Almost a year has passed after India’s first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat died in a helicopter crash. The military circles are certain on the point that the government will not nominate a new successor considering the level of power the appointee will have. Modi led BJP is reluctant to share the strong hold they have over the military as well as political decision making mainly to give them the leverage for their cut in annual defense spending and new procurements just as they did in the Rafale deal.
According to the senior military officers and analysts the CDS has not been appointed till now after General Rawat because the government has decided to play monopoly and quietly try to do away with the top military post to meddle in the country’s higher defense management. A two-star Indian Army officer said, “It’s quite apparent from its apathy that the government simply does not want a CDS.” Declining to be named he further said, “Having created the appointment after decades of deliberation, its reluctance to name a CDS candidate indicates that it finds the post entirely expendable.”
The level of power associated with the post of CDS has already taken the life of the senior most military officer and the first CDS of India and the gamble continues with the political leadership dominating it. The former played very well by using the power they have on the issue. Having failed to select the right candidate from either of the three services chiefs for the post of CDS after General Rawat the government broadened its selection pool that rendered all serving and retired three-star officers aged 62 or below eligible to become CDS so as to construct an unending confusion that eventually leads to the dissolution of the post.
A three-star Indian Air Force officer commenting on the issue exposed the malicious intentions of the Modi government and ill-competence of the military officers by saying, “Such an evident shortcoming in selecting a CDS reveals either flawed promotion procedures in the respective services or even worse, a distressing lack of confidence by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP-led government in the upper echelons of the armed forces.” He further added that, “It’s a major morale dampener for the forces that no one was found suitable to be the country’s top soldier.”
According to some analysts, the bluntness and power of General Bipin Rawat on several sensitive diplomatic, military, and political issues may have spooked the government into an unwillingness to nominate another CDS. The current government is delaying the process so that later they could dissolve the appointment as it was a hurdle for them to enjoy monopoly in military affairs. They need a person who can work under their supervision and let them make money in new defense deals. Secondly, they also need the same anti-minorities and anti-Pakistan sentiments to craft the belligerent doctrines for them and support them in following the dream of Hindu supremacy.
About Author: Humais Sheikh is an independent Defence Analyst based in Islamabad. He has completed his Masters in Defence and Strategic Studies from Quaid-I-Azam University, Islamabad.