Nation loses an outstanding General

Bipin Rawat
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Bipin Rawat

Highlights

Entire nation has been stunned into a state of disbelief and disorientation by the news of the death of the Defence Services Chief Bipin Rawat and 12 more including his wife in a chopper crash in Tamil Nadu.

Entire nation has been stunned into a state of disbelief and disorientation by the news of the death of the Defence Services Chief Bipin Rawat and 12 more including his wife in a chopper crash in Tamil Nadu. The chopper crashed shortly after take-off on Wednesday afternoon. "An IAF Mi-17 V5 helicopter, with CDS Gen Bipin Rawat on board, met with an accident today near Coonoor, Tamil Nadu. An Inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the accident," tweeted the Air Force initially.

Rawat previously survived a helicopter crash: in 2015, his Cheetah helicopter suffered an engine failure and plummeted moments after it lifted off from a military base in northeast India. This time around he was not lucky. Initially, it was stated that Rawat had been moved to the military hospital nearby. Bipin Rawat was a non-nonsense general all through. He would always be remembered for his straight-jacket approach in dealing with security matters. Remember his famous saying when a Kashmiri man was used as a human shield. "This is a proxy war and proxy war is a dirty war. It is played in a dirty way. The rules of engagements are there when the adversary comes face-to-face and fights with you. It is a dirty war...That is where innovation comes in. You fight a dirty war with innovations," he stated then before going ahead with decorating the officer who had done it with a medal. He may not have been loved by some politicians, but the security forces loved his chivalry. The country is bound to miss his experience. However, the crash of an Indian Air Force (IAF) chopper once again brings to the fore the grave issue surrounding military aircraft accidents in India that have led to several fatalities in recent years. Last week, the Centre informed the Parliament that seven aircraft had crashed in the last two years. "A total of seven aircraft of the Air Force have crashed in the last two years, including the Mirage 2000 which crashed recently in Madhya Pradesh," Minister of State for Defence Ajay Bhatt told the Lok Sabha. The government has gone ahead and announced several steps to prevent such accidents. Some of these include invigoration of aerospace safety organisation, improving training methodology, higher use of simulators in the training and maintaining a database of accidents and incidents.

India, perhaps, is witnessing these accidents on a higher side due to the aging fleet of some of its aircraft. The present one involved could be different. As the probe has already been ordered, the country will come to know of it once the probe is over. But it gives little comfort to anyone. In 2019, the then Minister of State for Defence, Shripad Naik, presenting the data from 2014 to 2019 in the Parliament in reply to a question, stated that there had been more than 10 accidents every alternate year in five years from 2014-15 to 2018-19, adding 46 personnel were in total killed in Defence air crashes from 2014-15 to July 2019. Accidents this year, too, have claimed several lives. If we peruse the records, we come to know that these tragedies could have been the result of neglect of the Defence forces requirements over the years. Our governments just did not bother about pumping in funds to the upgradation and maintenance and upkeep of our flying birds. This is just not done!

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