Change, to paraphrase, a hymn from the Gita, is a rule of nature. In that it is ordained, there will be change, constantly and without fail, come what may. In a number of instances change is to be welcomed since it brings in another dimension to life, and the order of things. Change induces newer methods of conducting business, altering work culture and all else that goes with it. It is unavoidable, and the challenges imposed must be accepted. But when change is sought to be introduced, seemingly unilaterally, then the welcome or acceptance is not always pleasant, as consequences remain uncertain.
This is the current state of things in the army, as certain changes proposed in pecuniary benefits have caught the mood of the vast majority of the junior leadership. There is an undercurrent of deep resentment at the proposed changes and opposition is intense. So, the purpose of bringing in the changes is lost in the tumult of anger. Creating turmoil in the minds of the army leadership must be avoided at all costs; more so when it seems to be coming from within the fraternity and unilateral at that. When it hasn’t been asked for, why ruffle the community.
This is even more so when the army has enough of a challenge on its hands in the long face-off with China over its incursions along the Ladakh border. The largest army mobilisation in almost two decades has lasted far longer than it was anticipated, and, is a physical and logistical nightmare. Unlike Operation Parakram against Pakistan following the December 2001 attack on the Parliament; Operation Snow Leopard in 2020 is all high altitude and is going to be snow bound for at least another five months. This imposes challenges on Army HQs in managing equipment and supplies.
Op Parakram was a wake-up call in terms of inadequacies in logistics. Lessons were supposed to have been learned and implemented so as to avoid more such embarrassing episodes. Op Snow Leopard hasn’t shown any such shortcomings simply because the transparency hasn’t been on par with that earlier period. A short notice purchase of extreme snow clothing has been the only reported acquirement in the recent period. Anything that helps the most vulnerable soldier is always welcome, first and foremost. There can never be any compromise on that score, just as there cannot be when it comes to Indian Territory.
It is to the credit of the army that it has not waded into the seriously avoidable controversy over just how much Indian Territory has been occupied by China in Ladakh. The reality is known, especially to those affected immediately, the locals, and especially the animal grazers who have lost parts of their pasture lands. It is a challenge that the country faces and its army confronts the aggressor eyeball to eyeball. There is faith in the army, an institution that still inspired confidence in a country that doesn’t have many of them to look up to. That faith must not be undermined, in any form.