Lt Gen Bipin Rawatâs Kashmir experience gave him the edge
By Raj Kadyan
There are no written rules for the appointment of the Indian Army chief. The rulebook says the chief will be appointed by the government. Nobody can challenge the government’s prerogative on this in a court of law.
Having said that, every decision that the government takes at this level, will have both positives and negatives. It doesn’t happen on the basis of whims and fancies. The process is supervised by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC). The ACC has three members: The PM, the home minister and the defence minister. All of them give their advice on the candidate. The profile of the officer is compared. There are notings from the cabinet secretary and defence secretary and the home secretary on the file before it goes to the PMO. All these factors are taken into account.
By convention we have been following the seniority principle when it comes to the appointment of the army chief. On the positive side it means there is no ambiguity. On the negative side, the moment a person becomes a lieutenant general – after which there is no further promotion – he is likely to become complacent. Those who hope to be army chief will play safe. The others who are not made the chief may lose interest since that is the maximum they can achieve. The motivation does flag off a little.
If on the contrary, the government follows the principle of selection from one of the army commanders or vice chiefs, then all these candidates are motivated enough to try for the premier post. The negative is that the government keeps the carrot hanging till the last minute, which is also not good and may lead to cut-throat competition.
Everyone who has risen to the rank of lieutenant general in our highly competitive army has the necessary skill set and abilities to sit in the chair of the army chief. What would have weighed on the government’s mind must have been the present-day strategic and security scenario. As we know, on the western front India has a very violent border. More than 60 soldiers have been martyred this year alone. On the north-eastern side with China, the border is again turbulent and disputed. There are numerous incursions that take place. Obviously, somebody who has had experience of serving in both these environments would be better placed.
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Hindustan Times, December 21, 2016
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