Showing posts with label Defence. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Defence. Show all posts

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Playing with Fire [109/365]

Mera Bharat Mahaan.

India is a land of public contrasts and private quirks.
We are not the most literate but have the most active media in the world.
Over 50% of our population live in villages and a similar ratio in poverty, yet our cities are bursting at the seams.
Our govt silos are overflowing with food grains, yet millions will go to bed hungry tonight. And every night.
We have one of the best interstate highways, yet nearly all our cities have roads that are miserable to drive on.
Mumbai has Asia's largest slum, and the world's most expensive home.
We have antiquated fleets Sukhoi and Mirages that fall from the sky even without a bullet fired, yet we have a million dollar Intercontinental Ballistic Missile.
Our Army chief tells us that we are sitting ducks, yet we are on the largest spending spree in the planet.

Agni 5, our latest boy's toy. 
While I agree we need to have a reliable defense shield, I wonder if the millions of people earning less than Rs 32 a day will agree to their cash strapped government building a missile that will cost a couple of billion a pop.
But what I can't understand is where are all the lovers of humanity? All those people who carped and complained about how obscene Antilia is in the midst of Daravi.
I remember how we smirked and whispered a conspiracy of hatred about the ludicrous display of wealth when the F1 track was built.

But, don't get me wrong, I have the most respect towards our soldiers who fight against all odds. Even the ones we stack against them.
I salute the brave hearts who patrol inhospitable places like Saichen and Kargil round the clock. We owe you a lifetime of gratitude.

But is having a missile really going to cure our insecurity? I don't think so.
Besides igniting an arms race in an already fragile world that is armed to the teeth, a missile with a fiery name is not going to do squat for our economy.
If our government really wants to make our borders secure, they need to start equipping our ground forces and air combat units with better weapons. With the kind of antiquated guns and sub-par equipment they currently fight with, it is a miracle we have not been invaded yet.

In a nation that is fighting Maoists and Naxals from within, does it really make sense when we spend billions on arms trying to defend itself from external threats?
If you ask me, what we need is not another missile to target China, but one that will target every corrupt politician in our country.

Quick question, Mr Politician, who is funding all this?

Sunday, April 01, 2012

GuestSpeak: General V(rec)K Singh

The last couple of weeks must have been really exciting for the folks at the defense ministry; with all the action going on there they sure do not need to spend a penny on films anymore. The way our military establishment has managed to defame itself is so admirable. One day all was fine and in a span of a couple of months it’s just like any other government establishment all scam and no sense.

The drumroll started very slowly in 2011 when our beloved protagonist General Vijay Kumar Singh finally made up his mind to get his date of birth corrected. Nobody then had any idea that it was going to be so much messy then and so many people supported him. After all, all he was doing was what most people would do if there is any ambiguity about one’s date of birth and he did manage to give a rather convincing reason too. He said he had to do it because he was the leader of an army of 1 lakh men and as a leader he should have a clean and clear record and all the fallacies of it must be set straight, enviable right? But, no so now. Then there was the IMA, the courts and lot of buzz, I am pretty sure that not even the queen’s birthday celebrations got this much buzz in India. Thankfully the Supreme Court laid the matter to rest and judging by what happened afterwards Mr. Singh a bit spiteful.

But then there it did not stop, and then came the Bribe offer! Another seamless and beautiful drama unfolded in the capital with poor old A K Antony at the receiving end, a chap who has only one chink in his otherwise perfect armor. He was honest and for that he was kicked out of Kerala some years back.
He was rather emotional in his address to the house of parliament and he acknowledged the mention of such an incident. He added that the General refused to give a written complaint in that matter.
Why would he not do that? I have no idea. But this was not the end of it then came the letter, a really shocking letter from Mr. Singh to the Prime minister stating that Indian army was a very peaceful force that do not put bullets in their guns anymore, not because they don’t want to but because they don’t have any to put in the first place.

I was left wondering what kind of an army chief gives out the inadequacies of his own army. He was in the first place not supposed to send a letter directly to the Prime minister, which was a breach of protocol. But leaving all this it scares me that a person of such imbalance heads our army. Being the fourth largest army may be one thing but being led by a person such as Mr. Singh, I have my doubts. Mr. Singh is a great soldier and has proved his merit in many battles, but then a leader is not the person with the most number of medals is it?

The other great concern that this whole incident causes is the polarization of the Army and the bureaucracy. I should say I envy the creators of the constitution and the hierarchies and protocols that govern the working of the department. They and they insights have prevented what could possible develop into a military take over. The army, the air force and the navy are in the hands of three men and hence no single men has the command of the entire force at no time, neat and very wise. But I am not concerned about a mutiny in India, that’s a long shot simply because of the mindset of our society that is inherently peaceful.

It is unfortunate that this should happen and what should have been dealt in a rather mature matter is now in pieces. Only one thing is left to do clean the mess up and wrap it up. We cannot have a situation where the nation’s security lies in jeopardy. It would have been more civil had Mr. Singh retired himself just because it’s all a mess now and he is responsible for almost all of it. But he is not doing that, so we can certainly more action packed release from the entertainment house ‘The Ministry of Defense’ staring V K Singh and many more celebrities.

Written for 'Hold the Thought, Get the Point' by our guest blogger Rupertt Wind.
Find more information about him at Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter and Blogger

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Second rate Citizens and loyal Soldiers [77/365]

'Back to the Barracks'
History has been repeated and Didi did get the head of Dinesh Trivedi on a platter.
And I have been proven right and wrong.
Right because I've always believed that Indian politicians are puppets at the hands of their masters/mistresses.
Wrong because I thought Mr Turban puppet and his Handler would keep their foot down and not in their mouths for a change. (Read how I predicted here)

Isn't it curious that she is going to replace him with another crony who will be her puppet number two. Let's hope this is a lesson for the replacement to not cross paths with Didi.
On his way out, Dinesh did manage to justify his flip flop as what a 'loyal soldier' would do. He rightly expressed his worry about 'passenger safety'. (Read the shameless story here)

Rail passenger safety has never been a priority for the government. Infact baring multi billion dollar defense deals, safety and security has never been a priority for the Indian government. And if Dinesh believes his colleagues, compatriots and fellow soldiers are suddenly going to change this just because he said so, then Trivedi is either an incredibly immature politician or equally naive.

But sacrifice apart, I think Dinesh did make a smart move. Knowing how the UPA-2 is not going to win any elections this time, staying with a ship that is about to sink is foolish. But bailing out what could appear as being faithful to your master will earn him brownie points that he will need so that he can return to rule when a change of guard happens in about a year from now.

In the meanwhile, and by the time many read this, a rollback would have already happened. The Union will get disgruntled because an increase will not come and corners will be cut.
Passengers can go to hell. Literally and otherwise.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Top Gun

No, its not about the movie, but about how most defence spendings is wasteful. Millions are spent on acquiring and upgrading weapons of mass destruction, a vast majority of all this is going up in smoke, quite literally.
Someone once quipped: 'Why does the Air Force need expensive new bombers? Have the people we've been bombing over the years been complaining?'
I agree.

Growing up, I lived amongst people from different cultures. I have lived with people from Pakistan and other parts of Asia. My parents were very good friends with a family from Pakistan and Srilanka. I have very fond memories of them. I remember their house used to always be spic and span and the family was a picture of magnanimity. Of all the other Indian friends that I've had, and the many times that we have visited them, I remember this family the fondest. While on one such visit, someone started talking about the political situation between India and Pakistan. I don't remember all the notions put forward, but I remember the father of the family point out a very poignant statement: "Underneath the skin and beneath the color, we are all the same.. we have the same aspirations, same dreams, same fears and same past. We don't want to hate Indians and we are sure you don't want to either. But decades of political upmanship and brinkmanship is profitable to the politicians who run our governments. They are able to put us both fighting each other with their rhetoric. All the enmity allows our leaders to let the other kill us"
This statement has stayed with me, through all the years that I have been in India.
I never knew or heard so much rhetoric about the ongoing strife when I was in the Gulf. But once in India, things were a lot different.
You constantly yet subtly live in fear and loathing.
Micheal Moore sums up the current situation in his movie, Fahrenheit 911. Our leaders, who we elect to lead us into greener and calmer pastures deceive us the first moment they taste power. They tuck the olive branch of peace far from thought and view and engage in very clever rhetoric that is designed to keep us on the edge. All through the day. We are kept in a state of perpetual psychological arousal; fearing the worst, loathing the unknown.
I pride myself on the excellent sense of morality that my parents imbibed in me, whether by accident or on purpose. This makes it a lot more easier for me to not jump to a conclusion and brand a person or a country evil.
All this war talk, is indeed profitable. It profits people who propagate it. Defence spending is at an all time high, I hear. Well, it might as well be. What with China throwing its hatchet into the fight. Three is company, after all. Thankfully, Srilanka and Bangladesh has too much in its plate to even bother.
Newer missiles, Great. Now we can hit even Beijing. Faster and more advanced warplanes, that's splendid. Now, we can show who's boss over our skies faster. Bigger ships, Amazing. Now, we can rule our waters with a iron fist. More poverty. Gosh, I just wish we could not mention this.

And yes, our leaders get to skim over the real issue pretty nicely. After all, how will that help us? How can I get my kickbacks if I spend more money on quality and free education? How can I make sure that I hoard up obscene amounts of money for the next 3 generations if I provide fair and equal employment opportunities to all?
How can I 'farm' my people if they know their constitutional rights like the back of their palms?  
One of my all time favorite Bollywood movie is 'Beta'. I love the movie so much that I have watched it from the opening title to the end credits atleast a couple of dozen times. I love the movie for a lot of reasons and the top reason is the way the protagonist's step mom stifles the freedom and opportunities of the protagonist, by not educating him. While at the same time her own son, studies (and grows up to be a swindler nonetheless). I admire the director for the poignant way he makes us understand education is not what will determine your inner being, but what will let you make a world of decisions in a way that is right. The lack of education didn't ruin the protagonist's character, rather he comes across as a innocent, extremely gentle yet respected and loving. Education allows a person to be informed. Which is exactly what our leaders in many decades of governments don't want us to be. They don't want us to know how to handle crisis intelligently while still being effective. They don't want us to know how much of what is spent is going into their personal fortunes. But all is not lost yet, we have tiny specks of hope, surprisingly, within our own country. Kerala, inspite of all the 'mallu' jokes around, I am proud, being a Keralite myself, to see how Kerala has grown over the years, both economically and otherwise. The stimulus of this growth was when the government decided to launch a localized 'Each one, Teach one' program, which took the State's literacy program to the stratosphere. The momentum has not slowed down and as a result of this, nearly every keralite are very active socially and politically. Nearly everyone spends an hour or 2 scanning the newspapers, gulping down huge chunks of information (besides the obituaries) Nearly every home has a Telephone, TV and a computer connected to the web. Progress took several years but the fruits are there for all to see, nearly all families have atleast one graduate/post graduate and almost 1 in 3 households have a family member who has or is working abroad. True, we have a typical sense of pride, but what is more truer is that you can take a keralite out of Kerala but you cannot take the Kerala out of the keralite. Every political decision taken in the State is debated several times, flipped over and dissected for flaws, and quite frankly, we don't care if the politicians make some money out of all the progress, as long as we get to enjoy the progress. The key word here, being 'Progress'.
Social progress is what we need. Free and quality Education, Health-care, and a fair chance of employment. Is that too much to ask for? I don't think so. We have done it. There are so many nations around the world who has done it. But there is a cost. We must not let our leaders lead us astray. We must grow a backbone and learn to stand up against leaders who promote hatred and so much agony not to mention money.
Give our children education that would enable them to make intelligent, informed decisions. Give our sick, the quality health-care that would enable them to relieve their suffering and pain. Give us the equal footing that we need so that we can earn well enough to educate our child and tend for our sick. Give our society all this and we will take care of progress. This is a cycle. But the spanner in the works, is when our leaders decide to be the Stepmother and choose not to let us grow within.
The movie had a good ending. But real life is vastly different.
I don't see the light at the end of the tunnel. I just hope my candle of hope lasts my journey.

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