IRRELEVANCE OF CHETWODISM
By Lt Col CR Sundar, psc, MSc (Defence Studies)
Many Indian Army officers and a few Naval and Air Force officers with Army background believe in the Chetwodian piffle which goes something like this….. ‘the safety honour and welfare of your country comes first always and every time. The honour, welfare and comfort of the men you command comes next. Your own ease, comfort and safety comes last always and every time.’
The above quotation is part of the address of Field Marshal Philip Chetwode who in 1932 as Commander-in-Chief of India inaugurated the Indian Military Academy, Dehra Dun. Seen superficially the brief quote seems OK, nothing wrong with it. But it is only when we take a deeper look that we can discern the evil that it implants in the minds of the officer cadre which today is at the root of all that is amiss with the serving fraternity and the veterans of the armed forces of India.
The moot question is which country was Chetwode talking about. He certainly could not have been talking about India because India as an independent country was not even dreamt of at that time. Again India as a country today is in the hands of a handful of families who are looting its resources and carrying them abroad. In the bargain they are pushing the country to poverty, cowardice and ignorance. There is nothing that the army can do about it.
So obviously Chetwode who was an Englishman meant England when he said country. Sure enough the British Indian Army did a lot for the safety and honour of England.
Yet and all since independence the Indian armed forces did a lot to secure the boundaries of our country. In the bargain we made great sacrifices. But our retired military men decided to remain a-political. They tried to find contentment within their pensions and did not sally forth in support of the public on issues that grieved them. Therefore we contributed nothing to our country’s welfare and honour.
And so when the political people treated us as mercenaries, and worse still, as hired assassins the nation has kept quiet.
Also the whole environment has had a smothering effect on our young officers which lead them to choose a path of benign placidity. Surely I am not belittling the sacrifices of their lives offered by our young officers to ‘jehadis’. But that is only a miniscule proportion caught in the vicious grip of terrorist violence due to choice or fate.
We are told that the middle level officers are competent and proficient. While this is welcome if true we are also told that they try to avoid peeping over the parapet leave alone sticking their neck out.
There is also the feeling that our senior military officers lack resourcefulness. Often when I take part in TV debates I am asked why the army cannot once and for all put an end to intrusion by Pakistani terrorists. When I tell them that it may lead to war and that the civil government has to permit it they ask which government’s permission did Musharraf take to send his army into Kargil. The insinuation is that our highest level commanders by their caginess have denied the nation the honours we deserve and in return the politicians and bureaucrats are justified when they look down upon the forces.
The worst of all is that no one in the country, not even our jawans realise that we hark back to an outmoded and detrimental dictum which has down the ages harmed not only the armed forces but the whole nation.
It is time to consign Chetwode and his pithy saying to the dustbin and move forward.
If the nations sees us as mercenaries and hired assassins so be it but let us be the best organized mercenaries and hired assassins the world has ever seen.
Source: WHN Media Network