Thursday, April 17, 2014

Shekhar Sinha and Robin Dhowan.

Today's news reports on the appointment of the new naval chief and the consequent upheavals(?) within the Indian navy could only elicit a contemptuous laughter from within, simply because they've got it all wrong. Probably, the news item has captured more eyeballs than usual, because the government has bucked the trend for the third time in history in giving the seniority criterion the go by.

Usually, the senior most among the lot succeeds to the top post as it puts to rest unnecessary rumours and stories and let's face facts - all those who've reached those positions have almost similar qualifications to occupy the high chair. The couple of times that this trend was bucked was in the case of:-

    (a) SK Sinha   vs. AK Vaidya  - the latter went on to become the Army Chief while the former was the
                                                      senior of the two. It happened in '83.
    (b) MM Singh vs. SK Mehra   - the latter went on to become the Air Chief while the former was the
                                                      senior of the two. It happened in '88.

Knowing both the guys, Sinha and Dhowan - I must hasten to add, here, that as a junior who has had the privilege of having interacted with the two - the news about the so called 'succession wars' is nothing but balderdash. Perhaps, in the run up to the appointment both must have had their credentials compared but once the appointment was made, the decision would have been accepted by the concerned parties without further questions. That the person who lost out in the reckoning being left with the  feeling of 'so near and yet, so far' sort of a syndrome is not being brushed aside because it's only but logical to be in that frame of mind. The service way of thinking and the deep bonds that have been forged over the years have their way in tiding over such situations which cannot be comprehended by the man in the civvy street! And it's here that I'd like to mention the qualities of the two.

I shall touch upon Robin Dhowan first because in my naval service, he was the first whom I'd come across as a young cadet on board the good 'ole INS Delhi(ex HMS Achilles of the famous Battle of the River Plate during World War II) when he was a Lieutenant. What I remember of him was the way he did his homework before every evolution and the manner in which he took it upon himself to teach us the rudiments of life at sea. Ever since, he's always shown an inclination to know about me whenever we'd bumped into each other, be it in the corridors of the South block or while on operational stints!

Shekhar Sinha and me were in command of two ships and had extensively worked together on deployments in connection with the Sri Lanka operations. He's the ability to laugh so easily and was always ready to provide assistance during those deployments. In fact, both of us had featured in the first list of the Republic Day honours of '88 with the award of the Naosena Medal(Gallantry) - Sinha had actually got a 'Bar to his earlier NM', then!

Both of them have the service uppermost in their minds and have been brought up in the mould of the highest traditions of service that every man in uniform upholds in life. Disparaging stories and rumour mongering have no place in that realm.

For the officers, the men and the civilians of the Indian Navy, it's a new chief at the helm who'll guide them and lay down policies towards the betterment of the service! The show goes on!!


If the news bytes are to be believed, the Ministry of Defence is of the opinion that Shekhar Sinha's head had to roll as he'd to shoulder the responsibility of the spate of accidents that had taken place in his command. If that be so, how about the Defence Secretary and his other cronies taking a rap on their knuckles for the lapses as they too come within the ambit of accountability? Of course, the Defence Minister should have been the first as I'd said earlier on this forum!                 

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