The incoming army chief, General Bikram Singh, faces hard tasks ahead. His predecessor has bestowed upon him a pernicious legacy. Redressing poisoned civil-military relations and faction fighting in the top rungs of the army will require his immediate attention.
If that is not all, he can add two more tasks to that list: keeping the army ready as a war-fighting machine and maintaining an eye on the strategic challenges ahead.
This is a tall order and can sap the strength of even the most determined of men. He will need the government’s help. For starters, the defence minister can refocus on what needs to be done. A “Mr Clean” image is fine, but what the army needs now is modern equipment, spares and weapons. Minister A.K. Antony should get things moving, and fast. Other issues such as restoring a balance to relations between the army and the civilian leadership will take time. But a start should be made soon.