Was it correct to promote Lt.-Gen Bipin Rawat over seniors?

Was it correct to promote Lt.-Gen Bipin Rawat over seniors?

Was it correct to promote Lt.-Gen Bipin Rawat over seniors?

For the top post in Indian Army seniority has always been the criteria over capability when it comes to promotion. In 33 years, this is the second time when seniority was overlooked while promoting an officer to the position of Army Chief and India is divided in opinion already.

NDA government promoted Vice Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant-General Bipin Rawat as the next army chief superseding two senior officers who were in line for the promotion. In 1983, Former PM Indira Gandhi had done the same when she appointed General AS Vaidya as the Army Chief instead of General SK Sinha. According to government, Lt General Rawat is the best suited man for the position of army chief in the current scenario.

Right

1. Operational experience: With Lt General Bipin Rawat’s operational experience in combat areas, he is the best suited person for the position. His capabilities and experience go hand in hand to make him the right person for promotion. Seniority shouldn’t overpower capability which makes this the right decision taken by UPA government.

2. The current scenario: Terrorism in the north, proxy wars from the west and the situation in north east are not to be dealt with age and seniority only. Lt General Rawat has served for the last three decades in various combat areas of tension including operational responsibilities in Line of Control with Pakistan, the Line of Actual Control with China and in the North-East.

3. A well connected person: Lt General Rawat has made his reputation for connecting well with civil society, balanced approach towards soldering and compassion for fellow officers. These are the qualities and skills required for someone who is to hold to the highest position in the army.

4. Above politics: While the left front is busy condemning the act and politicizing a key change in the army appointment, it is to be noted that the same did happen years back when Former PM Indira Gandhi gave priority to capability over seniority. The chief officer of a country’s defense mechanism should be above politics and divided views of people divided over parties.

5. Following proper rules: The government followed rules when it comes to the appointment of Army Chief keeping in mind the prevailing security situation and requirement of the hour. Seniority, as it is should not be the sole reason for a promotion within the army or anywhere else. Capability and experience, the person’s expertise in handling the responsibilities should be the key determinant for promotion anywhere.

Wrong

1. Political influence: Seniority is not mentioned as any determinant when it comes to promotion within the Indian Army but it was followed for so long for a reason. The main reason was to shield military promotions from undue interference of political world. With the interference of politics into army, it is going to be a world of confusion and allegations, and it has only just begun with this controversy.

2. Capability vise: Seniority comes into play only after an office reaches the rank of Lt General. Prior to that they are tried and tested under all other important screens of capability in various field. Most of the officers in the rank of Lt General are competent enough to handle the same responsibilities and undergo challenges of the same level; hence seniority is considered for promotion hereafter.

3. Role: While reason for appointing Lt General Rawat is said to be his operational experience but the role of Army chief is to head the staff that advises the government, carries out procurement, facilitates the coordination of the field armies, and act as link between them and the government. The qualities being considered for his promotion are actually the role of army commanders.

4. Creating confusion: Army had continued to remain apolitical for so long and the result has been beneficiary. Changes where everything worked well and free of political pressure is unnecessary and is bound to agitate the veteran community who are not in support of this move.

The decision has not only created controversy among army veterans and people but also created a loophole for other political parties in future to exercise their power to appoint candidates who they could retain benefits from. Playing favoritism should never be allowed to creep into army.
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