General Manoj Mukund Naravane took over the command of Indian Army on 31st December and the first message on media was about Pakistan and Occupied Kashmir. Is it obsession or guilt?

The skinny General Narvane is a Marathi hailing from Maharashtra and has a vast experience in operation, including the disastrous Operation Pawan in Sri Lanka, where the so called Indian Peace Keeping force was given a bloody nose by small groups of LTTE and routed at the very beginning of the operation. India used approximately 30000 troops from the three services and lost more than 1200 soldiers and officers in the operation, a shameful and disastrous performance by any standards.

The change of command comes at a time when the RSS led Modi government is deliberately targeting the Muslims from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and West Bengal to Delhi. With ailing economy and failing systems, India is in total chaos. General Naravane should better preserve his energies and stamina for the chaotic India, rather than following the dictates of fascist Modi and his head honchos ruling the Rajpath.

General Narvane has his hands full, a demoralized Indian Military after Balakot tree strike, almost one million troops and paramilitary force deployed to keep Occupied Kashmir in lock down, a simmering North East where states like Nagaland and Manipur are calling for independence from oppressive Brahmin rule, Sikhs trying to hold a global referendum for Khalistan 2020 and number of states like West Bengal, Kerala and Punjab rejecting the communal NRC. Suicide in rank and file of Indian Army is touching all times high, poor training, ration shortages, rape of women soldiers and officers and insubordination are plaguing the force.

The ill-disciplined and ruthless Indian army has resorted to oppress the Kashmiri population through rape as a policy. As reported by al Jazeera in an article titled, ‘Kashmir women are the biggest victims of this inhumane siege’ published in Aug 2019, it has psychological moorings engraved in the soldiers’ minds. It’s of course communal and hate-filled. But in the larger context, it plays with the ideas of taking vengeance of what happened 500 years ago under Muslim rule in India, irrespective of the fact that half of it is just lies.

In fact, Indian Army has become the White elephant that consumes 30 Billion dollars annually. A report in Economic Times of India talks of technical and financial mismanagement in Indian Army. One example is of the pride of Indian armored corps Arjun Tank which took 35 years to roll out and now has become a headache with Indian army. The Army is facing major technical issues with its ‘indigenous’ Arjun tanks, as a significant proportion of its fleet has become inoperable in recent months and are non-serviceable due to continued maintenance problems. The Army, which reluctantly inducted 124 tanks from 2009, after the UPA government insisted that a token number have to be ordered to keep the tank development programme viable, has of late been having quality problems with the fleet. The defence minister has been apprised of the issue. Sources said that the Army’s opinion is that while a large number of tanks are not operational due to technical defects, the fleet as such is not combat worthy due to reliability issues. “A number of tanks are not operational currently as transfer of technology (ToT) of several imported systems fitted onboard has not been done,” an Army official said.

Same story is for Artillery and Air Defence, including the ammunition; a report in Times of India published in May 2019 highlighted that accident rate due to poor quality of ammunition and poor maintenance of equipment is taking a heavy toll. The Army has sounded the alarm over the unacceptably high number of accidents taking place in the field due to the poor and defective quality of ammunition being supplied for tanks, artillery, air defence and other guns by the state-owned Ordnance Factory Board (OFB). The Army has told the defence ministry (MoD) that the spike in ammunition-related accidents is causing “fatalities, injuries and damage to equipment” at an alarming rate. This, in turn, is “leading to the Army’s loss of confidence in most types of ammunition” being manufactured by OFB.

MoD sources said the Army has raised with Secretary (Defence Production), Ajay Kumar, the “serious concerns” about the lack of requisite “quality control and quality assurance” by OFB, which with 41 factories and an annual turnover of about Rs 19,000 crore is the main source of supply of arms and ammunition to the over 12-lakh strong force. “Any drop in the quality of OFB products has major operational ramifications on the country’s war-waging potential”.

Our advice to General Manoj Mukund Naravane would be to look at these teething problems facing the White Elephant called Indian Army, hold an audit and enquiry of why General ‘Bipin the joker’ did not look into mismanagement, shortages and poor maintenance in Indian Army and passing political comments on NRC to get elevated to the coveted post of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), and, start a process of turning Indian Army into a professional force, rather than a bunch of thugs.

Final advice is related to General Narvane, ask the Quarter Master General to give you some tips on a good and healthy diet and look after your health. Pakistan Army is an army of lions and they would like to hunt some healthy stuff.

Adeela Naureen and Umar Waqar

The authors are freelance journalists.