No? Then, lets look into the other facets of the case. I am not taking sides or commenting on the merits of the case. All I am saying is that we haven’t exactly covered ourselves in glory that we, in India, have such poor record keeping that an Army officer rises to the level of the Chief and just before his retirement he wants to sort out whether he is one year younger or older; an issue that he has not been able to sort out for four decades but kept on becoming more and more senior “under coercion“. The only parallel I can draw is this curious case in Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh, a few years back (the case was reported in Time magazine). In this district, in order to grab the property of their older relations, the unscrupulous elements would show the older relations dead, get a death-certificate made and then usurp the property. The old men, still alive, would go from one government office to another showing the proof of their being alive, that is, they, themselves in flesh and blood. However, the offices would reject their demands on the ground that without a birth-certificate, they had only the death-certificate to rely on. These unfortunate oldies then formed a ‘Society of the Living Dead’ to fight for their cause.Shocking? Well the reverse is equally true. There are any number of dead in India who are still receiving pension and hence each one of the pensioners is required to render a Life Certificate every year. A person was found in a jail for nearly thirty years since the records regarding his being jailed went missing.
Is this what life in India means: a life from one certificate to the other? The media – in the name of transparency everywhere including in defence matters – loves to unearth such details as would scandalise the maximum people so that its TRPs would keep on the upward path. It has, therefore, taken upon itself to ‘not to consider Defence Forces as holy cows‘. As a result, the more demeaning facts about this erstwhile holy cow it can bring out, the more it feels it has done its whistle-blower job. Hence, for example, without even understanding the nature of maritme domain awareness, it labels the Indian Navy as inefficient when a derelict ship like MV Pavit gets grounded on the Juhu beach. It is only when someone professional explains them the facts that the media understands the poverty of its own thoughts. However, like we saw in the case of Radiia Tapes, the media is unlikely to admit that it has elements within its bastion that are as corrupt – if not more – than the corruption that they take pains to expose. The media, thererfore, is playing to the gallery bringing out facts, unearhted on a daily basis, on the age of the Army Chief.
Hence, we don’t expect or hear it from the media that, in India, it is not just Birth and Death certificates that are suspect (General VK Singh’s birth as well matriculation certificates are not products of defence record keeping; but, of bureaucratic record keeping of the country). In this bureaucratic record-keeping, perpetually, at the villages and cities level, we have never-ending court-cases arising out of land ownership. We haven’t been able to sort out the land revenue records. Our data of SC/ST/OBC etc, at best, is suspect. The planning commission data on poverty, electricity distribution, deaths in disasters, famine-hit areas; in short, you name it, everything is suspect. The other day, we read it in the papers that even the data about our industrial growth and eventually GDP is suspect.
Who gains by such suspect certification and data? Any guesses? The General, by his one act of commission or omission may just be interfering with the carefully laid-out succession plan of the Indian Army; but, it is mind boggling how such certification and data is used in India to siphon off funds, to derive power and influence, and to manipulate the stock-exchanges and economy.
We recently have UIDAI (Unique Identification Authority of India) battling with reams of data but with hardly any means available to check the veracity of such personal data. It is only computerising the entire process, but, one’s Unique ID and data associated with it, are still based on suspect certification and data at village and city levels; and is as suspect as any other data produced by our bureaucratic structures.
As far as the General age is concerned, in my characteristic impudence, I am reminded of my school-days joke about this young boy being asked by the bus conductor to tell his age (children between 5 to 9 years were permitted to travel on half-ticket). He, quite truthfully, replied, “I am eight now and ten when I get off the bus”. Regrettably, the players involved do not have the school-boy’s truthfulness: the General, the armed forces’ community, the bureaucracy, and the media.
© 2012 – 2016, Sunbyanyname. All rights reserved.