When the Indian Army Chief speaks ahead of Army Day celebrated every year on January 15, the rank and file of the 1.3-million-strong force listen.
This is never an ordinary press conference. It is a statement of direction from the Commander of the world’s second-largest Army.
So when General Manoj Mukund Naravane, India’s new Chief, spoke yesterday to the men and women that he commands, he wasn’t just advising them. He was passing an order.
In fact, in his press conference at the Army’s Manekshaw Centre in Delhi Cantonment, he said as much.
”This is a mixture of what I feel the Army is about, as also a message to the entire Army,” said General Naravane before spelling out what he said was the A, B, C or basis upon which the Indian Army exists: “A for Allegiance, B for Belief and C for Consolidation.”
”Allegiance for the Army or the armed forces is when we swear allegiance to the Constitution of India, in fact, be it a jawan or an officer, we take an oath,” said General Naravane. ”That is what should guide us in all our actions and at all times.”
Deliberate in what he said, measured in his speech and manner, General Naravane in fact chose to take on the most pressing issue facing his force. Not Pakistan. Not China. The identity of the Indian Army itself was what the General was speaking about.
The fifty nine-year-old also deftly distanced himself from remarks made by his predecessor, General Bipin Rawat, who entered the realm of political leaders by referring to…