Maj Gen Anant Singh Pathania,MVC,MC

Maj Gen Anant Singh Pathania,MVC,MC, lost his reputation in 1962 but,nonetheless was an outstanding soldier until then. Much maligned in India, I am posting his profile written by a Pakistani officer.Forwarded to me by Hamid Hussain.Take a look!
Major General ® Syed Ali Hamid of Pakistan army wrote an excellent profile of MG Anant Singh Pathania. Absolute delight for folks like me. My comments in red.


Dear Sir;

Great profile of an officer and gentleman. How could I resist as it opened so many windows of a bygone era. My few cents in red. I’m circulating it to my list.





By Maj Gen Syed Ali Hamid (Retired)


The clan of Pathanias were originally Tomars from Rajasthan and for a while they ruled Delhi. They moved up north after being defeated by the Moguls and their name is an abbreviation of Prathishthana, the ancient name of Pathankot, which was the capital of the hill state of Nurpur. They have a proud record of service in the armies of Maharajah Ranjit Singh, the State Forces of Jammu & Kashmir, the British India Army and the Indian Army. The clan boasts of one Vir Chakara and two Maha Vir Chakaras (the second highest gallantry award in India), and one of the recipients was Anant Singh Pathania who was twice decorated for bravery and retired as a major general.

 He was born in Kangra, Himachal Pradesh in 1913, just two years before his father Lt Col Raghbir Singh Pathania, 2nd Jammu & Kashmir Rifles was killed in action while commanding the battalion in Jassin, Tanganyika. (Kashmir contributed one and a half battalion for Expeditionary Force B for East African campaign. One complete battalion 2 J & K Rifles and half battalion (4 companies) 3 J & K Rifles. Class composition of 2 J & K Rifles commanded by Lt. Colonel Raghbir Singh was 50% Muslims and 50% Gorkhas. Class of composition of half the battalion of 3 J & K Rifles commanded by Lt. Colonel Durga Singh was 50% Dogra and 50% Gorkha. Raghbir Singh was killed at the head of his troops defending an outpost on 18 January 1915. State troops fought well but post was overrun next day. Out of 135 Kashmir troops captured, 115 were wounded that tells a lot about the fight.) His mother was the daughter of Gen Baj Singh, Kashmir Imperial Service Troops, a fine old soldier and gentleman who was always keen to be in the thickest of a fight. He was shot down next to Capt. Townshend, leading an assault during the Siege of Chitral, 1895. (Three battalions of Kashmir Rifles; 4, 5 & 6 were deployed in northern areas in 1895 campaign. 4 Kashmir Rifles commanded by Colonel Jagat Singh was at Gilgit and when Chitral was threatened, it was dispatched to Chitral. That old soldier General Baj Singh although not required went with the battalion to make sure that is was steady in a crisis. Captain Townsend with 400 soldiers was besieged in the fort. During a heavy attack a number of Kashmir troops were killed including Baj Singh and Major Bikham Singh of 4 Kashmir Rifles. Charles Verre FerrersTownsend was an interesting character and also present at the battle of Ombdurmam in Sudan. He rose to become Major General and during Great War commanded 6 Division in Mesopotamia. After initial successes, his command was destroyed at the siege of Kut al Amara and he surrendered to Ottoman forces. ) Anant Singh was raised under the tutelage of his grandfather Maj Gen, Sardar Bahadur, Nihal Singh Pathania, OBI, the C-in-C of Jammu & Kashmir Forces.

It was around this time that he was engaged to a lady whose family could boast of an equally strong military heritage. Her father, Col Bakshi Chand Katoch was awarded an IDSM in Mesopotamia when he was the Subedar Major of the 56th FFR. He was subsequently commissioned with the first batch of KCIOs from the Cadet College, Indore in Dec 1919.Maj Gen Akbar (Rangroot) who was PA-1, was also commissioned in the same batch. Her younger sister was married to Ghanshyam Singh who was in the last batch of KCIOs commissioned from Sandhurst in 1934 and was posted to 16th Cavalry. My father Maj Gen Syed Shahid Hamid was in the same batch.Her uncle (father’s younger brother) was Subedar Major Parbat Chand Katoch, the first Indian officer (VCO) to be awarded a MC in WW1. When all the British officers became casualties at Neuve Chapelle, Prabhat Chand then just 30 years old, splendidly led the remnants of his regiment, none other than the 59th Royal Sind Rifles (Frontier Force), which in the reforms of 1921/22 would be renumbered as the 6/13thRFFR. Her grandfather was Sardar Bahadur, Honorary Captain Bidhi Chand, the first Subedar Major of 38thDogra (now 2 Dogra. The recruitment pattern during necessity of Great War is very interesting. On the eve of Great War, infantry battalions consisted of eight companies. In 1915, a Jat K company and later two L & M companies of Garhwali Brahmins were added. Later, during four company re-organization battalion had four Dogra Rajput companies but also retained K Jat and M Garhwali Brahmin companies. In Second World War, other regiments with Dogra component also recruited new classes. 5th Probyn Horse recruited Dogra Brahmins and Baluch regiment Brahmins from non-Dogra areas. This added to administrative headache as in Probyn’s Horse instead of squadron mess for a single class troop messing had to be implemented as Brahmin Dogra would not eat with Rajput Dogra.) who held the appointment for 18 years till he retired in 1909. 

  His fiancés parents were keen to quickly tie the knot, since girls in their family wed as young as fourteen, but Anant’s battalion was fighting in Waziristan and he did not want to take a chance. The family agreed to wait. He joined his unit at Razmak along with his course mate, Bakhtiar Rana who was promoted to a three star rank in the Pakistan Army. Most of theMuslim officers that he served with in the battalion during this campaign including Shaukat Raza, Sher Khan, Nazir Ahmed, Akbar Khan and Muhammad Musa, would also rise to prominence in the Pakistan Army. When the campaign terminated in 1939, Anant Singh was detailed for the Junior Staff Course. By the time he returned to the battalion it had moved to Secunderabad as part of the newly raised 5th Indian Division. The formation was under equippedas it was foreseen that the British India Army would not fight a ‘first-class enemy’. However whatever might have been said against the Italians, the Battle of Keren in Eritrea was one of the toughest engagements fought by the 5th Indian Division. To a large extent the division owed its success to the experience of a number of its battalions like the 6/13th RFFR who had operated on the North-West Frontier.

The division was shipped to East Africain Sep 1940. By the time the battle for Keren was fought in early 1941, Anant Singh had advanced to a temporary captain and was commanding a company. Keren is located on a plateau 4,300 ft above sea level and astride the only route that led to Asmara. A formidable barrier of bleak and jagged peaks guarded the approach through the narrow Dongolaas Gorge which took the road and railway up to the plateau. The initial attacks in Feb and early March by the 4th and 5th Indian Divisions on the mass of mountains which rose some 2,500 ft above the Happy Valley, met very limited success. The Italians were too well entrenched and from their excellent observation posts they could detect and engage every movement. Moreover, the physical effort of climbing through prickly bush, spear grass and rocks with no foothold, so exhausted the attackers burdened with equipment, weapons, ammunition etc. that on reaching the crests they were momentarily too exhausted to make further effort. That’s when the Italians counterattacked.

 Ultimately the British commanders decided to force a passage by narrowing the frontage of the attack to just 3000 meters astride the gorge. A renewed effort by the 4th Indian Divisionon the left to capture Brig’s Peak and Sanchil again failed. However, a brigade of 5th Indian Division commanded by Frank Messervy managed to ascend a spur on the right and after some bitter fighting captured Dologolodoc Fort. That night the next brigade of which 6/13thRFFR was the reserve battalion passed through to assault Zeban and Falestoh. The attack was held-up halfway and early next morning, the flank of 3/2ndPunjab (the left forward battalion) was counterattacked. ‘B’ Company 6/13thRFFR commanded by Anant Singh was sent forward to assist in repulsing the Italians. The ground over which it had to pass was swept by machine gun fire from across the gorge but the company made a rush, captured forty Italians and held ground. Throughout the morning in temperatures touching 40°C and amidst heavy shelling, the rest of 6/13thcarried water, rations and ammunition up to theforward battalions. Its HQwas heavily shelled but with coolness and diligence, the adjutant Maj Sher Khan kept is operating efficiently. In spite of the best efforts of 6/13thRFFR and air supply mission,the Worcestershire Battalion on the right was critically short of ammunition and in the eveningwithdrewto a depression ahead of Fort Dologoroc.

As it was withdrawing, Anant’s company out on the left flank was heavily counterattackedby the better part of a battalion of Savoy Grenadiers who were amongst the finest troops the Italians had. In spite of losing a third of its strength the company gallantly held its ground. The history of the division records that the company commander ‘displayed magnificent courage and leadership in this action’. When the Italians succeeded in penetrating the centre of his sector, he led his company HQ and a few men whom he had collected to the counter attack and at the point of the bayonet pushed the Italians out from his company’s position.ASP8Though wounded in the face and both legs, Anant Singh was not prepared to be evacuated and only did so five hours later under orders. The command passed to his company officer, Lt. Sadiqullah. The Savoy Grenadiers rallied and launched another attackbut the officer handled the situation very well. In the nick of time the company was reinforced by two platoons and Sadiqullah led a charge and again drove the Italians back at the point of the bayonet. For conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty, Anant Singh was awarded a Military Cross. Young Lt. Sadiqulla was also awarded a MC in a subsequent battle but that is another story to be told. (Lieutenant, later Brigadier Sadiqullah Khan Orakzai is another fine officer and gentleman of a bygone era. His family also has connection with proud Rajputs. His father Roohullah Khan was inspector general of police of Alwar state. Sadiqullah joined 6/13 FFR in ranks in 1932. Commissioned from IMA Dehra Dun 1938 and won his MC with the battalion. He was one of the first batches of Indian officers posted to frontier scouts. He served with South Waziristan Scouts and Tochi Scouts. Briefly commanded 2/13 FFR (now 8 FF) after partition. Ended his career as Inspector General Frontier Corps – IGFC. His son-in-law and grandson also commanded 8 FF.)

 Anant Singh returned to Indiato recover from his injuries. While in hospital, he was visited by Maj Gen Inskip who commanded 6/13th RFFR in Waziristan from 1932-34 and was now commanding the Rawalpindi District. Inskip had been awarded an MC in WW1 and he pinned a miniature of the medal on Anant’s shirt that had been presented to him by a Count. Anant confided to the general that he was still in possession of an Italian Lugar that he was grasping when evacuated from the frontline and the general replied “Keep your mouth shut and retain it as a memento”, which he did.It was rumoured that his leg had been amputated and his fiancés mother wanted to call off the wedding. Col Katoch was sent to the Pathankote Railway Station to meet Anant Singh (who was on his way to Jammu on medical leave) and confirm if the groom-to-be was whole and intact. That night two very drunk soldiers arrived home. The father-in law-to-be had pulled out a bottle of Scotch to celebrate and together they ‘killed’ it.

After a sojourn, Anant Singh returned to the front, this time to Burma and was the first Indian officer to hold the key appointment of a brigade major of an infantry brigade. At Independence, he opted to be transferred to the 1/5th Ghurkhas that had been part of the Punjab Frontier Force, and thencommanded it in the First Kashmir War. In Nov 1948, the advance of the Indian Army through the Zojila Pass towards Drass and Kargil was held up, and the 1/5th Ghurkhawas tasked to clear the heights of Kumar and Ananton a ridge overlooking the Pindras Gorge. It was a hard fought battle and Anant Singh’s citation for MVC sates that ‘The success of this operation was due entirely to Lt. Col. Pathania’s personal recce of enemy defence. Throughout the recce stage and during the attack, this officer personally led his men.’

In 1949 Anant Singh was promoted brigadier. For the next ten years he held various command and staff appointments and was promoted major gen in 1959. While recently appointed as the Director General, National Cadet Corps in 1962, on a short notice of few hours, he was sent to command the 4th Mountain Division in NEFA. The debacle of the Indo-China War muddied the career and reputation of many officers of the Indian Army including Anant Singh who had so far a fine record of service. The General retired in early 1965 and the warrior breathed his last in Dharamsala on 19 Dec, 2007 at the age of 95 years. (Interestingly, his paltan mate Sadiqullah Khan also passed away at the ripe age of 99 in 2009. I’m sure Anant and Sadiqullah are enjoying each other’s company up there and looking down and smiling on the younger generation of PIFFERS).

Authors Note: I am immensely grateful to Vasu Pathania for having shared with me so much information, anecdotes and pictures related to his late father. My deepest thanks to Sushil Kumar for providing me the bio data as well as citations of the general as well as his relatives mentioned in this article. The major details of the Battle of Keren (including maps and images) have been extracted from ‘Ball of Fire’, the WW2 history .


General Analyses

The space between borders and lines of control
They may have proposed the Geospatial Bill, but is the government drawing the line consistently in its dealings?
Posted by Lt Gen H S Panag | May 23, 2016 in Criticles, Featured | 0 Comments

‘Frontier’,’border’ and ‘international boundary’ are terms used to describe the in-between space between contiguous nation states in ascending order of legitimacy and international acceptance. Sir Henry McMahon, Foreign Secretary of British India and negotiator of the McMahon Line had once said:
“A frontier is a wide tract of border land which by virtue of its ruggedness or other difficulty, served as a buffer between two states. A boundary is a clearly defined line expressed either as verbal description (delimited), or as a series of physical marks on the ground.”
In between the terms ‘frontier’ and ‘international boundary’ rests the term ‘border’, which more often than not is created as an interim measure during the transition of a frontier into an international boundary. It can be defined as a mutually-accepted line or zone — more often the latter — established to maintain status quo, pending a final settlement of the erstwhile frontier region in form of delimited international boundary via negotiations or failing which, by conflict.
There is a tendency to use these terms synonymously without understanding their geostrategic implications, which can be traced back to the evolution of the nation states. Political and military control are intrinsically linked to each other and began with the heartland and extended outwards to the frontier regions where population was sparse, terrain difficult, communications poor and little or no economic activity. Competitive conflict among nations began over control of the frontier regions. With development, better communications, economic opportunities and at times for sheer prestige, contiguous nations jostle to seize control of the frontier regions. This competitive conflict — varying in intensity from flag marking to war — leads to the creation of a border.
In recent history, borders (barring minor adjustments) rarely change and eventually get converted into international boundaries through mutual agreements. Since the root cause is primordial in nature, this process takes a long time. Borders get established even when claims are very rigid for trade and passage. Along the borders, nations continue to jostle for a position of advantage to reinforce their claims or to cause embarrassment to each other as part of the omnipresent competitive conflict.
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As a result, a border has to be defended at a phenomenal cost. The Line of Actual Control with Tibet and Line of Control with Pakistan in Jammu & Kashmir are classic examples of borders. The difference in terminology is that the former came into being based upon the actual positions held by troops after the war in 1962, while the latter was settled along the United Nations-brokered Ceasefire Line of 1949, which was upheld after 1965 and was changed marginally post-1971, when status quo was maintained with respect to gains and losses. Subtle change in terminology from Ceasefire Line to Line of Control was the result of the Shimla Agreement of 1972.
With the passage of time, borders get de facto international sanctity as conflict is frowned upon by great powers. The American attitude, also accepted by all major powers including China, during the Kargil conflict is a case in point.
Recently the government has come out with a draft of the the Geospatial Information Regulation Bill 2016, which will render illegal the misrepresentation of Indian territory. The bill lays down the formal mechanism for obtaining prior permission for publication/depiction of geospatial information and the punishment for violations of the act, which include fines upto Rs 100 crores and imprisonment upto seven years. On the face of it, the bill reiterates India’s formal position on its boundaries and is in consonance with Parliament resolutions of 1962 and 1994 regarding territories under illegal occupation of China and Pakistan.
The ground position is that the Line of Actual Control and Line of Control are de facto borders manned by armed forces of all three countries. Violations are confronted and diplomacy is used to maintain status quo. If these contradictions are not enough, we also continue to hold talks with Pakistan which “include Kashmir” and with China to delimit and map the Line of Actual Control as a prelude to settlement of the larger boundary dispute. Our political leaders vow to regain every inch of our territory under illegal occupation raising public expectations.
Keeping this in view there is a need for the government to unambiguously clarify its position on the parliament resolutions with respect to the territories under illegal occupation of China and Pakistan, de facto borders in the form of Line of Actual Control and Line of Control, the proposed Geospatial Information Regulation Act and the ongoing talks with China and Pakistan with respect to international boundaries of India. Failure to do so will not only lead to ambiguous use and likely abuse of the proposed act, and will also raise the expectations of the people with respect to territories under illegal occupation denying the government diplomatic freedom.
The author can be contacted on Twitter @rwac48

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———- Forwarded message ———-

From: Mohan Chandra 

Please do read this amazing true story !!!

  Humanity here – WWII Story


The 21-year old American B-17 pilot glanced outside his cockpit and froze. He blinked hard and looked again, hoping it was just a mirage. But his Co-Pilot stared at the same horrible vision. “My God, this is a nightmare,” the Co-Pilot said.
“He’s going to destroy us,” the Pilot agreed.
The men were looking at a gray German Messerschmitt fighter hovering just three feet off their wingtip. It was five days before Christmas 1943, and the fighter had closed in on their crippled American B-17 bomber for the kill.
Watch this video 


Brown’s Crippled B-17 Stalked by Stigler’s ME-109


The B-17 Pilot, Charles Brown, was a 21-year-old West Virginia farm boy on his first combat mission. His bomber had been shot to pieces by swarming fighters, and his plane was alone, struggling to stay in the skies above Germany. Half his crew was wounded, and the tail gunner was dead, his blood frozen in icicles over the machine guns.
But when Brown and his Co-Pilot, Spencer “Pinky” Luke, looked at the Fighter Pilot again, something odd happened. The German didn’t pull the trigger. He stared back at the bomber in amazement and respect. Instead of pressing the attack, he nodded at Brown and saluted. What happened next was one of the most remarkable acts of chivalry recorded during World War Il  



     Franz Stigler wondered for 

Luftwaffe Major Franz Stigler


Stigler pressed his hand over the rosary he kept in his flight jacket. He eased his index finger off the trigger. He couldn’t shoot. It would be murder.
Stigler wasn’t just motivated by vengeance that day. He also lived by a code. He could trace his Family’s Ancestry to Knights in 16th Century Europe. He had once studied to be a Priest. A German Pilot who spared the enemy, though, risked death in Nazi Germany. If someone reported him, he would be executed.
Yet, Stigler could also hear the voice of his commanding officer, who once told him: “You follow the rules of war for you — not your enemy. You fight by rules to keep your humanity.”
Alone with the crippled bomber, Stigler changed his mission. He nodded at the American Pilot and began flying in formation so German anti-aircraft gunners on the ground wouldn’t shoot down the slow-moving bomber. (The Luftwaffe had B-17’s of its own, shot down and rebuilt for secret missions and training.) Stigler escorted the bomber over the North Sea and took one last look at the American Pilot. Then he saluted him, peeled his fighter away and returned to Germany.
“Good luck,” Stigler said to himself. “You’re in God’s hands now…” Franz Stigler didn’t think the big B-17 could make it back to England and wondered for years what happened to the American Pilot and crew he encountered in combat.


Charles Brown, with his 


Charles Brown, with his wife, Jackie (left), 

with Franz Stigler, with his wife, Hiya.



As he watched the German fighter peel away that December day, 2nd Lt. Charles Brown wasn’t thinking of the philosophical connection between enemies. He was thinking of survival. He flew his crippled plan, filled with wounded, back to his base in England and landed with one of four engines knocked out, one failing and barely any fuel left. After his bomber came to a stop, he leaned back in his chair and put a hand over a pocket Bible he kept in his flight jacket. Then he sat in silence.
Brown flew more missions before the war ended. Life moved on. He got married, had two Daughters, supervised foreign aid for the U.S. State Department during the Vietnam War and eventually retired to Florida.
Late in life, though, the encounter with the German Pilot began to gnaw at him. He started having nightmares, but in his dream there would be no act of mercy. He would awaken just before his bomber crashed.
Brown took on a new mission. He had to find that German Pilot. Who was he? Why did he save my life? He scoured Military Archives in the U.S. and England. He attended a Pilots’ Reunion and shared his story. He finally placed an ad in a German Newsletter for former Luftwaffe Pilots, retelling the story and asking if anyone knew the Pilot.
On January 18, 1990, Brown received a letter. He opened it and read: “Dear Charles, All these years I wondered what happened to that B-17, did she make it home? Did her crew survive their wounds? To hear of your survival has filled me with indescribable joy…”
It was Stigler.
He had had left Germany after the war and moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1953. He became a prosperous Businessman. Now retired, Stigler told Brown that he would be in Florida come summer and “it sure would be nice to talk about our encounter.” Brown was so excited, though, that he couldn’t wait to see Stigler. He called Directory Assistance for Vancouver and asked whether there was a number for a Franz Stigler. He dialed the number, and Stigler picked up.
“My God, it’s you!” Brown shouted as tears ran down his cheeks.
Brown had to do more. He wrote a letter to Stigler in which he said: “To say THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU on behalf of my surviving crew members and their families appears totally inadequate.”
The two Pilots would meet again, but this time in person, in the lobby of a Florida hotel. One of Brown’s Friends was there to record the Summer Reunion. Both men looked like retired businessmen: they were plump, sporting neat ties and formal shirts. They fell into each other’ arms and wept and laughed. They talked about their encounter in a light, jovial tone.
The mood then changed. Someone asked Stigler what he thought about Brown. Stigler sighed and his square jaw tightened. He began to fight back tears before he said in heavily accented English: “I love you, Charlie.”
Stigler had lost his Brother, his Friends and his Country. He was virtually exiled by his Countrymen after the war. There were 28,000 Pilots who fought for the German Air Force. Only 1,200 survived. 


The war cost him everything. Charlie Brown was the only good thing that came out of World War II for Franz. It was the one thing he could be proud of. The meeting helped Brown as well, says his oldest daughter, Dawn Warner.
They met as enemies but Franz Stigler, on left, 
They met as enemies but Franz Stigler, on left, and Charles Brown, ended up as fishing buddies.
Brown and Stigler became pals. They would take fishing trips together. They would fly cross-country to each other homes and take road trips together to share their story at schools and Veterans’ Reunions. Their Wives, Jackie Brown and Hiya Stigler, became Friends.
Brown’s Daughter says her Father would worry about Stigler’s health and constantly check in on him.
“It wasn’t just for show,” she says. “They really did feel for each other. They talked about once a week.” As his friendship with Stigler deepened, something else happened to her father, Warner says “The nightmares went away.”
Brown had written a letter of thanks to Stigler, but one day, he showed the extent of his gratitude. He organized a reunion of his surviving crew members, along with their extended families. He invited Stigler as a Guest of Honor.
During the Reunion, a video was played showing all the faces of the people that now lived — Children, Grandchildren, Relatives — because of Stigler’s act of Chivalry. Stigler watched the film from his Seat of Honor.
“Everybody was crying, not just him,” Warner says.
Stigler and Brown died within months of each other in 2008. Stigler was 92, and Brown was 87. They had started off as Enemies, became Friends, and then something more.
After he died, Warner was searching through Brown’s library when she came across a book on German fighter jets. Stigler had given the book to Brown. Both were country boys who loved to read about planes.
Warner opened the book and saw an inscription Stigler had written to Brown:


In 1940, I lost my only brother as a night fighter. On the 20th of December, 4 days before Christmas, I had the chance to save a B-17 from her destruction, 

a plane so badly damaged, it was a wonder that she was still flying.


The Pilot, Charlie Brown, is for me as precious as my Brother was.


Thanks Charlie.
Your Brother, Franz

Karmanye Vadhikaraste, Ma Phaleshou Kada Chana !

Ma Karma Phala Hetur Bhurmatey Sangostva Akarmani !!

                     — Srimadbhagvadgita, Chapter 2, verse 47
It means: To action alone hast though a right and never at all to its fruits; let not the fruits of action be thy motive; neither let here be in thee any attachment to inaction.

PK Mallick


Lt Gen Baljit Singh(R) Artcles on Water Wars reproduced.He is one of our most well read scholar soldiers.


One of the latest and more perfidious designs of the Chinese was revealed through a casual statement from Beijing that they intended diverting the flow of the Brahmaputra (Tsangpo) in Tibet. Viewed together with their preposterous claim over most of Arnuchal Pradesh, this new intent tantamounts to shriveling the Brahmaputra in India to a meat monsoon, flood water ditch. This in effect will deprive millions of citizens living in the NE region of India, of their ages old livelihoods. And in due course, Bangladesh will be reduced to the status akin to Darfur with unending queues of seekers of food-dole. After all, the food chain and industry are, among other inputs, hugely dependent on the perennial waters of rivers.

In the history of mankind, certain spheres of activity acquired universal acceptance without recourse to legal treaties or covenants. Take for instance the freedom to ply over the high seas and oceans and utilizing rivers for water and commerce as they come flowing from where-so-ever and by whom-so-ever. So the Danube which arises in the Black Forest, merrily waltzes along not only through W Germany but also across Austria, Hungary and Yugoslavia. In its journey of about 2800 km to the Black Sea, it enriches both mankind and its own water chemistry. In turn, the Black Sea becomes home to 300 species of birds and 100 fish species. More important, Danube’s waters become the elixir for Sturgeon which provides story of symbiotic inter dependence on one river by eight nations.
In the course of evolution, nation of South Asia, SE Asia and China were provided with several rivers; some for exclusive use of one nation and others as a common, water-wealth for several countries. A cursory glance on the topography of Asia enthralls the viewer as he watches so many rivers emanating from Tibet, in one narrow corridor encompassed in between South of the line Rudok-Lahsa-Chamdo and North of the crest line of the Greater Himalayan Range. In the West of the corridor, in a space of just about 60 kms is a tight knot of glacier sat the mean elevation of 17,000 ft ASL which forms the source of four major rivers of Pakistan, India, Tibet and Nepal. The Indus enters India near Rudock and flows onwards to Pakistan without hindrance by India. Barely 30 kms from its source, arises the Sutlej. It used to flow into India without obstruction till the recent mountain-slips at Parechu creating a huge boulder-dam which may well in fact, be the creation of Chinese mischief.  
From the South-East of Mt Kailas, the abode of Shiva springs up the Brahmaputra. It flows in almost a straight West-to-East channel for nearly 1600 kms sustaining life and culture in Tibet along both its banks. It then flows between the two most beautiful-to-behold Himalayan peaks, Namcha Barwa (25,445 ft) and Gyala Pari (23,470 ft), reverentially believed to be the nourishing breasts of Goddess Pemako, by the Tibetans. Thence it turns sharp South to enter Arunachal Pradesh. Another 160 kms and it makes a dramatic West turn to enter Assam at Sadiya. Now it flows for about 500 kms (due West and Almost parallel to its channel in Tibet) up to Dubri where yet again it turns South to enter Bangladesh; and ultimately emptying in the Bay of Bengal! What a River and how exceptionally intricate its geometry! For immeasurable eons, the Brahmaputra has been a common legacy of Tibet and India and lately of Bangladesh as well.
Now look up North of the tri-junction of Tibet (China) India and Burma and we come to an incredible geographical occurrence. In a constricted space of just 240 kms lie the main upper channels of four more immense rivers of Asia. And all flowing North to South. Two of them, the Irrawady and the Salween are exclusively Burman. Next comes the Mekong, nourishing life and culture of Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and South Vietnam covering some 4500 kms to end up in the South China Sea. In its upper reaches the Mekong, forms the common international boundary between China and Thailand. Unmindful of the protestations of the Mekong Delta Nations and the UNO, the Chinese have usurped and dammed the Mekong to provide hydro-electricity to its South Eastern region. So the once upon a time, rich rice harvests of SE Asia are now a thing of the past.
The fourth river of this brother-hood is the Yangtze-Kiang which is wholly Chinese. And barely 60 kms Norh of the Yangtze source is China’s very exclusive river, the mighty Howang Ho or the Yellow River. Both rivers are as indivisively a part of China as is The Great Wall. Well, that is simply not yet all the waters of China, for; she has more than another dozen rivers which emanate from within the mainland itself. Now if the sum of all the rivers of China falls short of her needs, would that justify China resorting to International, rivers brigandage?  
Would they next divert the Karnali Ganga which also spring close to the Brahmaputra and flows into Western Nepal? And the the Red River before it enters North Vietnam, the latter’s only river? Nile, the longest of all the rivers of the World, bubbles out from an insignificant spring on a hill-top in Burundi, the smallest nation in the world perhaps none bigger than UT Delhi. It covers more than 6400 kms to its mouth on the Mediterranean in Egypt. In its colorful history the Nile valley cradled one of the Worlds great civilizations. Now if Uganda and Tanganyika were to drain Lake Victoria (the head-waters of the Nile) through a canal into the Indian Ocean, what will be the fate of the teeming millions in Sudan and Egypt?  
Significantly, “The Great World Atlas” compiled by the Readers Digest in 1960 makes a profound declarative statement: “Today our knowledge of the world has drawn on the sum of that knowledge accumulated through many lifetimes of research”. It then goes on to highlight in bold print that the trickle oozing from the shadow of Mount Kailas is the “ Brahmaputra” or the “Maghang Tsangpo”, that is, first and foremost the son of Brahma, the Creator of the Universe, one of the most worshipful of Gods of Indian mythology.  
Regrettably, such like esoteric thoughts and lofty beliefs which nurture and expand the souls of Democracies are the bane of megalomaniac dictatorships. We can be sure that the International community will pout pious platitudes on China’s evil designs over the Brahmaputra as they did prior to the impending destruction of the Bamyan Budhas. China knows that India is ill matched for any meaningful saber-rattling; not till India has a demonstrable assured nuclear-triad capability. So what options have we for the present save for abject diplomacy? And draw solace from our mythology that the birth spot of Brahma is watched over by Siva and his comely consort Parvati from atop Gurla Mandhata (Mt Meeroo), their abodes on either bank of Manasarover!! No. Let us shake off sloth and get the ICBM act together, the soonest.  
                                                                                    About 1200 words.  
Lieut General Baljit Singh,
House 219,
Sector 16-A,
Chandigarh. 160 015.
Tel; 0172-2770619/9878881022.

Lt Gen Hanut Sigh,PVSM,Mvc


Most grateful to receive your mail and the Tribute to Gen Hanut.

I am sharing this with all.

    —   PKM

Lt Gen hanut Singh

GEN HANUT of PH : “Fakhr-e-Hind”

Posted by Surjit on Apr 24th, 2015 in Obituaries and Remembrances

Only those who take leisurely, what others are taking seriously

Can take seriously, what others are taking leisurely


An obituary that says it all

A 12cm x 15cm insertion in multiple editions of the Times of India costs quite a packet. For a Regiment to shell out so much money for an officer who commanded the unit 44 years ago, and retired 24 years ago is a testimony of the indelible impression which the man left on the posterity. The words are poignant, and very well chosen. I have never seen such a heartfelt tribute, but that is because, soldiers of his calibre are rare, to say the very least. When I searched my heart more carefully, I discovered that Gen Hanut was more than a soldier. He was a man of God. The Christians have given us several attributes of godly men, and this man measures up to every parameter, more than fully.   


hanut singh 1933-2015

Cadet Hanut Singh of the First JSW Course,

I served under the general for only one year; in 1982-83. However to maintain the chronological sequence, this piece must begin at the start of his military service. Gen Hanut was an illustrious member of the First JSW course, which commenced in January 1949. Lt Gen Harbhajan Singh, a former Signal Officer-in-Chief has done yeomen service to his course by creating a blog in which he has described each of his course-mates. This course was unique in many ways. They did not have to go through the UPSC written examination and had no ‘seniors’ at the Academy. Three of them rose to be the Chiefs of the three services and countless numbers rose to become generals, admirals and air marshals. Gen Hanut was in Baker Squadron and is seen at the right extreme in the front row of the picture below. The pen picture drafted by Gen Harbhajan is given beneath the photograph.

hanut singh group pic



Whether Hanut got his mature dignity from Rajasthan, which is his home state, or from Col. Brown’s School which is his alma mater is more than we can decide. He deserves the Nobel Prize for Peace, because he tried to  maintain harmony among his friends, always and every time. For this noble cause, he has never grudged money or breath or both.  An able rider.

The Hand of God

Hanut was commissioned into 17 Horse, which is better known as the Poona Horse. A great deal has been said and written about this great and famous regiment. It is the only unit which has been awarded two PVCs, one each in 1965 and 1971 wars. The emblem of this unit is a ‘hand’ which protects and guides its men.


hand of god


Gen Hanut, as I knew him

For this piece, we press ‘the fast forward’ button and come to May 1982, when he took over as the GOC of the Division in Sikkim. I was commanding the EME Battalion (known as the CEME) and had been there for about six months. His predecessor was Maj Gen (later COAS) VN Sharma, and I intend to write a separate piece on him, to do full justice to his contribution to the ‘Black Cat’ division. All that must be said here is that the change of command led to sea change. We had heard weird things about how Gen Hanut attended office for only a few hours, and spent most of his time in meditation. Socially, he was a recluse, and very little was known to us about his priorities, when he appeared on the scene.

After his arrival, social functions reduced to almost zero, and the routine conferences were few and far between. Only those who were required for a discussion were invited to attend. And so it was nearly two months, before I got an opportunity to see him in person. It may have been longer, if it had not been for an urgent piece of work.

The selection board for promotion of my second-in-command, Major Krishnan Nair Hari Kumar was preponed, and the army headquarters called for an early Annual  Confidential Report (ACR) on his performance. Hari had done an outstanding piece of work, and I was very keen that he got his due. Unfortunately, the GOC had never seen him, and since he spent so little time in his office, I was afraid that his ACR might get delayed in the division headquarters.

 It took me two days to write a report commensurate with the contribution of the officer to the unit, and after I had checked and re-checked all the enclosures, I mustered the courage to ring up the GOC, with a request to meet him in person to expedite the review. I was pleasantly surprised to be connected to the boss in the very first attempt and after he had heard me out, he asked me whether it would be convenient for me to meet him at three pm, in the afternoon, that same day. Quite naturally, I said yes.

As soon as I had put the receiver down, I recalled that the general did not attend office in the afternoons. He rose at an unearthly hour for meditation and after lunch, he rested. So I wondered whether what I had heard was true. But I kept my misgivings to myself.

Rest of the morning was spent in preparing for the meeting. I reached there well in time and was shown in at the stroke of the hour. I saw a relaxed man sitting, with not a single file on the table. On his face, there was a silence; the kind of which I had never seen before. He signalled me to take a seat. Even before he said anything, I found myself telling him all that Hari Kumar had done for my unit. He listened to me with rapt attention, and when I had finished, he asked me whether I was sure that he was entitled to review the ACR. When I said yes, he said, “Where is the report?”

I gave him the file. He took less than a minute to read it and then he filled up his part of the document in the next two minutes. He called his PA and asked him to enter his personal particulars in the form and diary the document. I thought my job was over and so I rose to take leave of him. He motioned me to sit down, and said, “He will take about ten minutes to do his job. You can spend that time with me, if you like”

He then asked me about the state of equipment in the formation, specially the aging medium guns. I said there was no cause for concern, except the gun-towers, which had not physically moved the equipment for a long time, and so one was not fully sure of their battle worthiness. He then asked me about the ASC battalion. I told him that it was one of the best run ASC units that I had seen. He queried, “Then why so many accidents?” And I said, “Sir, they consume more than half of the total fuel in the formation. Compared to the running of their vehicles, their proportion of accidents is far lower than the other units” His face lit up, and he asked me a few more questions about the units in the high altitude brigade. I told him whatever I knew.

By that time the PA had brought the file. As I was preparing to leave, he asked me whether I had carried out the CEME’s inspection of all units. I nodded. His final words were,     “I am sure that you go to help the units; and not to find fault with them!”

I looked into his eyes, and had the gumption to say, “I hope so…and I think I have got your message, Sir”

On the way back, I read the report given by the GOC to Maj Hari Kumar. He had dittoed the points awarded by me and the ‘pen-picture’ had just one line,

“Maj Hari Kumar has performed to the entire satisfaction of his commanding officer”

It struck me that he could not have recorded his impression in a more concise manner. Every word was true, relevant and appropriate. And he had taken less than two minutes to complete his job.

I saw very little of him during the next few months. Then one day, we received the programme for the annual inspection of our unit by the GOC. Unfortunately, the date given to us was in the middle of my planned annual leave. Therefore, when I sent my leave application, I attached a noting sheet seeking a fresh date for our inspection. The leave application was received the very next day, duly sanctioned, but there was no mention of the fresh date of inspection. I assumed that it would be postponed, and left for my home town.

While on leave, I received a letter from my second-in-command that the inspection had been carried out on the original date. He had rushed to the division headquarters to inform them that the CO was away on leave, but he was told that the GOC had remarked, “I am going to inspect the Unit; and not the commanding officer. I already know the CO!”

During the three hours which he spent in my battalion, the GOC spoke no more than four sentences. And each word made eminent sense to us. By the time I returned, every single thing which my officers sought from the headquarters had been sanctioned. The next event which merits mention here is. that I was detailed to attend a course on computers in Mhow. On the detailment order, the GOC had specifically said that I must make full use of this opportunity. I took it as his blessing and left, without any qualms or misgivings.

Soon after my return, we were told that Gen Hanut had been posted out, after completing only one year in Sikkim. He had been side-stepped to command an armoured division. Some people attributed other reasons for the move, but that was of no consequence to me.

In our division, we had a very fine set of officers commanding the div-troops units. MPS Kandal was commander engineers, Manmohan Singh was commander Signals, Jagdish Chander headed the ASC battalion and Mark Surjit Gill was the Ordnance boss. We made a little group of our own, which came to be known as the ‘Fifth Brigade’ The medical units commanded by Cols Kale and Bhatnagar also joined in. We decided to organize a common farewell function for Gen Hanut, and that suited everybody. The event was held in the ASC battalion, and Jagdish rose to the occasion in his characteristic superb manner. I have always considered it to be more than a coincidence that all members of the ‘fifth brigade’ rose to tall levels in the military hierarchy.

Those who know these illustrious officers would recall that Jagdish rose to head the ASC; Manmohan was approved for promotion to three star rank, and founded the Army Education Society; Madan Kandal commanded an Infantry Division and Gill became a Brigadier in spite of being a late entrant in the army. A picture of the group would not be out of place here. Incidentally, this picture was taken when colour photography had just arrived in Gangtok, but it is reasonably clear (Unfortunately, Manmohan was away, and so is not seen in this picture).


surjit singh and hanut singh

MPS Kandal, Surjit, Jagdish Gen Hanut, Kale, Bhatnagar and Mark Gill



A New Chapter

Logically, this story should have ended here. I never met Gen Hanut in the official capacity after that farewell lunch in mid-1983. But, in effect, if it had not been for the post-Sikkim days, I might never have written this piece.

A few months after the general had moved to Ambala, I wrote a letter to him, in which I thanked him for his what he had done for our unit. In response, I received a hand written note in which he said some kind things, and specifically invited me to visit him in Ambala. He remembered that my parents were from Yamunanagar. And the Lord had other things in mind. From Sikkim, I was posted to the Pay Commission Cell in the army headquarters. During my somewhat long tenure in the adjutant generals’ branch, I was detailed a member of two study groups by the COAS. First, there was a study on ‘Manpower Philosophy’ with Maj Gen OP Bhog as the Chairman, and then there was a study on ‘Career Planning of Officers’ with Lt Gen Sushil Pillai as the Boss. For gathering data and seeking the views of Formation Commanders, we always chose the Formations commanded by Gen Hanut. First, it was the Armoured Division and then the Strike Corps. On all these occasions, Gen Hanut invited me over to the Flagstaff House for ‘a drink’ (which, in his abode was either melon juice or an extract of carrots and citrus fruits). In every case, I was permitted to dip into his world of spirituality. He was averse to talking about people and I noticed that he never spoke about the 1971 war, in which his regiment had won laurels. Finally, I observed that he never spoke about himself. The path on which he seemed to be moving was celestial.


road less travelled

A Road Less Travelled: Along the Spiritual Highway

Beyond Ambala

From Ambala, General Hanut moved to Ahmednagar (called Nagar) and I was selected to raise the “Simulator Development Division” to design training aids, especially for armoured fighting vehicles and anti-tank missiles. This took me to meet Gen Hanut once again. By the end of his tenure in Nagar as the Commandant of the Armoured Corps Scchool, our bond had become fairly close, and less formal.

The general moved to an ashram near Dehradun, and devoted full time to meditation and self-realization. Since Dehradun was not far from my hometown, I was able to visit him at regular intervals. During every visit, I came back stimulated, and returned with my batteries fully charged. There is one occasion which I cannot forget. In his cottage, there was a beautiful room with full-length windows that showed the heavenly view of the Doon Valley, with a stream flowing at a distance. As I settled down on a sofa, I noticed a sign board which read:

इस आश्रम में हरि चर्चा कीजिये : नहीं तो मौन रहिए 

(In this Ashram, discuss spirituality: or else, remain silent)

In a few moments, the general came down from his room upstairs, and sat down. I sat gazing at the scene, trying to figure out something ‘spiritual’ to say. The other alternative was easier. I decided to just wait for the juice to arrive, and then say goodbye. I chose silence, as a safe alternative.

I suspect Gen Hanut sensed my dilemma. He got up, picked up that signboard and tucked it away. And that day,  he himself said, “Let the Lord have a day off today!” We discussed the lighter side of life, and laughed at any thing and everything under the Sun. That was also the day, when he presented a copy of the book entitled, “FAKHR-E-HIND” (The Story of the Poona Horse). In his trade-mark Col Brown handwriting, he wrote the following words for me:




Not an “I” Specialist

At that point of time, I was about to retire from military service, and wanted to pursue writing as a hobby. I wanted to write a biography of Gen Hanut, since many of my friends wanted to know more about his life and work. He was also a bit of an enigma. He had lived life at his terms, broken several service norms, challenged the authority of some of his own bosses, flouted working hours and yet risen in the military hierarchy. Above all, there was a peace on his face, and a ‘silence of desire’ which I have never seen before, or after.

I was seeking answers to several questions to join the dots of his character sketch. More specifically, I wanted to know when and why he had chosen to remain celibate. I was also keen to know how he managed to retain equanimity when he was in direct conflict with his immediate superiors. I have seen him holding out his own even when he was in a minority of one. That day, on 26 March 1997, I took out a diary and pen and asked my guru to answer all these questions, in quick succession.

As was his habit, he heard me out with rapt attention. Then he took a deep breath and said,

 “ ​मैं अपने बारे कुछ भी नहीं कह सकता  … इनमें से बहुत से सवाल तो ऐसे हैं , जिनके बारे मैंने कभी सोचा ही नहीं …”

The reply left me astonished. Nearly every other elder I have known loves to talk about himself. And they go out of the way to justify their actions. In sharp contrast, here was a man of God, who refused to speak even a few sentences about himself!

The Mahasamadhi

In due course my own urge and ability to travel declined. Gen Hanut did not get a telephone installed in his Ashram. (In fact, he shunned radio, television and newspapers, because they distracted him) Therefore, my personal contact with him was minimal. But then, a few years ago, I was told that Mr Nripendra Singh who is his nephew, left his cosy job in the USA and joined him.  He has been kind enough to give me all the news. He has a phone, and on a few occasions, he facilitated me to speak to the saintly soldier. He also has a computer, and at my suggestion, he showed the blog of the 1st JSW course to him. Gen Hanut liked it immensely, and expressed profound gratitude to Gen Harbhajan for having created it.

I was told that his health began to decline, about three or four years ago. His ailment was diagnosed as ‘acid imbalance’.  That reduced his appetite, and so he became physically weak. However, his intellect was as strong and sharp as ever. He had taken a solemn promise from Nripendra that he would not be taken to a hospital, regardless of the medical condition. The general said, that the loss of strength was a message from the Lord to reduce his physical activity. Consequently, his meditation and yoga routines were reduced and made less rigorous. He also restricted the number of visitors who were permitted to meet him.

Progressively, Gen Hanut passed on his spiritual legacy to Nripendra, who has vowed to continue the work of the saint-soldier. In the cosmic scheme of things, his food intake had reduced to a negligible level by about the 8th of April 2015. At this point, this true Yogi requested that he be assisted in attaining the ‘Dhyan’ posture. He then began his final prayer in the form of reciting a single mantra, or ‘jap’ as they say. He was in this very posture and stance, when he left his mortal self.

General Hanut lived at his terms all through his service. Whenever he was given an illogical military command or an unreasonable order, he treated it with the contempt it deserved. In the end, when Yama came to take him, he bowed to Him, but left the abode of mortals, with dignity; at a time of his own choosing. He went, with no catheter, no ventilator, no respirator sticking in his body, and no doctor desecrating pristine body. His fragrant soma was not polluted by antiseptics. Like all saints, he had grown a silver beard in the twilight years,and a Rajasthan turban adorned his head. This is how he looked:



The Lord was his master. Humility was his forte. Beneath his tough exterior, there was a very sensitive man, who was fully conscious of his limitations and faults. Ever so often this proud scion of the Rathore clan, folded his hands and sought forgiveness for all his unintended trespasses. Have a look at this picture, to see a man of God:


manof god

I have heard from some people, that General Hanut flouted office working hours. However, no one has been able to recollect any pending work on his table. The reason is simple: he did not waste time in idle prattle, and was at least three times as fast as his peers in taking decisions and expressing himself. In three hours, he was able to do more ‘work’ than what most others did in ten hours.  Some say that he was not ‘available’ when needed. I think he was with us, wherever we went. His physical presence in the office was less important than the assurance that he would support our actions; always and every time. Finally, some say that he broke norms and military customs. He permitted ill dressed ascetics (sadhus) to enter an officers’ mess. Indeed, he was indiscreet at times, but it must also be remembered that, in addition to a few social customs, he had also broken the back of the enemy armour in 1971!

Some of us sense him around ourselves, even now; when his mortal remains have already  been consigned to flames. Like Jesus was ‘seen’ by his disciples on the Easter, and beyond. We believe that General Hanut has just proceeded on a voyage to explore the cosmos; and search Truth.

 His words and deeds are, and shall always be with us, to guide our destiny, now and forever.


way to heaven





– See more at:

On Sat, Apr 25, 2015 at 10:48 AM, Maj Gen Surjit Singh <> wrote:

Dear Sir,
This little story is about Gen Hanut Singh. He was a maverick in some respects. But he had some sterling qualities, which endeared him to those of us, who had the good fortune to be associated with him, professionally or otherwise.
Lick the seniors and kick the juniors!” is the standard dictum for successful soldiering. It works…but the only snag is that if you apply this formula indiscreetly, there is no one left to talk to when you grow old; because all your seniors are dead and gone! Once in a while, though very rarely, you find someone who reverses this norm. 
The prayer meeting in the memory of Gen Hanut is scheduled to be held in Dehradun on 27th April 2015, at his residence, 180C Rajpur Road. His nephew, Mr Nripendra Singh, is coordinating the event. A humble tribute to this eminent saintly soldier can be viewed by clicking at the following link:
With best wishes,

On Wed, Apr 22, 2015 at 1:56 PM, pradyot mallick <> wrote:

1.  Here is a tribute to Gen Hanut by Bharat Karnad.

2.  Normally Bharat Karnad is not called to deliver talks at defence ests because of his radical and sometimes acidic views!

3.  Who has told that one has to agree with his views. One must see the other side of the hill!  But the brass had no hesitation in calling, of all people, Shekhar Gupta for delivering talks!

    —   PKM

The Great Hanut, RIP

The death yesterday of the greatest armoured tactician and battlefield commander the country has ever produced, Lt Gen Hanut Singh, is a personal loss to those who served under him and the few civilians privileged to have known him. I was permitted to spend a few days with him in the last month or so of his last Command — the Armoured Warfare School and Centre, Ahmednagar in 1992 (if I remember right). Unwilling to meet civilians, he was persuaded to meet with me by his close cousin and fellow cavalry officer, Jaswant Singh (ex-Central India Horse) of the BJP and the then leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha.

Not sure what Jaswant told Hanut about me, but within minutes of reaching my room in the Officer’s Mess, I was summoned for a meeting by the Commandant.The very tall, very thin, almost gaunt looking General with bushy mustachios curling at the ends greeted me with the easy courtliness he was known for. Ere I had settled down in the chair, the General then on duty — it being a week day — and hence in full fig, shot me a question, which I immediately realized was a “trick question” in that my answer would decide the sort of relationship I’d have with him. “Who’s the best armoured tactical commander in history?” he asked, like a headmaster testing a student whose alleged promise was suspect. I took my time answering but when I said “Herman Balck”, suddenly the atmosphere lightened and a twinkle came to Hanut’s eyes and he responded “I think so too”. It was smooth sailing thereafter, with great deal of time spent discussing with him the future of mobile warfare with armoured forces, and the many practical problems in marshaling and overseeing actions of large armrd and mech formations on the battlefield.

Hanut had, perhaps, in mind his tenure as GOC, II Corps in the 1987 Operation Brasstacks that, as subsequently revealed, had a secret thrust (Op Trident) of transiting from a war exercise into a full-scale operation for ingress deep into Pakistan to catch the Pakistan Army by surprise, except Sundarji’s surprise also surprised Hanut. He reportedly protested not being told about this sub-surface plan and the difficulties in virtually turning his Strike Corps around and sustaining a hard push westwards. Hanut was careful to skirt around Brasstacks in our interactions. I remember, in this respect, talking when in Pakistan a decade back to Gen. Khalid Arif, the de facto Pak Army Chief in the late 1980s, who countered the Indian concentration, albeit for a war exercise, by amassing his forces as a precautionary measure — including Army Reserve South — in the chicken neck area north of Gurdaspur to cut Kashmir off from the rest of India if the massed Indian armour aggressed on the southern Rajasthan front. Arif was confident Sundarji and Rajiv Gandhi’s govt wouldn’t risk having J&K thus severed. The only slight doubts Arif hinted at by indirection was about the uncertainty attending on how Hanut would maneuver his forces once they broke through the Pak defensive line. In the larger picture, Arif calculated right; India did lose its nerve.

One can see why Hanut empathized with Balck, who like him, believed in leading from the front — Hanut’s Basantar river crossing and maneuvers in the Shakargarh salient in 1971 and Balck’s heading the lead unit of the 1st Panzer Div in Heinz Guderian’s XIX Panzer Corps across the Meuse River and the breakthrough to capture Sedan in 1942. Both Hanut and Balck ended their careers by being relegated to minor commands — to Ahmednagar and Panzer Group in Hungary respectively, their remarkable operational experience and competence under-valued by the armies they served.

I remember too the fierce loyalty he inspired among those who had fought under him, from the lowest to the highest. Such as the lead JCO instructor at Armrd School, who was instructed by Hanut to run me around on tanks so I could experience what it is like inside the closed, claustrophobia-inducing, mobile steel cans travelling at high spds over uneven ground — back-breaking and senses-numbing!, who recounted his hair-raising experience as Hanut’s tank driver in 17 (Poona) Horse’s lead tank as it led the armrd column across the minefield on the Basantar, and swore how every army unit would follow the “Colonel sahib” — as he called the General — anywhere w/o hesitation or doubt. Hanut’s chief of staff at the Centre, Brig Shergill, again a veteran of the Shakargarh op, recounted in greater detail Hanut’s on-battlefield tactics and instructions that awestruck juniors would w/o hesitation implement and his magical feel for the battlefield and, more notoriously, his differences with his armrd bgde comdr Arun Vaidya (later Army Chief) who advised caution, which Hanut expressly disregarded with a withering “Keep off my back!” warning to Vaidya issued over the bravo link. That Vaidya was awarded a Bar to his MVC for this action that he opposed, led to Hanut’s initially rejecting the award of MVC for himself. It was only after the Army brass all but got down on their knees and begged him to accept the gallantry award that he relented but, his fealty to the truth meant he never ever wore the MVC decoration! In fact, Hanut’s official portrait at the armrd school and Centre, if I recall, doesn’t have the MVC on his chest.

But great commanders are rarely appreciated by their peers. Hanut was scorned and reviled by lesser, even near incompetent, cohort of big-talking cavalry generals, as the “chaplain General” — because of the religious rituals he followed by going into his “meditation bunker” even during mil ops, venerating “Mataji”– an avatar he believed of the Goddess Durga. But these rituals never hampered his work or his duties, but nonetheless were something he was pilloried for. The General explained his devotion simply as seeking divine guidance.

It was a pity Rajiv’s defence minister K.C. Pant, whom I was close to,
didn’t have the gumption to over-rule the army brass arrayed against Hanut’s deserved elevation to army command and later, perhaps, even COAS, fearful that his cleaning of the Service’s Augean stables that would inevitably have followed, would have shown up the rot that had set in in the Indian Army, and would otherwise set a bad precedent!

The last time I met Hanut was in 1994 when, as adviser, defence expenditure, (10th) Finance Commission, India,chaired by Pant, I visited IAF’s South-Western Air Cmd HQrs then at Jodhpur, and took the time one evening to visit the General at his ashram he had built some ways outside the city. We talked about the state of the army and, even more animatedly, again about armrd warfare history. I recalled for him the haunting statement he had left me with from the Ahmednagar episode: “There’s no armrd commander in the army”, he had declared, “who can visualize a battlefield beyond the regimental level” [which statement I used in my 2002 (revised edition in 2005) tome — Nuclear Weapons and Indian Security, to argue, among other things, that the impressive wherewithal notwithstanding, the three Indian Strike Corps and pivot corps couldn’t successfully prosecute Cold Start]. He gently guided me away from that topic but his assessment has left me wondering about what will happen in a straight-out armrd war on the western front.

The General attained samadhi in Haridwar, going the way he wanted to. His missed army command and perhaps subsequent COAS-ship, will however remain the great what ifs in the army’s and the Indian military’s history.

Great having known you, General Sahib, and a final, most respectful, salaam. RIP.


Karmanye Vadhikaraste, Ma Phaleshou Kada Chana !

Ma Karma Phala Hetur Bhurmatey Sangostva Akarmani !!
                     — Srimadbhagvadgita, Chapter 2, verse 47

It means: To action alone hast though a right and never at all to its fruits; let not the fruits of action be thy motive; neither let here be in thee any attachment to inaction.

PK Mallick


Karmanye Vadhikaraste, Ma Phaleshou Kada Chana !

Ma Karma Phala Hetur Bhurmatey Sangostva Akarmani !!
                     — Srimadbhagvadgita, Chapter 2, verse 47

It means: To action alone hast though a right and never at all to its fruits; let not the fruits of action be thy motive; neither let here be in thee any attachment to inaction.

PK Mallick


Karmanye Vadhikaraste, Ma Phaleshou Kada Chana !

Ma Karma Phala Hetur Bhurmatey Sangostva Akarmani !!
                     — Srimadbhagvadgita, Chapter 2, verse 47

It means: To action alone hast though a right and never at all to its fruits; let not the fruits of action be thy motive; neither let here be in thee any attachment to inaction.

PK Mallick




These are challenging times for our region.  I come from Arnia, a medium-sized village in Jammu District. In the last one to two years, Pakistan has targeted our region by resorting to repeated terrorist strikes from across the international border and by frequent cross–border firing.  These attacks directly impact our economic activity and security. It is all thanks to our ever–alert and well–trained security forces that the suffering he wants to inflict on us has been minimized and the infiltrating terrorists have met their just end, shot dead and not even acknowledged by their evil handlers.


Adversity is an excellent teacher, they say.  I have seen this closeup and personal.    In our village, we no longer panic when we hear the first shot from across the border. We take cover in areas we have now realized to be relatively safe and await being transported to the depth areas in Army trucks or buses arranged by the Civil Administration.  Although our daily work routine is  severely affected and children miss out on school for that duration, but the stay at the make-shift camp is made bearable and not too uncomfortable by the Army and Civil Administration who provide us with the basic necessities and keep our morale high by exhorting us to be patient.  The sound of return fire by the BSF is reassuring.  We have full faith that our BSF gives back to the Pakistanis more than they bargained for.


The Army, Police and BSF take great pains in explaining to us that our assistance is extremely vital in helping them to deal with infiltrating terrorists.   It is so obvious that if all of us keep an alert lookout for strangers in our respective areas, we will be adding immensely to the security forces’ capability of surveillance. We must, therefore, try to know what to look for and also what to do where we notice something suspicious.  These aspects must be shared with all villagers and town people.


We know that the terrorists come from Pakistan and cross the international border at night with the help of the Pakistan Army and Rangers, who assist them by providing covering fire as also by providing guidance about routes etc.  The terrorists usually cross the border in civilian dress to pass off as civilians, if detected, while crossing.  Once into India, they change into the camouflage pattern uniform used by our Army or BSF. They do this to avoid being recognized by us and pose as Security Forces personnel when they move inwards to their target areas.  But if we are alert we will notice some tell-tale signs which should make us suspicious.  For example, they are usually in a group of two to four terrorists.  Army and BSF do not move around in such small groups.  The terrorists carry heavy rucksacks or bags on their backs which contain ammunition, clothing items, and dry fruits and energy drinks for their sustenance.  Our soldiers do not carry such big bags.  The terrorists usually have a beard or are unshaven for a few days.  This also is an indicator.  In a large number of cases, they have been seen to wear sports type shoes which are very different from Army and BSF boots.   They also do not have Army helmets or bullet-proof patkas which our soldiers wear.  If we remain alert of these aspects,  we can pick out suspicious persons and report them to the nearest Army, BSF or Police Post.  This must be done at the earliest so  that the terrorists are stopped and eliminated before reaching their intended destination and are able to do any damage.  I also want to share with you that the terrorists try to use vehicles as early as possible because they are likely to be spotted if they walk over large distances.  So, they ask for a lift in cars or hijack them.  They also target motorcycles similarly.  Our soldiers rarely ask for a lift.  So, persons in camouflage pattern uniform with large bags and weapons asking for a lift or flagging down a vehicle should make us suspicious automatically.





If some such sighting arouses our suspicion, we must get away from these persons and contact the Army/BSF/Police by the fastest means available, be it on mobile or by informing the nearest check post. But in all this, we must not fall prey to rumour mongering. Mobile numbers are shared by the security forces, with village Sarpanches and many civilians. I think our security forces are doing an excellent job in very challenging circumstances.  We, civilians, must all join hands to help them in whatever way we can. Information given by alert villagers and citizens have helped the Army and Police in all recent terrorist incidents.  These examples that cut across religious lines, must inspire us, and we must contribute towards making our region more secure against Pakistan’s nefarious designs.  Jai Hind !

Structural Changes in Higher Defence Organisation




Lt Gen Vijay Oberoi, PVSM, AVSM, VSM

(Former Vice Chief of Army Staff)


In the over six decades since Independence, vast changes have occurred in the security environment within the country, in the region of immediate concern, and at the global level. The last three decades have been of special importance, on account of the ongoing Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA); the end of the Cold War; the global war on terrorism; the major turmoil and instability in Pakistan; the increasing belligerence and open show of strength by China, including the presence of PLA in the Gilgit-Baltistan area; and the globalization of the economy.

Since Independence in 1947, our defence forces have been engaged in active operations on a sustained basis, with only short periods of peace. These challenges have helped them to earn a formidable reputation of a force that delivers, usually against heavy odds.

Although our military is highly professional, conventional wisdom is that our higher defence structure is archaic; no formalized strategies at the national level exist; and our decision-making is excessively slow. There are many reasons for this, including a lack of vision and knowledge of security-related issues amongst the political leadership, as also the bureaucracy; antiquated procurement procedures; a costly defence research department, whose output has been much below expectations and which has prevented the entry of private enterprise in the defence sector; antipathy to change; narrow parochial interests; hesitancy to take risks at the senior leadership level; and a status-quo mentality amongst the decision-makers.

The result is that the overall structure of our defence management and the methods of doing business continue to be much the same as they were nearly seven decades back.

The phrase ‘Higher Defence Management’ usually conjures up images of only the military, but this is not at all correct, as ‘Defence Management’ encompasses much more. No doubt the Indian Military is a significant player in this endeavour, but unless we bring all instruments of the nation together, higher defence will remain incomplete.

All agencies and departments of the government, as well as many others have to be involved in some manner in ensuring that the national aims, as related to defence, are achieved. Waging war and meeting warlike challenges today is a complex phenomenon and such complexities are likely to increase in future. The reasons include high technology; the nature of modern war; new and ever-changing threats and challenges; the sharp rise in the use of non-state actors by some nations; and the reality of nuclear weapons in the arsenals of our potential adversaries. Consequently, integrated and holistic structures are not just desirable but an imperative. Most nations have such structures, but we seem to be out of sync in this respect.

India is classified as a regional power today, but it has the potential and aspires to play an even bigger role. We need to wield influence in the extended Southern Asian Region (as opposed to just the South Asian Region) and over time also influence events at the global level. India must also become an important pole in the future when a number of major powers replace the sole superpower, USA, or at the minimum defuse its power. The creation and sustenance of an environment that nurtures these aspirations necessitates development of what is now known as Comprehensive National Power (CNP). There are many ingredients that make up CNP, but perhaps the most important is a structure for Higher Defence that is able to take smart, well-reasoned and quick decisions, especially when the country is in a crisis mode. This cannot be done if each instrument of the state works independently.

Since Independence, we have been stuck with the British legacy-based systems of planning and decision-making, which have failed to achieve any substantive gains. Long-term focus; intimate coordination; integration; cost-efficiency; and elimination of adhocism still seem to be alien concepts for us. Past efforts to rectify these weaknesses have been stymied by inertia; resistance to change; turf considerations; all-round apathy; lack of knowledge of security strategies amongst the political leadership and the higher bureaucracy; and a misplaced apprehension about the loyalty of the military.

The armed forces too have not sought drastic changes, but seem to have accepted the status quo. In many important issues, they have not acted emphatically, resulting in the government continuing with the status quo, much to the determent of the nation.

National Security Strategies should aim at the creation of national and international political conditions favourable to the protection or extension of vital national values against existing and potential adversaries. It is the fountainhead from which defence policies; military strategy; and ultimately the tools to implement defence policies are evolved. Defence strategy and higher direction of defence must constantly evolve through objective analyses of present and future needs.

It is unfortunate that even after four full-fledged wars; one border war; and a plethora of counter-insurgency operations, where the armed forces have distinguished themselves with their valour and sacrifices, the nation has been unable to evolve comprehensive strategies for optimally using the military and other components of national power. We continue to depend on adhoc and bureaucratic structures for the higher management of defence.


It was Lord Ismay (a senior staff officer to the then Viceroy) who had evolved our higher defence system, which consists of inter-locking committees, which were meant to give full political control and yet ensure functional integration between the three services, without bureaucratic control. The structure that was evolved and which still continues with some changes, was based on a three –tiered system. At the apex of this structure was the Cabinet Committee of Political Affairs or CCPA, which was later renamed as the Cabinet Committee of Security (CCS). It consisted of the Prime Minister, Defence Minister and selected Ministers, with Service Chiefs and Defence Secretary in attendance at all meetings.

The second level was the Defence Minister’s Committee (DMC), chaired by the Defence Minister, with Service Chiefs, Defence Secretary and Financial Adviser (Defence Services) {better known as FA (DS)}, as members. It served as the top policy formulation organ in the MoD. However, it rarely met for decades. It was later converted as the Morning Meeting of the Defence Minister, thus further reducing its efficacy.

The third level is the Chiefs of Staff Committee. It is a forum for the three Service Chiefs to discuss matters having a bearing on the activities of the Services and also to advise the Ministry. In theory, the COSC is the highest authority on military matters in the country. However, a major shortcoming of this body is that it exercises no real power. The Chairman COSC exercises command only over his own service and the three service Chiefs are individually responsible to the Defence Minister. In the COSC, formal equality prevails among the three service chiefs. Hence, no worthwhile decisions can be taken.

There are other committees too, like the Joint Intelligence Committee; the Defence Science Advisory Committee; the Joint Planning Committee; the Joint Training Committee; and so on. For defense planning, two organizations: the Defence Coordination and Implementation Committee and the Defence Planning Staff were also formed. The first meets only on a need-based manner, while the Defence Planning Staff was wound up within a few years.

We now come to the Ministry of Defence (MoD). The MoD, manned exclusively by civil officials, is organized as four departments, viz., departments of defence; defence production; defence research & development; and ex-servicemen welfare. Each department is headed by a secretary. In addition, there is a Defence (Finance) division that deals with all matters having financial implications and performs an advisory role for the MoD.

The principal task of MoD is to frame policy directions on defence and security related matters and communicate them for implementation to the Services Headquarters; Inter-Service Organisations; Production Establishments; and Research & Development Organisations. It is required to ensure effective implementation of the Government’s policy directions and the execution of approved programmes within the allocated resources.

The last component of our higher defence structure is the Service Headquarters. Following the re-designation of the Commanders-in-Chief of the three services as Chiefs of Staff in 1955, the MoD acquired a status exclusive of the chiefs and their headquarters. This resulted in the armed forces headquarters functioning as subordinate offices outside the framework of the central government, a framework unique to India that no other country has! The Service Headquarters are not part of the Government of India, but have the lowly status of being only “attached offices”; the nomenclature was changed to “associate headquarters” in 2001, but it was only a change of phrase, devoid of anything substantive. The service headquarters continue to be somewhat akin to the Song and Drama Division of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting or the National Centre for Integrated Pest Management of the Ministry of Agriculture, which are also ‘attached offices’!

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) wields all powers and being an integral part of the government, is part of the policy formulation process, but the Service Headquarters have been deliberately kept out. Over the years, instead of shedding powers, the MoD has slowly but surely, assumed more powers unilaterally. This lead an analyst to comment: “In no other major democracy are the armed forces given so insignificant a role in policy making as in India”. He had also added that “in no other country do they accept it with the docility they do in India”! A great pity in both counts.

Over the years, the committees either ceased functioning or their character was altered drastically. This eroded the role of Service Chiefs as professional military advisors to the government and at the same time precluded professional interaction between Services HQ and agencies outside MoD. Resultantly, the armed forces became isolated from such important subjects as formulation of nuclear policy; the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT); Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT); military use of Space; disarmament initiatives; chemical weapons policies/treaties; and missile technologies. The armed forces thus were totally removed from the decision-making processes.

A few years back, the MoD forced the service headquarters to call themselves as Integrated Headquarters. It is a meaningless exercise in semantics, as there is hardly any integration of the three services, let alone with the MoD. Strangely, the service headquarters did not object to this ‘paper exercise’.

It has been wisely stated that “while too little control over the armed forces can lead to serious problems, too much control can also smother the military and make them ineffective in the long run”. India is a prime example of this.


A National Security Council (NSC) was created in 1999. A National Security Advisor (NSA) was also appointed. We have had five incumbents so far for this appointment – three were retired diplomats and two, including the present incumbent are retired intelligence officers. All earlier incumbents were unable to discard their comfort zone of the bureaucratic approach and contributed little to the enhancement of security strategies of the nation. It is too early to pass any judgment on the present NSA. However, if he was involved in the highly desirable change in India’s stand vis-à-vis Pakistan in any manner, then I commend him.

The NSA has a secretariat, which is headed by a Deputy NSA. This appointment too has been held either by retired diplomats, bureaucrats or intelligence officers. The obvious specialists – the highly experienced military officers – continue to be conspicuous by their absence. Possibly, their frankness; calling a spade a spade; and non-sycophantic approach make them ineligible!! As far as the secretariat is concerned, officers of various ranks hold senior, middle level and junior staff appointments, but the military is represented only by a handful of mostly middle level officers. An ironical state of affairs, indeed!

The NSC and NSA work parallel to the CCS. Besides the apex six-member NSC headed by the Prime Minister, the NSC comprises of a Strategic Policy Group (SPG), a National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) and a Secretariat.

The SPG, responsible for inter-ministerial coordination, is a bureaucratic body that comprises the Cabinet Secretary, three Service Chiefs and secretaries of core ministries like foreign affairs, defence, home, finance, atomic energy and space, beside the heads of the Intelligence agencies and the Governor of Reserve Bank. One can well imagine how these worthies find the time to carry out their important task of inter-ministerial coordination! The NSAB consists mainly of a large body numbering nearly 20 of retired officials, of which only three are from the armed forces. Independent strategic thinking is somewhat absent in such a motley group, resulting in the NSAB becoming yet another group of divergent views. Its only usefulness is that it can be blamed for carrying the can when situations become awry, while the main players escape all accountability!


Applying ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ power effectively is also a function of Higher Defence Management, which should decide on how and to what extent ‘hard’ or ‘soft powers’ are to be brought into play to achieve our national security strategies.

‘Hard power’ refers to coercive tactics: the threat or use of armed forces, economic pressure or sanctions, assassination and subterfuge, or other forms of intimidation. ‘Hard power’ is generally associated with strong nations, and includes the ability to change the domestic affairs of other nations through military and other threats. Many analysts are advocates of the use of ‘hard power’ for the balancing of the international system. ‘Hard power’ of a state increases with military alliances or understandings with other states.

The phrase ‘soft power’, coined in 1990, is the ability of nations to obtain what it wants through co-option and attraction. Instruments of ‘soft power’ include debates on cultural values, dialogues on ideology, the attempt to influence through good example, and the appeal to commonly accepted human values. Means of exercising soft power include diplomacy, dissemination of information, analysis, propaganda, and cultural programming to achieve political ends. India’s soft power is based on its social and cultural values, the Indian Diaspora abroad and its knowledge base. India is a knowledge superpower and is well placed to leverage its position in international relations.

Wise and judicious employment of both ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ powers is ‘smart’ power. It should be mutually reinforcing, so that national aims are advanced effectively and efficiently. ‘Smart’ power involves the strategic use of diplomacy, persuasion, capacity-building; and projection of power and influence; in ways that are not only cost-effective but also have political and social legitimacy.

Advancing smart power is now a national security imperative, driven both by long-term structural changes in international environment and the short-term failures of nations’. ‘Soft’ (persuasive) and ‘Hard’ (coercive) power are complementary and synergistic, and thus are co-multipliers. Without soft power, hard power is a destructive force, with little room for passive coercion and negotiations. Without hard power, soft power has no way to reinforce its advocacy.

By blending brains and brawn in judicious proportions we create smart power appears, and with smart power we see real change much quicker.

Some examples of ‘Smart’ Power are:

l The struggle of Jehadi terrorism needs to be viewed not as a clash of ‘Islam vs West’, but as a civil war within Islam between ‘minority terrorists’ and ‘mainstream of more moderate believers’. West cannot win unless the mainstream wins. It needs to use hard power against the hard core, but soft power is essential to attract the mainstream and dry up support for the extremists.

l Psychological warfare uses soft power, the power of attraction, as a weapon. However, the term has negative connotations, on account of the word ‘warfare’ and hence needs to be discarded. It can be replaced by the phrase ‘Psychological Operations’.

l The objectives of Psychological Operations could be:

– Conversionary – to change emotional allegiance to ideology;

– Divisive – to split the target country into regional and sub-cultural entities; and

– Counter-propaganda – to counter the enemy’s blandishments and falsehoods.

A good example of ‘Smart Power’ is the extensive use of the phrase ‘Peaceful Rise’ by China, to head off a countervailing balance of power.

India’s record in employing or using ‘hard power’ is abysmally low. The thinking of our leadership seems to be that everything can be achieved by the use of ‘soft power’ alone. Such thinking is unlikely to achieve national goals. We need to keep our options open and use either ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ power or a mix of the two, depending on the situation. The recent cancellation of the Foreign Secretary’s level meeting with Pakistan by the Indian Government and the riposte to the Pakistani firing in the Jammu Sector are good examples of the use of ‘Hard’ and ‘Smart’ Powers.


The major infirmity of our higher defence structure is keeping the military outside the government, resulting in the political leadership receiving second-hand advice. Professional advice by the hierarchy of military leadership needs to be available to the political executive without it being filtered or altered to suit the perspectives of the bureaucrats. This is a fundamental issue, which needs to be changed immediately. This would improve politico-military responses to challenges and threats; enhance cost-effectiveness; and assist in the best employment of the armed forces. This would also obviate temptations to rope in pliable Service Chiefs to meet political exigencies.

A striking feature in our management of decision-making, on the bureaucratic side, has been the tendency to duck primary issues, buy time, and create a plethora of successive Committees of Secretaries or others, which achieve little. The results are delays and dysfunctions. The Defence Ministers Committee (DMC) now diluted to a Morning Meeting, continues to be more a chit-chat group that meets weekly, without a fixed agenda or issuing minutes of the meetings and thereafter following up on the decisions. It needs to have a full-fledged Secretariat of multi-disciplinary staff so that implementation of decisions commences and accountability prevails.

Today, there is endless duplication/triplication on account of vertical structures, which cause delays and cost over-runs. Amalgamating the Services HQ, MoD and FA (DS), and having service officers and the civil service officers interact both vertically and horizontally, alongside their financial counterparts would make for higher levels of synergy and efficiency, and speedier decision-making. The MoD has to be an integrated organization of civil servants, armed forces officers, scientists and other executives who work collectively and take joint decisions.

Our slow decision-making systems and processes must change. The transformation should begin with the development of realistic strategic directions. Our major weakness continues to be the lack of any National Security Strategy. In its absence a comprehensive national military strategy cannot be evolved. Once this is done, the military will be able to decide on the details of restructuring, hopefully without the influences of service bias or sentimentality. Some assets will have to be phased out over time, as new, innovative systems come on line through the process of transformation.

A glaring anomaly in the security decision making structure is the absence of a military high command. A major recommendation of the Kargil Review Committee was the need to set up joint structures at the earliest. While an integrated defence headquarters and two joint commands were formed, a key recommendation, i.e. the establishment of the post of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), remains unimplemented even after 14 years. Resultantly, the integrated headquarters gets its directions from the ineffective Chiefs of Staff Committee, or works without directions. Unfortunately, this state of affairs suits the principal actors, viz. the political leadership which continues to be bugged by the non-existent specter of a military takeover, however preposterous it may sound; the bureaucracy, who see the CDS as threatening their hold over the service headquarters; and even the service headquarters, who are highly reluctant to part with any power which will dilute their fiefdoms.

We must seriously address joint warfare. Modern wars and conflicts cannot be fought with outdated structures, wherein the services conduct operations independently, with coordination only being achieved with organizations as old as nearly seven-eight decades back. This must change, for if we continue in this mode, we will be unable to generate the necessary synergy, so essential for winning conflicts, battles and wars.

The appointing of a CDS and gradual addition of new joint commands will, over a period of time, suggest the numbers and types of joint commands we need. There are other areas like Special Forces, Space, Training, Communications and Logistics, which lend themselves for restructuring into joint commands

Within the Ministry of defence, there is neither integration, nor any methodology for analyzing issues jointly. The Ministry of Defence asks service headquarters individually or jointly to submit their views on issues, whether they are on operational, intelligence or administrative matters or relating to personnel. In true Whitehall System of dealing with files, a legacy of the Raj that the bureaucracy refuses to abandon, the MoD opens a fresh file for each case. The file then moves within the MoD in a linear manner and goes down to the lower bureaucracy without any inputs from the hierarchy of the MoD in most cases. The lower bureaucracy then initiates a note that is an iteration of rules and precedents, with little relevance to the pros and cons of the current issue. It then travels up the chain to the level from where it had started. The deliberations of the bureaucracy in the Ministry are thus bookish and not based on relevant data and adequate analysis. In major cases, the inputs that reach the political leadership hardly reflect the views of the services or the service chiefs.

A similar situation prevails within service headquarters, wherein the stance of a particular service on an issue is first finalized in-house, including by obtaining inputs from their respective commands. Thereafter, it is forwarded to the Chief of Staff Committee for consideration, where it meets its ‘waterloo’, as service biases are foremost in each member’s mind.

Complete integration of the MoD and the Service Headquarters needs to be carried out immediately and in a time-bound manner. In addition, there is need to also integrate those ministries and agencies which deal with similar subjects. MoD and the Ministries of External Affairs and Home must be manned by integrated staff from each other. This must not be token representation, as has been the norm in the past, but substantial numbers must be posted across these ministries. The same is applicable to representation between the Ministry of Finance, MoD and the Services.

It is strange that the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), which is the fountainhead from which all major policies emanate, has no military representation. An inter-services cell, under a C-in-C level officer must form part of the PMO, where all ministries are represented. The Cabinet Secretariat used to have a number of military officers holding important appointments, but over a period of time, even their presence kept being diluted, resulting in no representation now.

Merger of Services Headquarters with the MoD and their re-designation as Departments of the Army, Navy and Air Force under their Chiefs of Staff would achieve multiple gains. Aside from creating an integrated approach, politico-military considerations would be objective and comprehensive, through military representation in the decision-making loop.

We have no mechanism today to meet the complexities of multilateral international security components of politico-military policies. The integrated MoD must play a proactive role in nuclear issues, CTBT, NPT and FMCT negotiations and policies. What is needed is a multi-disciplinary International Security Affairs (ISA) division in the MoD which would receive inputs from relevant departments and agencies and coordinate a national policy, working in close cooperation with the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

Even the Department of Ex Servicemen Welfare is manned exclusively by the bureaucracy, instead of serving and retired officers who understand the problems of the veterans. No wonder the veterans have yet to see any welfare, even after nearly eight years of the existence of this department. This Department, if reorganized and manned mostly by officers of the armed forces, may well be the precursor of an integrated MoD. There is also a need for greater clarity in the current rules of business, which the bureaucrats love to quote to mystify the political leadership.


Peace is vital for India but it cannot be achieved by neglecting and downgrading the military. No country has succeeded in the global and regional arenas with a weak military machine or by appeasement. The nation has to defend its vital interests by all means. This cannot be done by structures that work in compartments like we have today. We also need political will, which one has not seen for decades now. We have to think and act joint and all instruments of the nation must act as one. Simply talking of CNP is lip service, which fools no one.

The world over, mature democracies have integrated ministries and departments of defence, but India continues to be a singular exception. The present structure leads to avoidable communication gaps, delays and dysfunctions in decision-making. It must change.

Management of higher defence needs to be proactive, efficient and long-term oriented, amalgamating foreign and internal security policies and incorporating all relevant instruments of the nation. An integrated MoD would not only eliminate the current infirmities but also result in higher levels of synergy, efficiency and decision-making ability. Military officers with domain knowledge must be inducted in senior appointments in the MoD, so that military viewpoints are considered from the very inception of all issues.

The Department of Ex Servicemen Welfare should either be disbanded or manned exclusively by serving and retired military officers who understand the problems of the veterans. It should be taken out of the MoD and placed under the existing Integrated Headquarters. There is also a need for greater clarity in the current rules of business, which tend to delay decision-making.

Under the current rules, the defence secretary is responsible for the defence of India — not the COSC or the chiefs. Why? Was it a case of ‘Nehruvian brilliance’ or ‘lack of knowledge of matters military’ or was it ‘an enhanced fear of the men on horseback’!! Perhaps all three!!

Today’s reality is that India is facing the strategic environment of the 21st century with its higher defence structures largely as they were in the 1940’s. This is a recipe for disaster. A continuation of such outdated structures are already affecting the culture of discipline and sacrifice so assiduously built up over decades, as the armed forces see themselves being downgraded and losing respect. Ossified structures tend to curb initiative, risk taking and integrity, which have traditionally been the hallmark of the Indian Military. It is high time that the over six decades of selfless and loyal service by the Indian military is recognised and its degradation ends.