Gen Rawat becomes Hindutva CDS

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NEW DELHI: Indian Army chief General Bipin Rawat has been appointed India’s first chief of defence staff or tri-service chief, the Indian government said in an announcement late Monday. General Rawat is set to finish his tenure as Army chief and will be succeeded by Lt Gen Manoj Mukund Naravane. The defence ministry had earlier amended rules to allow the Chief of Defence Staff to serve up to a maximum age limit of 65 years. Statedly, a key mandate of the CDS will be to facilitate restructuring of military commands for optimal utilisation of resources by bringing about jointness in operations, including through establishment of joint/theatre commands. All is set for outgoing Indian army chief General Bipin Rawat’s elevation as India’s first-ever chief of defence staff (CDS), with the rules amended to allow the tri-service chief to serve till the age of 65 year. According to Indian media reports, Gen Rawat is the front-runner for the CDS post, and will complete his three-year term as army chief on December 31. He turns 62 in March next year, Indian media has reported. The army, navy and IAF chiefs, as per existing Indian government rules, can only serve up to the age of 62 or for three years, whichever is earlier. As per the new proviso inserted into the Army Rules, the Indian government “may, if considered necessary in public interest, give extension of service to the CDS for such period or periods as it may deem necessary subject to maximum age of 65 years”. The amendment in the Army Rules comes after a pre-scheduled ceremony for the ceremonial transfer of the baton of the chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee (CoSC) was deferred at the last minute on Friday. Gen Rawat was supposed to hand over the baton to Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh at the ceremony. The CoSC comprises the Army, Navy and IAF chiefs, with the senior-most of them acting as the “rotational’’ chairman till he retires. But, with the Indian cabinet approving the CDS post and its charter on December 24, the CDS will now be the “first among equals” as the permanent chairman of the CoSC and head of a new department of military affairs in the Defence Ministry. He will, however, remain a four-star general with the same pay and perks as the other three services chiefs, who will retain full operational control over their forces. The development has also clarified that procedural matters such these fall within the ambit of executive. Pakistan and India both follow a common law principle inherited from colonial times and the jurisprudence approach of courts in both countries have also been historically similar.–Agencies