If any one person could embody the phrase one-man train wreck, the distinction would belong to none other than India’s top General V. K. Singh. The egress of grace from persona of persons in public sphere has long been accepted as fait accompli. But, it is the antics of the General that even surpass those who habitually inhabit nadir. General as per his own admission accepted a date birth to get appointed to the top job only to renege disgracefully and put both army and government in an unparalleled embarrassment and drag those institutions through Supreme Court. Even though the court advised him to accept decision and retire gracefully, he chose to interpret that as not a final closure. One had hoped, now it would seem in vain, nothing happened till his date of retirement. It would seem, in a latest bizarre saga, that the General was offered bribe, he chose to stay at first quiet and blurt out now and throw everybody off the balance. The only caveat is that the General has hardly any credibility left and it would be just waste of time to ask ‘why now’.
If it were a matter of a single General gone berserk the entire thing could be shrugged off. The truth is that it represents a much deeper malaise that can only be gauged by the fact that the past appointees to top posts in army would be decorated individuals in contrast to future appointees who are either tainted with fake encounters or embroiled in scandals. It is not a hypothetical nightmare scenario but rather an undeniable reality with designate army chief as a poignant illustration. And when army officers in contravention to the accepted norms of a democratic set-up are allowed to over ride civilian authority in the matter of policy, the day of ruing cannot be far behind. At any moment when civilian political authorities would even pretend to be looking at the draconian acts that provide blanket impunity to the doings of armed forced, the generals would let out a loud howl in unison against any dilution to their power to kill and terrorize civilian population.
The precedence of civilian authority over armed forces should have been long made clear and General V. K. Singh dismissed at the very first instance of dissension. But then that requires high moral authority. President Harry Truman didn’t have any compunction in dismissing Douglas MacArthur, one of the most decorated Generals in American history and getting in the process pilloried by Republicans. Historically, Truman is placed highly for that momentous and courageous judgment.