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General confusion

india Updated: May 14, 2012 02:57 IST

We all know that General VK Singh, the outgoing chief of the army staff was just trying to test our powers of observation by claiming he was a year younger than his records showed. Would we spot the huge difference that one whole year brings about in one’s external appearance?

When most of us, including the government, failed the test, he went to court. Surely the court would discern the difference. It didn’t. And now it turns out that the good general was having a bit of a laugh at our expense. But silly old us, we took him seriously.

There were debates on the subject, there was much emotion about honour from the general, there was breathless expressions of support for him, there were columnists breathing fire and brimstone about how he had made a mockery of army discipline. And now, he tells us that it was all quite needless. But, unfortunately, we are of a suspicious bent of mind. Now we are sure that the general had nothing to do with some caste-based rally organised by some relative of his. And we are sure, fine soldier that he is, that he is floating above the fray here. But a bit of controversy is always a good way to keep in the public eye as you retire and makes you a catch for political parties trawling around for fresh blood. And a general would qualify as a big one in the net. But we are sure that the age row which the general kicked up and almost bought the government to a standstill had more to do with vanity than anything else. After all, given half the chance most of us would shave off a couple of years from our age. Many well-known social birds have stayed at a fetching 40 for as long as we can remember. And the poor general was only quibbling about one measly year.

Come now general, you are only as old as you feel. And for those of you who feel that you can no longer lie credibly about your age, there is nothing that a little surgical help cannot overcome. If the general is interested, we could send along a few numbers, just for a little consultation, mind you. If he takes up our offer, why he could insist that he has at least 10 more years of service left.