Gratitude and applause for a fallen soldier

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People pay tributes to Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat who lost his life in the Coonoor chopper crash, at Dashashwamedh Ghat, in Varanasi on Thursday. (ANI Photo)

Views and opinions from the top commentators in Indian media

General Bipin Rawat hailed from a distinguished military family, and the author had served under his illustrious father, Lt General Laxman Singh Rawat, both proud ‘Gorkha’ officers of the 11th Gorkha Rifles. General Bipin Rawat was to be India’s first Chief of Defense Staff (CDS), and for the ‘Sword of Honor’ at the Indian Military Academy in 1978, a meteoric destiny in the ‘Uniform’ was almost preordained, as he also died in harness.

In a public conclave, General Bipin Rawat had succinctly captured the life of an Indian soldier in the hallowed institution: “We seek neither gratitude nor applause because we firmly believe in the eternal wisdom of the Urdu couple: Khamoshi se banaate raho pehchaan apni, hawaaye khud tumhara tarana gaayengi (Let silence be your identity and your actions will speak for themselves).”

The soldiers across the seas have their own philosophical way of rationalizing life, as the irrepressible General George S Patton once said, “It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather, we should thank God that such men lived.”

Today, in its wounded moment, the nation salutes its ‘Soldier’ and the ‘Institution’.

— Lt Gen Bhopinder Singh (Retd), The Quint

The Good Soldier 

Rawat’s tenure as Army chief coincided with India’s political leadership adopting a more muscular policy against Pakistan. The stand-off with China at Doklam on the LAC also took place under his watch. At the time he was among the first to speak openly about the possibility of India facing a “two-front war”. He courted controversy both as Army chief and as CDS when he waded into matters outside the remit of his office. His remarks against the protests over the citizenship law amendments, comparison of migration into Assam as an act of Bangladesh seeking lebensraum, his approval of lynching as an acceptable way of dealing with terrorists in J&K, description of the Air Force as a “support arm” of the Army were regrettable.

As CDS, it fell to Rawat to draw up plans for the modernization of the military and make it an efficient fighting force, a responsibility he took up with much enthusiasm as it was a cause close to his heart. However, the Integrated Battle Commands into which he wanted to reorganize the Army did not materialize, mainly due to costs. Reforming a military is no easy task, but in the one year that remained of his tenure, he was determined to push them through.

— Editorial, The Indian Express

India needs more vaccines

Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawalla has signalled that Covishield output will be cut by half with no new purchase orders forthcoming from GoI. In September, Centre had purchased 66 crore Covishield doses which has helped smoothly carry India’s vaccination programme into December. To ensure that supply for at least the next four months is assured, GoI must make another large purchase order. It took the bitter experience of the massive Covid second wave for India to learn the importance of bulk orders and advance payments. Then GoI lost no time in April to release Rs 4,500 crore as advance payments to SII and BB. That time, with no advance payments or bulk vaccine pre-orders and the vaccination drive progressing at a slow pace without ambitious scaling-up targets, those GoI decisions were a much-needed incentive for SII and BB to increase production capacity.

SII’s predicament is understandable. The long export ban allowed foreign companies to corner global market share and current stocks cannot be quickly diverted to foreign shores. But the Indian market isn’t saturated either. Another 58 crore doses are still needed to fully vaccinate all adults.

— Editorial, The Times of India

Dragon in the room

The threat of China now choosing to get its hands dirty is at the heart of this year’s US Defense Department report on China’s military and security capacities. Central to the assessment is the feeling that China is fast approaching a point where it feels it can directly challenge the US military and “fight and win wars” against a “strong enemy”, “coerce Taiwan and rival claimants in territorial disputes, counter an intervention by a third party in a conflict along the PRC’s periphery, and project power globally”. The report further adds: “With a force that totals approximately two million personnel in the regular forces, the PLA has sought to modernize its capabilities and improve its proficiencies across all warfare domains so that as a joint force it can conduct the range of land, air, and maritime operations as well as space, counterspace, electronic warfare, and cyber operations.”

For India, these developments are ominous. For the moment, China’s stated priority is to secure the reunification of Taiwan with the mainland. There was a phase where this may have seemed possible by peaceful means, perhaps using the old Hong Kong formula of ‘one country, two systems’.

— Swapan Dasgupta, The Telegraph (India)

Every week, we look at what the top commentators and opinion writers in the Indian media are talking about and bring to you a slice of their opinions and comments

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