Is army being politicized?

Recently, the appointment of Lt. Gen Bipin Rawat has been apoointed as the new army chief. He will be succeeding the current chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag. However, this appointment has drew considerable flak from all sides. Why is it so, let us discover in this article.

Whats the issue?

The Indian government broke the convention regading the appointment of army chief by appointing the third most senior Lt. Gen Bipin Rawat superseding his two seniors, Lt. Gen. Praveen Bakshi and Lt. Gen. PM Hariz.

Image result for army appointment convention

What was the convention till now?

Till now, the seniormost army personnal has been elevated to the position of army chief.

Has this happened earlier as well?:

There are a few instances from the past as well, when the convention of seniority was broken:

  • 1972(Indira Gandhi regime): Lt. Gen. GS Bewoor given preference over his senior Lt. Gen. PS Bhagat.
  • 1988(Rajiv Gandhi regime): Lt. Gen SK Sinha superseded in favor of Gen AS Vaidya.
  • 2014(UPA-2): In the appointment of Navy Chief, Robin Dhawan was given preference over his senior Shekhar Sinha.

On what grounds is the government justifying its decision?

  • The government is justifying the decision on the basis of meritocracy.
  • The government says that the appointment of the current chief is apt according to the existing security circumstances.
  • Also, the operational experience and general  dynamism of  General Rawat are two of the grounds for his appointment.
  • Rawat also has led many counter-insurgency operations thus, leading to an inclination in his favor.

What is the concern surrounding such an appointment?

  • Such a move could politicize the army.
  • As, there is no framework being laid down for the “meritocratic” appointments, it can lead to nepotism and favoritism. If there would have been an objective code laying down a criterion for merit-based appointment, then nepotism could have been checked. Now, the appointment may be dictated by the whims and wishes of the government.
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