Monday, January 30, 2012


By Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant,VSM
VANDE MATARAM, the national song of India that is Bharat, made a debut in the Beating Retreat ceremony 2012. It was a treat to hear the instrumental music of the national song at the Vijay Chowk, New Delhi for the first time on 29 January 2012. What a peasant delight that the Indianisation of the musical ceremony of an hour took a step forward and rendered the instrumental version of Vande Mataram on Shahnai and Tabla. The audience thought that it was recorded music but it was not so. Both the Shahnai and Tabla players sat in an invisible corner at the end of the North Block and mesmerised the music-loving crowd of spectators. The additional effect of music came to life through a judicious use of microphones producing the desired level of sound and echo.
It may be mentioned here for the benefit of connoisseurs of military music that all tunes included for the annual feature, Beating Retreat at Vijay Chowk, are played LIVE. No recorded music is used and none goes on the air.
Beating Retreat has an interesting history and the tradition has been passed on from generation to generation. The young soldiers, sailors or airmen chosen to be players of their respective bands consider themselves a privileged lot because they are given the latest instruments to practise. Thereafter they become privileged members of the goodwill delegation visiting foreign countries to perform in public parks there. The exchange of military bands strengthens the mutual relationship and minimises the possibility of hostilities.
In Bharat right in the battles fought in the Mahabharat, fighting took place from sunrise to sunset. The battle came to a sudden halt with declaration of a cease fire through sounding of trumpets, conch shells, drummers’ calls or any other pre-determined sound that was loud enough to be heard in every corner of the battlefield. The arrows came off the bows, swords were sheathed and all fighters returned not only to their respective camps but also visited the enemy camps to compare notes and listen to senior warriors about the strategy employed and likely changes to be made the following day. The bitterness of battlefield disappeared and bon-homie of the large families of Kauravas and the Pandavas returned to be in evidence. Of course, with the Sunrise next morning the battle began as usual. At sunset when the cows go home, Beating Retreat brings the battle to a close for the night once again.
Indeed that fascinating tradition of Beating Retreat faded into oblivion as the modern warfare goes on incessantly. Now Beating Retreat is only a ceremony of military music played by military bands. It is a grand spectacle held all over the world and is presided over by the Head of the State. In India Beating retreat was institutionalised in early 1950s and it is the President of India who is the Guest of Honour. The ceremony is so popular that unprecedented crowds turn up for the rehearsals and the ticketed shows. The distinguished Indians and foreigners go to see the grand spectacle on the 29 January with members of family in tow. The children and youth like the military music immensely
The Beating Retreat in India in the early Fifties had western tunes on its list of musical score. However, over a period of time it was noticed that the young generation sat through rather glumly because they were not in touch with the English music or the British army music traditions. Since the idea was to attract the youth to the Armed Forces and also build a friendly relationship between the soldier and the civilian, it was decided to introduce Indian Ragas and other light music tunes that the military bands could play.
Raga Yaman took the lead and was immensely popular among the large audiences that came from all walks of life. It was military music based on Hindustani Sangeet that worked wonders. The Indian ears relished the new inductee tunes. The process kept on developing. However, it was the Indian tune set to the western musical instruments. The Innovators thought that there was room for more innovation here too. They got going and achieved the desired results.
Came Beating Retreat 2012 and brought in its wake more innovations. Of the 27 compositions played by the military bands of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force in an hour long ceremony, as many as 14 had been composed by the Indian musicians. The number of English and other European composers was gradually receding in the background and now it was well pronounced.
VANDE MATARAM played on the exclusively Indian musical instruments like the Tabla and the Shahnai walked away with the cake. The vast crowd assembled at the Vijay Chowk on a sunny Sunday afternoon was just thrilled The long applause in the form of hearty clapping by one and all including children bore testimony to immense popularity of Vande Mataram rendered on Indian musical instruments at Beating Retreat. The national song of India has an emotional appeal to the Indian audiences. Singing Vande Mataram, men and women had fought for independence and drove the foreign rulers from our soil and now hear it in the bastian of western music was a treat. Those who were there and heard the Vande Mataram will cherish the memory of those moments for many years to come.
Among the Hindi song-tunes newly introduced was VIJAYEE HIMALAYA.The highest peak of the world, Mount Everest nests in the Himalayas. Further, at the end of Beating Retreat year after year, when the combined bands are marching away on the Raisina hills, the tune played is: Sare Jahan Se Achcha, Hindostan Hamara. That song composed by poet Iqbal and set to band tune by A. Lobo also mentions the Himalayas as our sentry and the Defender. Thus the emotional appeal did strike a chord.
Indeed the evergreen tune played year after year is ABIDE WITH ME. The tune and its rendering are an instant success. This hymn made a debut as a Christian prayer but also became an instant hit in Beating retreat and military tattoos. The sound and the echo of tubular pipes coming from a little distance with military musicians hidden from view, a kind of divine touch is added to the musical rendering. When Monk had set it to tune acceptable as military music he did not think that the song’s popularity will cross many barriers of race, religion and region and stay on top of popularity for ages.
The audience conceded that being there at Vijay Chowk, New Delhi for Beating Retreat was indeed a divine experience.
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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

a matter of honour notmoney

By Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant,VSM
General Vijay Kumar Singh is an officer and a gentleman. He is Chief of the Army Staff of the Indian Army and commands the third largest army in the world. Professionally speaking, he is sound and knows his p’s and q’s better than any other experienced officer on both sides of the Suez. Thus he has made a name for himself, his Service and his motherland. Quite a few officers senior to him played chess to see if there could be formation of a Chakravyuh for this Abhimanyu of modern age to derail his Rath and prevent his becoming the Sar Senapati of the Indian Army. Vijay Kumar Singh proved to the Kauravas that Abhimanyu of today was more clever than they thought him to be.
Some senior army officers located in the South Block of the Central Secretariat in the national capital came to know that old VK Singh had two recorded dates of birth. It might have been a rare privilege for the Caliph of Baghdad to enjoy and the Sultan of Istanbul to give a go bye but for old VK it was a source of super propaganda that put him on the pedestal. A great believer in the pristine beauty of Nature, VK enjoyed the Sun light and kept away from limelight until it was thrust upon him. The conspiratorial gang of the army brass discovered and broadcast gleefully that the short statured high profile infantry officer rated as Chief material by all ranks had two dates of birth recorded in his service profile. The opponents who came across this chance discovery celebrated Diwali in the hope of having the high profile VK cut to size.
VK Singh, however, had another plan based on the TRUTH that would steal the thunder from the Kaurava camp and would put additional wind in own sails. VK went through all the concerned files and pin pointed where the mistake lay. The High School certificate from the Rajasthan Educational Board had mentioned the correct date of birth, viz May10, 1951. Other related documents also made a mention of the age correctly. However, when a master of the Birla School, Pilani filled VK’s application for the entrance examination to the NDA, he, relying on his memory filled the date of birth as May 10,1950. This was an honest mistake and all concerned knew that it would be corrected in due course of time. Unfortunately, that was not to be till today. As VK’s luck would have it, all Service records, all Annual Confidential Reports and all promotion papers mention the correct date of birth, namely may 10, 1951.
VK Singh made sincere efforts to have his date of birth entered wrongly in the NDA entrance examination form changed to the correct one. Surprisingly his every attempt at correction was thwarted by the Military Secretary’s branch, Army Headquarters on the plea that it would upset declaration of results of promotion boards. At a particular moment VK’s application to Army Headquarters for suitable correction was turned down and he was ordered through a signal to accept the wrong date as the correct one or alternatively face disciplinary action. VK was given just 3 hours to make up his mind and communicate to the MS branch, Army Headquarters. VK did that willy-nilly and accepted the wrong date of birth as the correct one under a threat of initiation of disciplinary action by Army headquarters against him. Obviously, that threat or coercion prevented VK from exercising his free will. Going by law of the land, the then Chief of the Army Staff may be prosecuted for preventing a brother officer and his junior from exercising his free choice and consequently the TRUTH was negated and converted into falsehood. VK cannot be hauled up for an action or omission that happened under duress.
General VK Singh had knocked at every door at the Army Headquarters and the Ministryof Defence but none opened. Justice was denied to the serving Chief of the Army Staff. His honour was sullied as a vicious propaganda was carried on to paint him in bad light as a votary of falsehood. It was said that the Chief does not go to a court of law. It was said that he should resign in the first instance and then file a petition. An officer who is likely to become the Army Chief and has some clout in the government because of his religion and ethnic background has all along been in the forefront leading charge of the light brigade against the big guns of the army of General VK Singh. General VK Singh wishes to present his clean image to the Army and the Nation so that the common man knows who the culprit is. Once the people of India make up their minds about who the villain of the Piece is, adjudicating sundrey residual issues may be just peanuts.
The Prime Minister is now hinting at an administrative action so that conrinuity of command is maintained Does it mean that the Prime Minister is contemplating dismissal of General VK Singh so that the post of the Chief falls vacant and a favourite of his is duly installed . it would be very unfortunate if the Prime Minister initiates and executes dismissal from service of Chief of the Army Staff. It will lower the morale of the corps of officers and Jawans at a time when the nation is surrounded by deadly enemies from all sides. Such an action will reflect the mental and physical bankruptcy and utter lack of leadership in government of India.
Indeed the main ball to be played is in the court of the Apex Court. The immediate issue is : to Admit or to not admit” the petition of General VK Singh. If the petition is admitted, a date for arguments and final disposal will be fixed. The earlier the better, preferably before may 10, 2012 so that general VK Singh reaps the harvest of what he has sown.
Ministry of Defence, Govt of India is harping on the point that the petitioner, General VK Singh has accepted May 10, 1050 as his date of birth and, therefore, Estoppel prohibits him from going back on his own admission. The important point to be considered here is: was General VK Singh coerced to state what was not true by the govt of India? If so, the petitioner is not checked by Estoppel from opening the case afresh to arrive at the truth. Further, how can an individual or the govt change the date of birth of an officer or a Jawan, irrespective of the willingness of an individual or an organisation to do so. The date of birth of an individual recorded in the High School certificate is final and irrevocable.
Well ! The cat will be out of the bag soon when the Supreme Court of India takes up the petition for preliminary hearing to decide whether to admit it or not to admit it. The question-answer session and the body language of all concerned will give the Counsels, the Onlookers and the Petitioner, not forgetting the Govt of India, an inkling into the future.
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Wednesday, January 11, 2012


By Chitranjan Sawant
The Foreign Minister of India went on an official visit to Malaysia. In its capital Kuala Lumpur he presented a set of silver bowls to his counterpart which was accepted with thanks. However, on a closer examination of the sterling silver presents it came to light that the silver ware was NOT made of silver but of a cheap alloy. On a further examination of records back home in New Delhi, it was discovered that the Ministry of External Affairs had paid a sum of Rs 44,000/- for the fake silver ware whereas the middle man who had facilitated the transaction had actually paid Rs 14,000 or so for the deal. The hell broke loose thereafter and an investigation in depth was ordered. The facts as stated heretofore were found to be true but no responsibility was pinpointed for bringing the Nation into disrepute.
It was further found that the same Foreign Minister, Shri SM Krishna had presented fake silver bowl to foreign ministers of other countries that he had visited. Not only that, it also came to light that the same middle man had been facilitating purchase and delivery of the fake silverware for the last ten years or so. Apparently some senior officers were also recipients of the largesse of these illegal transactions and they kept their mouths shut for a handful of silver and India continued to be put to shame for presenting fake silver ware to the foreign ministers of other countries with whom it wished to cultivate close friendly relations.
Nevertheless, no official, senior or junior has been punished for these acts and omissions of cheating that brought shame to our country. It is also not clear whether effective steps have been taken to ensure that there are no repetitions of such fake transactions in future. The law of the and may have to be made more stringent so that the cheats well versed in the art of fooling others do not get away with light punishment for serious crimes of this nature that involve reputation and image of the country.
It is rather unfortunate that the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India is involved in many acts and omissions of cheating directly or indirectly. There have been press reports about empty pass port books being found abandoned in uninhabited places or by the lake side in remote corners. If the blank pass port books are kept in safe custody under lock and key, there is no way of their disappearance surreptitiously. Many foreign terrorists were found in possession of the Indian pass ports seemingly issued through due process sanctioned by law. However, issuance of pass ports was done after palms of officials were greased and a lot of money changed hands elsewhere.
Moral of the story is that the Ministry of External Affairs, Govt of India has to tighten its belt and ensure that its blank documents or forged documents do not change hands and pass on into the hands of terrorists lest the security of our motherland is jeopardised.
Special Psychology lessons for the officers and clerks of the men and women handling sensitive documents have to be conducted to ensure security of sensitive documents. Now terrorism in many forms is on the ascendancy and any loose talk or inappropriate comment may harm us and benefit the enemy. Of course, no patriotic person will like that to happen. If a traitor is up to an act of this nature it is our sacred duty to prevent it.
Let us remember that our Dharma prohibits us from destroying our values of life and helping the enemy across the border for a handful of silver. Passing on fake silver ware as sterling silver and causing its presentation to a minister of a neighbouring country will indeed destroy friendly relationship. Such acts, if repeated every now and then, will damage the credibility of our country and no other country will take our WORD seriously. Indeed the permanent loss in diplomacy will be ours. The damage done will be irreparable and the isolation of India that is Bharat may be in perpetuity.
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Thursday, January 5, 2012


By Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant,VSM
The International Commodities market is located in a growing city named YIWU in Zhejiang province of China. If you are in business and wish to go there to make use of the booming economy of the Middle Kingdom, Pudong airport in Shanghai is the pace to land. You may hire a car for Yiwu for USD 130 and reach your destination in four hours. Obviously you will look for a hotel that accepts the Indian Rupee, pay Rs 4475 upwards for a good room of international standard and have a sound sleep. However, before venturing out into the chaotic Chinese market, do check up with the bell Captain of the hotel that God is in Heaven and all is well with China.
Just a day or two before the Videsh Mantralaya, Bharat Sarkar has Advisory encouraging Indian businessmen not to visit Yiwu trading centre in China or do business with them. It is so because the local traders had got hold of two Indian traders named Shyam Sundar Agarwal and Deepak Raheja and kept them locked up as hostages for almost 20 days for non-payment of a debt incurred by their employer, a Yemeni businessman. The Indians were dragged to a local court of law where they pleaded that their employer should be brought to book and not the Indians as they were only employees.
The Indian Counsellor in Shanghai, Shri Balachandran who enjoys diplomatic immunity was present in the court room to facilitate communication. A large hostile crowd had assembled there and they not only made menacingly hostile gestures but used abusive language against Indians and even manhandled the Counsellor and the Indian businessmen. The former fainted but no medical assistance was provided to him. Shri Raheja’s brother in Bharat has authentic information that the Chinese crowd tore the clothes of the Indians and stripped them naked in the court room. The real culprit in the monetary transaction, the Yemeni citizen, was absconding and Indians bore the brunt. The Chinese administrative authorities declined to intervene until money matters were sorted out. As per the International Law, it was dereliction of duty on the part of the Chinese officials.
The Govt of India intervened and got in touch with their counterparts in Beijing. It was only then that the courtroom showed some semblance of order. Rule of Law was non-existent until then. The Chinese Ambassador in New Delhi, Zhang Yen has been boasting of his country been a civilised one but in the Yiwu incident there was no trace of civilisation. It is learnt that now five of the rioting traders of Yiwu have been detained by the local police for interrogation.
It is learnt from business circles that the travel and business advisory issued by the Govt of India had a salutary effect as the business circles in China feared losing large business with India. India is a big market for ready- made clothing items and toys made in China. Of late, China has suffered a dent in its building contracts overseas and the rural labour has returned to villages causing social unrest. Beijing does not wish to have more problems on the economic front than it could handle. Therefore, the administration has swung into action , though belatedly.
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Monday, January 2, 2012


By Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant,VSM
The concept of death sentence is as ancient in China as the kingship. Much before the constitutional concept of separation of powers among the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary came into existence, it was the monarch who exercised the authority of the three wings just mentioned plus the residual powers. His word was Law. He could order an individual, never mind if he or she was his subject or not, a citizen or an alien,to be hanged till death. The King had the unlimited powers on the life, limb, goods and chattel of anyone he could seize physically point of. The death sentence that the King awarded summarily was carried out forthwith by any means convenient at that time.
Qin Shih Huang Di, the first Emperor of China was as fond of awarding the capital punishment to his subjects as any warlord before or kings of the Warring States were. The judicial system of modern China, the People’s Republic of China in the matter of award of Death Sentence is no different from what it was in the pre-recorded history period. It is ingrained in the Chinese blood that a criminal found guilty of a heinous crime or High Treason must pay for it with his life. The Islamic concept of the Blood Money is just not there, not even among the Muslims of China. The criminal Law is applied to one and all irrespective of the religion one follows FAITH is indeed a matter of personal conviction and the law of the land is never affected by personal faith.
The Chinese Kings could not have built the Great Wall if they were not strict bordering harshness in dealing with their own people. The State and the government are as strict in ensuring obedience of government orders as they were in the ancient period. The welfare of the people is subservient to the expediency of the State in the modern period or the kingdom of the ancient period.
In the soft states the dictum “eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth” is not observed and they say that observance of this dictum would make most of the citizens bind in one eye and toothless too. In India that is Bharat even a condemned terrorist sentenced to death by the Supreme Court is not hanged till death for ulterior motives. The Congress party led government mistakenly believes that hanging to death a terrorist sentenced to death by the Supreme Court of India would mean losing Muslim votes. The enlightened men and women of the Muslim community feel that this logic brands them as traitors and they protest. China has no such religion based road blocks. It augurs well for that State.
Executions in China are going on unabated. The Chinese leaders who govern that big country with the world’s largest population are of the opinion that unless the Law, including provision of the capital punishment, is enforced strictly, the nation might disintegrate. They are not prepared to accept dismemberment of their country,come what may.
Amnesty International has been keeping track of award of death sentence and ultimate executions in China. They found to their horror that in the year 2009therewere more executions in China than in the rest of the world combined. Even the Internal Security Minister found guilty of defrauding the government and making a large amount of money stashed in own account in a foreign bank, was sentenced to death. However, in view of his past record of good public service, the sentence of death has been kept under suspension.
The Railway Minister was found guilty of dereliction of duty as a number of train collisions had taken pace and valuable lives were lost. The Minister had also accepted a large amount of money as bribe from some foreign firms for awarding them contracts. However, he was just relieved of his post as a Minister and sidelined. No death sentence was awarded. People want to know WHY was the guity minister not given a death sentence? No authentic reply is forthcoming.
The Uighur Muslims of Xinjiang province have been sentenced to death for rioting and casing death or grievous injury to the Han Chinese settled there. In the year 2010 there were four executions of this nature. In earlier years too Uighur Muslims were sentenced to death and executed Although some foreign observers take it as an act of ethnic discrimination but they need to look into the cases deeper. The Uighur Muslims have a separatist tendency and are influenced by the Pan-Islamic movement. Some of them were trained in Pakistan and had an inclination to violently disturb peace in the province. The government of China had lodged a protest with the government of Pakistan and the latter had promised.
There are numerous examples of the officials of the Chinese Communist Party being found guilty of high level corruption to the tune of millions of dollars and they were sentenced to death and executed. Among them were Mayors of big cities like Shanghai. Some officials made millions of dollars while supervising construction work of the Olympic Games stadia and infra structure. They too were sentenced to death and executed.
One notable exception to the general rule of bringing the corrupt to book and even executing them is that of HU Junior, a son of China’s President Hu Jintao. He had bribed some officials in the African countries while bagging contracts of major building activities. The judicial authorities of those countries had punished their own citizens and sent an official complaint to Beijing to deal with HU Jr as per law. The case, however, has never seen the face of a presiding judge so far. It is gathering dust in the corridors of power. Gathering straws in the air, critics say that it was a fit case for award of death sentence and execution. Nothing of that sort happened. After all, a son of President of China is above law.
An independent legal observer may wish to give credit to the legal reforms introduced in China recently. One of the reforms that has become law now says that the evidence obtained by the police or any other investigating agency through TORTURE will not be admissible in a court of law. Of course, the onus to prove an act of torture will lie on the person who alleges that he or she was tortured.
One more reform that is urgently required is expeditious disposal of legal cases, especially criminal cases. The civil cases may take time but criminal cases where the accused is in jail and not on bail, must be disposed off as early as possible by the trial court. In case an accused is awarded the sentence of Death, an appeal is bound to be preferred by the accused. Unless the accused is a terrorist, a rapist or a rapist cum killer, he may be granted bail during pendency of the appeal. Indeed crux of the matter is expeditious final disposal of the criminal case even by the highest court of appeal. Thus the courts of law in China empowered to award a sentence of Death will shake off the age-old charge that Justice Delayed is Justice Denied.
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