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“Our forces are India’s pride. To further sharpen coordination between the forces, I want to announce a major decision. India will have a Chief of Defence Staff. This is going to make the forces even more effective,” announced PM Narendra Modi during his Independence day speech this year.

Four months later, in a situation where the entire country is witnessing unrest due to the anti-people agenda of the incumbent government, India has received one of its major defence reform in 72 years. The centre has rewarded Bipin Rawat with the post of CDS.

Interestingly, a few hours before the announcement Mr Rawat took a dig at the opposition and appeased the centre with his statement that “instigating large crowds to turn violent and carry out arson doesn’t amount to leadership.”

The defence ministry also amended the rules and made the retirement age of CDS to be 65 years so that Mr Rawat is not excluded. It was last week that the Cabinet Committee on Security approved the creation of the post of CDS of the Indian armed forces.

Here is what you may not know:

What Is Chief Of Defence Staff ?

Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), will be the head of the tri-services- Army, Navy and Air Force- in India and a single-point military advisor for the government. CDS is tasked with trimming weapons procurement procedures and integrating operations of the Indian armed forces.

CDS will also act as the chief military advisor for the government and will have the power to direct the service chiefs of Army, Navy and Air Force and will also have the authority to create theatre commands as and when needed.

The idea which was first proposed by General KV Krishna Rao in the early eighties gained momentum post the Kargil war of 1999. Following the war, the idea was proposed by many senior officers and high-level defence committees. To look into the matter in detail, a study team headed by Minister of State Defence was constituted in 1999, which proposed the creation of CDS and integration of armed forces.

When Power Culminates

Earlier governments had been wary of the idea of CDS, due to the suggestion that it might result in an increased power of the army which they feared might even result in a military coup. Most of the democratic countries of the post-colonial era, including that of neighbouring Pakistan had witnessed coup after coup, all thanks to the autonomy that the Army had.

The decision to implement the post of CDS had also brought serious criticism from the bureaucratic front as with the CDS in place as the single-point advisor to the defence ministry, several bureaucratic positions would now turn less important.

The time at which the approval was given is also significant. In the middle of serious mistrust between the three services- Army, Navy and IAF- what might be the effect of CDS would only unfold slowly. Till date, even amid the chaos, Army, Navy and Air Force have not been able to share resources and work successfully.  In an interview given to India Today, senior Army officials had accepted that they are are more ready now for war than at any point in recent decades.

By culminating the three forces and providing the complete power to a single individual thus increases the autonomy of armed forces as an institution which is unhealthy for any democratic country.

The long wait and the longer debate has come to an end with this unilateral decision. What remains to be seen is indeed the larger consequences of the decision.

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