Bharat Karnad

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A sting in the general’s tale

It is hard to say when it is that the military stopped being the paragon of propriety in a social milieu increasingly bereft of basic values that people once saw reflected in the men in olive green (or in Air Force blue and Navy white), such as honour and honesty. There are still many officers of the old school for whom military is a career, yes, but also an orderly world of do’s and don’ts and simple pleasures and simpler certainties. There have been service chiefs who after demitting office rode bicycles because that’s all they could afford (Adm. R.L. Periera), or repaired without fuss to living in small, cramped apartments because anything grander their pensions wouldn’t allow (Adm. Vishnu Bhagwat). But the officer cohorts that produced a Periera or a Bhagwat also threw up service chiefs — no names, please, they have law on their side! — verily Kubla Khans who have built pleasure domes, allegedly on a service chief’s salary and pension.

A general mess

While the colonial-era tradition of Indian Army officers not discussing women or politics — issues with supposedly disruptive potential — in the officers’ mess may be intact, Army politics has always drawn conversation but rarely prompted bad feelings in the way it is doing now. The officer corps — disinterested members aside — is split between those partial to the izzat (honour) argument pushed by the current Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Gen. V.K. Singh, and others, not all necessarily backing Lt. Gen. Bikram Singh, GoC-in-C, Eastern Command, who worry that, whatever the merits of Gen. Singh’s case, the Army’s image has taken a hit.

Cut terror’s Saudi pocket money

Another terrorist incident, this time at Delhi high court, and the same old response — a lot of helter-skelter activity amounting to little. A week after the blast, not a substantive clue has been unearthed by the National Intelligence Agency and Delhi Police whose men in khaki more and more resemble a bunch of bumbling buffoons, who seem to do a better job of extorting money from canoodling couples in parks than protecting the city from terrorists, criminals and assorted bad guys. But the Government of India does not seem overly concerned.

Gandhian guerrilla

’Twas in truth an hour
Of universal ferment; mildest men
Were agitated, and commotions, strife
Of passion and opinion, filled the walls
Of peaceful houses with unquiet sounds.
The soil of common life was, at that time,
Too hot to tread upon.
— William Wordsworth on the French Revolution

Last week, the common man in India experienced, perhaps, a bit of the excitement that must have gripped Parisians and provincials alike in revolutionary France as Anna Hazare

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