Sunday, February 19, 2012

Re: [HumJanenge] Conspiracy behind Army Chief's Age Row - THE STATESMAN

Mrinalini singh, it is a clever draft,she is mincing words like her father.No doubt he must have been a honest person n a upright soldier but he has failed here to recognise the crook mind of his seniors as a Lt gen or he was facing a threat to next promotion,he knows the best.At the same time the court has not given the clear verdict in this case n left it again for govt to decide gen V K's fate, so where is the judgement.It is again to square one.Govt has already taken a decision n that's final so complete fight for the honour has been nullified or it was never there.Crooks have always won the battle of honesty in a dishonest manner.

From: Devasahayam MG <>
Sent: Sunday, 19 February 2012 8:16 AM
Subject: [HumJanenge] Conspiracy behind Army Chief's Age Row - THE STATESMAN

Dear All,
As promised herewith is the lead Article in today's THE STATESMAN that bares the deep rooted conspiracy that led to the sordid episode of the Army Chief's age row. It is for sure that the 'motivated media' would try and suppress it, but Truth always has an uncanny way of surfacing and then prevailing
Special Article
19 February 2012
VK Singh's age-battle
Ball Back In Centre's Court
By Sam Rajappa
An honest man's the noblest work of God.
~ Alexander Pope
HONESTY is a vanishing commodity, according to a recent research study by Essex University. Paul Whiteley, author of the report, says low-level dishonesty has increased across the social classes, although the younger generation is, on the whole, even less scrupulous than the older one. In 1712, Jonathan Swift wrote a treatise on "The Art of Political Lying." If defence minister AK Antony read either of the reports, this raging controversy about the date of birth of the Chief of the Army Staff, General VK Singh, could have been avoided. There is an age-old dispute between moderates and rigorists.

Antony is a moderate who believes a few lies are acceptable if they serve the larger interest of statecraft, like Oskar Schindler, who did not hesitate to lie to Hitler's storm troopers to save the lives of more than 1,000 of his Jewish employees. General Singh belongs to the school of thought of Immanuel Kant, one of the renowned exponents of the rigorist position, and landed himself in this unseemly controversy.

The media, for whatever interest they were serving, saw in the 10 February order of the Supreme Court, the army chief losing his age war. Nowhere in the brief 12-paragraph judgment can one find the Supreme Court telling General Singh to change his date of birth to suit the interests of the government.

The operative part of the judgment reads: "As a matter of fact, the question before us in the writ petition is not about the determination of actual date of birth of the petitioner, but it concerns the recognition of a particular date of birth of the petitioner by the respondent (Union of India) in the official service record. In view of the statement made by Goolam Vahanvati, Attorney-General, and the limited controversy in the writ petition, counsel for the petitioner does not wish to press the matter further and he seeks withdrawal of the writ petition. Writ petition is disposed of as withdrawn." Where is the question of who won and who lost?

Earlier in the day, Vahanavati handed over to the Bench a short affidavit by KL Nandwani, deputy secretary in the Defence ministry, seeking to treat the second part of his 30 December 2011, order to the Adjutant General's branch to change VK Singh's date of birth from 10 May 1951 to 10 May 1950, and send a "strict compliance report at the earliest without further loss of time," as withdrawn and confine it to the first part only which holds the statutory complaint by the petitioner as not maintainable.

The Bench granted permission and observed: "In view thereof, the petitioner's grievance with regard to the part of the order dated 30 December 2011, which deals with the merits of the controversy, does not survive." The judgment took care to record Vahanavati's statement that the government had not questioned the integrity or bona fide of the petitioner. "The writ petition was on a matter of principle and it did not reflect any lack of faith or confidence in the petitioner's ability to lead the army." The judges took particular care to avoid any obiter dicta in their order. What is, however, regrettable in this sordid saga of age controversy is the government ignoring primary and legally accepted documents like birth certificate and school leaving certificate and giving credence to non-legal documents like an application form which can be easily manipulated. Birth is a natural occurrence ordained by Providence and its date and time cannot be altered by any government order.

The ball is now in the court of defence minister Antony who had ordered a junior-level officer in his ministry to write to the Adjutant General to change the date of birth of General Singh to 10 May 1950, when the matter was sub judice. The letter had to be withdrawn on order of the Supreme Court. The Military Secretary, Lt.-Gen. GM Nair, in his letter A/4501/01(GEN/MS(1) dated 01 July 2011, to the defence minister, marked 'confidential,' wrote: On scrutiny of past records pertaining to Selection Boards, it has been observed that the MDSs pertaining to Gen. VK Singh which were drawn up at the time of his consideration for promotion to select ranks reflect the date of birth of the General Officer as 10 May 1951." The letter goes on to give his promotion as Major-General on 25 October 2001, Lieutenant-General on 18/19 September 2003, and as Army Commander on 30 September 2005, all based on his actual date of birth. The letter said that copies of the relevant MDS sheets are available with the ministry of defence for verification, and added for good measure that "this has been brought to the notice of the defence minister." This document, a photocopy of which is available with The Statesman, makes it clear that till Manmohan Singh became Prime Minister, there was no dichotomy between the records maintained by the Military Secretary branch and the Adjutant General branch pertaining to the date of birth of VK Singh.

The plot began to thicken when Gen. Joginder Jaswant Singh of Maratha Light Infantry took over as Chief of the Army Staff on 1 February 2005. He was the first-ever Sikh to rise to the top in the Indian Army. In the preceding months, as Gen. NC Vij's tenure was coming to an end, there was speculation that JJ Singh would be superseded by Lt.-Gen. Shammi Mehta, an Armoured Corps officer. The Shiromani Gurdwara Prabanthak Committee issued a strongly worded statement favouring JJ Singh which was prominently featured in The Tribune and a few other newspapers. The Tribune was used again, this time to pillory Gen. VK Singh.

For the first time in the history of the Indian Army, the communal card came into play, though the SGPC statement might not have had any bearing on the Appointments Committee headed by Manmohan Singh clearing JJ Singh's elevation to the top slot. Within months of taking over, he plotted a succession plan. That Deepak Kapoor would take over from JJ Singh was well known by then. After Kapoor who would depend on the Selection Board which was to meet towards the end of 2005 to decide on which officers were to be promoted to the Lieutenant-General's rank.

After working out various permutations and combinations, JJ Singh discovered that VK Singh, who was a Corps Commander by then, would be the obvious choice to succeed Kapoor, but if his tenure could be curtailed to two years, the way could be cleared for Bikram Singh, the present chief of the Eastern Command, to take over in May 2012. At that time, Bikram Singh was not a front- runner as there were other officers with better credentials ahead of him in the succession pyramid. But they could be sidelined with a bit of deft tweaking.
Those to be neutralised included Brigadiers Padam Budhwar and MM Chaudhary, and Majors-General Shujan Chatterjee, AK Singh and Ravi Arora, a gold medalist from the same batch as Bikram Singh. Raising VK Singh's age issue before his Lieutenant-General Board would have eliminated him from the race and in the process, Bikram Singh too would have been knocked out. For JJ Singh's succession plan to succeed, VK Singh had to remain in office till 31 May. On 3 May 2006, the Military Secretary branch was asked to rake up VK Singh's date of birth issue based on an error in his application form at the time of joining the NDA as a teenager, and asked to accept, in writing, that he was born in 1950, with the promise of an inquiry which was never held.

On Sun, Feb 19, 2012 at 7:05 AM, Prakash Katoch <> wrote:
This article by Mrinalini Singh needs to be read coupled with the fact how the government has used the media (The Fourth Estate) – in line with what MK Dhar, former Joint Director Intelligence Bureau wrote in his book 'Top Secret – India's Intelligence Unveiled' wherein he says, "The susceptibility of the fourth estate to the intelligence community had tied our hands down. They are one of the too many holy Indian cows. Some of them, as described by a senior member of the fourth estate, 'taxi on hire.' any paymaster can hire this particular brand."
Incredible India marches on !
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Colonelrajan Srinivas <>
Date: Sat, Feb 18, 2012 at 8:34 PM
Subject: Article - HOW CAN GREAT OAKS SWAY WITH THE WIND? - Mrinalini Singh
To: M V <>, veteransindia <>,, sappersjune1963 <>, 268hippos <>,,, elephantlodge <>
When he was a lieutenant general, V.K. Singh gave it in writing that he had faith in his army chief. This cannot be construed as 'acceptance' of a wrong DoB.
An error had been made regarding the date of birth of my father at the time of filling up the UPSC form when he had applied for admission to the National Defence Academy (NDA). This was detected instantly and certain steps were taken to correct the year of birth even before he joined the academy. In fact, he reported 13 days late to the NDA as the date was being sor­ted out. This was obviously taken due note of, for all NDA records then showed his year of birth as 1951. Three years later, when he moved from the NDA to the Indian Military Academy (IMA), he was told to write the date of birth as in the UPSC form. He pointed out that this had been corrected and was told that this would be verified by a board of officers. The pre-commission advisory board checked and verified his particulars; his IMA ident­ity card and his record of service duly sta­ted that he was born in 1951. For the next few decades, ever since his commissioning into the army, his year of birth in all records, whether in the military secretariat or the adjutant general's branch, was 1951. The only exception was the Army List, which is published keeping the original UPSC form as reference point. Even in this case, as the date of birth had to be verified against the school-leaving certificate, the entry was erroneous.
On May 3, 2006, 19 days after the results of the selection board for lieutenant generals had been declassified, the military secretary at the time, Lt Gen Richard Khare, first wrote to Gen V.K. Singh claiming there was a discrepancy in the records of the two branches. This set off a chain of events that eventually led to the army chief first filing a statutory complaint and then referring the matter to the Supreme Court.
On February 3, 2012, the SC, in its wisdom, castigated the government, stating that the due process of natural justice had not been followed and the process had been "vitiated" in addressing the army chief's statutory complaint. The attorney general at that time asked for an adjournment, which was granted. During the second hearing, a week later, the attorney general started proceedings by submitting an affidavit by way of which it withdrew its order dated December 30, 2011, that rejected the statutory complaint. In view of the government's move, and the praise about the general's professional and personal conduct, our lawyer felt there was no point in pressing the matter further, especia­lly since the court had made it clear that in light of the government's stance, there was nothing further to be discussed from a legal point of view. As a citizen of India, the army chief has already expressed his grateful thanks to the learned judges of the apex court for addressing the issue.
My Ambition

I don't want to be,
A wealthy man,
Nor I want to be,
A working man.

I want to be,
A great soldier,
Fighting on the front,
with a gun on my shoulder,

I want to die for,
My great, beloved nation,
And for my enemy,
I shall have no compassion,

I want to let the 
Chinese know
That Indians can die,
For their Motherland.

(A poem written by Gen V.K. Singh as a Std VIII student,
culled from his school magazine)
The order passed by the court is not ambiguous in its content. I am bitterly disappointed at the deliberate spin given in the media to the proceedings in the court, which in my view and understanding are quite contrary to what the honourable judges have said in their order. Firstly, the order does not uphold an error in the threshold document, nor does it say anything about the legality of either of the two dates of birth. There's also nothing to suggest that the so-called 'acceptance letters' exist. While it is true that these points came up during the hearing—as did many other statements, which include the much talked about "wise men move with the wind" remark of the judges—but these were arguments that in my understanding cannot be confused with the order passed by the learned judges.
If the government had not withdrawn its order of December 30 concerning my father's statutory appeal, the arguments in the court would have had a different flavour and intensity and all the facts given above would have come into play, requiring adjudication. But this did not happen, and my father's critics have gone to town, repeatedly harping that there are three occasions when he had "moved with the wind" and given acceptance letters to the year of birth being 1950. This is blatantly untrue, and I would like to set the record straight.
Contrary to what is being projected, there has never been any such 'acceptance letter'. In 2006, he was perhaps the only serving lieutenant general in the history of the nation to be asked to furnish a fresh date of birth prior to being cleared for appointment as a corps commander. This despite the fact that just a few weeks prior to that, the military secretariat branch records had cleared him for promotion based on a 1951 year of birth. The then army chief, Gen J.J. Singh, my father's chief at the time, had categorically told him that there was merely a clerical discrepancy in the records. This would be sorted out, and for that he needed to accept that he had faith in the army chief's decisions. This would be in the interest of the organisation, as it was otherwise holding up the appointments of all corps commanders. Once the army chief had this letter, it was projected to the defence ministry that there was an 'acceptance letter' procured from my father, acknowledging the year of birth as 1950. The fact that my father, then a lieutenant general, continued to ask the military secretariat branch even after that how and why the army chief had been advised to make him declare a new year of birth underlines the fact that in 2006 there was no such 'acceptance'.
The question that needs to be asked of the then army chief, the military secretary (Lt Gen Khare) and the judge advocate general (Maj Gen Nilender Kumar), who together initiated what was clearly not the standard operating procedure in 2006, is: Why did they make an exception in this case only? These gentlemen have found immunity in red tape, aided perhaps by some deft management of the media, which has sidestepped this question, while my father is accused of "bending with the wind". In my view, this is where the injustice lies.
As for the second and third 'acceptance' letters, it is loos­ely being said they had been written in 2008 and 2009. This immediately begs the question that if there was a 'first acceptance' letter, then, what was the need for a second and a third one to be asked for? The situation here is slightly more complex. The army chief at this point of time was Gen Deepak Kapoor and the military secretary Lt Gen Avdhesh Prakash. It is a well known fact that these two gentlemen, both professionally and otherwise, differed sharply from my father (then a lieutenant general) and if the former had his way, my father would not have headed the Eastern Command. Professionally, there was nothing that could be used by the army chief to damage my father, so the 'age issue' was once again raked up to provoke him into disobeying a direct order to accept an incorrect year of birth. The army chief is the most powerful man in the army and a series of letters were written which have to be seen in their entirety to get the complete picture. Opinions should not be based on an isolated sentence which cites "the larger organisational interest". Had this logic been true—that Lt Gen V.K. Singh 'accepted' the year of birth as 1950 so as to head the Eastern Command and later become army chief—he would have shut the cupola and not stirred the issue at all during his tenure as eastern army commander before taking over as the chief. However, he continued to write to the military secretary (Lt Gen Prakash), going systematically along accepted lines of redressing the clerical error within the army.
Honour and izzat are words that are emblazoned on a soldier's heart. Apart from being the daughter of Gen V.K. Singh, I too am an army wife and have seen from close quarters the man I call my father stand up for what he considers is the right thing to do.
In this rather one-sided slanging match, it is also being implied by his critics that the army chief would be better off fighting for one-rank-one-pay, war memorials, weapon systems and all the other problems that haunt the system. I am not going to get drawn into what all he has done as the army chief; that's best left to others and that is a part of his job anyway. For me, his worldview is best encapsulated in a quote from Ernest Hemingway that he uses often: "Few men for the right cause brave the disrespect of their fellow men, the censure of their colleagues and ignorance of society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential vital quality of those who seek to change a world which yields out painfully to change."
(Mrinalini Singh is the daughter of Gen V.K. Singh)
—as told to Chander Suta Dogra


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