He was my Chief. As his अंतिम संस्कार (last rites) happened, I would like to set the record straight on a few things:
1. Scrutiny – No Army Chief was scrutinised and criticised as much as he was. Day in and out, by media and veterans, and some serving. Not PN Thapar, JN Chaudhri or Deepak Kapoor, but it was Bipin Rawat who was scrutinised and criticised. Why?
Partly because its the SM (social media) age and criticism is easy and, in fact, expected. Partly because he was a Bharatiya like VK Singh. Lets face it, we are a mentally colonised people. If someone speaks in Hindi we look down upon them. Only servants speak Hindi, you see.
Partly because woke-ism is growing dangerously in our society and its cool to criticise anyone who stands up for soldiers. Some veterans criticised him also because of decisions like Cantt roads and CSD (Canteen Stores Department). Me too but let’s face it, hardly any chief since BC Joshi has stood up to MOD (Ministry of Defence).
I genuinely feel that Gen. Rawat took these decisions because he believed in them. I didn’t agree but I am not required to and his successor could have reversed them. He didn’t and is not criticised.
Egos also come into play. He did hurt egos with his straight talk and maybe in this day and age we don’t like straight-talking people
2. Politicisation – He was criticised for being political. His elevation to COAS (Chief of Army Staff) by superseding brought on this criticism. But we forget that Gen. Bewoor superseded an absolute great Gen. Bhagat and Vaidya superseded another legend Gen. Sinha.
Have never seen any criticism of them. Then many noses were put out of joint when he became CDS (Chief of Defence Staff). All kinds of allegations of “selling out army for CDS post” were thrown around These were not correct. A senior bureaucrat in the ministry himself told me this was not correct.
3. Offensive minded – He was also criticised for supporting Maj Gogoi and Op All Out. I strongly believe that was his finest hour. Much of my respect for him comes from his steadfast support of our officers and men in ops. That’s what we want our chief to do.
We want our chief to be offensive minded and take fight to the enemy. We want him to speak harsh truths to media. He did that. During China stand off, his was one of the few offensive voices at the highest councils of war. Many around him were risk averse.
4. Theatrisation – I passionately disagreed with him here. But I may be wrong (or right.) There are no absolute and right answers here. Time will tell. He was given a task by government and a clear deadline – 3 years. And he put his entire energy to it.
Like a soldier, I have not listed his many accomplishments because others will. I wanted to address the difficult questions that few will raise. Gen. Rawat in my view was a fine Chief who was unfairly criticised like no other. He was my chief.
(This article has been compiled from the tweet thread of a military veteran @Ak5985965 with minor edits to improve readability)