There is a lack of historical analysis of Kargil’s war, say veterans
Olive green was the color of the day at the Military Literature Festival on Friday. The Chief Minister of the Punjab, Captain Amarinder Singh, came dressed in a green jacket with his medals proudly pinned, prompting a moderator to note that he was here as a historian, even though he footed the bill in as long as CM.
The governor of Punjab, VP Singh Badnore, also looked quite martial in his black beret. Uniformed gallantry laureates, commandos involved in surgical strikes, and military perpetrators mingled freely with schoolchildren in what was clearly a celebration of bravery.
Normally reluctant and timid of the media, the commanders of the three forces spoke freely about hot spots as recent as Doklam and as far away as the First Kashmir War, providing new information and raising new questions.
Lt. Gen. Praveen Bakshi (retired), who headed the Eastern Army Command when India and China were locked in a three-month standoff in Doklam earlier this year, revealed that the Chinese frequently broke ranks. He said there was no clarity on why China was building a road in the Doklam region and whether the project was sanctioned by the country’s top leaders.
Captain Amarinder was clearly in good shape when he regaled the public on the operations of the 1st Sikh Regiment and the 1st Patiala Regiment during the First Kashmir War. Later, when Vir Sanghvi, who moderated a discussion on military historians, asked Amarinder how he found the time to write his books (he has seven books under his belt), he said he learned the art of time management at the National Defense Academy (NDA).
Amarinder said he wanted to write three more, one on the 1971 war, another on the Indian Peacekeeping Force (IPKF) and the last one on the situation in Punjab over the past 30 years. “The latter, I’ll do it after I quit,” he joked, adding that he was in no rush to do it.
During the Kargil War session in 1999, veterans asked if the operations had been botched by senior leadership. In the absence of any historical analysis of the war, let’s move on to another Kargil, asked Lt. Gen. SH Kulkarni (retd), while Brigadier Davinder Singh (retd) stressed the importance of intelligence exploitable well analyzed. “Intelligence is the key. Unfortunately, this is in the hands of RAW, not the military, ”he said.
Speaking at the panel discussion on “The Shape and Contours of the Indian Navy of the Future,” Vice Admiral Satish Soni said that the Indian Navy will be the new combat weapon to face China in the future. Discussing India’s maritime heritage dating back to the Chola Dynasty, Vice Admiral Satish Soni revealed that the badge of the Indonesian Naval Academy bore an image of Lord Ganesha.
The panel on “Indian Army and Society” had veterans who spoke about the dilution of their seniority compared to bureaucrats. As one panelist put it, “the military has a fixed hierarchical structure, but bureaucrats change it to their advantage by changing the balance of power.” Lt. Gen. KJ Singh, former commander of the Western Army, attributed the growing gap between the military and the bureaucracy to the latter’s short-lived engagement with the military.
The deliberations on “counterinsurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir” have led experts to warn experts even as some saw hope in the decline in the number of active militants compared to the 1990s. Lt. Gen. BS Jaswal, former commander of the Northern Army, said that at the time there were thousands of militants fighting a war against the Indian state, now there are only few hundreds. A military writer, Vikramjit Singh, however, warned of the growing discontent in Kashmiri society. “There is a big jump in the number of local activists. They are often relatives or friends of activists killed by the security forces, ”he said.
The event was attended by a large number of students, who had a great time interacting with war heroes. They also occupied the place with their teachers wielding walkie-talkies, causing them to be mistaken for police officers.