Gen. Bipin Rawat has sent out a very serious warning about politicisation of the armed forces. He makes a significant point about the need to keep the fighting forces away from politics, which we know is getting more intense. The country has a proud history of the military being apolitical in a secular environment.
Maybe it was a talking point the general pursued during a speech at a military think tank that the norm in the “good old days” was never to discuss “women and politics”. The armed forces are nearer to providing equal opportunity across the gender divide today, with women likely to be considered for combat duties too, but the one thing that can secure all fighting forces from external influences is a strict “no” to politicisation.
The freedom with which senior retired military officers have been mouthing opinions on television, often airing propaganda on behalf of the ruling side, is dangerous as that is where the spark of politics may begin in the armed forces. Take, for instance, how token nationalism seemed to seek avenues with some government help in a desire to place battle tanks and flags on university campuses. While that may do little to raise the armed forces’ image, the promotion of narrow nationalism could stoke ambition in serving officers.
After all, we live in a region where the power of Army generals is evident in running countries to our west and east, but apparently not doing it too well. In a vibrant democracy like India, there is no place for the forces to meddle in the nation’s political affairs.