Bhartesh Singh Thakur Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, December 20
Experts warned political leadership against communal or ethnic divisions while also cautioning senior officers in the military to be alive and sensitive towards such issues during a session on ‘Pluralism, the Armed Forces-and the Question of Who is an Indian’ at Military Literature Festival today.
General VP Malik (retd), who led India to the Kargil victory, said, “As an organisation, the armed forces are proud of achieving and maintaining unity in pluralism and diversity.” While commenting on vote bank politics, he said social engineering was being emphasised more than regional or national development and it should be corrected either through courts or election commission.
There should be a greater emphasis on celebrating national events than religious ones, he said. Citing an anecdote, Gen Malik said in 1996 when he was the Vice Chief of Army Staff, they were not getting permission to celebrate the silver jubilee of the 1971 Indo-Pak war till the last moment. “During a meeting in the cabinet secretary’s office, the first question I was asked was “why do you want to celebrate it? Where is the need? It will upset Pakistan”. Such was the thinking of the government of that time, he said, while mentioning it was the greatest military victories in centuries.
“There have been a number of attempts to bring reservation into the Army. Not just during my time but earlier too. All political leaders need to guard against it. When an organisation is working well, why should it be politicised?” he said.
Adding a word of caution for politicians promoting division, Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Badal said, “We have studied in principles of science that if you boil water at 100 degree Celsius, it will turn into steam. The statecraft is also like science. If you do A, B and C, the country will progress and if you do X, Y and Z, the country will go down. You need peace to progress.”
Col Shantanu Pande, who is serving in the Army, said, “When a soldier from the Jat Regiment stands at the Siachen Glacier, his community, village and the entire country is standing behind him. We (military) are not a melting pot. We don’t try to fuse. We retain flavour.”