//Mukesh Kaushik// One fine morning, we were told that soon the government is going to make the post of Chairman of Chiefs of Staff Committee permanent, for a fixed tenure of two years. The timing and the date of this decision was meticulously fixed so that a particular General be anointed for the post and a chosen General of the choice, who is otherwise set to retire in the oblivion, is announced as the new Army Chief in place of the incumbent. And what was the source of the report or speculations or rumour or whatever you call it? Highly placed, as usual.
Naresh Chandra Committee report, which otherwise was in the deep freezer of the PMO, came handy to base the report/rumour. The Committee has suggested inter alia that the COSC arrangement be made as a permanent stop gap, till the political consensus emerged to appoint the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS). The recommendation of the Committee was being accepted by the government, as told by that “highly placed source” to the reporter.
The pigeon was out of bag. Cats were out to grab the prey. Theories were waiting to be floated. TV channels were hungry to debate the issue. And the environment was too eager to know what was coming next? Was the report/rumour true? If yes, would it not tumble the entire chain of command in the armed forces that is supposed to be so sacrosanct?
The annual press conference of the Navy Chief came on a very opportune time for the report/rumour. It gave a much needed fodder to carry forward the agenda. We in the media have platforms to use it or misuse it at our wills. It is only up to us to use it in a credible way. Nobody is going to question us. Anyone, who dares question, is undemocratic. Once we misuse it, we are duty bound to prove that whatever we propagated was not a figment of imagination, but a gospel truth that emanated from a very “highly placed source”. And this press conference was also used to give credence to a decision, which was never taken. Navy Chief Admiral D K Joshi was asked what he thinks about “the report”. He seemed unaware of the real agenda of “the report” and simply stated the matter of fact—three services have given their concurrence about making the post of COSC permanent. He was not aware of anything else. The matter rests with the government, he rightly pointed out.
In the evening of the same day, Defence Minister A K Antony, in his very familiar style, made his intentions clear to the correspondents and said that nothing, as was being reported, is on the cards. A reminder letter has been sent to all the political parties to ascertain their views on CDS. “Side by side, National Security Secretariat is contemplating sending a note to the Cabinet Committee on security to take a decision on the recommendations of the Naresh Chandra Committee,” he said, adding, “…….After that, the whole issue would be ‘careeefullllly’ examined by the various stake holders and then the decision would be taken, factoring in the political consensus.” Any correspondent having little sense of the news would easily decipher the meaning and the intent of Antony’s statement.
The reporter of the said “rumour” also did.
So what is the way out for face saving—to blame it on others? Who else, other than Antony, maybe the best choice? “Mr Antony has put a spoke in the wheel,” we were told, but otherwise the government was all set to appoint a permanent Chief of COSC. Wow. Tell us who this government was which did not include Antony in this decision. Who was going to appoint the permanent chief of COSC, if not the CCS? “Without Mr Antony's concurrence, the proposal will be dead on arrival at the CCS,” it was argued, without letting on who was bringing in this vibrant proposal.
Let us be honest before calling someone dishonest intellectually. We, the journalists, especially those who manage to get the print space without having to prove anything, need to be more honest and use their platform more honestly. Otherwise, we may be looking to appoint someone as permanent Chairman of Chiefs of Rumour Generating Committee.