Cries and whispers
The Deccan Chronicle points out a problem which is not discussed enough:
The state of morale in the armed forces in general, and the Army in particular, should be a cause for worry because of the latter’s rapidly declining combat capability. Moreover, an Army with low morale, insufficient manpower and lacking in the required combat equipment is a recipe for national disaster at the hands of foreign invaders.
The recent Supreme Court ruling giving “rank pay” to those officers who were in military service between 1986 to 1996 following a 25-year-long court battle by a few retired officers shows how this rank pay, given by the fourth Central Pay Commission (4th CPC), had been withheld by unaccountable bureaucrats, who had issued the final implementation orders. Even if the rank pay is finally given in the coming months, many of those eligible have passed away or are bed-ridden, and, many had received lower pension also. Today, there are 39 unresolved anomalies from the 6th CPC, which gave its award in 2008.
As India marks the 50th anniversary of the disastrous war with China in 1962, the signs are ominous. India is faced with threats from within and outside. Apart from the economic slowdown, scams and ongoing Naxal insurgency, recent media reports have indicated a couple of mutinies in Army units, where soldiers have risen against their officers. More worrying is the news that from 2003 till now 1,018 soldiers have committed suicide. Last month, defence minister informed Parliament that the “causes for these suicides were domestic problems, mental discord, stress and financial problems”. The enormity of this “suicide tragedy” can be fully understood if we see that between 1984 and 2012, a total of 846 officers and soldiers have died in Siachen.
Part of the reason why the defence forces are not discussed in the press has to do with the general goodwill that the armed forces enjoy in non-border regions of India. Most articles and documentaries about the armed forces are positive, in a media which has little space for continuous positive coverage. The downside of this lack of media attention is that systemic problems have been neglected. The article is worth reading in full precisely because of this.