Yes, The General Deserves to Retire With Dignity – UPA Needs to Stop the Self-Goals!!!

Kapil Sibal – eminent lawyer; 23 years in politics; served as member of Board in several high-profile organizations such as IGNOU, Institute of Constitutional and Parliamentary Studies, Business Advisory Committee, Committee on Home Affairs, International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Indian AIDS initiative and Working Group on Arbitrary Detention set up by the Human Rights Commission; represented India at different international summits like World Economic Forum, Annapolis Conference – USA, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

P. Chidambaram – MBA from Harvard; again an eminent lawyer; 26 years in politics; held cabinet positions in Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Home Affairs

Salman Khurshid – M.A., B.C.L. Educated at St. Stephen`s College, Delhi and St. Edmund Hall, Oxford University, Oxford, U.K.; taught as Lecturer in Law at Trinity College, Oxford; 30 years in politics; stints at Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Corporate Affairs and Minority Affairs and now Cabinet Minister for Law and Justice, and Minority Affairs;

Pranab Mukherjee – lawyer, college teacher, journalist; 42 years in politics; served as member of the Board of Governors of the International Monetary Fund, of the World Bank, of the Asian Development Bank, and of the African Development Bank; chaired the Group of 24 attached to the IMF and World Bank; currently a senior member of the Cabinet Committees on Economic Affairs, Infrastructure, Parliamentary Affairs, Political Affairs, Prices, Security, Unique Identification Authority of India, World Trade Organization.

Manmohan Singh – This man doesn’t need introduction. Still for the others – http://pmindia.nic.in/cv.pdf

 

Pretty much similar to the “on-paper” Indian team that’s losing left-right and center in Australia. Well, this team is also no different when it comes to results – that too on their home ground. It is amazing to see the number of self-goals this team has conceded since coming back to power in 2009. Already earning a tag of non-decisive government, this team has a series of mishandling of issues – CVC Chief appointment, corruption and scams, inflation, Anna Hazare movement, Rs32 a day definition of urban poverty, FDI in retail and latest being the Army General date of birth issue. It is even more pathetic when you have four lawyers in your cabinet – getting onto the wrong side of a legal tangle is the last thing you would like to happen. But yes, THEY DID IT.

Since last one week I was hearing about something around the age of Chief of Army, General V K Singh. My occupancy with another article and the unfortunate habit of forgetting things didn’t allow me to check on this more. But this weekend, I tried to see what the issue is about and was astonished to find out the extent to which an issue of gravity of a couple of high level internal meetings was stretched to Supreme Court.

The questions to be asked over here are:

  • What is the importance of a SSC School Leaving Certificate issued by a State Education Board (a government body) as a proof of birth vis-à-vis a UPSC application form hand filled by a candidate?
  • In case of an error in the application form, does the intimation of the error, submission of the correct document to UPSC and its acknowledgement by the later, relieves the candidate from its accountability on any controversies arising due to his date of birth in future?
  • In a highly organized and hierarchical organization like Indian Army, why there exists a confusion between the superiority of AG (Adjutant General) Branch and MS (Military Secretaries)?

 

One doesn’t need to be an Einstein to understand what’s happening here. We fill hundreds of forms in our lifetime. And yes, we do make mistakes. But forms are always submitted along with supporting documents issued by statutory authorities to verify the details. And the sanctity of these documents is beyond question – which is why they accompany our hand-filled application forms.

The current army chief did the same. There was an error in the filled application form (May 1965) – yes. Performing its responsibilities rightfully, UPSC asked for clarification on the discrepancy which was resolved in timely manner (June 1966) by the general and his father when the matriculation results were out. The matter should have ended there. However, 8 year later, when the Army List was published by MS maintained the DOB of the General as 1950 instead of corrected 1951.

This raises questions on functioning of the MS. When were the details of General (not at that time) Singh received by MS? It certainly won’t be that the General filled the form and it was immediately recorded in the records of MS. If UPSC, AG Branch and IMA (Indian Military Academy – which issued the Indian Army Identity Card to the General) had the correct DOB of the General, why was MS in dichotomy? How is General responsible for that confusion? MS maintained that, “no request for change/correction of date of birth will be entertained after a lapse of two years from date of commission” – but the General was commissioned in 1970 and he submitted the originals in 1971.

The only point that is going against the General here are the three letters in 2008 where he agreed to accept any decision taken in organizational interest and to mention his DOB as directed. But the argument that the General Singh received his promotion because of the false DOB (i.e. of 1950) is misplaced since the current MS Secretary G M Nair categorically stated that the Selection Board considered the DOB as 10th May 1951 for the promotions.

Coming to the role of government on this, even a fairly educated person would be able to say that supporting your case with a hand written letter (the three in 2008), an application form and Army List is a suicide against the prosecution prepared with evidences such as matriculation certificate, documents with AG Branch, annual confidential reports and awards, identity card, passport, driver’s license and numerous other statutory documents. It is difficult to understand what the government will gain from this.

As long as I remember this is the first time in my lifetime that military and government has been in loggerheads – at least not for a reason like this. I might be amateur in saying this but these kind of issues are meant to be solved through internal meetings and not through media and judiciary. Yes, our General deserves to retire with dignity. It is sad that morons, currently in the MMS cabinet, are trying their best to sink the UPA ship to all time low levels.

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