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...PTI Photo The appointment of Nirmala Sitharaman as India’s defence minister created ripples on more counts than one. She is the first full-time woman minister who occupies the hallowed office. Her appointment confirmed the resolve of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to respect merit and performance, more so as she is a relatively junior politician. In the hype that indirectly reinforces Modi’s commitment towards women’s empowerment and gender equality, I read urgency in seeking a “hands-on commitment” for addressing the challenges faced by the armed forces. Progress on this front, a focus area of the present government, has been slow. The government made the right noises and initiated baby steps to mitigate the existing deficiencies in ammunition and shortfall/upgrade of critical weapon systems. ...Indian Express on Sept. 14, 2017, 12:02 a.m.
... The barbaric mutilation of Indian Army soldiers on May 1 by Pakistani military personnel rightly evoked sentiments of disgust and revenge against Pakistan. The national leadership was unequivocal in conveying its resolve for strong retaliatory action. I am sure its response will be suitably tailored to protect the country’s interests. Was this event an outcome of the internecine civil-military conflict in Pakistan? That is not the critical question; what is important is that such incidents give oxygen to the Pakistan-supported “proxy war” in Jammu and Kashmir. This incident was preceded by the turmoil created by videos on social media, which showed CRPF personnel being manhandled by civilians in the Valley. The videos did not just demean the men in uniform, they also hurt a majority of Indians. ...Indian Express on May 5, 2017, 12:01 a.m.
...PTI Photo General Bipin Rawat assumed charge as the Chief of Army Staff on January 1, 2017. His appointment, though shrouded in controversy, indicates that he enjoys the support and goodwill of the government. In addition, the image of the Indian army is at an all-time high, after it successfully executed surgical strikes on terrorist camps across the Line of Control, in retaliation to the ongoing belligerent action by Pakistan, waging a proxy war in Jammu & Kashmir. This restored the dwindling faith of the people that the Indian army was and is resilient enough to meet the aspirations of a resurgent nation. This gives the new incumbent a running start and an unparalleled platform of political support to address the critical challenges faced by the Indian army. This can be ably supplemented by cerebral, soldierly and communication skills which, I am aware, are in abundance with General Rawat. ...Indian Express on Jan. 6, 2017, 12:15 a.m.