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Seniority and Controversies
The government has announced the appointment of Lt General Bipin Rawat as the new army chief superseding two of his seniors — Lt General P.M. Hariz and Lt General Praveen Bakshi —. It is such a rare occurrence that it was bound to raise hackles. In principle, the civilian government cannot be faulted for choosing an army chief breaking the ‘seniority’ norm if it finds suitable considering the prevailing security environment and requirements. The seniority norm for selecting military chiefs was arrived at to shield military promotions from “political interference”. It is not a law or rule but just a convention followed since the controversy created in 1983 when Lt General S.K. Sinha was overlooked for promotion to the post of army chief by the Indira Gandhi government. When the civilian government overlooks people who doesn’t have any major red ticks against their names, it is bound to cause controversy. If an alternative is to be searched, it should ensure to maintain the delicate balance of civil-military relations which has remained unblemished so far in case of India.

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