General Bhupinder Singh‘s coming out of the closet is indeed timely. The country would like to hear how the military and its brass,thinks, in particular , about nationalism, dissent, disruptive politics and of course patriotism which is not of the “sarkari” kind. What is to be termed as defiance or much worse sedition?
The General has spoken and spoken with intelligence, courage and acuity :very seldom noticed, otherwise in most others of his kind, when dabbling with matters, not traditionally military. The General stands under the flag of his own choosing : a tri-colour without the shadows of the unseen hand. The masses need to be educated about the Armed Forces to be, yet another job : only a little bit risky and difficult at times.It is to be borne out of a purgatory.Not to be an act of apology or much less shame.It is to remain proud and forthright as before,only the definition is to be different.
It is time also to look beyond the feudal understanding of the military from the glorified notions to be all self sacrificing and made out of different elements than that of normal society.They are always only and as good as the people and society they represent and come from.Their training, task and objectives,framework of functioning demand a different set of skills both soft and hard.How it should be read in the present context and freedom that we have in the word called parliamentary democracy has to be re-visited and re-interpreted without the hoopla of derring-do and martyrdom.What with no wars being fought with the enemy on the outside but very much within – in the era of counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency !
Have we become or reduced to just a better peacetime para-military force and to be mirror imaged with lesser and limited versions of guardians of combat and geographies? How do we relate to our pristine and designated goals set in the context of a new and free India against what we are called upon by governments and not the state with the passage of time? Have the lines of such distinction got blurred? Has our reading of military history changed accordingly for history is dynamic and is constantly being seen differently and re-calibrated with changing socio-economic and political realities? The clothes of the Emperor proverbially is what meets the eye.Tragically so. Are we in the military ready to adapt and accommodate or much better still,re-morph ? Change?
A few erstwhile Generals and Admirals have confessed in public or privately AFSPA to be a bone of contention consequent of unfortunate realpolitik.Are they then indications of a changing mind-set? or isolated sparks of misguided or the disgruntled? Those that wear the uniform and weapons are but an agency.They are human and are not just trained to shoot. They would also like to know whom the masters want to kill or destroy. Who is the enemy is a moot question which the military is slowly standing up to ask, albeit when not in uniform. ..