A general’s life
More ‘Babbar Sher’ than babus, traditionally fine soldiers usually fade away to bask long and deep in memories of their erstwhile fauji careers. Writing one’s autobiography would seem to be the natural thing for some of them to do. Yet there are surprisingly few military memoirs to turn to. However, “A Soldier’s General”, General J.J. Singh’s sprightly tale of his life and times as a soldier, is a much welcome exception to this unstated norm.
A life full of incidents makes for a gripping read, and “JJ” has lived it to the brim – a third generation soldier who rose to become the Army chief – JJ has been a participant in some of the more significant episodes in recent times and has touched on these issues, whether it the situation in Kashmir or the border dispute with China, among others. The book is also timely given that JJ, who is now Governor of Arunachal Pradesh, has been roped into the rather ugly fracas involving his successor Gen V.K. Singh and the Government and all that resulted. JJ deals with it cautiously but it is his considerable understanding of India’s security climate and his take on military administrators that makes this soldier’s memoir an insightful read.
Watch the word
Eyebrows were raised in Dilli when the Ministry of Home Affairs ordered foreign tourists not to indulge in journalistic activities while on tourist visas. Clearly the Government is wary of any opinion or view that may be at variance with the official narrative. Those who violate this rule are liable to be deported, as happened in the case of a US geophysicist and a German national Sonteg Reiner Hermann recently. Sources say that the Home ministry babus have urged the Ministry of External Affairs to alert all Indian missions abroad on this issue.
Those who pondered deeply on the matter are not sure what the Government is trying to achieve with this dictum. While apparently India is not unique in making this demand and it is an accepted global practice, it does seem to be redundant in this age of Twitter, blogs and social media where with a click of a button anyone can have a global audience, and bypass mainstream media. Any anyway, it is a strange way to try and make India a more attractive tourist destination!