The Services Deserve Better ––

War Room Leak Case Should Be On Fast Track

An IDC Analysis


New Delhi, 14 November 2006  


Although one is proud to be an Indian, there are several ills plaguing our country –– caste system, corruption, poor leadership, lack of primary education and dishonest politicians. Even today there is no compulsory and free education for those below 14 who are barred from working, despite this clause being included in the Constitution, though not in the Directive Principles. In fact one wonders why the PM has not addressed this as PMs Mahathir or Lee Kuan Yew did in Malaysia and Singapore and both countries now have high rates of literacy. Their example of making sure that every child goes to school needs to be studied and emulated. The plea that Education is a State subject is a lame excuse.

If the Government wants to do something it is capable and Harvard's Murlidharan and others from World Bank have offered a scheme to the PMO –– to give poor parents Coupons for school education and let them choose to enroll their children in Government or Private schools, which will flourish even in villages. The Private schools can cash these Coupons and this may revolutionise primary education in India. Many Government schools which run only for awarding teacher’s a large pay packet will be forced to close. Gurcharan Das referred to this in his column in Times of India.

Another example is the sealing of shops and commercial establishments in residential areas. The guilty gave affidavits to the Supreme Court that they would shift out of their establishments but never complied and so the Court resolutely ordered sealing. The Government and Delhi politicians pleaded non compliance and gave an excuse it would cause a law and order problem in Delhi if it was implemented, as the big fish corrupt the politicians and provide money to them. We praise the non political Chief Justice in this case who stood firm and hinted to the PM and Minister’s that if in this country the Supreme Court's writ is flouted in this manner by the high and mighty in New Delhi, then how will lower courts function in States.

In the states the politicians are a power unto themselves and function by openly flouting law. Nobody especially politicians would ever obey the law. The message went home. This logical statement made the Government implement sealing and the Urban Development Minister said over TV in public the Supreme Court's order will be obeyed and there is no law and order problem. The Indian administration can do wonders if it is ordered or if it wants to and even in Engineering Mr Sreedharan, an erudite Railway engineer, has shown how a world class Metro can be built ahead of schedule for Delhi.

But one thing we say with conviction is that every Indian can be very proud of the mid level officers and men of the Armed Forces. They are loyal, professional and brave as we saw in Kargil and full of sacrifice, possibly the best in their class in the World. Our website is concerned with India having a robust defence and as India rises in its economic quest its military power, maritime ambitions and maritime power will be key ingredients in India's climb up the ladder, to support its economic rise.

The Shakti nuclear blasts of in 1999 may have been a bit immoral as we claimed we had no nuclear ambitions but it was a powerful message to he world, of India’s arrival in Real Politik. PM Narasimha Rao kept USA engaged with Jaswant Singh meeting Strobe Talbott every so often, all over the world, and then when our scientists were ready and CTBT looked imminent PM Vajpayee decidedly ordered the tests. India’s morale rose and we are now accepted as a nuclear power.

But we must be careful never to lower the morale of the Armed Forces. A case in point is the War Room Leak fiasco, which has cast shadows over the fine Indian Navy. A few rotten eggs ( possibly 6 or 7) passed out some information and probably for pecuniary and fleshy benefits and they need to be punished quickly. A Chief of Naval Staff has had an FIR filed against him because he recommended a few Barak systems during Op Parakaram. This is what we know, but it is causing confusion and waves in the ranks of sailors, who know nothing of how Delhi works and low morale is setting in, in the finest Navy in the world.

It is the Government's duty to put the CBI firmly on track. It has never been able to convict any big name in India despite known cases of wrong doing in HDW, Bofors, Jain Vanaspati and Oil deals to name a few, but far more has been spent in travel and investigations than the amounts involed, and at least 10 to 15 years per case wasted. This is a criminal waste of public money uselessly spent and we say with great emphasis for the sake of the wellbeing of every Indian, a fast track investigation and trial of the War Room leak needs to be gone through even if it is not totally thorough.

If heads need to roll or CBI is found wanting in gathering evidence, the matter must not drag on endlessly. If matters drag the other 58,000 honest officers and men in the Navy will suffer the tension and the Navy's excellent growth plan will see side effects.

The nation cannot play with India's defence forces in this manner. A Fast Track Investigation with full transparency in the War Room Leak case and its closure in the coming months is the call of the day. All efforts to find Lt Cdr Sankaran must be made and it can be done if Government is serious and the Arms dealers in the case identified and the findings must be progressed swiftly or even the evidence which we call ‘ Napkins and Lipstick’ in the Navy, will slowly disappear through the power of money.

As an example a problem like this occurred in Australia and a Royal Commission was swiftly appointed and some officers punished. It is still being debated whether the punishment was severe enough but every one said the manner in which the guilty were brought to book swiftly was exemplary.

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