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Corruption in armed forces is disconcerting

When the Adarsh Housing Society scam grabbed headlinesand blazed out of television screens, names of top defence personnel came tumbling out. It was like a sock in the gut even of the most world-weary and cynical of citizens.

While the involvement of politicians and even bureaucrats in corruption evokes a sardonic, ‘what else can you expect of them’ from civilians who have become used to seeing muck flying around them, there is a different moral yardstick applied for the men in uniform. Romanticised to some extent and thought to be quite infallible, their fall from grace is disappointing and shocking.

It’s quite the same sentiment now, with the furore over a retired Indian Air Force (IAF) officer and the controversy about kickbacks involving a VVIP chopper deal. Even as denials and allegations continue to fly back ‘n’ forth, one cannot help but think that the last bastion of righteousness in a way has been sullied.

For the common man, cynical though he may be because of all the scams the he had witnessed in the country, the uniform and the soldier — the man who is ready to sacrifice himself at the altar of nationhood — isn’t supposed to transcend the muck in the system. That is why he is venerated and idolised by so many. While of course, one can never paint everybody with the same brush, the fact that the stink of corruption has now sullied the hallowed corridors of defence institutions is particularly distasteful for the common man.

A former defence official had said earlier that though one might say that everybody is human, there is a difference between civil society and people in uniform. The present scenario brings to mind the truth in Dr John Wolcot’s wise words: ‘E’en grave divines submit to glittering gold; The best of consciences are bought and sold.’ 

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