India – Paradigm Shift in Republic Status with CDS Post

December 12, 2021

India – Paradigm Shift in Republic Status with CDS Post 

Padmini Arhant

The Chief of Defense Staff (CDS) appointment as the military head and chairman of the joint chiefs of the three (Army, Navy and Air Force) armed forces was created on December 30th, 2019 by the incumbent BJP government under PM Narendra Modi.

The CDS principal responsibilities described as the pivotal command center integrating the three armed forces operational requirements. Alongside the CDS also features a fundamental change in the Indian Defense Force ultimate authority. 

According to the Indian Constitution established and enacted on 26th January, 1950 after India’s hard fought independence on 15th August, 1947, the President is elected by the members of an electoral college consisting of the elected members of both the Houses of Parliament and the elected members of the Legislative Assemblies of States and the Union Territories of India. 

Indian President’s key roles (1) chief of state, (2) chief executive, (3) chief administrator, (4) chief diplomat, (5) commander in chief, (6) chief legislator, (7) party chief, and (8) chief citizen. Chief of state refers to the President as the head of the government.

The most important amongst them and commonly known by public is the President as the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Indian armed force. 

With the creation of Chief of Defense Staff (CDS) on 30th December 2019 by the ruling BJP government leadership PM Narendra Modi, the CDS reports directly to Prime Minister unlike the tradition maintained before CDS appointment for the Indian armed forces on India’s President oversight as the constitution titled commander-in-chief of the National Defense Force. 

In the wake of defense procurement controversy reaching a crescendo in November 2018 prominently the French fighter jets Rafale deal personally involving PM Narendra Modi and beneficiary Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence Limited besides other lucrative defense contracts proven a cash cow generally in politics, 

The CDS brought under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s wing in December 2019 typically removing the President’s consent and supervisory position on Defense matter as the Supreme Commander-in-Chief is a paradigm shift in the republic status bypassing Parliamentary procedures in a democracy. 

The Prime Minister as elected member of a political party presiding over central government is equally subject to constitutional rule of law in any functional democracy. The arbitrary restructuring of Indian Defense Force revoking constitutional definition and duties of the President on Indian Defense Force command is a serious diversion allocating disproportionate power for the Prime Minister’s office. 

The unilateral decision on CDS post assigning the military head under Prime Minister’s administration in the absence of any Parliamentary hearings or debates on the critical transformation of power is a clarion call for any democracy to seek credible and valid explanation on the empowerment of Prime Minister designation. 

The surreptitious power enhancement at the helm for a democracy in particular is neither democratic nor representative of a true republic governed by the constitution of a nation. 

The BJP government in New Delhi under PM Narendra Modi providing appropriate reasoning behind CDS post implementing Indian Defense Force command transfer from constitutional directed President’s charge to political maneuvered Prime Minister control is imperative for clarity in the command system.

The clarification is crucial not only for citizens as the republic but relevantly for the Indian armed forces serving the nation at large. 

Notwithstanding the trend to extend and consolidate massive power at the helm in the present time increasingly endangering democracy and eliminating constitutional based governance in different parts of the world. 

As such there is little or no tolerance among the central and regional political factions in India to any legitimate constructive criticism on politics generated problems and crises.

There is no limit from political parties to exercise extra judicial authority to silence peaceful dissent and genuine concerns on social media.

The political parties in power and/or in opposition utilizing undemocratic political means such as the unlawful activities protection act (UAPA) ordinarily meant to protect citizens from national security threats are conveniently misused against citizens to curb democratic rights in the proclaimed free republic. 

India declared as the world’s largest democracy joining the ranks in such category is a serious challenge to the concept of free world. 

Padmini Arhant

Author & Presenter 


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