L E T T E R S    T O    T H E    E D I T O R

Soldiers deserve diplomatic assignments too

The issue taken by Air Mashal R S Bedi (retd) in his article “‘The soldier as a diplomat”’ (May 14) is timely and sounds relevant in India’s context keeping in view that many of our neighbouring countries are ruled by their armies. The men in uniform, by their track record of discipline, training and performance, enjoy great respect in our society. But our politicians’ propensity towards the civil bureaucracy of the country is indeed a conspicuous bias which definitely is not merit-based.

When we talk of mature democracies of the world, the name of the US stands ahead of all. If a democracy like the US makes use of its defence officers, there seems to be no reason why India should not pick up its generals from the defence forces, the third largest in the world, for diplomatic assignments.

The writer is right when he comments that the gains of our victories in the three wars with Pakistan were frittered away by our political leadership during post-war dialogues. No compatible give and take could be managed by our political interlocutors. Obviously, these blunders occurred due to the exclusion of the military leadership from such talks.

And the repercussions are being faced by the nation till today. This lament lingers in the minds of the people who have witnessed these wars.

Surprisingly, even in the order of precedence, the chiefs of staff, holding the rank of full general, are placed at serial number 12, below the judges of the Supreme Court, deputy chief ministers of states, Attorney-General, etc. This needs an immediate review.

Democracy cannot be sustained by politicians and bureaucrats alone. Defence forces play an equally important role. Then why not acknowledge their role in the system?

L R SHARMA, Haripur, Sundernagar


The article was apt as far as the changing politico diplomatic environment the nation is passing through is considered. There is no denying the fact that a soldier by virtue of his nature of duty, experience and hard earned prudent learning can be a better diplomat in so far as generating fruitful strategic dialogue, track II diplomacy is concerned, particularly when we see that India is emerging as a strong nation in multi-polar world.

Gone are the Nehruvian days when apprehensions kept the military brass at a comfortable distance from mainstream of politico-military-bureaucratic diplomacy. Major organisational reform is the need of the hour in the context of maintaining a balanced military-civil relationship entrusted with trust bond.

International diplomacy has considered the power impact of military diplomacy particularly the US, in maintaining sphere of influence and in avoiding conflict situation in order to benefit the national objective, in which India cannot afford to lag behind.

Sergeant RAJEEV SINGH, Amritsar


The article is revealing and interesting. The writer’s thrust point that the reason for the military being kept out of the decision-making loop in India is rooted in the Nehruvian era, is correct. But the point that needs to be added is that the military must share the blame for this.

Maj-Gen D.K. Palit in his book “War in high Himalayas; The Indian Army in Crisis”, says: “Repeated coups in neighbouring Pakistan, spearheaded by the army, reinforced the deep-rooted paranoia, which plagued Indian politicians. One illogical consequence being that the Army is still kept at a distance from policy-making councils of the government.”

Stephen P. Cohen, a perceptive observer of the Indian and Pakistani armies, in his book,: “The Indian Army: It’s Contribution to the Development of a Nation” says: “The administrative and organisational changes introduced after Independence indicate a fairly effective alliance between the civil service and politicians, an alliance created for the purpose of reducing the role of the military in the decision-making process”. He further says, “The military was thoroughly indoctrinated with the principle of civilian control and it never protested against the reduction of its powers or at least never protested to the point of resignation.”

Col PRITAM BHULLAR (retd), Chandigarh

Petrol prices

The editorial Why petrol price hike: Need to understand oil politics (May 17) convincingly underlines the reasons of spiralling prices of petroleum products. We the people cannot be absolved of the responsibility for neglecting to do our bit in this regard. Instead of using fuel efficient vehicles, investments are made in fuel guzzling machines.

Even if there is no space to park the vehicles, many families own three to four vehicles while the actual requirement is of one. While driving, necessary care is not exercised to obtain economy in fuel consumption.

The oil suppliers have to meet our inflated demands and the prices tend to rise when the demand increases. It offers an opportunity to government to levy heavy taxes for creating more revenue balance in its treasury. The consumption of fuel should be optimum and commensurate with the application. A vehicle meant for cross country driving and deserts should not be brought to be used in cities and on highways.

Driving habits should be such that maximum mileage is extracted while using minimum fuel. The number of vehicles owned by a family must be in consonance with absolute utility. CNG driven vehicles may be preferred to cut oil usage and keep environment clean. The government should not burden the citizens with heavy taxes on oil and all political parties must cooperate to adopt measures to keep the LPG and oil prices within reasonable and affordable limits. Negative politics should find no place in strengthening the economy of the country.

S.C. VAID, Greater Noida


The editorial is most disappointing. It seems the Government of India has written the editorial and The Tribune has published it. Playing with the statistics by the governments to mislead the people is understandable but to play in the hands of government agencies by reputed media houses is deplorable.

It would have been better if the editorial would have presented the actual cost of petrol and the taxes and excise duties levied by the governments, the Centre as well as states, separately. Then people would have been in a better position to understand that who is the actual gainer or loser in the whole drama.

The editorial should have highlighted the example of the US where theretail price of gasoline (petrol) is $4 per gallon which works out to only Rs 40 per litre. Then how a price of Rs 70 per litre can be justified in India? The planted stories of losses and under-recoveries are just a gimmick.

Dr TIRATH GARG, Ferozepur City

Right crusade

I have been regularly following The Tribune’s crusade against honour killings and the extra-constitutional bodies like the khap panchayats which unfortunately rule the roost in rural Haryana. While the Punjab Government had constituted the Human Rights Commission more than a decade ago, Haryana has yet to constitute such a commission.

Haryana had given an undertaking to the National Human Rights Commission, New Delhi, that such a commission shall be constituted in 2010. But no step seems to have been taken in that direction so far.

Col UMED SINGH, Gurgaon



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