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Interview/General V K Singh

Last updated on: May 23, 2012 11:08 IST

'We keep reviewing threats from time to time'

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Kalyani Shankar

General V K Singh, the Chief of the Army Staff, discusses the Adarsh land scam, AFSPA, China, Pakistan and more... in this exclusive interview with Kalyani Shankar.

  • Part I of the interview with the General: 'There was a coterie at work against me'

    How serious are the threat perceptions from Pakistan and China?

    How often do you review this? Do you see any threat from either or both in the next five years?

    We keep reviewing the threats from time to time. There is no fixed periodicity. It happens almost every fortnight. We see how things are moving. Then we come to certain conclusions.

    When we look at our western neighbour, there is a lot of internal strife taking place. They are supporting terrorists who come into our country. We cannot judge or gauge their intentions, but we have to be prepared.

    On the other hand, China is modernisng its military. And it is right in doing so. A great amount of infrastructure is being created on the other side. So it forms part of the overall threat assessment. When that materialises is anybody's guess.

    So far as we are concerned, we build capabilities to meet these threats.

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  • Image: Chinese troops at a military base in Jinan
    Photographs: Reuters

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    'Adarsh should be demolished. It must become a symbol of what happens when corrupt people interfere'

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    Despite a judicial commission's finding that the Adarsh building is not defence land, do you still hold that it is?

    It is definitely defence land. We have provided enough proof to the judicial commission.

    Solicitor General Darius Khambatta, who argued on our behalf, was right in bringing out the fact that it is defence land. We have been able to get maps out of the archives from the United Kingdom.

    What the judicial commission says beats any logic. Colaba was a military island initially.

    The construction took quite a while. It should have been stopped a while ago...

    I wish the clock could be turned back. Some people in our organisation manipulated it.

    Do you want this to be demolished or can it be made into a hostel or hospital?

    Ideally, I think it should be demolished. It should become a symbol of what happens when corrupt people interfere.

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    Image: The Adarsh construction site at Colaba, Mumbai


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    'The army is doing a great job in the valley'

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    The army is not willing to repeal the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act.

    The political parties in the state want it gone. The army is hated in the valley. What could be done to deal with the situation?

    Let me cover this in two parts. AFSPA is an enabling provision. The National Conference has it in its manifesto. A similar act is in place in the northeast.

    They (the northeast) also demand a repeal of (AFSPA)?

    Not in all places. Let us take a big state such as Assam, where we don't operate in a lot of places.

    AFSPA is in effect because if something goes wrong in the future, we can go and sort it out.

    There will be no false cases filed against our troops. In any case we have laid down many restrictions. But if you repeal AFSPA, it will be very difficult for the armed forces to act.

    So we are not talking of the army's interest now. It is in the national interest. And that is how it should be.

    The army is not hated in the valley. It is a misperception. If I can give you an example, at the height of protests, in 2010 on August 15, when we organised functions in our army school in the valley, the attendance was 98 per cent (the parents and the children).

    The army is not hated. It is doing a great job out there.

    Do you think that the proxy war has dwindled?

    The proxy war is not something which can be judged by figures. We have had a good year last year. If you talk statistically, a good year is followed by a bad year and a somewhat okay year.

    We have to watch how this year goes by. The infrastructure of the terrorists is intact on the other side. The ideology that has been preached has not been nullified. So it is very difficult to say that the proxy war has come down.

    It can only come down when the perpetrators are defeated.

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    Image: 'AFSPA is merely an enabling provision and the forces act at the behest of the government and not on their own'


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    'No army in the world has women in the combat arms'

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    Is there any forward movement in the one-rank-one-pension concept?

    I will put it differently. There were 46 anomalies after the Sixth Pay Commission and glaring ones. This one-rank-one-pension is also part of these anomalies.

    Again, I must compliment our defence minister that he has accepted that there are glaring anomalies, which need to be sorted out.

    I am quite sure that with his support, a lot of these anomalies will be removed. All parties across the spectrum support this concept.

    Around Rs 1,300 crore (Rs 13 billion) is needed for this project.

    Our nation can gift this to those who have shed their blood for the country.

    Is it accepted in principle?

    I think all political parties have already accepted it. So where is the principle involved? It just needs a little will to push it.

    Women are competing in all fields. Are you in favour of inducting women in combat jobs?

    Secondly, are more women coming forward to join the armed forces army apart from doctors and nurses?

    We started the women commission in the army in the short-service stream. You have got to have a permanent cadre and a support cadre.

    At the moment, the ratio of our permanent cadre is much larger than the support cadre.

    That is what generates lack of promotions, slow promotions and higher age profile etc.

    The Ajay Vikram Singh committee has recommended that the ratio should be 1:1.1. Our effort is that there should be more in the short service cadre.

    For some reason there is a demand that women should be also in the permanent cadre. We have no problems with this. We have opened two streams.

    But our society is different.That can only happen when they accept women in command. It has got to be very gradual the way we deal with this.

    No army in the world has women in the combat arms. People see women carrying rifles in Israel, but they are not in the combat arms.

    The army would certainly like to ensure that when women join the army, they are effective.

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    Image: It will be a while before people accept women in command, feels General V K Singh
    Photographs: Rediff.com

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    'If only I could stretch 24 hours into 48 hours...'

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    Is the army being used to tackle the Maoist menace?

    The central paramilitary forces are dealing with the issue, and we are providing them with logistics. But it is a movement which has to be dealt at a socio-economic level.

    I am quite sure they (the Maoists) will be dealt with effectively.

    What are you going to do after retirement? Are you going to complete your PhD?

    I am already working on my PhD. If I could stretch 24 hours into 48 hours I can do many more things.

    So General Singh will become Dr Singh very soon?

    That is only part of it; it is a quest for academic qualification. I am working on it.

    I actually have not given any serious thought about what I want to do.


    Image: A paramilitary trooper trains at the Jungle Warfare School in Kanker village, Chhattisgarh
    Photographs: Reuters
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    TOP photo features of the week

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    Photographs: Reuters
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