Over 2300 years ago, Chanakya, perhaps one of the foremost political strategists of all time, offered this advice in the Arthashastra: “The king shall singly deliberate over secret matters; for ministers have their own ministers, and these latter some of their own; this kind of successive line of ministers tends to the disclosure of counsels”.
Here, Chanakya was simply stating the importance of security at the apex level of national affairs. The same is applicable to any undertaking, whether it be in government, business, the social sphere or any other form of human endeavour. This is something, which we in India have tended to forget. The astonishing case of the leak of a Top Secret letter, written by the then Army Chief in early 2012 to the then Prime Minister, on India’s lack of defence preparedness is a case in point. The contents of the letter were splashed across the front pages of a leading national daily, giving out the details of the March 12 letter, which stated bluntly that India’s security could be at risk due to critical shortages in tank ammunition, night fighting equipment, air defence becoming obsoleteand the infantry lacking critical weapons. There was outrage in the country and in parliament over India’s lack of defence preparedness. This was wholly justified. But everyone seemed to miss a simple point. How was such a Top Secret letter leaked to the press? And who should be held accountable for it.
The letter was written by the then Chief as it was the practice of Service Chief’s to write to the Prime Minister, shortly before they retire, on the state of the Service they head. Earlier Chief’s too had been following a similar practise and all of them had written on similar lines. But the issue became political, with some even demanding the scalp of Gen. V.K. Singh, who was then the Army Chief. Despite all the brouhaha raised, no effort was ostensibly made to find out how a Top Secret letter, meant only for the eyes of the Prime Minister, found its way to the front pages of a national daily. This constituted a more serious breach than any lack of defence preparedness. And this remains our Achilles heel till date.
Lack of security consciousness can be fatal to the health of a nation. Files still routinely disappear from the corridors of power, with little to show in holding anybody accountable for the same. In the recent case of corruption in the AgustaWestland helicopter deal, the courts in Italy give reference to confidential Indian military documents, which mysteriously found their way to arms brokers in Italy! This is but a symptom of the malaise that afflicts our country. On an equally serious note, files pertaining to a terrorist, a young female called Ishrat Jahan have mysteriously disappeared from the Home Ministry. Obviously, without corrective action, the nation’s security remains at considerable risk.
What then needs to be done to stem the rot that is eating into the very core of the country. The remedy is not as complicated as it looks. There is a need to fix accountability for lapses in security, which in serious cases should invite the death penalty. At the very least, the concerned officials should be charged with treason and sentenced to imprisonment for life if found guilty of betraying the nation. Such cases need to be investigated with speed and despatch, and thereafter tried in special courts within a laid down time frame. Serving justice speedily is the best antidote to prevent such occurrences. We need to institute such measures forthwith. As Chanakya famously said, “We should not fret for what is past, nor should we be anxious about the future; men of discernment deal only with the present moment”. Let us deal with the present, else we be found wanting when confronted with enemies who know our secrets.
The Indian Air Force’s Hawk advanced jet trainer is a compelling story of success, providing the new generation training to the next generation air warriors and delivering our commitment to Make in India in partnership with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. On the 83rd Indian Air Force Day, we are excited to witness the ‘Made in India’ Hawk take off for the new Surya Kiran Aerobatic Team, representing the speed, agility and precision of the Indian Air Force. Flown by a number of aerobatic teams, the Hawk is a remarkably exible aircraft meeting the demands of modern air forces for both training and operational missions.