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'General Rawat has hit at foundation of India’s nationalism by his Northeast remarks'

Thursday March 1, 2018 10:54 PM, News Network

General Bipin Rawat

Mumbai: Suhas Palshikar, academic and social and political scientist, while asserting that Army Chief General Bipin Rawat has transgressed prudence and set a bad precedent by making a political statement said he had actually hit at the foundation of India's nationalism by his remarks.

"With his latest remarks on matters as wide ranging as the sociology of migration, electoral surge of parties and, parenthetically, the security ideology of our armed forces, the current army chief has not merely betrayed the breadth of his expertise but also the weaknesses of prudence, politics and principle that he suffers from", Palshikar, chief editor of Studies in Indian Politics, said in an article published by Indian Express Thursday.

"If he has transgressed prudence, he is setting a bad precedent. If he is indulging in political statements, the army chief is sowing the seeds of politicising the armed forces. But by the unstated implications of his unwarranted statement, General Rawat has actually hit at the foundation of India’s nationalism. So, more than for reasons of prudence or politics, his statement becomes a warning signal for reasons of principle — a principle that is most delicate and crucial to us as a nation", Palshikar said.

Palshikar's article was in response to General Rawat's statement who while speaking at a recent conference on the Northeast, said, "I think the government is looking at the Northeast with correct perspective. With development will come control of the people residing in this area. I don’t think now you can change the population dynamics of this region. There is a party called AIUDF. It has grown at a faster rate than the BJP has over the years."

General Rawat's statement was slammed by AIUDF and AIMIM, though other parties chose to remain silent. "The remarks are unbecoming of an army chief. Bipin Rawat had in the past also commented on the curriculum in Jammu & Kashmir. His remarks are beyond his scope of duties. His statements are similar to ones made often by BJP and RSS spokespersons", AIUDF General Secretary Aminul Islam said.

Palshikar, while stating that such statements by high officers of the armed forces can only serve to corrode the trust and legitimacy that the armed forces as an institution enjoys, said, "In saying that “you have a party called AIUDF” whose rise has been “faster” than that of the BJP, the army chief was probably comparing a party that allegedly gets support from Muslims with a party that allegedly gets support from Hindus. And, in saying that the former grows faster than the latter, was he insinuating that one community has greater proclivity to unite politically than the other?"

"The army chief’s statement is deeply problematic on grounds of principle. He has raised a controversy over the issue of linkages between demographic composition and security. Going much beyond the issue of “influx”, the controversial statement attempts to connect many dots — planned influx by neighbours, changing demographic composition of some districts, growth of a party — and all this in the context of security concerns", Palshikar, who taught political science at Savitribai Phule Pune University, said.

"At least so far, the foundation of the Indian nation-state is firmly based on the belief that irrespective of communities and creeds, citizens of the country sustain the spirit of national sovereignty. By his remarks on demographic composition, the army chief has gone far beyond the issue of planned influx and ventured into the territory or arguments that seek to undo this foundation of the Indian nation-state", he said.

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