Brig PS Gothra (Retd)
“We assess a criminal’s reach or strength and then take action against him. Fauji blindly gets into a situation. In fact, you people have a habit of dealing with situations from a _position of weakness_,” said the DSP, when I was coaxing him to book the over ground workers under Public Safety Act.
“We have been helping you all through. We have been including your name in the sitreps for successful operations and you insult us by saying that we deal from a _position of weakness,_” I said angrily.
“I am sorry to say it, so bluntly. I feel bad for you people, because three of brothers are serving in the army and one of them is an officer.”
“That doesn’t explain _position of weakness_,” I said firmly.
“Well, firstly you are including my name in the sitreps because you fear that I may spoil something. And look at the way you get treated by the some civilians because you deal with them from a _position of weakness,_” said the DSP.
“I agree that we include your name in the sitrep because of your nuisance value. But the civilians respect us. In fact, it comes from their heart. And their respect for us is certainly more than that for the police.”
“I am talking about civilians dealing with you. For example, a labour officer signs the muster roll for porters employed by you only after getting a bribe. You know about it, but indulge in an ostrich mentality by leaving it on the mate to get it signed from the labour officer.
If you knew how to deal from a _position of strength_, you would have refused to use the porters for three months. The lack of employment will make locals move to politicians, who in turn will kick the labour officer hard on his butt. Also the politicians will come begging you to resume hiring of porters,” said the DSP.
I just sipped some water to gulp down the hard truth and said, “What else.”
“The CDA office people pass your bills after taking their cut from the vendors. The local auditors make you spin around for some petty observations. Your CSD vendors don’t supply beer in the summers as per your demand.
The clerks at Jammu railway station demand money from your Jawans to change the railway warrant. Invariably the convoy gets delayed and the Jawan pays, or he will miss the train. Here on the line of control, the BSF units under Army’s command send only 40 percent of the authorised strength to the posts and you cover the gaps by applying your troops. Your vendors supply you with not-so-good rations. I am told the rations are better in other services…..”
I interrupted him as I didn’t want to hear more from him by saying, “Vendor bribing CDA office people is between him and paying authority, we are clean. It doesn’t affect our health.”
“How naive of you? Firstly, the vendor caters for that cost in his quotes. So, the reduction in value for your money. Secondly your procurement gets restricted to the vendors who can deal with the CDA office.” (I am sure this problem must have been solved with the advent of GeM)
I excused myself from his office as I didn’t want to listen to him anymore.
But at my level I tried to change things. Unfortunately most of the time I was looking over my shoulders at the ‘senior officer’ to do something. And the malady is that there is no ‘senior officer’. As a company commander I thought CO is a ‘senior officer’. As CO I thought the Brigade Commander was a ‘senior officer’. Had I attained the rank of Major General, I would have thought Lt General is a ‘senior officer’.
Later in my service when I came out of the unit life, I observed more of our habit of dealing from a _position of weakness._ One could see people begging in the IFA office for official work. Or pleading to a GE to change tiles in one’s residence. Or some junior officers standing in the corridors of South Block waiting for the last-minute signing of Govt Sanction Letter for the foreign visit. Or putting up with the truant civilian subordinates in the Army Headquarters.
I hope things have changed a lot after my retirement. I am worried that such meekness or lack of guile and cunningness should not become part of our psyche. After all we have to fight the war from a _position of strength._
I am sure the present generation of Indian soldiers would have employed innovative methods to deal with such situations. I remember there was a Brigadier in CSD Adelphi arm-twisted Hundai to give Creta in CSD. We need more such stories to improve upon our position of functioning.
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