Former army chief documents life, views in memoir

New Delhi: Ethics, morality and corruption are issues that are gaining more relevance particularly with regard to conduct of officers in higher ranks, says former army chief General (retd) Joginder Jaswant Singh in his autobiography.

At a stripe-studded launch of his autobiography, "A Soldiers`s General: An Autobiography " (Harper Collins), at the Hotel Imperial Saturday evening, the general said: "Five years ago, I decided to pen my life. Now I understand why few (armed forces) chiefs have taken the call. But I was determined. And finally wrote the events as they happened to me...."

"I have brought in an element of fantasy into the book to share with readers that I see myself as one of the (old Sikh) warriors with a just cause. I have lived the role in this life," the general said.

"Corruption has become endemic in our country and it has raised its ugly head in the armed forces too. It has been a perception that it was always there in the domain of contracts in works, supplies, clothing, stores and procurements...," Singh says in his book.

Unfortunately today, this disease has not left even the highest ranks unscathed, the former army chief said.

In the recent past, few incidents have been played up by the media, in some cases quite unfairly. The challenge has to be made squarely and collectively, observes J.J. Singh, who is currently the Governor of Arunachal Pradesh.

The general`s observations on corruption are significant in context of the controversies like the Adarsh Housing Society scam, an unseemly age row involving a retired army chief, among others dogging the army for the last one year.

"We need to educate and forewarn the armed forces against adverse and corroding influences of some segments of the society... The top of the pyramid gives one an adrenaline-boosted euphoria, but also a feeling `of loneliness, and at times looking down gives a scary feeling," the army veteran says in his book.

J.J. Singh, a third-generation soldier from his family to join the army, was only 15 when he enrolled at the National Defence Academy.

He became the chief of the army staff - India`s first Sikh army chief in 2005.

Upon becoming the army chief, he adopted "an iron fist and velvet glove policy", insisting that the army present a more humane face to the people.

He was the architect of the Indian Army`s Doctrine 2004.

The launch, that was out of bounds for television crew for "security reasons", was largely a army-family-and friends affair for writer J.J.Singh.

Three generations of his family graced the launch, along with Minister of Law, Justice and Minorities Affair Salman Khurshid, Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Nabam Tuki, the services chiefs and senior command officers. Members of his family and old sub-ordinates read out excerpts from the book. A short documentary captured the milestones of J.J. Singh`s career and life.

The book was released by 93-year-old marshall of the Indian Air Force Arjan Singh, the only surviving military veteran with a five-star rank.

The book covers the general`s origin, childhood, cadet years, services, Kargil, defence diplomacy, reflections, future of the armed forces and the general`s tenure as the Governor of Arunachal Pradesh.



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