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When an army chief gets cross there is nothing much you can do, as the Indians are learning the hard way. In neighbouring Pakistan, like in many Arab countries in the past, things might have been simpler. All General B K Singh had to do if he wasn’t happy with the government was to declare a coup.

If in the chaotic and non decisive India no one seems to know what to do, it’s because the saga of the Army General B K Singh, who is about to retire is a complex one.

First there was this issue regarding his real age arising out of two different dates entered in the military records. Unbelievable it is, no one really knew or could decide how old the commander of the vast army protecting 1.3 billion Indians was until the Supreme Court turned down a case he filed against the government.

The row which did go on for the better part of last year between the General and the government which ended up in court and in a serious loss of face for both parties, gave the general impression that India was not expecting an invasion from any corners.

Then there was this ‘bomb’ of a bribe of $3.5 Million the general was offered by another retired general for favouring purchase of substandard trucks for the military. Totally out of expected conduct of an army chief, Mr Singh revealed the offer for the bribe to a national daily which promptly chose to publish it without blinking an eye.

This caused great shock inside and outside the country and an uproar and commotion in the parliament which demanded explanation as to why no action was taken by the general or the defence minister to whom the matter was promptly reported.

But what has happened today, by the leak of an official letter the general had written to the Prime Minister listing the pathetic state of lack of modern equipment and vulnerability of Indian defences has created unprecedented political upheaval and expression of anguish and strong demand for sacking of the general.

However, the Indian government, which is playing hosts to a meeting of the BRICS will be greatly embarrassed to take any action against the general right away.

Even though all three events look to be related and involving General Singh, the reality is stemming from the fall out from the 2G scam the Indians political parties chose to politicize out of proportion for partisan gains, resulting in total inaction by the government machinery, especially in the ministry of defence, which is wary of accusation of corruption.

After all General B K Singh may be doing the country a great service in bringing home the realities of dealing with defence budgets, expenditure, need for secrecy and integrity of human beings, all mutually opposing factors in real life.

Indians, who generally think they have nothing to learn from anyone else, have to learn the virtue of moderation if they need to feel secure under the protection of a great army!

Article first published as What Can a Billion People Do With a Frustrated Army Chief? on Technorati.

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