rebuttal by one industry captain to accusations by another. Below that is a story on the hillside project that is suddenly in rocky terrain. And somewhere on the inside pages there are reports of generals who’ve been caught with their hands in the cookie jar and journalists being accused of being fixers and lobbyists.

The smile has by now vanished. Even the most die-hard optimist must feel a little cynical about the state of the nation. Is there even a semblance of a government in place? Rule of law seems to have disappeared. It’s almost as if the country is floundering like a rudderless ship in stormy waters. No one is in control and no one really seems to care. That Parliament hasn’t functioned these past three weeks is of little or no consequence. It’s not governance that is the priority. It’s who blinks first, that is. It’s not about nailing the guilty. It’s about deflecting the blame away from oneself.

No one cares how many crores of the tax-payers’ money goes up in smoke. No one cares how many farmers commit suicide because unseasonal rains destroyed crops; No one cares how many died in terrorist violence. No one cares that industry captains with their own agendas, backed surreptitiously by their political benefactors, are indulging in a public slanging match. No one cares that people have died in bomb blasts and instead they blame each other. No one cares that the country is being sold to the highest bidder for thirty pieces of silver by pimps and charlatans in white pyjama, kurta, dhoti or business suits. And the ones who care have no voice.

Politics is being played out over a hillside project and a multi-storey building. Crores of rupees have already been paid by bankers and private investors into the projects. Suddenly everything about the project is illegal – so says the ministry. Tax-payers have put in their life’s savings to own a piece of prime property at this hillside haven, in the hope that they can spend their retirement away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Suddenly they can see their savings disappearing downhill. It’s the same story with a multi-storey building and land deals across the country.

Everyone’s asking the ministers why they and the governments before theirs approved the project if they knew it was illegal. Surely they knew that. After all, the projects weren’t conceived or executed with the wave of a magic wand. Can someone just run a bulldozer over multi-crore housing projects, without a thought for the investors and residents? Anyone who is anyone is on the take – from ministers, local goons, to politicians, to so-called environmental activists to NGOs – all with their own agenda. Does anyone care? Is it an ethical, moral, legal or political issue?

Parliamentarians, who are supposed to be squatting on the benches inside the august house, have been squatting outside raising slogans. And, for what? Just a little one-upmanship and a few hundred crores wasted in public money. It’s been three weeks since they last met to discuss the problems plaguing the country and its people. They’ve been extremely busy doing nothing. When they aren’t protesting, they are spending crores chartering private planes to attend weddings of politician’s kids. How do they manage to get the money to indulge in such pleasures? No one’s asking.

To add to the gloom are reports of Indian army officers involved in cases of corruption, nepotism and sexual harassment. This is the one institution you believed was above all that. Not anymore. I remember a colonel, whose flat I had taken on rent in 1994, because we didn’t have a place of our own. When I met him for the first time he laughed derisively when I told him that so far only the army was ‘clean’. “They make money even on spectacle frames.” That was in 1994.

In the midst of all this mayhem, the government has quietly increased the price of fuel. It’s a good way to make up for the losses they have forced on us. Who says they aren’t working?


Should I feel sorry for a couple of our former defence chiefs? They led one of the largest armies in the world, and yet were clueless about things happening under their very noses. No one told them anything, they claim, when it came to putting money into a housing project. The poor dears!

Do you believe that? I don’t. Of course, it’s another matter that I take most anything I’m told with large doses of salt. I mean, these are the ex-chiefs of the army and navy – intelligent, highly trained, decorated and very senior defence officers – not some unsuspecting villagers from an obscure place who are told to sign off their properties on a blank paper. That is why I find difficult to swallow when they say they were not aware. As bad as the Maharashtra Chief Minister saying that he didn’t know his relatives were buying flats in Adarsh Housing Society, especially when he sanctioned it!

Just think, they invested lakhs of rupees (they couldn’t have got it at market price or it would have been in crores) in the multi-storeyed building in Mumbai’s posh Colaba area and no one told them that the land was originally purchased for war widows and ex-servicemen; which was also originally supposed to be six floors but suddenly shot up by another 25! Heck, even ordinary folks like you and me, go through the documents with a fine toothcomb to ensure we’re not being taken for a ride by the developers at the signing and registration stage. And these defence chiefs didn’t ask and didn’t check? Do these guys come from Pluto?

That’s a bit like Sharad Pawar saying he had no clue what Lalit Modi was up to with regard to the IPL. Now that the pious humbugs (and I am referring to the gentlemen from the armed forces) have been caught with their pants down, they are desperately trying to wash their hands off the sordid affair by offering to return the property. I can expect scumbag politicians to cheat their own mothers, because we don’t expect any better. But when it’s done by very senior and highly decorated defence chiefs, it makes my bile rise. I’m sure, you feel the same way.

Years ago, in 1984, when Indira Gandhi asked the Indian Army to invade the Golden Temple to end the siege by Bhindranwale, I was on a train returning to Pune. When the Sikh gentleman next to me read the story, his eyes brimmed with tears, and I thought he would say a few uncomplimentary things about the PM. But what he said surprised me: “Yeh sardaron ne hamari naak katwa di. Ab hum kaise sar utha kar jiyenge” I am sure a lot of armed forces personnel who were and are still up there in Kargil fighting the enemy must be feeling the same way, after reading about the scam.

Will the revered St. Anthony (supposedly the ONLY honest minister in the Manmohan Singh Cabinet, apart from the PM himself), nail his former defence chiefs and ensure that they don’t get a single paisa refunded for the flats? After all, if an ordinary citizen, even unknowingly, invests his hard earned money in an illegal construction, he loses not only the home but also his money. Why should the army officers be treated any different? They’ve already lost that right.

A few weeks ago I read a report in the Pune edition of the Times of India about a contrite burglar who came back to the house he had burgled, and pleaded with the owner to turn him over to the cops, because he couldn’t stand the guilt anymore of having committed a crime.

Some six months ago, the burglar had cleaned out a citizen’s bungalow and fled the city. He settled somewhere, spent the loot and then wracked with guilt decided to return to the scene of his crime to confess. The house owner, initially, refused to believe the burglar’s story, but when the crook disclosed what all he had stolen, the man called the cops. There’s a strange but nauseating parallel between the burglar and the highly decorated officers.
Are Tarun Tejpal and Aniruddha Bahal having a quiet chuckle and raising a toast to the whistleblower?

I know this issue is going to upset a few of my Kashmiri friends, but this is something I’ve felt strongly about.

Point # 1: Why, every few years, do we undertake this entire charade about talks with Pakistan when we have no intention of handing over Kashmir or even talking about it? It seems a good way to waste public money and tell the world that we are doing something, when in reality we have no intention of doing anything at all. More important is the fact that the Pakistanis have no intention of talking peace with us and only wish to discuss Kashmir, because the existence of their political set up and the Army depends on it. Let go off Kashmir and they have no issue. It’s a bit of a chicken and egg story.

Point # 2: Do you care about Kashmir or what happens to it? Frankly, I don’t. Kashmir is today a gangrenous wound that continues to fester and because of which the country is bleeding massively. We have poured in crores of rupees into the State for the past 60 years. Our soldiers along with civilians die there every day. So, there are mistakes by the security forces too. What would you expect if you had to live with the fear that each day could be your last? You would get a jumpy too if you didn’t really know whether something that’s sticking out from under the shawl of the homegrown terrorist is a stick or an AK 56.

And what do the people from the State, who hate India, do? They set off bomb blasts and hold rallies in which they wave Pakistani flags and condemn the “Indian occupation of their State.” See what’s been happening there for the past few days…strikes, shutdown, terror strikes. Do we need all this? In my book they are a bunch of ingrates who should be left to fend for themselves. It’s time India too adopted the “you’re either with us or against us” policy against the Kashmiri who wants freedom from India. I have no sympathy for the Kashmiri who turns a gun against the soldier of the Indian Army or a civilian.

It’s a bit like my feelings for Bihar. I was born there, but I have very little sympathy for the people of that State – at least for those who still live there. They can blame the corrupt bureaucracy and even more corrupt political system, but why didn’t they do anything about it? And this is not something that’s been happening in the last decade or two. It has been this way since Independence. I should know… my father was a part of the political system there once upon a time. And he had the same opinion.

But, coming back to Kashmir, they live off India, they feed off India, and then they vilify India. So why not put the money to better use elsewhere? And screw all the sentimental crap about it being a heaven on earth. Right now, Kashmir is anything but heaven and will remain that way till kingdom come, unless one of the two things happen – we let go off Kashmir or Pakistan ceases to exist. I know which solution a lot of Indians would prefer, but I don’t see that happening.

And once we can administer some strong medicine to the gangrenous wound called Kashmir let’s turn our attention to the irritant called PoK. Call me a warmonger, but after the latest threat by the terror groups telling sportspersons not to travel to India for any of the events planned, I think it’s time to give it back with interest. I am no hawk, or someone in khakhi shorts waving a saffron flag, but I do think the time for talk and social niceties is over.

I believe we’ve turned the other cheek long enough, tolerated the violence, the bomb blasts, the Ajmal Kasabs and Lakhvis of this world long enough too. Let’s give them a taste of their own medicine. So what will happen? Collateral damage, more bomb blasts, more deaths on this side? So be it. If they can set off blasts in India and send in terror groups into Kashmir, why can’t we hit them, where it hurts the most? Can this government look beyond vote-bank politics for a change. And can they also stop this charade about talks? I don’t think anyone’s interested anymore…