General V.K.Singh gives us an inside look at how the army functions

by Farrukh Kidwai on February 1, 2014

Courage and conviction
Author: V K Singh, Kunal Verma
Publisher: Aleph Book Company
Year: 2013
ISBN: 9789382277576
Rating: ★★★★☆
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Retired Chief of Army Staff General V.K.Singh gives an insider’s account of the Indian military

General V.K Singh has been one of the most controversial military leaders in the Indian History. He has unearthed the boogey man out of the corruption closet. He came up with a moral manifesto to nullify the array of scams and roadblocks which the country’s forces encounter. It did not take him long to conjecture in his book, ‘The constant erosion of the army’s status within country will sooner or later boomerang on us as nation’.

The author begins by avowedly sharing his profound military pedigree. His initial days were challenging losing his mother at infancy, studying at boarding school and expectation germinating from being a son of an army officer. Little did this man knew, that destiny and his assiduity of 46 years of relentless service will anoint him to lead the 4th largest army in the world. He explains the initial days in the prestigious institutions of NDA and IMA set in the idyllic landscape in his quest to be an officer.

Subsequently, he explains how he led a contingent in the Bangladesh War. He continues to delve into the chambers of his memory to showcase the military aspect of various operations including the Siachen issue, Operation Bluestar highlighting the infamous Punjab militancy and Operation Pawan leading the IPKF in neutralizing the LTTE in Sri Lanka and being posted in Ayodhya and Kashmir during times of turmoil. The book can be termed as blast from past. He is a maverick and a proponent of truth, and makes no fuss about the shortcoming of Indian army. One the sordid aspect of Indian history remains the failure of operation Parakram post the attack on Indian Parliament in 2001. This has come out as edifying revelation. He has also underscored that modernization of armed forces still remains an Achilles heel with little done to revamp the system.

He continues his voyage to denounce the bureaucratic, diplomatic, technocratic and procedural deadlocks which have fettered the relationship between army and Govt. However, he has also proposed solutions to lubricate this friction as well. The termite of corruption which has permeated in the deepest recesses of the military establishment such as the Sukna Land scam, Adarsh society scam and Tatra truck kickbacks has been meticulously revealed. The casuistry and evil machinations of people who orchestrated his ‘age row’ controversy in a bid to tarnish his image and considerable mudslinging which left the government abashed will leave you astonished. If you are an honest official, you will feel at home reading the excerpts of one man fighting against the system.

The book is written in a lucid language but this is not page turner. It is laden with too many names, acronyms and military jargon which at times makes it sleep inducing. Somewhere in the middle I did lose interest as an average reader it was arduous to relate to military strategy and operations. However, he has squirted pockets of humour and remains anecdotal. The book is replete with pictures to keep you engaged. I would strongly recommend this book for army aspirants and those who are interested in learning about history of wars.

Written by Farrukh Kidwai

Love to read Non-Fiction, Auto biographies, A software programmer but not a very good one, an adventurist

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