Saturday, July 9, 2011

Save the Army from Civilians

A few years ago a boy was killed for trespassing into a Defense Compound in Bangalore (see here). In a recent incident, another boy has been killed in Chennai (see here).

There was a lot of hue and cry over the incident in Bangalore, and now there is a similar lot in Chennai. All and sundry are crying foul while asserting that the boys were innocent. Jayalalitha has gone onto accuse the army for the killing. Similar emotional accusations were made even after the Bangalore incident.

There are many points in these stories and we must avoid conflating issues. First let us merely observe the facts. Two boys (on separate occasions) sneaked into defense areas, and were killed. Let us also grant that untimely deaths have been tragic. But then who is to be blamed?

It has been well known that defense establishments work with their own rules and frameworks. These rules and frameworks may seem unsavory, but they are the result of wisdom coming from long experience, in many cases, of centuries. After all, armies have existed for much much longer than civilian governments have existed.

It is also true and understandable that civilians live by civilian rules and they might be at variance, especially in terms of strictness, with those of the army. By and large, defense establishments work under the management code 'You can't ask the question why. It is for you to do or die'. A high premium on discipline and obedience. This seemingly brutal rule is necessary since often at critical situations time is very short and a lightening response is needed. Not merely the army, but even the police and the fire-fighters operate on similar principles. As can easily be understood, the need for quick reaction is paramount in these institutions.

On the other hand, civilians may want the culture of debate or negotiation rather than obedience. Often times the paucity of time, excepting in emergency situations, is never an issue. And a comprehensive and careful analysis including multiple re-examinations, cross-examinations, debates even across the hierarchy are not merely acceptable, they are even encouraged, as they must be.

Neither is wrong, both are right, then where is the mistake? The error lies in mixing of these two. And why do we mix the two? Because we are dumb-fucks. Since ages ago, serious and sincere administrators have known that it is unwise to keep defense and civilian populations in overlapping or close locations. The demarcation between the city and the cantonment has been understood for ages and ages. Often they were even separated by large gaps acting as buffer zones.

However, India's urban planners and politicians have allowed the civilian settlements to mushroom almost as an undergrowth of defense colonies. When two completely different systems live close by, such accidents are the obvious outcomes.

However, in our urgency to gain popular civilian support, we must not blame the army or the defense establishment, nor should we demand any change in the behavior from the defense personnel. India's defense establishment has already been badly abused, and if we do not want them to degenerate into what our police has become, we would rather avoid meddling in their affairs.

Nor need we demand any change in civilian life-styles. What we must demand is that these entities must be sufficiently isolated from each other. The present hue and cry over army firing seems to focus on the emotional issues. The death of young boys is tragic, but it is not the army jawan who is responsible for such deaths. It is the politicians like Jayalalita and our dumb-fuck town planners who fail to implement an adequate and effective isolation between the two, for they are usually in collusion with the real-estate mafia.

This is not to state that army must be free to do to civilians what they like. Once a proper isolation is effected, neither party can coerce its mode on the other. But more importantly, these chest thumping fools who want to save the civilians from the army are morons. In India, it is the army which needs to be saved from civilians! And remember, we need to save the army so that the army can save us.

An Update:

An ex-army officer has allegedly confessed to shooting the boy. According to the report the officer ... told police that he shot at Dilshan after getting annoyed over the boys from a nearby locality frequenting the campus to pluck almond.

There will always be a debate whether such an explanation by the officer is acceptable or not. However this update surely reemphasizes what we said in the above post, and that is, we need to isolate cantonments from civil settlements. We need to save our army so that the army can save us.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are not moderated. Please read the About Us page. If you have outright disagreement, then you may not have much use commenting. You are free to record your disagreements in a civil manner. Repeated abuse, and irrelevant postings will be removed. Please avoid advertisements.

This blog does not honor political correctness. If your comment is posted, this does not mean that this blog endorses your views.

While I allow anonymous comments, please quote your twitter account if you want to have a referenced discussion.

There is a Suggestions Page, please post your suggestions regarding this blog as comments on that page.