Wednesday, 8 July 2020

Inside India’s Army

 For comrades in olive green


I have put together my commentaries and articles that dwell on aspects covered by the field of military sociology. Military sociology is not unfamiliar to India’s national security community, with the famous Krishna Menon-Thimayya episode being a case to point. Yet, it’s a subject with a rather low profile, no doubt because of the Indian military’s quest to stay out of, if not above, politics and at a distance from society, best illustrated by its cantonments. However, its visibility is much less than should be the case in a democratic society.

Taken collectively, the 99 commentaries here argue that this inattention to the military’s place in a democratic society – owing to its willing subordination to the civilian sphere – has led to overlooking perhaps one of the most significant changes within the military – a tendency towards the right wing ideology that has over the past three decades permeated society. This is understandable, since with society taking a marked turn to the Right, it is not unlikely that a democratic military can but be a step behind.

Even so, this is an anti-democratic development with constitutional  implications. We have witnessed over the past six years of the right wing regime’s sway over power, a dramatic fall of democratic and state institutions. The military has proven an exception in that it is only – at the time of writing – in the process of succumbing. These articles, written over the past fifteen years, trace the manner the military has been suborned by the right wing. The culmination has been over the last year, evidenced in its marginalization as merely a militant killing machine in Kashmir and but a border guarding force in Ladakh. 

The articles in the main discuss civil-military relations, the troubling aspect of which is in the military susceptible to subscribing to the ‘nationalist’ ideology of those in power. The major take-away is that this puts it at odds with the democratic system of alternation in power. This was mildly visible in the earlier period of the United Progressive Alliance in which the military was forever foot-dragging, be it in allowing peace initiatives in Kashmir to culminate or over demilitarizing Siachen.

Another major theme is the lack of representativeness of the military in that the articles capture the phenomenon of the military keeping India’s largest minority out. This has to be boldly said up front since playing footsie with the compelling statistics that underlie this claim is no longer possible. In short, with a dramatic right wing turn combined with the Muslim minority missing from its ranks, the military is only secular in name. In short, we are almost there, where the Hindutva ideologues, under-gridding the strategic establishment of this regime, want India to be.

On this count, this book is important. The compilation of articles that have appeared at various web-portals when put together between two covers, as here, make clear that the penultimate bastion of the state – the judiciary being the last (but one which has already bitten the dust) - is falling. As to whether the situation is retrievable, I leave it for readers in their capacity as voters to answer. The book compilation is an effort towards reversing the trend towards a Hindu army of a Hindu India.

1.    Right Wing Ascendance In India And The Politicisation Of India’s Military
2.    Army’s Robustness in Aid of Civil Authority Lessons from the Gujarat Carnage
3.    Corrosive Impact of Army’s Commitment in Kashmir
4.    Dilating on a ‘Half-front War’
5.    The Missing Muslim Army Officers
6.    Whose army is it anyway?
7.    Questioning afresh Indian military’s social representativeness
8.    An Army Day resolution for the new chief
9.    The land warfare doctrine: The army's or that of its Chief?
10.  The army's two impulses in Kashmir: Human rights Doctrine and departures
11.  Human Rights: All so unfortunately ho-hum
12.  A police wallah as proto Chief of Defence Staff
13.  Spiking possibilities: What is the army chief up to?
14.  Contextualising the army chief’s news making
15.  Selectivity in military justice
16.  Command responsibility in relation to good faith
17.  Opening up the cantonments: Army in the cross hairs of the right
18.  The army chief as regime spokeman?
19.  The Hindutva project and India's military
20.  Budget let down further strains army-government relations
21.  A revolt of the generals?
22.  A political army or an apolitical one?
23.  Dissension in the top brass?
24.  The General is at it again
25.  Debating the ‘harder military approach’
26.  An Army to fear: The Army’s future?
27.  The Gogoi award puts General Rawat on test
28.  To the army: Any gentlemen left please?
29.  Dark side of Army’s social media groups
30.  Internal security duties in their impact on the army
31.  Saluting Bipin Rawat but with a caveat
32.  The army officer corps: Missing Muslims
33.  Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha Ventures Further Than he Should
34.  Yoga as prelude to politicization of the military
35.  Look who’s doing yoga now
36.  Handwara: Going Beyond SOPs
37.  What a short, swift war means for the Infantry
38.  The military musical chairs
39.  Challenges of the brass in a political minefield
40.  Doctrine in Civil-Military Relations
41.  Where veterans refuse to give up
42.  Is the army court’s verdict on the Machhil killings enough?
43.  Kashmir: Hooda walks the talk
44.  Kashmir : Politicisation of security and its consequences
45.  Modi and the Military
46.  Wearing Religion on their Uniform Sleeves
47.  The Army: Missing Muslim India
48.  Why are Muslims Missing From Army?
49.  Fixing Responsibility CI Decisions and Consequences
50.  AFSPA: A Question of Justice
51.  Do We Need a Chief Warlord?
52.  The Sub-Unit Cries for Army Attention
53.  Civil-Military Relations: Questioning the VK Singh Thesis
54.  Readings for Officers
55.  A General’s Unforgettable Legacy
56.  Army ‘Transformation’: A ‘Radical’ One?
57.  The Third Front: Military Ethics
58.  Civil-Military Relations: Under Scan
59.  The Army’s Decade in Review
60.  The Central Debate in India’s Civil Military Relations
61.  Politicisation: In the Context of the Indian Military
62.  The Coming Threat of Politicisation
63.  India’s Brass: What the Controversy Misses
64.  The Military at the High Table?
65.  Modi and the Military: Not Quite an Innocent
66.  The LoC Incident Calls for Self-Regulation by the Army
67.  Countering Insurgency and Sexual Violence
68.  Dear General, Please Stay Out of Politics
69.  Interrogating Security Expansionism in India
70.  The Indian Army: Organizational Changes in the Offing
71.  An Issue in Civil-Military Relations
72.  Soldiers, not servants
73.  Expanding too fast?
74.  Uncivil war in South Block
75.  An age-old lesson
76.  The ‘Age’ of misjudgement
77.  Defence reforms: The next phase
78.  The Army’s right to its opinion
79.  Initiatives to Transform the Army Officer Corps
80.  The New Chief and Transformation
81.  The Military in Kashmir The Debate Between the Generals
82.  An Unacknowledged Vested Interest in a
83.  The Army’s Subculture in the Coming Decade
84.  The government versus the military
85.  Rethinking Civilian Control
86.  How deep is the rot?
87.  The Indian Army: crisis within
88.  Politicisation and the Indian military
89.  Hail to the new chief
90.  Security agenda: 2006 and beyond
91.  Menu for the New Chief
92.  Chief of Defense : Implications
93.  Elevate Human Rights As the Core Organising
94.  Extract from India’s Doctrine Puzzle: The Organisational Factor
95.  Extract from India’s Doctrine Puzzle: Service Subcultures
96.  Extract from article: ‘Borders and other such lines’, Journal of Peace Studies
97.  Review: Vivek Chadha, Indian Army’s Approach to Counter Insurgency Operations: A Perspective on Human Rights, Strategic Analysis, 35:3 May 2011
98.  Review: K.S. Sheoran, Human Rights and Armed Forces in Low Intensity Conflict
99.  Countering Insurgency In J&K: Debates in The Indian Army