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This ebook is an attempt to bring out the real story behind Army Chief General VK Singh's date of birth controversy. The book is a compilation of some very wellresearched and explosive articles written by RSN Singh, a former military intelligence officer who later served in the Research & Analysis Wing.

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Why is Gen VK Singh being targetted?

28/08/12 11:20 PM

Why is Gen VK Singh being targetted?

BY RSN SINGH The biggest curse for any Indian today is honesty. Had VK Singh accepted the bribe he would have been darling of the establishment and would have rode to the office of governor of some state. The revelations by the Army Chief regarding an attempt to bribe him by a Lt Gen during the course of an interview with a national daily was known to this author and informed people in the journalist fraternity and otherwise. The fact that there exists evidence by way of a taped conversation between the said Lt Gen and the Army Chief is also not a new input. This author had written about the role of this Lt Gen in trying to bribe the Army Chief at the behest of certain arms supplier in an article, “Who’s trying to fix the Army Chief by raking up his age?” in July 2011. This article was widely circulated. This offer of bribery was to push the sale of Tatra Vehicles at an exorbitant price. A particular firm was purchasing second-hand Tatra Vehicles and selling it through the Bharat Earth Movers Ltd (BEML) at more than double the cost. Reportedly, while the cost of each vehicle off the shelf was around 30-40 lakhs, there was a bid by the arms lobby to sell it to the Indian Army for about one crore. The Army Chief refused to put the army and the country to such a massive loss of tax-payers money. It is then http://canarytrap.in/2012/04/06/why-is-gen-vk-singh-being-targetted/

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Why is Gen VK Singh being targetted?

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the said Lt Gen allegedly offered a bribe of 14 crores. When the Army Chief did not relent, the Lt Gen is understood to have pleaded that Army Chiefs before the present incumbent had all played ball and those who will succeed him would also do so. Tatra vehicles have been procured by the Indian Army since 1986. Significantly, the Army Chief said that he immediately reported the matter to the Defence Minister and offered to quit if he was considered a ‘misfit’. This offer to quit is pregnant in import, and its depth and linkages is yet to unravel. A conscientious and God fearing Defence Minister did acknowledge in Rajya Sabha that the matter was indeed reported to him and he stated that he sank his head in his hands. Was it because of the conflict between his ‘head and heart’? Or in other words, was it because of the conflict between the Defence Minister’s personal integrity and political integrity or political compulsions? It is rather well known that the Defence Minister has always held the Army Chief in very high esteem for reasons of personal integrity, something which resonates with his own personality. Some sources have revealed to this author that Mr Antony had almost decided to rule in favour of General VK Singh in respect to the date of birth controversy after the first opinion of the Law Ministry, which categorically upheld the General’s contention. It was then that powers in position superior to Antony compelled him to readdress the case to the Law Ministry. It did weigh heavily on his conscience, and there were political offers and assurances to recompense the hurt caused by the deliberate miscarriage of truth and justice in ways more than one. The General found it hard to buy the bargain on a basic issue that questioned his character. Notwithstanding the efforts of emissaries he did not relent and offered to resign. The political class prodded by megalomaniac bureaucracy for fear of the ‘succession plan’ being upset in deference to the arms lobby, as also the unacceptable adverse political fallout for reasons of political funding began to threaten the General that should he choose to offer his resignation it would not be accepted. The General was thus driven to the Supreme Court. The establishment, more so powers superior to Antony were unnerved by this development, as they were acutely conscious that the General’s case was ‘open and shut’. Leave alone experienced lawyers, even a first year law student will vouch for the fact. What happened thereafter is well known. Every institution in India has probably dishttp://canarytrap.in/2012/04/06/why-is-gen-vk-singh-being-targetted/

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Why is Gen VK Singh being targetted?

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credited itself in this age row. It is not that the Army was not confronted earlier with such instances of discrepancies in date of birth of officers. They are routine and are resolved quickly and appropriately. An exactly similar case was resolved in the late 90s just one day before the retirement of one Colonel Ramesh Chandra Dixit. VK Singh was made the first and last exception. Last exception, because the MoD or the Army Headquarters consequent to their ruling on General VK Singh’s age, cannot legally dare to reiterate that the Army List or the MS Branch enjoy primacy over the AG’s Branch with matters pertaining to date of birth of officers. What was therefore perpetrated on the Army Chief was a fraud. A fraud so outrageous that it seemingly reduces India to the category of Banana Republics. Who perpetrated this fraud? It was two army chiefs in succession, whose reputations are today asunder for their unsavory deeds and involvement in various scams. Imagine an Army Chief appropriating flats meant for families of Kargil martyrs. Can it get worse? It is no wonder that these army chiefs, who as father figures, should have protected the professional and personal integrity of their subordinates, chose to force General VK Singh to accept a particular date of birth, failing which there was an implied threat that the controversy would be used to derail him. They should have instead apologized for the omissions and commissions of a particular branch of the Army Headquarters. Once the so-called ‘acceptance’ was obtained on the repeated plea of ‘organizational constraints’, the army chiefs began to breath easy. VK Singh’s subsequent pleadings to explain the ‘organizational constraints’ fell on deaf ears. The sigh of relief was because the ‘succession plan’ as desired by the arms lobby was now in place. The Indian Army and the army personnel as such are not safe under such chiefs. The bureaucrats became part of the design only after General VK Singh raked the issue of his date of birth as COAS. Four former Chief Justices of India, all of them with impeccable credentials gave opinions in his favour, did not appeal to the moral sense of the Ministry. That the Law Ministry gave an opinion categorically upholding General VK Singh’s stand, did not help. When the General said it was not a question of additional few months, but his honour, it did not help. He was ridiculed, not only by the political and bureaucratic establishment but by some retired generals as well. These retired generals are now, courtesy television channels, very familiar faces. All http://canarytrap.in/2012/04/06/why-is-gen-vk-singh-being-targetted/

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Why is Gen VK Singh being targetted?

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of them have a dubious past. One of them was forced to resign from the Army because of IB reports regarding his indiscriminate womanizing habit. The other is known to have run away with his senior’s wife, and the third was in the docks for possessing a false degree. So much for the detractors of General VK Singh! These characters only testify that the muck in the army has been accumulating over the years. It was quite evident when some Generals awarded themselves shamelessly after the Kargil Conflict.. There was no bravery or operational genius on display on their part. It would have been befitting to send some of them packing. The politics of the day saved them. Corruption in the arms procurement process is not a new phenomenon. It started soon after independence. There was the Jeep Scandal in VK Krishna Menon’s time. The underpinning of the Tehelka sting operation was also regarding the same corruption. So what is new! What is alarming and dangerous is the level of influence the arms lobby has acquired that it has begun to decide as to who would be the Army Chief and the length of his tenure. The tentacles of this lobby have penetrated in every conceivable pillar institution of the State. Reportedly, several crores of rupees have been spent by the arms lobby to perpetuate the date of birth fraud on General VK Singh. Such is the depth of influence of the lobby that only a divine intervention can salvage the obvious truth that every ‘straight’ Indian realizes and that is morally and legally General VK Singh’s date of birth is 10 May 1951 and not 10 May 1950 as inflicted by the two army chiefs at the behest of the arms lobby. It is rather depressing to find so many ‘not too straight’ serving officers in the army. The arms lobby first contrived to inflict date of birth controversy on the General; then launched a media campaign to make him resign by engineering divide between the General and the Defence Minister, as also civil versus military – in that it extolled the integrity of the General while stressing the obduracy of the MoD; then there was an attempt to prevent him from going to court by invoking tradition and precedence; then there was campaign to make him withdraw his case from the Supreme Court; then there was psychological pressure being put on him to resign after the Supreme Court order which says nothing about his date of birth; and when he did not resign then there were desperate moves to get him sacked. The fabrication of the story regarding the bugging of the Defence Minister’s office at http://canarytrap.in/2012/04/06/why-is-gen-vk-singh-being-targetted/

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Why is Gen VK Singh being targetted?

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the behest of the General should be seen in this backdrop. The story was so poorly scripted that it fell apart. The writers of this script continue to enjoy impunity. The letter leak (from General to the Prime Minister) should also be viewed in the same vain. The clamour for the Chief’s head by some bizarre quarters was also at the behest of the arms lobby. A decrepit former diplomat, who messed India’s national security, was pulled out of the cobwebs to suggest that the General should be sent on ‘forced leave’, little realizing that there is no such provision in the Army Law. He did not prefer ‘sacking’ probably due to his own vulnerabilities. Another former diplomat with no locus-standi and no knowledge of army functioning has been taking special delight in VK – bashing. The man, it is apparent, has more than one motivation in doing so. This diplomat claimed that the unprecedented media campaign against General VK Singh unleashed by a daily newspaper published from North was with the tacit approval of the Prime Minister. A prime minister getting after his own Army Chief via the media, if true, can happen only in Banana Republics. A few years ago one Commander Nadeem was mowed by a truck while he was taking his morning jog on the lawns of Shanti Path in New Delhi. He was dealing with acquisition of some sensitive equipment. There was a strong suspicion on the arms lobby, which has hardly been dispelled. The recent death of a MoD official, Kumar Yashkar Sinha and his wife is also intriguing. Initially the police dubbed the case of being murder by strangulation of the wife by husband followed by ‘suicide’ by the latter by setting himself aflame. The profile of the officer suggests that he was of very strong character and enjoyed great marital harmony with his wife. It is therefore most unlikely that he had any suicidal tendencies. The police based on a letter recovered from the scene of the crime is attributing ‘work pressure’ by some superiors of the official for his alleged suicide. It is bizarre. No person will kill his wife because of his own work pressure. No person will strangulate his wife and then immolate himself. He could well have hung himself instead of choosing such a painful route to suicide. It now emerges that the official was also dealing with RTI in the MoD. Is the murder of the official and his wife the handiwork of the arms lobby? The possibility cannot be ruled out. The machinations of the arms lobby seem to have subverted the top leadership of the army considerably. One army chief allegedly initiated the culture of political funding by linking the army to the arms lobby – bureaucracy – politician nexus for political http://canarytrap.in/2012/04/06/why-is-gen-vk-singh-being-targetted/

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Why is Gen VK Singh being targetted?

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funding. The desperation and ruthlessness of the key players and key institutions could well be motivated by 2014 elections. It is a matter of grave concern that succession plans in the army are being made at the behest of the arms lobby. It is not merely a question of subversion of few people at the top. It has a cascading affect and thus the entire selection system gets vitiated and in the process the entire army gets subverted. Lord Wavell had predicated the survival of India as one entity on the perseverance of the Indian Army as an effective and irreproachable instrument. This instrument is not fraying from the edges but is under threat from the top. If the slide continues, India would unravel. As it is the State is losing its writ at a frightening pace. If the last bastion crumbles, India will indeed survive as another Banana Republic. Let us therefore save the Indian Army and save India. ALSO READ: Army Chief’s crusade against corruption deserves recognition Why Gen VK Singh’s D.O.B is not just a ‘personal’ matter Why is Antony playing ducks and drakes with the Army? Who’s trying to fix the Army Chief by raking up his age? (RSN Singh is a former military intelligence officer who later served in the Research & Analysis Wing. The author of two books: Asian Strategic and Military Perspective and Military Factor in Pakistan, he is also a columnist for Canary Trap. This post was first published on Firstpost on April 6, 2012)

http://canarytrap.in/2012/04/06/why-is-gen-vk-singh-being-targetted/

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Army Chief’s crusade against corruption deserves recognition

28/08/12 11:20 PM

Army Chief’s crusade against corruption deserves recognition

BY ARUN AGRAWAL It should be clear by now to every moron who went on defending the government in the tussle between the Army Chief and the Defence Minister that it was the General who is upright and honest. And that he was made to pay the price for his honesty in trying to clean up the system. Fighting corruption in the army is not easy. It means war on three different fronts. The politician who is above you, corrupt colleagues who are with you and the moneybags of the arms mafia. Fighting your own is very different from fighting the enemy. And here we had the most comical situation of an honest General working under an honest Minister. It is a rarity. However, the clash of two honest personalities can be very dangerous, more so if one is manipulated by the corrupt. Relations had not soured between the two when the General reported the bribing incident to his Minister. Yet all that the Minister did was beat his forehead (for lack of a better phrase). Both admit to the reaction. The Minister counseled that such people should be kept out and the General did not want to pursue the matter further.

http://canarytrap.in/2012/03/28/general-vk-singhs-crusade-against-corruption-deserves-national-recognition/

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Army Chief’s crusade against corruption deserves recognition

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While the General’s reaction in being reluctant to take on senior colleagues is understandable, the reaction of the Minister is not. Defence purchase falls within his domain. In the age of internet it was not difficult for anyone to know that Vectra of UK was not the producer of Tatra trucks but was a middleman. It was also not difficult to know that Tatra was a Czech company, the original manufacturer. It was also not difficult to know the price at which the trucks were being sold by Czeck company Tatra and the price paid by India. All this information was with the General and that is why he did not sign on the purchase order and wanted to purchase the trucks directly. He knew that India had been procuring the trucks at more than twice the price sold by the parent company. The General had done his homework. It may be a conjecture but there is reason to believe that he informed the Minster and the reason for keeping out the supplier was over invoicing of over 100% which would have compromised their integrity. It was also the reason for the Minister beating his forehead! The scam was not in the bribe offered to the General but in the purchase price of the equipment. Could he or his advisers not understand this simple truth. If a product was being bought at twice the price for which it was available in the open market then it does not require a genius to derive that bribes had been paid. Not only bribes, but large bribes have been paid to lots of people because each one knows the quantum of profit being made by the middleman. However only a small percentage of the bribe (which is large in absolute terms – Rs 14 crore in this case) was to be paid to the men in uniform, which the General refused. The large chunk of bribe was to be paid to those who were not in uniform. And all these persons were within the jurisdiction of the Minister. Hence the matter was squarely within the domain of the Minister and it was a major omission on his part not to order investigation on defence purchase worth thousands of crores which were procured for twice the market price. The scam has been going on for a decade and hence the unity of the political parties demanding the resignation of General VK Singh. Contrast the ignorance of the Minister with the discovery made by the author (with http://canarytrap.in/2012/03/28/general-vk-singhs-crusade-against-corruption-deserves-national-recognition/

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Army Chief’s crusade against corruption deserves recognition

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no resources or staff) in two hours of net surfing. The following information which is a news report from Czech republic is most damning. Ravinder Kumar Rishi, the chief scamster in the deal, was not only swindling the Indian government but also the Czech government. A criminal case was filed against him in the country where Tatra trucks were manufactured almost a year back for the supplies made to India. The article dated 27/4/11 on a Czeck website states: Tatra faces tunneling and tax evasion allegations Anonymous plaintiff accuses the major owner and management of Tatra truck maker of tunneling profits and tax evasion The management and a major shareholder in the iconic Czech truck producer Tatra face a criminal complaint for allegedly failing to ensure proper oversight of assets. The anonymous plaintiff claims that the sale of truck parts at knock-down prices to India via an intermediary British company has damaged the company. Václav Láska, a former high-ranking police investigator, lawyer and one-time head of the local branch of watchdog Transparency International, has lodged a criminal complaint against the management of Tatra trucks and one of the firm’s major shareholders, Indian businessman Ravinder Kumar Rishi, on behalf of plaintiffs who wish to remain anonymous due to fears of “labor persecution”, the daily Právo reported on Wednesday. Vectra allegedly profits from Tatra’s loss Since 2005, Tatra has supplied so-called complete knock-down kits (CKD), containing all the components of haulage Láska claims that between 2005 and 2010 Tatra lost profits of around Kč 270 million trucks to the Indian state-owned firm BEML, which then assembles the vehicles in India. The transactions have been conducted through British-registered intermediary firm Vectra Limited, which, according to the charges, has frequently purchased the CKD kits at below production cost, thus causing losses to the Czech company running into millions of crowns. “The Tatra company sells kits to the British company Vectra Limited without a profit margin, and even at prices lower than the cost of manufacturing. All margins from this business, i.e. all profits from these transactions, go only to the accounts of the British company,” Láska told Právo. “The fact that the representahttp://canarytrap.in/2012/03/28/general-vk-singhs-crusade-against-corruption-deserves-national-recognition/

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Army Chief’s crusade against corruption deserves recognition

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tives of Tatra allow these transactions clearly contradicts the principles of sound economic governance.” Láska claims that between 2005 and 2010 Tatra lost around Kč 270 million in potential profit. The calculation is based on a profit margin of 10 percent per kit, which he says the management intentionally forfeited in order to sell the goods to Vectra Limited at a knock-down price. Láska also says that through the transactions the company also avoided paying tens of millions of crowns in tax. “By transferring the considerable profits to the British company, the Tatra company reduced its income tax payments by tens of millions of crowns,” Láska said. Alleged misuse of information Ravinder Kumar Rishi, deputy chairman of Tatra’s supervisory board, is also the owner of Vectra Limited and thus de facto represents both Tatra and Vectra in business negotiations — and the transactions in question. According to Láska, Ravinder Kumar Rishi may have misused information in these business relations. In 2010, Tatra supplied 600 CKD kits to the Indian company Beml — which assembles the trucks and has large orders with the Indian army — and according to Láska, Tatra has committed to deliver a further 460 kits this year. “If the criminal complaint is deemed to be justified, steps could be taken which will curtail further losses and also stop additional tax evasion,” Láska told Právo. The question to be answered is this: If a criminal complaint was filed against the company and Ravinder Kumar Rishi by the Czech republic for merely causing a loss of 10% on profits foregone due to under invoicing a year back, then what action did the defence Minister take against Vectra which as a middleman had supplied trucks at more than 100% the amount for which Tatra sold in the open market? This scam was going on for the past ten years. Rishi cheated Czechs by 10% but the Indians by more than 100%. I will bet top dollar that the anonymous plaintiff referred to in the article is an Indian source who had no faith in the Indian system to act and therefore chose to go through the head of Transparency International. Could it be the good General or a source close to him? Your guess is as good as mine. http://canarytrap.in/2012/03/28/general-vk-singhs-crusade-against-corruption-deserves-national-recognition/

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Army Chief’s crusade against corruption deserves recognition

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It is difficult to believe that the Czech authorities did not correspond with the Indian government within the past one year. They do have an embassy in India. Where are the records of the correspondence? The General was made to pay the price for his anti-corruption crusade in the Sukna land scam and the Adarsh Society scam, including the court marshaling of Lt. Gen. Avadesh Prakash, who was Military Secretary under General Deepak Kapoor. It is time that Mr Antony realizes his mistake. He is surrounded by corrupt people who are using his reputation as a shield. What is at stake is the loss of faith of the people in honest ministers. Manmohan Singh and then Mr Antony. What good is the virtue of honesty? Is there any hope of redemption left for the country? The General will go in a blaze of glory but the Minister will not. And for those who are aligned with the arms mafia and ask for the reason as to why the General did not take action on the Tatra scam? Against whom would he take action? Procurement of defence equipment is not under his charge. Did you expect him to take on the retired generals and ex-Chiefs who were paid off for signing the document that he refused to sign? Would there be any proof? Where would that get him? Would you take on a ex-defence Minister or a corrupt Minister in the Cabinet? Was the issue of Bofors pursued by the Army Chief? A General is not a General if he is not a good tactician. General VK Singh proved to be a master tactician in the manner in which he took on the entire system of corruption in the Army and in the Ministry. This General showed that he had earned all his stars. The nation could give him one more. In the end the General proved to the nation that even the most honest politician of our times is not good enough to prevent the huge corruption that infests defence deals. (Arun Agrawal is the author of the book Reliance: The Real Natwar. The opinions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of Canary Trap or any employee thereof)

http://canarytrap.in/2012/03/28/general-vk-singhs-crusade-against-corruption-deserves-national-recognition/

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An Army wife’s prayer

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An Army wife’s prayer You, VK Singh, are a game changer. You are trying to change the ongoing game that certain ethically compromised people, including some in uniform and retired ones, have been playing for over a decade. You are trying to ensure that the military Institution is given its due space as a loyal, intensely devoted organ of the country, while choosing to remain under civilian control as it should be, in any democracy. You are a cleanser. The nation has failed to clean up even the Ganga, but you are cleaning up the Indian Army from where it needs to be cleansed – at the top level. You are aware, as are many of us, that the moral fibre, professionalism, patriotism and spirit of the Army lies intact at the levels where these are actually required – our troops and junior and middle level officers – who comprise over 90% of the Army. They spend their professional lives away from Delhi – Thank God. The grass roots level of the Indian Army, and retired ex-servicemen like us, are with you. May you continue to have the strength and courage you have already demonstrated in ample measure. You will need a good supply of both for future threats from those who have made India their Jagir. You need the blessings of all of us. India is not known to honor the brave. Thankfully, now it is learning to do so. The Internet and modern technology will help people express their support for you. Most of the million plus soldiers and an equal number of ex-servicemen will rally behind you. The rest of India, sick, tired and angry about the state of the Nation, will also rally behind you. All honest politicians and bureaucrats, cutting across party lines, and hopefully some http://canarytrap.in/2012/04/23/an-army-wifes-prayer/

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An Army wife’s prayer

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legal luminaries, will also start speaking up. The rest are parasitical chameleons who will change their colours accordingly. Democracy will be better served, the governance of our country will improve and the nation as a whole will gain. Your clarion call is a historic sign among others for a bright future for India. Civil society will get a further boost to change the rot in the system. Let things get worse, if only to become better. Did not some ancients predict that 2012 will be the beginning of a tectonic change for the better? Rogues, beware! Your time is up! Correct yourselves or go visit dhams in the Himalayas. In fact, stay on there as Himalayan caves are better than jails! India is no longer your sole property. Once all of you are sorted out, India’s external threats will be easier to handle. Do not dare to stand between India’s rot of today and the very bright, glorious future. (About the author: Chhanda Mukherjee, wife of retired Major General Dipak Mukherjee, is a proud patriot who likes to voice her opinion on Army issues. Major General Dipak Mukherjee (retd.) was an Infantry officer who has taken part in the 1971 war. He also commanded a battalion in Sri Lanka, a brigade in J&K during the Kargil conflict and a Division of counter terrorist forces. Chhanda has done MSc in Botany and BEd. She is a teacher.)

http://canarytrap.in/2012/04/23/an-army-wifes-prayer/

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Why Gen VK Singh’s D.O.B is not just a ‘personal’ matter

09/03/12 10:12 AM

Why Gen VK Singh’s D.O.B is not just a ‘personal’ matter

BY RSN SINGH The controversy over the army chief’s date of birth (d.o.b.) is bizarre and probably symptomatic of the degradation of value systems at the higher echelons of the army. It is definitely not a sudden development. Officers of the rank of lieutenant general have gone to the civil courts on matters relating to promotions in the past. The only institution which had no need to do so was that of the army chief, because that was the end of the hierarchy and the ladder. But then there was the allure of post-retirement sinecure and many army chiefs were perceived to be bending backwards for it. Eventually, by a seemingly capillary action, the malaise crept right to the top. The system had acquired such a culture of sleaze and conspiracy over the years that there was an attempt to even manipulate the duration and succession chain of the institution. Gen VK Singh’s decision to go to the Supreme Court is a manifestation of this. The case otherwise was so simple – or such a non-issue- that its resolution was more a http://canarytrap.in/2012/01/27/why-gen-vk-singhs-d-o-b-is-not-just-a-personal-matter/

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Why Gen VK Singh’s D.O.B is not just a ‘personal’ matter

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matter of common sense than judicial intervention. The case arose from a difference in the records of the Military Secretary’s Branch and the Adjutant General’s (AG’s) Branch of the army. The latter is the usual record-keeper. In Gen Singh’s case, the ministry of defence decided that it will go by the Military Secretary’s records – when common sense should have told it to do otherwise. In fact, the MoD has done so in at least one earlier case. In a strikingly similar case, one Col Ramesh Chander Joshi (IC-16142) received his orders for retirement from the MS Branch (vide Letter No. 30004/Sep 96/Tech/MS Retirement w.e.f. 30 September 1996) based on the fact that his date of birth was listed as 22 September 1944. However, the records with the Adjutant General’s branch clearly indicated his date of birth as 25 November 1945. The officer communicated this anomaly to the MS Branch. In the absence of reply, on the last day of his retirement, i.e. 30 September 1996, the officer had no option but to send a signal directly to the army chief. Promptly, on the same day, the officer received a message “This HQ letter No 30004/Sep/96/Tech/MS Retirement of 13 Sep 1996 regarding retirement of IC 16142 Col Ramesh Chander Joshi Engrs of E-in-c’s Branch Army Hq w.e.f. from 30 Sep 96 is hereby cancelled. The claimed date of birth as 25 Nov 45 has been accepted by ministry of defence (MoD). Officer will continue in service till further orders.” As in the case of Gen Singh, the date of birth column in the UPSC form in respect of Col Joshi had been incorrectly filled and was corrected by the UPSC first and subsequently by the National Defence Academy (NDA) once his Senior Cambridge certificate arrived. Col Joshi wonders: “If it has happened in my case why not in the case of Gen VK Singh?” Most army officers are bewildered and question: where is the scope for controversy? Various military secretaries who had dealt with the case, in keeping with their moral imperative, could have ‘corrected’ their records within a matter of hours.

http://canarytrap.in/2012/01/27/why-gen-vk-singhs-d-o-b-is-not-just-a-personal-matter/

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Why Gen VK Singh’s D.O.B is not just a ‘personal’ matter

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A simple acknowledgement of the mistake could have done much to establish fairplay, judgment and credibility on the part of the Military Secretary Branch. This acknowledgement would otherwise have made no difference to the date of birth of Gen Singh, as the Army List has no legal sanctity. An acknowledgement or acceptance of mistake was desired because it was repeated over more than 36 years. Every year, at the time of the general’s Annual Confidential Records, his date of birth was mentioned as 10 May 1951. There are scores of such cases in the Army List, wherein the date of birth, or IC number or name is wrongly entered. People have retired as lieutenant generals with wrong IC numbers in the Army List. If these military secretaries were ‘men of honour’ they should have accepted their ‘omissions’ and tried to clean up the functioning of the MS Branch. The buzz among army insiders is that these gentlemen entered into a conspiracy with at least two army chiefs and subsequent powers that be in inflicting their mistake or omission (of not correcting the army chief’s d.o.b.) and blackmailing Gen Singh by using the inaccurate and inconsequential document called the ‘Army List’ as tool. Some 90 percent officers in the army retire without seeing the Army List. There is a popular saying in the army that only crooks and careerists see the Army List. But what does one make of Gen Singh’s alleged acceptance of his date of birth – an acceptance demanded by the MS Branch before he was made a corps commander? Gen Singh’s detractors are clutching the straw of ‘acceptance’ in their defence. An ‘acceptance’ of a date of birth cannot get one a driving licence or passport, let alone make an ‘army chief’. An ‘acceptance’ cannot be construed as ‘self-declaration’. Any ‘acceptance’ cannot be in the absence of a ‘demand’ and, in Gen Singh’s case, it was looked like intimidation or blackmail, which clearly indicates that the higher echelons are bereft of common decencies. No civilised officer will use the kind of language that the concerned military secretaries used with an officer who was to be appointed the next army chief. Imagine the agony of the lower rung! Sample the non-civilised import of language used by the MS in respect of Gen Singh. In a letter dated 21 June 2008, the military secretary wrote to Gen Singh, “we are conhttp://canarytrap.in/2012/01/27/why-gen-vk-singhs-d-o-b-is-not-just-a-personal-matter/

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Why Gen VK Singh’s D.O.B is not just a ‘personal’ matter

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strained to maintain your official date of birth as 10 May 1950, and same may kindly be reflected in all your records and documents. The AG’s branch is accordingly intimated to amend the records being maintained by them.” (Note: this is nothing but megalomania, as the MS Branch has no authority over the AG’s Branch in matters of personal particulars of an officer; in fact it is otherwise). In another letter dated 21 January 2008, the MS said: “… we are constrained to maintain your official date of birth as 10 May 1950, and the same may kindly be reflected in all your records… Please acknowledge and confirm acceptance.” Then comes the threat. “Request fwd (forward) ack (acknowledgement) and confirm acceptance of date of birth as given in para 5 (five) of letter dated 21 January 2008… (.) If reply not received by 1000 hrs on 25 Jan 08 action deemed appropriate will be taken (.) (from MS to Gen Singh dated 24 Jan 2008). No man of honour will digest such intimidation and blackmail. It is very much honourable to deal with dishonourable men and their vicious agendas from a position of relative advantage. This is exactly what the general has done. He has moved incrementally by first appealing to the good and moral sense of the powers that be. It is in this spirit that the legal opinion of four former and honourable Chief Justices of India was solicited. A guilty man will not do that. A man with a chink in his armour will not go to the Supreme Court of India. Only an honourable man at the end of his career will put everything on the line. Those who, therefore, are insinuating that the general has taken this drastic step for an additional 10 months in office have simply lost their moral bearings. It took almost four months (more than the mandatory period) for the defence minister to give his verdict on the statutory complaint filed by his army chief. And within these days, there were statements from the MoD that the defence minister was not bound by any time stipulation. From the manner of treatment of the statutory complaint, it is evident that the whole idea was to buy a few months so that the announcement of the new chief could be made as per a designed ‘succession plan’. If the defence minister takes four months to adjudicate on a statutory complaint of his army chief, one can imagine the plight of a jawan of the Indian army. Then there was planted propaganda that the general may tender his resignation, thus upsetting the ‘succession plan’. Some bureaucrats this author interacted with pompously boasted http://canarytrap.in/2012/01/27/why-gen-vk-singhs-d-o-b-is-not-just-a-personal-matter/

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Why Gen VK Singh’s D.O.B is not just a ‘personal’ matter

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that the general would not even be allowed to resign, as he serves at the pleasure of the President. Meanwhile, owing to the role played by certain responsible and patriotic segments of the media, the truth gained currency and the government realised that it was morally and legally very vulnerable. One of the senior ministers admitted in private that the issue was botched up and could have serious political repercussions. Some ministers expressed their helplessness in deference to the fiat of a caucus of extra-constitutional authorities. It is the same story: all conspiracies and scams in recent times smack of a major influence of this extra-constitutional caucus. The government initially resorted to threats. When that did not work, it sent various emissaries with allurements of post-retirement sinecures. When that was not bought, it sent mediators for a compromise. The moot question is compromise on what? Concomitantly, there was an orchestrated media campaign to dissuade Gen Singh from going to court and make him resign. Now, a scare is being raised that the honourable Supreme Court will question the maintainability of his petition and ask Gen Singh to go to the Armed Forces Tribunal. In fact, for some reason, there is a feverish attempt to create an atmosphere in favour of the Armed Forces Tribunal route. It is obvious that the issue about the date of birth of Gen Singh is not personal, but has reached this point by systemic influences. These internal and external influences need to be investigated. A conspiracy that seems designed to subvert the Indian army needs to be unravelled. There are insinuations that politics, political funding, the arms lobby, business mafia and international players are impinging on the course of the crisis. It is quite evident from the bizarre, unprecedented term called ‘succession plan’ that has been given currency by the current dispensation. Will someone please stand up to sort out this mess so that our army can serve our polity better? (RSN Singh is a former military intelligence officer who later served in the Research & Analysis Wing. The author of two books: Asian Strategic and Military Perspective and Military Factor in Pakistan, he is also a columnist for Canary Trap. This post was first published on Firstpost on January 27, 2012) Also Read: http://canarytrap.in/2012/01/27/why-gen-vk-singhs-d-o-b-is-not-just-a-personal-matter/

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Why Gen VK Singh’s D.O.B is not just a ‘personal’ matter

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Why is Antony playing ducks and drakes with the Army? Who’s trying to fix the Army Chief by raking up his age?

http://canarytrap.in/2012/01/27/why-gen-vk-singhs-d-o-b-is-not-just-a-personal-matter/

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Why is Antony playing ducks and drakes with the Army?

09/03/12 10:13 AM

Why is Antony playing ducks and drakes with the Army?

BY RSN SINGH In reply to a question in parliament, Defence Minister AK Antony stated that the present Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), Gen VK Singh, got his last three promotions officially predicated on 10 May 1950 as his date of birth. This statement is not in consonance with the records held in Army Headquarters (AHQ), which clearly indicate otherwise – 10 May 1951. The defence minister’s statement may be construed as breach of parliamentary privilege . It is sad commentary on the health and vulnerability of our institutions that a simple issue pertaining to the date of birth of the chief of the apolitical Indian Army is being politicised not only by the government but by certain segments of the media as well. An article in the 19 September issue of India Today is titled “Lies of the General”. It is the most obnoxious attack on Gen VK Singh, rather the office of the Chief of Army Staff of India. The article claims to be based on documents obtained through RTI. If the article, and http://canarytrap.in/2011/09/20/why-is-antony-playing-ducks-and-drakes-with-the-army/

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more so its title, has any credibility then the government should remove Gen VK Singh immediately, as no army can afford to have a ‘liar’ as its chief. And in case, at some stage, the article and its title are found to be motivated, then India Today must come clean for the sake of its credibility and prestige failing which the army must initiate legal action against the weekly for targeting the office of the COAS. If, Gen VK Singh did not have incontrovertible and clinching material and evidence, and if there were no ugly dimensions being inflicted on a simple issue of date of birth (DOB), which does not involve ‘change’ but ‘correction’ in the legally insignificant Army List, four former and very honourable chief justices of India and a former solicitor general, all with unimpeachable records of personal and judicial probity, would not have given their opinion in favour of Gen VK Singh. The case is extremely simple and does not require a fantastic judicial mind to unravel the truth, based both on ‘proof’ and ‘motive’. Unfortunately, various military secretaries since 2006, goaded by their bosses to adhere to a particular succession plan, first raked up the issue after Gen VK Singh had put in 35 years of service and then gave convoluted and specious arguments to disfavour Gen Singh’s correct date of birth: 10 May 1951. In hindsight, the intention of the concerned authorities in the Army HQs seems to be suspect as they never wanted to accept their mistake and reconcile the DOB in respect of General VK Singh. On 25 January, a Joint Secretary in the MoD, Bimal Julka wrote to the military secretary: “…. a detailed inquiry may be conducted in to the matter to find out the correct date of birth of the officer immediately in consultation with the AG branch”. But no inquiry was conducted. Subsequently, in response to an RTI, the AG branch sought the opinion of the legal advisor to the ministry of defence, who in turn solicited the advice of the law ministry. Both confirmed that Gen Singh’s date of birth was 10 May 1951. Curiously, the matter was referred again to the law ministry on the plea that the opinion given was by a junior officer. If a joint secretary to the government of India is junior, then one wonders who are ranked senior officers. Matriculation certificate Vs UPSC form On 23 May 1965, Gen Singh, who was a minor and had still not appeared for his mahttp://canarytrap.in/2011/09/20/why-is-antony-playing-ducks-and-drakes-with-the-army/

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triculation exam, applied for the NDA. The UPSC form, as in the case of other students, was filled with the assistance of school staff. They erroneously had the DOB of Gen Singh filled as 10 May 1950 instead of 1951. In the absence of a matriculation certificate, a school leaving certificate from the school (Birla Public School, Pilani) and a certificate from the unit (14 Rajput) of the father of Gen Singh, i.e. Major Jagat Singh duly signed by the commanding officer, was forwarded to the UPSC, which clearly indicated the DOB of Gen Singh as 10 May 1951. It was a clear case of erroneous entry and oversight as no sane individual will declare himself older contradicting what is contained in the documents supporting it. It may be emphasised that Gen Singh was eligible for NDA with both DOBs – 10 May 1950 and 10 May 1951. According to the India Today article, the Attorney General stresses that the UPSC form is “to be filled in the candidate’s own handwriting, he has to declare …the statements are true”. The missing link between the words ‘declare’ and ‘the statements’ is mischievous. The correct sentence is “I hereby declare that the statements made in the application are true to the best of my knowledge and belief”. The words ‘knowledge and belief’ do cater to inadvertent human errors. The UPSC form is only an ‘application form’. An application form can only be initially scrutinised. The details filled therein have to be verified by other documentary records, which in case of DOB is the matriculation certificate and is considered unimpeachable and of greatest evidentiary value in the eyes of law. As per UPSC rules, primacy has to be given to the matriculation certificate for verifying the DOB. Had it not been for this the UPSC would not have raised a query to clarify the DOB in respect of Gen Singh. An Under Secretary of the UPSC, Sri Krishan, wrote to Gen Singh on 18 June 1966: “With reference to your application for the above examination, I am directed to say that you have claimed 10.05.1950 as date of birth in Col. 5 of the application, whereas in the certificate submitted by you the date of birth is shown as 10.05.1951. You are required to clarify the discrepancy and intimate the correct date of birth”. Subsequently, the matriculation results were out in June and Gen Singh’s father sent the ‘Provisional Certificate’ (DOB 10 May 1951) on 24 June 1966 through a special courier, which was acknowledged in writing by the UPSC. A copy of the acknowledgehttp://canarytrap.in/2011/09/20/why-is-antony-playing-ducks-and-drakes-with-the-army/

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Why is Antony playing ducks and drakes with the Army?

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ment letter is available with this author. The matter was thereafter never raised by the UPSC. Such cases are not rare and the UPSC on receiving provisional certificate allows a candidate to continue on a provisional basis till receipt of the original certificate. Therefore anyone, who, based on the UPSC form, contends that Gen Singh was born on 10 May 1950 and not 10 May 1951 is implying that Gen Singh is a liar, his father Major (later Lt Col) Jagat Singh was a liar, and the authorities at the Birla Public School, Pilani, were in connivance with the father and son, because ‘they could then foresee that a 14-year-old lad would be the COAS not for two years but three years! ‘This is legally and morally preposterous and reprehensible. Not ‘change’ but ‘rectification’ On commissioning in 1970, Gen Singh was issued the Indian Army Identity Card by the Indian Military Academy, which endorses his DOB as 10 May 1951. It is obvious that consequent to the submission of his provisional certificate his DOB in the main record was corrected. In 1971, when Gen Singh (then second lieutenant) visited his ancestral village after many years, as he normally spent his vacations at the place of posting of his father, he found his original matriculation certificate. The certificate had taken a tortuous journey – i.e. Rajasthan Secondary Board of Education – Birla Public School, Pilani – his father’s original unit (14 Rajput) – Rewa Recruiting Office and NCC, Narnaul (the two places his father subsequently served) – and finally to his ancestral village. The certificate had remained unattended, as his father had moved out to Bhiwani where he expired. Gen Singh instantly submitted the original certificate to Army HQs AG Branch through his unit 2 Rajput. If the DOB in the original certificate was at variance with other records, the AG’s Branch would certainly have raised query. The AG’s Branch has consistently and categorically maintained that all records available with it testify Gen Singh’s DOB at 10 May 1951. The AG’s Branch is the legitimate and official record holder of all documents. When a RTI query was raised in February 2011 on Gen Singh’s age record, it was directed to the AG’s Branch and not the MS Branch. While Gen Singh was commissioned in 1970, he submitted his original certificate in http://canarytrap.in/2011/09/20/why-is-antony-playing-ducks-and-drakes-with-the-army/

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1971, and the Army List was published in the year 1974-75. Therefore, the consistent stand by concerned Military Secretaries (MS) that as per rules, “no request for change/correction of date of birth will be entertained after a lapse of two years from date of commission” is motivated and mischievous. Motivated, as there was a gap of four years between the commissioning of Gen Singh and publication of the Army List. Mischievous, because the word ‘correction’ was ‘inserted’ as Gen Singh had consistently maintained that he has not been asking for ‘change’, but ‘correction’ in one particular place, i.e. Army List. Army List has no legal sanctity Intoxicated by their bureaucratic power, they disdainfully dismissed the fact that they had no authority with respect to the DOB of an officer, the real custodian and authority being the Adjutant General Branch. In a letter dated 21 June 2008, the military secretary wrote to Gen Singh, “we are constrained to maintain your official date of birth as 10 May 1950, and same may kindly be reflected in all your records and documents. The AG’s branch is accordingly intimated to amend the records being maintained by them.” The above direction is ridiculous. Firstly, the MS branch has no authority to ask the AG’s Branch to change its records, in fact it is otherwise. Secondly, DOB cannot be changed on a mere direction of a branch of Army HQs. In directing the AG’s Branch, the MS branch, in its ignorant megalomania, did not consider what would happen to Gen Singh’s passport, driving licence, insurance, pensions, retirement benefits, etc. In any case, available information suggests that the MS never asked the AG to do so. The Army List on which various military secretaries premised their case should find its place in the wastepaper basket as far as DOB and its verification is concerned. It appears that these officers were acutely aware of the omissions and failings of the MS branch that they headed and their legal limitations on the issue and therefore resorted to intimidation, the implied threat being sabotage of the promotion in case Gen Singh did not obey their diktat of accepting the incorrect date of birth that the MS branch had recorded. Sample these: “… we are constrained to maintain your official date of birth as 10 May 1950, and the same may kindly be reflected in all your records… Please acknowledge and confirm acceptance” (letter from MS to Gen VK Singh dated 21 January 2008).

http://canarytrap.in/2011/09/20/why-is-antony-playing-ducks-and-drakes-with-the-army/

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Why is Antony playing ducks and drakes with the Army?

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“Request fwd (forward) ack (acknowledgement) and confirm acceptance of date of birth as given in para 5 (five) of letter dated 21 January 2008… (.) If reply not received by 1000 hrs on 25 Jan 08 action deemed appropriate will be taken (.) (from MS to Gen Singh dated 24 Jan 2008). Once it felt that it had succeeded in its coercion bid, the MS branch, in a rare moment of magnanimity, conceded in January 2008 in a letter dated 25 January 2008 to the ministry of defence: “Based on UPSC commissioning documents and MS branch records, Army List indicated the date of birth of IC-24173 Lt Gen VK Singh, AVSM, YSM as 10 May 1950. The Officer had indicated his date of birth as 10 May 1951 to AG’s branch based on SSC certificate issued to him in 1971 by Rajasthan Secondary Education Board. The dichotomy of records between AG’s records and MS records was not reconciled because of lack of coordination between the two branches at that point of time. The officer had also been mentioning 10 May 1951 in all his ACR’s but the MS branch did not seek clarification/reconcile his date of birth.” The bogey of ‘acceptance’ In the present context in the army, wherein the journey from Major General to General takes only four to five years, any minor impediment, that too motivated, can override the entire life’s toil and derail the future of even the most upright and conscientious officer. The stakes are, therefore, very high, which the respective military secretaries, and their benefactors exploited to the hilt. Given the vitiated circumstances it is therefore perfectly legitimate for any man of character to buy conditional reprieve when enjoined upon by his superiors that he take a temporary undertaking due to inexplicable organisational constraints with a promise of ultimate justice and redemption of honour. That is exactly what Gen Singh did. Sample these: “Whatever decision taken in organizational interest is acceptable to me” (from Gen Singh on 24 Jan 2008). Note: This did not satisfy the MS and was followed by a threatening signal.* “In view of the above constraint and in discussion of date, I will mention the date of birth as directed”. ( Letter from Gen Singh, dated 13 Jan 2008). Finally, Gen Singh, then Army Commander, wrote to COAS General Deepak Kapoor, on 01 July 2008: “I had no qualms in giving in writing whatever I was asked for despite my reservahttp://canarytrap.in/2011/09/20/why-is-antony-playing-ducks-and-drakes-with-the-army/

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tion… I have deliberated and thought over all aspects of the issue and feel compelled to bring it to an ethical and logical conclusion. At the outset, I would like to know the ‘constraint’ mentioned by the MS Branch”. Any ‘acceptance,’ that too under coercion, does not change the moral and legal parameters. Self-declaration or ‘acceptance’ of DOB cannot even get you a driving licence or passport, let alone make one a COAS. Moreover, the general did repeatedly appeal to the residual moral sense of the concerned powers in the Army HQs, but was stonewalled by the predetermined and ‘inviolate” succession scheme scripted by the same people who are in the docks today for various moral violations, including abuse of their high offices. India Today is, therefore, spot-on to say; ‘’On May 7, then Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar noted that the amendment of the army chief’s date of birth would impact the succession plan.’’ What alternatives does an army officer have under the circumstances? Further, the India Today article, right at the outset, says: “Army Chief General VK Singh said he was born in 1950…” Further the India Today article says, “…it got him three promotions…”. This is complete misrepresentation of facts and truth. A document dated 01 July 2011 signed by the present Military Secretary Lt Gen GM Nair categorically states: “On scrutiny of past records pertaining to selection boards, it has been observed that the MDSs pertaining to IC-24173 Gen VK Singh, PVSM, AVSM, YSM, ADC, which were drawn up at the time of his consideration by various selection boards for promotion to select ranks, reflect the date of birth of general officer as 10 May 1951.

Gen Singh never ‘said’ or ‘admitted’ but was ‘alternatively coerced and made to feel obligated to accept the directions of his seniors in the plea of organisational interests’, and was placated by assurances of redeeming his position.Gen Singh should have rehttp://canarytrap.in/2011/09/20/why-is-antony-playing-ducks-and-drakes-with-the-army/

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alised that these same forces could have settled the matter in a few days if, on the direction of MOD, they had conducted an inquiry and reconciled the DOB based on the evidentiary and supporting documents held with the AG’S Branch, the legitimate custodian. But that was never the intention!

Notes to Table 2:* The India Todayarticle has quoted the Attorney General: “police verification in 1966 also shows date of birth as 1950”. The documents available with this author speak otherwise. These documents are: verification done by DIG CID IB Rajasthan vide his letter No. CIL/SB/VR-G/ (V-8) 64/66/4465 Jaipur dated 22/06/1966, Serial 6 of IAFF(P)-14, and verification by SHO Bhiwani, SP Hissar, District Magistrate, Hissar, and authenticated by DIG CID Punjab signed by DIG(CID) Punjab Sarwant Singh letter No. 1295/MA/ date 22 July 66. It may be noted that Haryana had not separated from Punjab then. These letters categorically give General VK Singh’s DOB as 10 May 1951.** On 30 March 2011, MD Paliath, IDAS, Principal Controller, wrote to Lt Gen VK Chaturvedi, Director General of Manpower Planning, AG’s Branch : “I find from records maintained here (copy of Form-A at the time of commission enclosed) that the date of birth of the COAS Gen VK Singh is already shown as 10 May 1951”.*** The date of birth (10 May 1950) entered in the UPSC form was not backed by any documentary proof. It was questioned and a clarification was sought by UPSC itself. Gen VK Singh promptly had submitted documents, which supported his conhttp://canarytrap.in/2011/09/20/why-is-antony-playing-ducks-and-drakes-with-the-army/

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tention that the entry in the application form was erroneous and his date of birth was 10 May 1951. **** The DOB in the Army List was mere perpetuation by the concerned branch of the erroneous entry filled in the UPSC form, which UPSC had rectified long ago. Conclusion

http://canarytrap.in/2011/09/20/why-is-antony-playing-ducks-and-drakes-with-the-army/

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Who’s trying to fix the Army Chief by raking up his age?

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Who’s trying to fix the Army Chief by raking up his age? BY RSN SINGH The SSC, Higher Secondary or 12th Standard board certificates usually serve as unimpeachable records confirming one’s date of birth (DOB). The Supreme Court, too, has ruled so in unambiguous terms. But some vested interests inside and outside the country are desperately trying to turn this simple reality upside down in the case of the present Army Chief, Gen VK Singh. They have, for very long, been engaged in subverting the very institution of the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) by engineering a controversy about the age of the present incumbent, possibly with the idea of supplanting him with a convenient and pliable officer. All through his career, till he became Lt Gen, VK Singh’s DOB (10 May 1951), as reflected in his matriculation certificate, was taken as true and valid. However, very late in his career, when he appeared on the scene as the strongest contender for the post of army chief, someone fabricated a controversy by claiming he was a year older, and that his date of birth was 10 May 1950, based on legally untenable arguments. It is common knowledge in army circles that but for a specific succession plan initiated some years ago by a previous incumbent, the ‘age’ controversy in respect of Gen Singh would never have surfaced. Why did these vested interests place such a premium on their succession plan? Why did they try to prevent Gen Singh from becoming COAS? The age controversy poses some very serious questions. Why is the discomfort level with Gen Singh so high in certain quarters? Is he being targeted for being non-pliable, upright and intolerant of corruption? Is there a design to weaken the professional moorings of the Indian army by manipulating and attacking its moral and social fabric? Here is the inside dope.

http://canarytrap.in/2011/07/15/who’s-trying-to-fix-the-army-chief-by-raking-up-his-age/

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It is about succession: The controversy is not merely about the age and tenure of the present chief. More importantly, it is about a succession plan scripted a few years back (in 2006) by none other than the then army chief. The succession script naturally attracted vested interests in the form of politicians, arms merchants, businessmen and other ambitious army officers. The controversy needs to be, therefore, understood in its entirety. It is a moral issue: The controversy raises questions about the state of health of the Indian Army, denting its very edifice. Senior officers, depending on their career calculations, are divided over the issue. The lower rank-and-file members of the army perceive the controversy in the manner they are fed by the rival camps. The overall consequence is that the image of the army and the honour and moral authority of its chief has never been attacked so viciously by insiders and vested interests for nonoperational reasons. The Pakistani press is speculating about the issue, and has been raising doubts about the health of the Indian Army and its unity. When an army chief vouches for a simple detail like his date of birth, it should be accepted as such, unless there are huge reasons to doubt that person’s truthfulness. The point is, the psychological integrity of the army has been fraying over the years. Gen Singh’s ‘age’ controversy should thus not be viewed in isolation. It is actually a manifestation of the deterioration, misuse and subversion of the office of the COAS for nearly a decade. Who created the controversy? An impression is being sought to be conveyed by Gen Singh’s detractors that he fudged his age just to ‘enjoy’ the office of COAS for an additional year. This is a travesty of truth. The fact is his age was never an issue throughout his career. Nor was the issue ever raked up by Army HQ or even the defence ministry as he rose to the rank of Lt Gen with his date of birth showing 10 May 1951. The issue was first raised in 2006, when the army chief prepared a succession plan going downwards several levels. It is well-known that he raked up the issue to ensure the passage of one of his favourites, apparently on sectarian considerations, to the office of COAS. In this case, he had planned for succession three interventions below. The legal and financial implications: When preparing this particular succession plan, the said army chief went by the Army List, which gives Gen Singh’s date of birth as 10 May 1950. The Army List is prepared by the military secretary (MS) http://canarytrap.in/2011/07/15/who’s-trying-to-fix-the-army-chief-by-raking-up-his-age/

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branch and contains minimal details. The branch otherwise deals with postings, promotions, deputations, and retirement, and is not the legal repository or otherwise of personal and family details of an officer. Right from the time an officer enters the training academy till he retires and even after, all records are maintained by the adjutant general (AG) branch. The AG branch clearly puts Gen Singh’s age as 10 May 1951. It may also be pointed out that Gen Singh rose to the rank of Lt Gen after appearing before several promotion boards – all of which accepted his May 1951 date of birth. The boards which cleared his promotion from brigadier to major-general to lieutenant general were endorsed by the prime minister himself. If the contention of the military secretary branch is that Gen Singh was born in 1950, then all his promotions were illegal and have huge financial implications. In fact, the legality of his entire career comes under question. On 14 December 2007, the defence ministry had queried the MS branch for recording Gen Singh’s date of birth as 10 May 1950, and asked for reconciliation with the previously accepted date of birth. The noting on the file was, however, found to have said: “Enquiry not to be conducted.” This indicates that vested interests were trying to settle the age issue without an enquiry. Building up the controversy: The said army chief, in order to effect his own succession plan, activated his military secretary to handicap Gen Singh’s chances by generating the age controversy. With the same dubious intention, an explanation was sought. It is worth pointing out that even without the age controversy, Gen Singh’s claims to the post of COAS were not affected. It was the fate of Gen Singh’s successor which depended on these dates. The said army chief’s protégé would have made it to COAS only if Gen Singh’s age was pushed back by a year. Matters got murkier when it was found that the army had given a no-objection certificate in the Sukna land scam, whereby a private party was given the right to set up an educational institution on government land. Since the army had a key corps stationed near Sukna, its NOC was vital to this project. The person who allegedly played a key role in the scam was the military secretary himself. He, along with many others, is facing trial by the judiciary. Reportedly, the same lobby has been joined by the Adarsh Society scam lobby to dislodge Gen Singh. The arms lobby may also be at work. There are insinuations that one retired Lt Gen, http://canarytrap.in/2011/07/15/who’s-trying-to-fix-the-army-chief-by-raking-up-his-age/

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who is dabbling in the arms business, has been active in the bid to supply Tatra vehicles, manufactured abroad, through an Indian public sector company, Bharat Earth Movers Ltd, at nearly double the cost of what is available off the shelf. Reportedly, the army chief has turned it down, inviting the wrath of this supplier and many others of his ilk. Gen Singh took over as COAS when the army was bedevilled by scams, and he took it upon himself to arrest this decline in its image. This is one reason why opposition to him may be building. One senior officer, who stands to benefit the most if Singh is made to retire a year earlier, is said to be blatantly playing the sectarian card and was said to be lobbying indirectly with the law ministry. The ministry made a sudden volte face and threw its weight behind the 1950 birth date. Not to be left behind, one TV channel even claimed Gen Singh’s real birth date was in 1949 – but faced with libel action, the channel hastily backtracked. How the birthdate confusion arose: Here’s how the date differences arose. Gen Singh entered Birla Public School with his date of birth (DOB) showing as 10 May 1951. His provisional matriculation certificate also carries the same date. The date change controversy originated with one of his teachers, BS Bhatnagar, who was keen on sending the maximum number of students to the National Defence Academy (NDA). The forms with the wrong birth date were filled by him. Bhatnagar went on to become principal of Lawrence School, Lovedale, and has since admitted that the error was his. Gen Singh’s DOB in his medical examination form as an air force candidate before joining the NDA also reflects the correct date in 1951. When he passed the NDA exam, the anomaly between the forms filled by Bhatnagar and his provisional matriculation certificate was noticed at the Union Public Services Commission (UPSC), but this anomaly was rectified and the right DOB shows up in his NDA graduation and Indian Military Academy entry records. But clerical oversight ensured that even after he entered the IMA, the covering envelope (from the NDA) mentioned 1950 as his DOB. It is this covering envelope, which has no legal sanctity, that Gen Singh’s detractors are using to put his DOB into question. In every subsequent document, barring the Army List dished out by the military secretary branch, the right DOB appears. Singh’s options: Under the circumstances, what can a chief do? The option of resignhttp://canarytrap.in/2011/07/15/who’s-trying-to-fix-the-army-chief-by-raking-up-his-age/

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Who’s trying to fix the Army Chief by raking up his age?

09/03/12 10:13 AM

ing in disgust was ruled out as it would sound like an admission of defeat or even guilt. Going to court would also have set a bad precedent. Instead, the AG branch sent the papers to four retired chief justices of India for their opinion. All of them unanimously agreed that the 1951 date was the correct one. The question is this: who benefits from this controversy? Apart from the officers who may expect to step into his shoes, it is only the country’s enemies, since a controversy at the top can only demoralise the armed forces. Moreover, even assuming Gen Singh was a year older, what should a government do? Get rid of him, or take up the matter after he retires in a quiet and unobtrusive way? (RSN Singh is a former military intelligence officer who later served in the Research & Analysis Wing. The author of two books: Asian Strategic and Military Perspective and Military Factor in Pakistan, he is also a columnist for Canary Trap. This post was first published on Firstpost on July 13, 2011)

http://canarytrap.in/2011/07/15/who’s-trying-to-fix-the-army-chief-by-raking-up-his-age/

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Real story behind Army Chief Gen VK Singh's age row