The HINDU Notes – 28th February 2020 - VISION

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Friday, February 28, 2020

The HINDU Notes – 28th February 2020

πŸ“° ‘It is still possible for India, Pakistan to resolve issues’

Former Sri Lankan Prime Minister says others can insist that they do so, at least to get the SAARC summits moving

•From a failed political coup to the deadly Easter Sunday attacks in April, Sri Lanka’s former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe ’ s last term in office, from 2015 to 2019, witnessed several challenges. His government tried moving forward with post-war reconciliation and a constitutional settlement to the national question, but could complete neither exercise before November, when President Gotabaya Rajapaksa came to power with a big mandate. Now in Opposition, the United National Party (UNP) leader spoke on bilateral ties and domestic political issues. Excerpts:

You spoke of regional and strategic integration. Your government tried taking steps in that direction, where do you see that process now?

•It has to be taken forward. As far as our government was concerned, we started discussing with India, a deeper FTA (Free Trade Agreement). And we made progress on many areas. We signed an FTA with Singapore and we also were to commence discussions with Thailand. Bangladesh too was interested in an FTA. It’s just [about] carrying that process forward, because we are countries whose economies are complementary. If four of us can certainly come to an arrangement, then the rest of the pieces in the whole subcontinent will fall into place. Malaysia and Singapore will also have some sort of understanding. India already has an agreement with the ASEAN countries, others will follow and maybe it will strengthen India and all of us in coming to an agreement with RCEP (the ASEAN-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership). Now that India has opted out [of RCEP], the best would be to have the agreement here, but we should try and have an agreement which is deeper than RCEP.

You have stressed the importance of SAARC, and that it would be good for the region if India and Pakistan were to sort out their differences. Is that something you had raised with PM Modi on the many occasions you met him?

•We have talked about it and he has explained to me the issues of terrorism and the efforts that he has made. But you have to do this; we are talking of security integration. Look, the Indo-Pakistan tension is a global issue like ours, and for the first time you have the President of the U.S. even talking of intervening. So, it will be a matter of time. If you don’t resolve it yourself, there may be other outside actors who feel that they should come in.

•I feel that it’s still possible for India and Pakistan to resolve their own issues, it will take time. And resolving it also means resolving some of the connected issues including Kashmir, but if it’s a slow process, it can [happen]. All that has to be done is to get the summits moving, and then continue the discussions.

How do you think Sri Lanka, which has good relations with both India and Pakistan, could contribute to improving this dialogue?

•This is really a bilateral matter. But we can, not only Sri Lanka but also others, insist that they gradually come to a resolution to at least get SAARC summits moving. As President Jayawardene said, we’ve got to have everyone around the table and talk.

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa made it clear during his visit to New Delhi that the deals signed during your government’s time were not going to be taken forward, particularly referring to the MoU signed in 2017. Why is it so difficult to move forward on those projects?

•These were agreements between two governments. The delays we were having were not policy issues, they were more procedural issues, like environment, or some of the agreements we had with other parties. But remember, as far as the LNG [projects] are concerned, both for India and Japan, the Mahinda Rajapaksa government granted them permission for a coal power station in Sampur (Trincomalee district). Originally, India discussed Foul Point (Trincomalee) with us, then went for Sampur. There were issues that came up. Similarly, another permit was given to the Japanese.

•Then, after the Paris Climate Agreement, President Sirisena decided that we will not have any coal power stations. Then the Indian and the Japanese governments asked us whether we are going back on the agreement and we said this has come. They asked can it be LNG. We need power so he said yes, it’s LNG. Then our authorities pointed out that if it’s LNG it should be in Colombo. So that’s all, we are just continuing it. Because the policies changed in regard to the fuel that has to be used for the power stations.

•Of the other agreements, the Trincomalee oil farm is an old one, which we had agreed to. And it would just make Sri Lanka a hub for oil storage and delivery to India, and to any other country like Bangladesh that is interested, then we could expand on it. So, there’s a lot of potential and once we have an oil hub, getting industry there is not difficult at all. If you are now going back on it what do you want to do with tanks?

Even so, the accusation was that you were Prime Minister for about four years and yet there was very little movement made on so many agreements.

•Even I felt frustrated. The East Container Terminal (at Colombo Port) had been cleared by us, and that has been implemented, with Japan also coming in. So that is out of the way. But these are the two that really got held up. And then we were discussing the Mattala airport (near Hambantota). In the last stages we were waiting for a reply from the Indian side. I was pushing hard for it.

India didn’t get back?

•They came back towards election time. In the mean time, we got moving on Palaly (Jaffna airport) and the ground work was done on Batticaloa (airport). Palaly is very important to us. India is already doing Kankesanthurai.

•I don’t know what they [Rajapaksa government] want to do, because if you go back on it, it’s going to be a blow for Indo-Lanka relations.

πŸ“° India gets invite for U.S.-Taliban deal event

Nearly 24 nations expected to attend

•India has been invited to witness the ceremony to seal the peace deal between the U.S. and Taliban in Qatari capital Doha on Saturday, an official source has confirmed.

•India’s acknowledgement came two days after a source privy to Taliban told The Hindu that around 24 countries are expected to participate in the ceremony where the deal will be signed. Officials here had earlier stated, that India’s participation as a witness would depend on the stance of the Government of President Ashraf Ghani.

•An Indian official however reiterated India’s position that a peace negotiation should be “Afghan owned, Afghan led and Afghan controlled,” and a participation from the Afghan government in the ceremony will indicate that the U.S.-Taliban deal will ultimately take an inclusive turn. His statement hinted that India will take a call about sending a delegation for the ceremony if President Ghani sends a delegation to Doha.

•A six-memberAfghan delegation left Kabul on Thursday for Doha to conduct negotiation about the release of 5,000 Taliban fighters who are in custody of the Government of Afghanistan. This issue is already part of the draft peace agreement and Kabul is expected to deal with this soon after the U.S.-Taliban deal is signed on February 29.

•It is understood that the same six-member delegation will represent the Government of President Ghani in the ceremony and begin the intra-Afghan negotiation thereafter.

πŸ“° COVID-19 scare hits poultry business

‘Chicken consumption has come down by about 30% leaving farmers worried’

•The scare of COVID-19 and spread of rumours on social media linking chicken to the deadly virus has taken a huge toll on the unsuspecting poultry industry and farmers.

Rumour mills

•Many people across the country, apparently scared of the rumours doing the rounds on social media about the virus that emanated in China and fast spreading to other parts of the world, ticked off eggs and chicken from the menu at most houses.

•“Chicken consumption has come down by about 30%, leaving the poultry industry and farmers worried,” said Broiler Integration Coordination Committee member Ram Reddy. With fall in sales, chicken prices too declined steeply from ₹80 a kg live chicken at farm to ₹40 a kg. The production cost itself is about ₹75 a kg, bulk of it spent on feed for birds.

•The poultry industry has been organising awareness campaigns and chicken and egg melas across the country to remove misconceptions regarding the deadly virus.

•A practising doctor, Srinivas Raju, who has a breeder farm, said that COVID-19 would affect only mammals and not birds. “Linking chicken consumption with COVID-19 is a far-fetched and irrational notion. Moreover, the Indian style of cooking process at hot temperatures will destroy any bacteria or virus. Eggs and chicken are good sources of protein and please do eat them,” he advised.

•General manager of Venkateswara Hatcheries Group K.G. Anand said that the Indian government and WHO stated that chicken and eggs were safe to be eaten and COVID-19 would not spread by eating them.

•“Now, consumption is slowly improving though chicken is still under-priced at ₹50 a kg. We hope consumption and prices will be back to normal in three to four weeks,” he said.

•Poultry farmers suffered losses whenever a scare was created following an outbreak of an epidemic. The industry would mount a campaign to clear misconceptions. It happened with the bird flu epidemic, later Chikungunya fever, though it has nothing to do with chicken.

Chicken and egg mela

•This time too, the Telangana Poultry Breeders’ Association, Telangana Poultry Federation, National Egg Coordination Committee and All India Poultry Development and Service Pvt. Ltd., with more than 25,000 members, mostly small and marginal farmers, got together to organise a chicken and egg mela at People’s Plaza on Necklace Road here on Friday to create awareness on consumption of eggs and chicken. The mela will be on from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Ministers to take part

•“We are serving free chicken and egg dishes to general public who come to the mela along with entertainment programmes. Several ministers, including Industries Minister K.T. Rama Rao, Health Minister Eatala Rajender, Animal Husbandry Minister Talasani Srinivas Yadav, Agriculture Minister Niranjan Reddy, physicians, and celebrities, among others, would attend the mela, and try the egg and chicken dishes to boost the confidence of general public,” he said.

πŸ“° BJP cornered 78% of donations to parties

The party got Rs. 742 cr. out of Rs. 951 cr., says ADR analysis of contributions of over Rs. 20,000 in 2018-19

•The BJP received three times more donations over Rs. 20,000 than all other national political parties combined in 2018-19, according to an analysis by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) of the submissions made by the parties before the Election Commission (EC).

•The recognised national political parties — the BJP, the Congress, the Trinamool Congress, the Communist Party of India, the Communist Part of India (Marxist), the Nationalist Congress Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party — were supposed to submit details of all contributions over Rs. 20,000, received by September 30, 2019.

•The ADR report noted that the BJP was 31 days late in its submission, the CPI(M) 21 days and the CPI three days.

•The national parties declared a total of Rs. 951.66 crore in such donations in 2018-19 and much of the amount — Rs. 742.15 crore — was declared by the BJP.

•“The donations declared by the BJP is more than three times the aggregate declared by the Congress, NCP, CPI, CPI(M) and the Trinamool for the same period. The BSP declared that the party did not receive any donations above Rs. 20,000 during FY 2018-19, as it has been declaring for the past 13 years,” the ADR report stated.

•Compared to the previous financial year 2017-18, the national parties’ declared donations increased by 103% in 2018-19, which was an election year. Donations to the BJP increased from Rs. 437.04 crore in 2017-18 to Rs. 742.15 crore in 2018-19 and those to the Congress increased from Rs. 26.658 crore to Rs. 148.58 crore. The ADR found that the bulk of donations to the parties came from Maharashtra among States and corporate or business sectors when looking at the category of donors. The national parties received a total of Rs. 548.22 crore from donors in Maharashtra, followed by Rs. 141.42 crore from Delhi and Rs. 55.31 crore from Gujarat.

•Over 92% of the total donations, worth Rs. 876.11 crore, came from the corporate or business sector, while 3,509 individual donors gave Rs. 71.407 crore or 7.5% of the total.

•Out of the 1,776 donations made by corporate or business sector, the BJP received 1,575 donations totalling Rs. 698.092 crore. The Congress got Rs. 122.5 crore from 122 donations from the corporate or business sector.

•The top donor was the Tata Group-controlled Progressive Electoral Trust, which gave a total of Rs. 455.15 crore to the BJP, the Congress, and the Trinamool.

πŸ“° Aadhaar, no standout performer in welfare delivery

Aadhaar-based biometric authentication did not reduce PDS leakages, finds Jharkhand-based empirical study

•“Aadhaar has curtailed leakages of government subsidies... Through Aadhaar, savings worth Rs. 90,000 crore have accrued to the government,” said Ajay Bhushan Pandey, then CEO of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) and current Revenue Secretary, in their 2017-18 annual report.

•But not so fast, say Professors Karthik Muralidharan, Paul Niehaus and Sandip Sukthankar. They have just published a new working paper ( in the prestigious National Bureau of Economic Research, which details findings from an extensive empirical study of the impact of Aadhaar in reducing leakages and accruing fiscal savings.

•When Aadhaar was conceived a decade ago, the rationale postulated was: India spends nearly three trillion rupees a year across several core welfare programmes such as Public Distribution System (PDS), LPG, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act etc; roughly 30-40% of this is lost in leakages; leakages are largely due to ‘ghost’ and ‘duplicate’ beneficiaries using fake identities to avail these benefits; a unique identity biometric scheme can eliminate these leakages and vastly improve efficiency in welfare delivery. In fact, the former Union Minister, Arun Jaitley, even renamed the Aadhaar Bill to ‘Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, Benefits and Services’ Bill, making it amply clear that Aadhaar’s primary, if not sole purpose, was to improve welfare delivery efficiency. The Bill’s renaming was also a clever by half attempt to legislate it as a money bill, thereby avoiding debate and scrutiny in the Upper House.

•This new research paper, the first comprehensive field study of Aadhaar, offers a sobering counter to all of us, “Aadhaarphiles”, who truly believed that Aadhaar was the panacea for India’s leaky welfare regime.

The findings

•Professor Muralidharan and the rest of the team tell us that Aadhaar by itself has no impact in reducing leakages significantly. They conducted a scientifically designed study of the PDS system in Jharkhand covering 15 million beneficiaries using the technique of randomised control trials (RCT). The study was set up in a manner where one set of beneficiaries went through the Aadhaar-based biometric authentication while the other group used the old system of procuring their ration. The results were then compared to see if Aadhaar-based biometric authentication had any impact in reducing leakages.

•The study concluded that Aadhaar-based biometric authentication had no measurable benefit. Aadhaar-based biometric authentication did not reduce leakages due to elimination of ghosts and duplicates, as widely perceived. On the other hand, they found that Aadhaar-based biometric authentication increased transaction costs for beneficiaries. That is, to claim ration worth Rs. 40, beneficiaries in the Aadhaar system incurred an additional Rs. 7 of costs than those in the old system, because of multiple trips to authenticate themselves and the opportunity cost of time spent. This is a whopping 17% extra cost burden of the value of the benefit they were entitled to receive.

•To make matters worse, Aadhaar-based biometric authentication also introduced what empirical scientists call Type I error of exclusion. In simple terms, Aadhaar authentication falsely rejected genuine PDS beneficiaries who were then denied their ration supplies. The study finds that nearly 10% of legitimate beneficiaries were denied their ration either because they did not have their Aadhaar linked to their ration card or due to an exclusion error.

•In summary, the study states that there was no direct impact of Aadhaar in reducing leakages but it denied ration to 10% of genuine beneficiaries and increased costs by 17% to those that were forced to get their ration using Aadhaar. They conclude that Aadhaar authentication for PDS in Jharkhand caused “some pain with no gain”. Put simply, Mr. Pandey’s boast of Rs. 90,000 crore savings solely due to Aadhaar is hollow.

•These findings are sure to shock many who genuinely believed Aadhaar could be the ‘game changer’ in welfare delivery. The study was undertaken by eminent scholars using scientific techniques and published in a respected academic journal. So, there is no need to doubt its veracity or intent. The findings of Professor Muralidharan and the rest of the team also expose many larger fault lines in India’s approach to policy making.

No testing

•There was widespread belief among the policy elite that ghosts and duplicates were the scourge of India’s welfare delivery and that Aadhaar would eliminate this. But this belief was never empirically tested. It was deemed to be true simply because the intellectual elite said so. Based on this belief, an entire story was concocted about improving welfare efficiency through eliminating ghosts and duplicates with Aadhaar and a whole new law was enacted to this effect.

•Many studies now establish that ghosts and duplicates are not the significant cause of leakages. Would it not have been better to have undertaken a robust pilot project of scale to test the belief about ghosts and duplicates, before embarking on it nationwide?

GST parallel

•This is much like the boisterous claim of policy economists for over a decade that a multitude of State taxes are a drag on inter-State commerce and hence a nationwide Goods and Services Tax (GST) by stripping States of their fiscal autonomy is badly needed. There was no empirical evidence to back this claim. Three years after GST, the promise of vastly improved inter-State trade and a two percentage point boost to GDP seem distant while States are hurting badly with sole dependence on the Centre for their taxes.

•The other fault line in policy making that this new study exposes is the engineer’s way of measuring policy outcomes only through the prism of numerical efficiency. In an engineer’s world, if say, nine people are denied welfare due to a system error while nine million are benefited through greater efficiency, then it is considered a net benefit for society and the policy is given a thumbs up. But in a sociologist’s world and in a liberal society, a policy that could run the risk of denying welfare to just a few people, putting their lives at risk, is not worth implementing regardless of how many millions it benefits. Aadhaar was held hostage to the engineer’s worldview of policy efficacy.

πŸ“° A browning east

Climate change impact warnings for Eastern Ghats underscore need for forest protection

•If the Western Ghats are the crown jewels of India’s natural heritage, the Eastern Ghats spread across some 75,000 sq. km. from Odisha to southern Tamil Nadu, play an important dual role: fostering biodiversity and storing energy in trees. In these mountains exist a reservoir of about 3,000 flowering plant species, nearly 100 of them endemic, occurring in the dry deciduous, moist deciduous and semi-evergreen landscapes. Many animals, including tigers and elephants, and some 400 bird species are found in these discontinuous forests that receive an annual average rainfall of 1,200 mm to 1,500 mm. Crucially, many parts, primarily in Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, provide forest produce and ecosystem services to millions. Given the key functions that the lands perform, in modulating climate, fostering biodiversity and providing sustenance, new research findings arguing that the Ghats face a serious threat from climate change, and temperature variations are a cause for worry. It is noteworthy that a disruption of the annual average temperature and diminished rainfall would rob the productivity of these forests, in terms of their ability to store carbon, and provide subsistence material. Existing data point to the impoverishment of areas experiencing rainfall reduction in the driest quarter of the year and a rise in seasonal temperature, through reduced plant species diversity and a dominant role for herbs over trees.

•Protecting the Eastern Ghats, which are separated by powerful rivers — the Godavari and Krishna, to name just two — is an ecological imperative. India is committed, under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, to create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes through enhanced forest and tree cover. Yet, forest protection policies have often failed dismally. By some estimates, the Ghats have shrunk by 16% over the past century, and just one region, Papikonda National Park, lost about 650 sq. km. in two decades from 1991. Relieving the pressure on forests can be done through policies that reduce extraction of scarce resources and incentivise settled agriculture. Schemes for restoration of forest peripheries through indigenous plant and tree species, matching national commitments, could qualify for international climate finance, and must be pursued. At a broader level, the response to the warnings issued by researchers from IIT Kharagpur, International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics and the University of Hyderabad in a recent publication on changes to temperature and rainfall calls for decisive steps to mitigate carbon emissions. Improving tree cover nationally is certain to confer multiple benefits, including modulation of the monsoon, improved air quality and wider spaces for biodiversity to persist.

πŸ“° What should India’s joint command structure look like?

The Chief of Defence Staff must spell out India’s strategic interests as part of a vision document

•The massive restructuring of the military command structure has dismantled the old civil-military relationship, with far greater powers in decision-making now being bestowed on the armed forces. Madanjit Singh and Anit Mukherjee discuss this complex transformation in a conversation moderated by Atul Aneja. Edited excerpts:

Admiral Singh, following the Kargil War of 1999, the imperative to create a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) assumed great importance. What were the takeaways of the debate back then on tri-service integration and how much do you think it influenced the current appointment of the CDS, the decision to set up theatre commands, backed by the formation of the Department of Military Affairs (DMA)?

•Madanjit Singh:After the Kargil War, a decision was taken to overhaul the higher defence organisation as several weaknesses were detected, especially in the conduct of joint operations by the three services. Many senior officers from the services headquarters and the government spent several months in compiling the report. Besides, we reviewed procurement and indigenous production, the Defence Research and Development Organisation, manpower issues, etc. We were very conscious that military and civilian organisations have a strong sense of history and a deep cultural ethos. In a nutshell, they are extremely reluctant to change.

As I understand, there was a comprehensive review of the entire command structure after the Kargil War, which was followed by specific proposals for reforms in view of the Revolution in Military Affairs, which also demanded doctrinal changes. A nuclear dimension had also come into the equation, following the 1998 nuclear tests, the ‘no first use’ doctrine, and the need for a second strike capability through a nuclear triad. Could you weigh in on the nuclear dimension, and its broader implications on command and control?

•MS:Yes, the task force did that [discuss the nuclear dimension]. We were of the view that we should keep the strategic assets separate from the conventional assets. We also discussed who should be on board the Nuclear Command Authority. We laid down the concept for that. We also proposed the formation of a Department of Defence Services. We did not call it DMA. We recommended that it should be headed by the Vice Chief of Defence Staff and not the CDS. We also deliberated on the theatre command concept but had recommended formation of regional commands.

It has been quite some time since the post-Kargil recommendations came. But real action is taking place now, with the appointment of the CDS, a decision in principle to form theatre commands, along with the DMA machinery. How do you explain the timing?

•Anit Mukherjee:I do not think anybody knows why they created the CDS now. It’s all conjecture that the Doklam crisis with China and the Balakot air strikes in Pakistan were the trigger points. Or perhaps it was a call by the Prime Minister — that these issues were festering for too long and something decisive had to be done.

•MS:I think the decision was more financially driven. You have all heard: in the services we don’t get enough money. The Navy had a wishlist of 200 ships, the Air Force targeted 45 squadrons. It made some people sit up and consider that with the change in the nature of warfare and limited resources, we needed to look afresh, pool and share costly assets, bring down the costs, but also sharpen the combat edge through streamlined tri-service operations.

•AM:But perhaps there were other issues brewing beneath the surface as well. For instance, the patchy experience with the tri-service Andaman and Nicobar Command, the first tri-service command, set up in 2001 to focus on India’s interests in southeast Asia and the Strait of Malacca. This joint command was not allowed to succeed because the three services did not want to share their assets, and did not post their best officers on it. So, with this negative experience in the background, the current leadership may have gone all out and appointed a powerful CDS capable of sweeping aside resistance from individual services. So, I want to give full credit to this government for creating an empowered office of the CDS.

While the CDS heads the DMA, is the Principal Adviser to the Defence Minister and the Military Adviser to the strategic nuclear forces, he is not — at least not yet — an operational head of the tri-service theatre commands unlike, say, the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee in the United States. Do you think this can cause problems in command and control?

•MS:That’s a moot point, that is about the apex body... should we follow the U.S. style of Joint Chiefs of Staff model, or what other countries such as Germany follow. I think we need to clearly think this through, perhaps by appointing a dedicated task force in which the three services are involved, with a six-month time frame to define the concept, which addresses command and control aspects, which cover theatre commands and the assets they command, within the framework of our limited resources.

Do you think this theatre commands framework is something which is desirable for India, given its present and future interests? Is this the right approach structurally, to create theatre commands; dedicated tri-service commands that are to be deployed along the northern border with China, the western border with Pakistan, an air defence command, and in the maritime domain, a peninsular command. Do you think we are pursuing the right model here?

•MS:I think before we start moving concretely in this direction, we need a clear, realistic vision document about what our strategic interests are, and flowing from that, specific roles that the theatre commands need to be perform.

•AM:It is very important that within the next six to eight months the CDS should come up with a vision document explaining his plan. Regarding the relevance of theatre commands, if you ask me personally, I think theatre command is something that we required day before yesterday. In the absence of theatre, you will have a duplication of functions, duplication of roles. But alongside we need to ask tougher questions of all three services as well. To the Army we need to ask: how can you go in for modernisation and increasing or maintaining manpower at the same time? To the Navy: do you really need three aircraft carriers? So, I think these are the debates that need to be had for the future of India, for the future of Indian taxpayers.

•MS:Theatre commands work best when you have dedicated assets. The main point is, how do you allocate the resources, the permanent resources that need to be allocated, to a theatre command? The Andaman and Nicobar Command did not take off precisely because nobody allocated resources. I also wish to make one more point specific to the Navy. Given the vast maritime frontiers, the formation of one peninsular command, as recommended, is simply not good enough. If you look at the vastness of the Indian Ocean... now we are also looking at Asia-Pacific, we have got the Quad with the U.S., Japan and Australia on the radar. We need to get rid of this prolonged ‘sea blindness’ so to speak.

Is the three-year time line for rolling out theatre commands as indicated by the CDS, General Bipin Rawat, realistic? Are we creating artificial time lines here?

•AM:I would say three years is good enough. Because I do not think the same impetus and urgency will be there if the bureaucracy is given as much time as they want. They will keep prolonging it, and avoid difficult conversations. Of course, in the process there will be institutional winners... it won’t be painless. But I don’t think it ought to be kicked even further down the road.

In the formation of the DMA, which is a key pillar of the ongoing military reforms, the uniformed personnel for the first time appear to be in the cockpit of decision-making. Have we got the balance right here, in terms of decision-making between the civilian bureaucracy and the armed forces?

•AM:I have not seen this model discussed previously. It was not a part of the Committee on Defence Expenditure, not a part of the Kargil Review Committee, and not a part of the Naresh Chandra Committee. As a scholar, I have studied institutions and systems, but I cannot think of any other country with a similar system. I’m a little sceptical. But perhaps this is what you get when the civilian bureaucracy has been dragging its feet on developing a more rational model of civil-military relations. And I think after a while, perhaps somebody lost that patience with the civilian bureaucracy and went ahead with the current model.

•But we have to ask a deeper question here. Under the DMA, the military has been asked to perform complex administrative roles, but I think professional military education within the armed forces is still geared far too much towards operation and training and not enough towards education. So, it is important to encourage your officers to get a wide education and not just go to the Army War College, Naval War College, Air War College, which all create their own echo chambers because exposure to the civilian stream is minimum. When I look at the U.S., at European countries, education means awareness of the wider society. So, I have been advocating for a long time the setting up of the Indian version of the National Defence University.

•The National Defence University should not be the exclusive preserve of the armed forces, because the armed forces are not experts on higher education. We need to have a greater discussion among civilian policymakers, academics, military officers to think about what sort of education we are going to give to officers to equip them to perform complex inter-agency roles as demanded by institutions such as the DMA.

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