Letter to PM and Defence Minister sent by Admiral Ramdas in June 2012
Admiral L Ramdas (Retd) ‘LARA’-Ramu Farm
PVSM, AVSM, VrC, VSM Vill: Bhaimala
Former Chief of the Naval Staff Alibag- 402201
Maharashtra Gaurav Puraskar Maharashtra
Magsaysay Awardee for Peace Tel 02141-248711
Fax 02141- 248733
19 June 2012
My dear Prime Minister,
I am writing to you about certain serious matters concerning the Indian Armed Forces.
In recent months, the country has been witness to a series of unfortunate and avoidable events which include:
- A serving Army Chief having to move the Supreme Court in the matter of settling the issue of his date of birth.
- Allegations of a bribe offered to a serving Army Chief for defence deals, in his own office.
- Corruption in the procurement process of defence equipment – namely the Tatra truck deal followed by defamation threats from the BEML head – himself under the CBI scanner
- Leakage of a `Top Secret’ letter from the Army Chief to the Prime Minister – tantamount to a treasonable act?
- Accusations in the media that a serving Army Chief was responsible for spying on the Defence Minister’s office !
- Irresponsible reporting and insinuation of a possible military coup by one of our top English national newspapers.
- Filing of a PIL and a Review Petition by responsible citizens concerned about the institutional integrity of the Army being compromised by short circuiting established norms and procedures in the Ministry of Defence.
- Raising the `communal bogey’ in the media to divert attention from the charge of creation of a ‘line of succession’, instead of investigating the underlying questions mentioned above. This in turn has lead to distortion and polarization at several levels, including unhealthy public debate.
All of the above are symptoms of a deeper malaise within the system – indicating years of brushing uncomfortable questions under the carpet. Mal-governance and manipulation, including by-passing of long established procedures seem to have become accepted practice at all levels, including in the MOD. Within the Army, matters came to a head with the initiation of a so called ‘line of succession’ in 2006, which in turn seems to have triggered the needless controversy over of the date of birth of one COAS, in order to install another as COAS in 2012!
With the retirement of Gen V K Singh and the handing over of the baton to Gen Bikram Singh on June 1 2012, there was hope that some normalcy would return since the GOI and MOD had apparently achieved their objective. However it appears that no lessons have been learnt from the recent convulsions within the service.
The new regime has lost little time in overturning the ‘show cause’ notice and lifting the DV ban, and promoting Lt Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag, to the position of an Army Commander, thus enabling the emergence of this officer as the likely successor to the present Army Chief in 2014.
It is a pity that instead of `recusing’ himself in order to demonstrate his impartiality in this matter, Gen Bikram Singh appears to have further strengthened the notion of a Line of Succession by these recent actions.
The last straw was the unfortunate TV interview given recently by the Governor of Arunachal Pradesh, Gen J.J.Singh (retd) regarding the entire case, and which has prompted us to respond.
Rather than engage in a public debate, I have decided to write to you and also to the President of India as the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, in this regard, on behalf of my co-petitioners and colleagues.
We believe that the above developments have adversely affected the morale of the services and serving personnel, while at the same time signaling an unhealthy, rising tide of dissatisfaction within the retired fraternity of the Indian Armed Forces. The continuous failure of the top civil and political leadership to address the steady erosion in the ethical framework which had always provided the underpinning for decision making at the highest levels, has only reinforced a growing feeling of discontent and cynicism. There is a widespread perception that while the rank and file are subjected to severe disciplinary action for even minor offences, those higher up, with the right connections, can get away with anything! Not only is this reflected in the most recent appointments to the highest offices within the Army, but also, and more seriously, has led to the disturbing view, circulating at many levels, that it is not worth fighting for a country that is in the grip of corrupt and conniving characters.
As citizens coming from a wide range of professions and experience, who have watched with dismay, the growing and continuing fall in ethical standards at all levels in the country, including within the Armed forces, we believe it is our duty and our right to call your attention to these developments.
We are also firmly of the view that this situation must be addressed with urgency, because it could pose a serious threat to our national security concerns. Therefore we earnestly submit that the spate of events enumerated above, which have rocked the Army in recent months, must be thoroughly investigated.
For this purpose, we ask that you appoint an independent Three Member Commission, comprising of eminent personalities, to carry out a thorough probe, find out facts, however unpalatable, and suggest ways and means to set things right and create a pathway for the future. This inquiry should be time bound and the results should be made known in a period of three months.
We are refraining from releasing this note to the media at this time, since we have full faith that you will respond positively to the suggestions herein within the next week or ten days regarding the action you intend taking in this matter.
(Former Chief of the Naval Staff – on behalf of PIL petitioners listed below)
Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India
CC: Shri AK Anthony, Minister of Defence
Mr. M.G. Devasahayam
Shri N Gopalaswami
Lt Gen [Retd] PC Katoch, PVSM, UYSM, AVSM, SC,
Lt General [Retd] O S Lochab, PVSM AVSM,
Sam Rajappa – Journalist
Major General (Retd) Ashok Kalyan Verma, AVSM.