Defence forces in India will do well if they remain above politics: Army Chief Bipin Rawat

NEW DELHI: Army Chief Bipin Rawat talking at a gathering at the United Services Institute went on to say that “the military should be somehow kept out of politics. Of late, we have been seeing that politicisation of the military has been taking place.”

“I think we operate in a very secular environment. We have a very vibrant democracy where the military should stay far away from the politics… Whenever there is an issue of linking any military establishment or military personnel where political entity comes in then… that is best avoided,” he added.

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“Defence forces in India will do well if they remain above (politics). Where they are expected to remain, and do not meddle with political affairs of the nation.” he said, declining to elaborate. “In the good old days, the norm was that women and politics were never discussed in the forces. However, these subjects are gradually inching their way into the discourse and this should be avoided.”

When asked about the Army being asked to build foot overbridges after the stampede at Mumbai’s Elphinstone railway station in October, Rawat noted that there is a charter of aid to civilians under which the armed forces help out in times of crises like floods and earthquakes.

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While noting that “one cannot insulate individuals from politics as they are bound to impacted by it in their lives at home,” Lt General (retd) Jiti Bajwa, for DG, Infantry and now the editor of Indian Defence Review, insists that the army is an institution that has traditionally kept a distance from politics. “Caste, religion, region and your political inclination do not matter in the military.”