Army Chief-designate Lt Gen Bipin Rawat comes as a sensible and reform-friendly top military official who believes that war should be the last option. He supports more openness in the military-media relationship and wants women to play similar roles as men in the army.
The Union government’s decision to elevate Lt Gen Rawat as the next Army chief, however, has given the opposition a new reason to step up its attacks against the Centre. Leading the charge, Congress has questioned why seniority was not respected while elevating Lt Gen Rawat who superseded Lt. Gen. Praveen Bakshi who leads the Eastern Command and Southern Army Commander Lt. Gen. Mohammed Ali Hariz.
Here we present the next Chief of Army Staff’s views on important issues like border aggression with China, Army’s relations with media and the role of women in the battlefield. Rawat had shared these views during an IDEA Exchange with The Indian Express in April this year.
On trust deficit between China and India, incidents of transgression on border
“There may be disputes on the border which are not for armies to settle. There are parts which are claimed by both sides. The perceptions are varying. Yet, at the level of armies, we want to maintain peace and tranquillity. We don’t want to initiate a war just because there are differences. So this Track-II diplomacy is also needed in the form of military exercises. China being aggressive is a perception,” Lt Gen Bipin Rawat had said told IE.
Lt Gen Rawat had even suggested that transgressions happen from both sides. However, they get reported more in India as the Indian Army is more open to media as compared to China.
On media-military relations
Media-military relations was the subject of the COAS-designate’s PhD. He had said, “I am of the opinion that media interaction is necessary… At a senior level, I feel that some kind of interaction should take place with the media at regular intervals. At the lower level, when an incident takes place, the commanding officer at that level should be made available to the media to explain what has happened.”
On allegations of AFSPA excesses
Rawat said that AFSPA has been toned down in “real practice” over the years. Also, the Indian Army still opt to use minimum force and remain sensitive towards human rights.
On the role of women in Army
The COAS-designate had said during the interaction that women should play more role in the forces but they should be ready to serve in the same conditions as men. “The operating conditions in these arms are very difficult. Now, whether women are ready to operate in these conditions or not is a call that women themselves will have to make. I am a strong believer of one thing — equal opportunity means equal responsibility,” he said.