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Fear of coup prevented CDS appointment earlier: ex-Army chief Shankar Roy Chowdhury

KOLKATA: Terming the appointment of a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) as a welcome move, former Army chief General (retd) Shankar Roy Chowdhury on Wednesday said it had not been done earlier owing to the then political bosses’ fear of a coup.

He said the appointment of a CDS was due for a long time and the services wanted it to be there in the country so that the Army, Navy and Air Force come under one umbrella, “but the problem was political.”

“The fear of a coup was ingrained among the earlier political bosses if all the three forces – Army, Navy and Air Force – were brought under one umbrella and that was the only reason that a post of CDS was not created,” Roy Chowdhury told newspersons here.

General Bipin Rawat, who retired as the Army chief on December 31, has taken charge as India’s first Chief of Defence Staff the next day with a mandate to bring in convergence in the functioning of the Army, Navy and the Indian Air Force and bolster the country’s military prowess.

Gen (retd) Roy Chowdhury said the military is always subordinate to the civil authorities in the country, but an “unsubstantiated” fear of a coup if the forces were brought under one head had prevented the then political establishment from taking a decision on it.

“This is the single reason why the country did not have a CDS so far,” the former Army chief said.

He said the post of CDS is important for the coordination of the three forces.

The former Army officer said the CDS will always have to work under internal pressure to meet with demands from the Army, Navy and the Air Force with each trying to get more of the defence budget pie in order to meet their requirements.

“The CDS will have to make his judgement on the requirements of the three forces and judiciously recommend distribution of funds to each,” Roy Chowdhury said.

The former Army chief said all the three services are under-funded and the demand for at least two per cent of the country’s GDP to be spent on the Defence budget has never been met.

“The CDS has to ensure that the resources are allocated equitably or priority wise within the services, in his recommendations to the government,” he said.