Date: 15 Feb 2009


Friday, February 13, 2009 11:45 AM

Subject: Restore Military Honour - Karan Kharb's letter to PM

Dr.  Manmohan Singh

Honourable Prime Minister of India,

Prime Minister’s Office

South Block, Raisina Hill, 
New Delhi -110 011. 
Telephone: 91-11-23012312 .
Fax: 91-11-23019545 / 91-11-23016857. 

Honourable Prime Minister,

I wish you fast recovery from your recent surgery and many years and decades of great health to lead India through peace and prosperity.  We adore you as the most highly qualified and competent Prime Minister we have ever had. Nevertheless, there are significant issues that deserve your serious attention.

1.         It is no secret that there has been a steady degeneration in the quality of our politicians.  What a dichotomy that if India has the world’s most qualified man as its Prime Minister, it also has the most maligned politicians. Who would know it better than you about the disturbingly large number of Lok Sabha MPs with criminal background? As per media reports there are 133 in the current Lok Sabha.

2.         Here terrorists can sneak in, hit Parliament House, 5 Star hotels, installations and yet not be punished despite Supreme Court’s repeated judgements. To contrast this there has not been a single repeat of a terror attack in the US after 2001 WTC attack.  Thankfully, life in today’s India is a shade better than living in Somalia, Iraq or Afghanistan.  

3.         Advantages that could have been ours in view of our highly skilled manpower, high-tech brains and daring entrepreneurs are nullified partly by the global economic meltdown but mostly by the self serving class of politicians who remain preoccupied with their ‘divide and rule’ game by fueling caste, communal and regional hatred.

4.         Our Police – throughout the country – have lost trust and confidence of the people who consider policemen no different from street goons and extortionists. Frustrated by police apathy, people are taking law in their own hands and crudely dispensing their own justice by summarily lynching petty criminals on the street. ‘Senas’ are mushrooming and usurping local administration in a free-for-all. 

5.         Our bureaucrats, especially at public contact level, seem to have abdicated and gone.  How else do we explain gangs of hundreds of armed Naxalites/Maoists organising, camping, training and launching raids on police stations in Bihar, Orissa, and Chhattisgarh without getting noticed by the local administration?  The Red Corridor from Pashupati Nath to Tirupathi with ‘liberated territories’ is already a reality. No wonder, Indian Bureaucracy has earned the dubious distinction of being the one of the most inefficient and corrupt outfits in the world. 

6.         Basic amenities like health care are in no less pitiable state. While patients are left to languish and die in pathetically unhygienic conditions in government hospitals, there are doctors who are butchering people to sell kidneys, eyes and other human organs. 

7.         The option of judicial remedies is riddled with murkier complexities. We have it here straight from the horse’s mouth. Recording their own helplessness at the ‘collapse of criminal justice in the country’ during hearing of a high profile hit-and-run case of Delhi on 5th February 2009, the honourable Supreme Court went on to say, “What happened in the current case is the tip of the iceberg.  This is a case of accident. We have seen cases involving smuggling of arms, RDX, narcotics where the accused get away. But we are helpless.” (TOI, 06 Feb 09).    

A Prime Minister of your calibre and character surely did not dream of an India in such a mess despite its high potential and opportunities to emerge as a world leader.  It can still be rescued and put on your promised highway.  While political malady will take time to be rinsed clean, two speed corrections can be put in action immediately and results will be instant and astounding:-

(a)        Redeem Bureaucracy from Corruption and Unaccountability: Even during British Raj, local administration was accessible to common man.  Today, this access is at a price and that too through ‘contacts’.  A huge number of IAS officers are blamed and indicted; action – if ever taken – ends at suspension or transfer which also is reversed in due course. Sadly, bureaucratic delinquency and inefficiency go on proliferating unchecked because exemplary punishments are unheard of. The tendency among bureaucrats to create unnecessary departments and posts for themselves and usurp domains of experts promotes inefficiency and subdues professional excellence. It is learnt that Administrative Reforms Commission under the chairmanship of Mr Veerapa Moily has recommended a number of changes.  Let us hope the Indian Administration will be cured of the terminal disease. Of course, there are bureaucrats who deserve to be rewarded and honoured too – but sadly, this breed is diminishing fast because of the virus within.

(b)        Build up Military Might, foster Soldiers’ Self-Esteem and Harness their Potential in Nation Building: The internal Security Scenario as well as geo-political situation in the sub-continent makes it incumbent upon us to build up our Military Might to such a level that it will effectively deter and destroy any threat to our national security. However, no weapon systems, equipment or technology, howsoever advanced, can be a substitute to a motivated soldier imbued with high self esteem ready to die for his country. Unique conditions of service are such that those who have not been soldiers cannot fully understand the complexities of their work culture. It is sad that lately ex-soldiers have had to come to the streets demanding justice. Even serving soldiers are feeling short-changed and humiliated by gradual lowering of their extant equivalence and status vis-à-vis other Services. When civil administration fails, we turn to military. Yet no Indian General has ever nurtured political ambitions. In fact, trying to preserve their ‘apolitical’ credentials, they find themselves so excluded from the affairs of the State that their opinion is hardly sought despite the Civil Administration’s dependence on them to retrieve all things gone wrong. Military men dare and face exceptional dangers and difficulties routinely and have much more at stake than any other Service in the country. They deserve to be looked upon as nation’s pride. They are nation’s last resort and their failure – God forbid, if ever – will be a national disaster. 

Sir, kindly allow me to share with you how it recently happened in a country that wields maximum influence on the Indian psyche. At a time when state of the US economy is far more serious a problem than terrorism, President Barack Obama did not miss out eulogising the role of the US Military in his inaugural speech.  In fact, soon after his inauguration, he made it a point to personally speak with the US troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. A meeting with military top brass at Pentagon was one of his first day’s appointments. And here’s an excerpt from an article by Michelle Obama, the US First Lady (USA Week End):- 

“………My husband and I are deeply grateful for the sacrifices that these (military) families make to protect all American families. …… They don't ask a lot in return, just a Washington that understands the challenges they face as part of their extraordinary commitment to our country. ………. As military families join us on Tuesday, in person and in spirit, I want each and every one of them to know that for as long as I have the tremendous honor of being your First Lady, your voices will be heard, you will have an advocate in the White House, and the American promise you preserve always will extend to you, too……..”

The Indian Armed Forces have always risen and will rise in future too to nation’s expectations.  Will the nation too rise to their expectations?   

I and my tiny national spirit within pin our hopes on you.

                                                            With great hopes and regards,

                                                                                                Yours Sincerely,

                                                                                                            (Karan Kharb)