PM Modi calls CDS ‘momentous, comprehensive reform’ as Gen Bipin Rawat takes charge
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said the appointment of the chief of defence staff (CDS) was a momentous and comprehensive reform that would help India face challenges of modern warfare, a day after General Bipin Rawat’s appointment to the top post.
“Creation of the Department of Military Affairs with requisite military expertise and institutionalisation of the post of CDS is a momentous and comprehensive reform that will help our country face the ever-changing challenges of modern warfare,” the PM tweeted, shortly after Rawat inspected a tri-services guard of honour at the South Block Lawns.
A gazette notification issued by the government on Monday created a new department of military affairs or Sainya Karta Vibhag that will be headed by India’s first CDS. The new department is an addition to the four existing verticals in the defence ministry --- the departments of defence, defence production, defence research and development and ex-service welfare.
“On 15th August 2019, from the ramparts of the Red Fort, I announced that India will have a Chief of Defence Staff. This institution carries tremendous responsibility of modernizing our military forces. It would also reflect the hopes and aspirations of 1.3 billion Indians,” Modi said in another tweet.
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The appointment of a CDS was one of the most significant recommendations made by the K Subrahmanyam-led Kargil Review Committee (KRC) that was constituted in the immediate aftermath of the 1999 Kargil war to examine lapses that allowed Pakistani soldiers to occupy strategic heights, the initial sluggish Indian response, and suggest measures to strengthen national security. The KRC report was tabled in Parliament in February 2000.
A year later, in February 2001, a Group of Ministers (GoM), under the then home minister LK Advani, submitted its report to the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The GoM was set up in April 2000 to review the national security system against the backdrop of the KRC recommendations. It recommended that a CDS be appointed. But the Cabinet Committee on Security decided that the appointment of a CDS be taken up later after holding talks with different political parties.
Successive governments failed to build political consensus on appointing a CDS for almost two decades. However, PM on August 15 announced the creation of the new post.
“I am delighted that as we begin the new year and new decade, India gets its first Chief of Defence Staff in General Bipin Rawat. I congratulate him and wish him the very best for this responsibility. He is an outstanding officer who has served India with great zeal,” Modi said in a third tweet.
The government cleared the appointment of the CDS on December 24 and appointed Rawat to the top post on Tuesday with effect from December 31. As CDS, Rawat will head the department of military affairs and act as principal military adviser to the defence minister on all matters related to the tri-services.
“As the first CDS takes charge, I pay homage to all those who have served and laid down their lives for our nation. I recall the valiant personnel who fought in Kargil, after which many discussions on reforming our military began, leading to today’s historic development,” he said on Twitter.