Belling the Cat of Intellectual Mediocrity By Lt Gen P R Shankar (R)

Also published @

An article titled ’Military Mediocrity – Who Will Bell The Cat’ by Mr Mohan Guruswamy  is doing the  social media rounds.( published in the It paints the Indian Armed Forces leadership in poor light.  Casting aspersions on the leadership of the Armed Forces, at present, sows doubt in the minds of common people.  Is the safety, security and wellbeing of the nation in the right hands?

Mr Guruswamy’s intellectual discourse on military leadership is a reproduction of his earlier diatribe titled ‘Military Incompetence – Who Will Bell the Cat’ in Jul 18 (also published by the  What is the difference between these articles? ‘Incompetence’ has been replaced by ‘Mediocrity’ over two years.  Congratulations India! Your military leadership has graduated from incompetence to mediocrity while Mr Guruswamy and the Citizen are belling the same old cat.  This new article with a few changed sentences, a paragraph on Fd Marshal Manekshaw and a dimwitted effort of Cut, Copy and Paste will put us on the way to global military leadership.   Such intellectualism is below mediocrity. It is mendacity for attention. I must also hand it to the editorial staff of the media platform who re-published such scurrility.  Even ‘Global Times’ is miles ahead in comparison. This represents only one of the two things. Poor journalism or ulterior motives. No third reason.  Plumbing new depths of intellectual idiocy to seek relevance!    

Am I shooting the messenger? No. I shot the messenger two years back in Daily O. Click here to read it. Instead of a full response just read the last paragraphs to get the drift.


When I was penning these thoughts down, I read some tweets of Mr Guruswamy and learnt something about his persona. He has a daily and an hourly opinion on many issues, from Hema Malini to the Indian Army. That’s his right to free speech and he is exercising it. However, I am thankful that he is in a pitiful minority regarding military leaders. It is not without reason that India feels that the Military is the most trusted institution in India. Is it possible without able leadership?    


If Casablanca had been an intellectual, he would not have stood on the burning deck. The boy stood on the burning deck, and so are the Indian Armed Forces.  I am proud to have donned the uniform of the Indian Army, which is internationally respected.  Mr Guruswamy can hold his opinion about all of us, any way he thinks, any number of times. We heartily reciprocate it.

 BTW. I am also confident that our Armed Forces will set right any aberrations which surface; including those of leadership. When the time comes. Till then the Indian Armed Forces remain unyielding.  


The Indian Armed Forces are being led competently in the front. If not, China and Pakistan would have been all over India. In the current situation, our forces have stemmed the Chinese tide. The Chinese came with a well-prepared plan to teach India a lesson. In the process they are learning a lot of lessons. The greatest asset of the Indian Armed Forces are our men – better than the best. Unless our men are well led, they cannot defend the nation. We need good commanders – right from Langar commanders to Army commanders to do that. Please realize our Armed Forces are not as well equipped as they should be. Still our military leaders are getting more out of our men and material than one can imagine. Galwan bears testimony. If military leadership was poor as reiterated by Mr Guruswamy, then the Chinese would be sitting at Thangu and the confluence of Shyok and Galwan Rivers. India would have then been in a soup.


I am also fully aware that there are problems with our military leadership which are institutional, structural and historic. They need correction and major reforms if India is to become a global power.  We need the best leaders that India can and has the potential to produce. I have been raising these points through earlier articles. I will do so again once the current situation eases. However, at this point of time we must stand by those who are there. These commanders are laying a lot on the line. Some might make mistakes under battle stress. They are not gods. Weak links in any chain of command need strengthening.  If they are beyond that, simply sack them. Otherwise back them. It is not easy to lead in an area where even the mere act of breathing is a problem. 

Our senior military leaders were probably company commanders and 2ICs during Op Vijay. It is because of some of their demonstrated military ability that Kargil and other operations were successful. Later, they must have put in a lot of hard work to improve their professional acumen to reach their current ranks and positions. ACRs and promotions are not freebies. It took me backbreaking hard work, study, deprivation, and application to become a three-star general. I have had many serious differences of opinions with my seniors, bureaucracy, and even national politicians from the rank of Lt to Lt Gen. Yet, I was never harmed in a CR or a promotion. I am sure I am not unique or a creature of exception. There are many more with similar backgrounds. There will be systemic aberrations also. However, this is not the time to criticize or degrade our military leaders. It undermines morale at the cutting edge.  

Scratch below the surface. I suspect a link between this great man and those 144 protesting veterans. Am I disappointed? At one level I am. At another level, I am sanguine that our democracy is strong to take such aberrated opinions and journalism in stride. My only advice to them – Thank your gods that you are in India.  Imagine your status under Xi Jinping if you had raised such voices. You would have been giving some hapless Uighurs company in a re-education camp and your hair would be on sale in USA as a wig.     


28 responses to “Belling the Cat of Intellectual Mediocrity By Lt Gen P R Shankar (R)”

  1. Well Said Sir. Someone was required to call out this man & his continuous diabtrate against Army Leadership.

  2. There couldn’t have been a more accurate and appropriate rebuttal of the article by this person masquerading as a real ‘Guru military affairs’

  3. Wonderful expression of facts in an unbridled manner befitting an officer of your stature which will warm up the cockles of many a young OG hearts who walk in the harm's way to realise that there is a voice in the senior ranks gallery which resonates with their feel and desire. Sir, I agree with your points and would like to add further that what got us here will not take us where we intend to. I would like to highlight the aspects of institutional, structural and histrihist faultlines in our leadership – political, military, socio-economic and socio-religious which needs to be addressed and the time to do the same was yesterday. In the information age that we live in and the reset due COVID presents a great opportunity to commence changes and reforms which we as a country need to be a nation that has realised it's potential rather than be a nation always awaiting it's tryst with destiny

  4. Very aptly and timely put across General. I have personally known you since NDA days ie over four decades and have seen you in all ranks from 2/Lt to a *** General. I vouch for each and every word you have published. Regards

  5. This guy needs to go in a mental asylum!! Problem with our country is that anyone can say anything to any institution/person and get away with it!!Mohan Guruswamy should be sent to china/ pakistan to understand how lucky he is to be staying in a democracy!!

  6. Nothing could have been more aptly said. Superb articulation Sir. The Chinese may soon withdraw Guruswamys allowances

  7. I have read the article by Guruswamy and I feel one cannot shoot it down offhand. He has given a lot of examples from WWII but some of his observations regarding current military leadership does ring a”bell”. However compliments to General Shankar for his logical counterpoints.

  8. It is most unfortunate and pitiable that these guys who sell their pens at the drop of a hat are themselves are steeped in mediocrity. They failed to understand that the citizens of the country have immense faith in the armed forces than listen to their rants motivated by ulterior motives. They seem to be brain dead to the popularity of the armed forces in the eyes of the people. I am glad that the General officer has given it back in the same coin, being forthright in his views.Not a word is said of the bureaucracy which is responsible for blunders in administration of the country hiding behind the dhotis of political masters.

  9. Well said Vinayak. Nice to see your views.

  10. Glad you have spoken you mind. Keep at it Sire.

  11. I fully endorse your sentiments Gen Shankar. You can't win battles only with good men; yes you will win only with good military commanders. If Guruswamy has the courage he should volunteer as a war correspondent. I wish he had carried out deeper research before penning down his thoughts. By giving wrong examples of WW II, he has forgotten the recent examples of 1971 and Kargil and more so day to day operations in the Valley. Guruswamy should try to put his own house of journalism in order and stop interfering in an institution which has stood its ground when everybody else, yes every other organisation has failed.

  12. MG's response in his FB page.AN EXPECTED RESPONSE.A few days ago I posted a piece about Military Incompetence – a subject that has acquired sacred cow dimensions in our country. This has been the response of a retired Lt.Gen. He has little to offer by way of a comment on professional training and or leadership caliber in the military. He obviously is satisfied that he has made it to 3 stars by the usual means and so the system works. Instead of commenting on the content he has expended his depleted intellect on personal attack, only proving my point. I am quite used to this.

  13. Well elucidated sir. Whatever may be the motive of Guruswamy, the Quota System in the Army, dominated by ONLY ONE Arm & in that too ONE Lanyard, is atrocious and needs to be checked – which hass resulted in many a morons stepping up the ladder. In the complete 1985 Batch, NOT A SINGLE NON INFANTRY Officer was approved for Comd as Lt Gen. Dont you find anything ominous in it? You may keep brushing the filth under the carpet and hardcore Bhakts may keep eulogizing BiRa & his predecessors, the DECAY is there. Please write something on the CASTE SYSTEM prevailing & also why 20 odd COLS refused HC/HDMC. At least we expect you to have a VOICE & not kowtoe the official lines.

  14. Sir, this fake intellectual should have been given a lesson on our officers casualty statistics vis a vis armed forces of other nations and the stds of leadership it reflects… As an out of work journalist, he appears to be fishing for some cheap popularity

  15. My take : Synopsis of what is pretty difficult to believe in1.this is not the time to criticise or degrade our military leaders. It undermines morale at the cutting edge. Why? We did it all the time before, what's changed now.2. at this point of time we must stand by those who are there.Why? Why should they get away with poor leadership in face of enemy action? Would Gens have been so magnanimous with a coy cdr or CO who failed?3. I was never harmed in a CR or a promotion. I am sure I am not unique or a creature of exception.Sir, that would be odd, if it was true. CR with hidden box gradings demand unquestioning loyalty to the chair.4. I suspect a link between this great man and those 144 protesting veterans.And why would that be wrong.5.Thank your gods that you are in India. Imagine your status under Xi JinpingAnd that is the India you want us to look forward to, where we beat up protesting veterans and deny them basic dignity while spouting patriotic platitudes.I strongly submit…..1962 we fought under idiots gens, Babus, netas and died, still we fought.They were judged by history and are now ridiculed, be it Kaul, Thapar or Nehru.2020 Chinese murdered 20 of our brothers on our land, occupy it and we still find it reasonable to defend the morons who make up our national leadership, except the PM of course, he can't be wrong about the lockdown or selfies with XI. This too will be judged by history.

  16. GuruSwamy should be given a kick on his Ass .

  17. Glad you have placed the loose comments in appropriate perspective and called those out who consider it appropriate to let loose their unsubstantiated individual opinions, under the guise of intellectual discourse. The restraint of military to call out such `loose talking intellectuals' is construed by them as acquiesce. People need to be mindful of the sensitivities of this great organisation, which has silently dedicated itself to the nation.

  18. The general protests too much… Although I am not fully convinced by Guruswami, yet I find the general is defending the indefensible by not acknowledging horrendous intelligence failure and if it was not intelligence failure then analysis and lack of action on intelligence at least is a clear failure. Every TV channel could get hold of satellite pictures and our entire setup was caught napping to say the least. General Rawat and his cronies ehould have been shown the door anywhere else…

  19. Dear Anonymous, it is obvious from your comment that you don't know the functioning of intelligence apparatus of this country… you may like to educate yourself with the same… For your info, external intelligence is not part of the Indian Army's charter… Satellites are not under control of the Army… So you would do well by brushing up your knowledge…

  20. The rejoinder to Guruswamy by Lt Gen Shankar and elsewhere by Admiral Arun Prakash converges on the sweeping statements attributed to the author, who has bitten more than he can chew. While, I do nt substantially discard the feature, only because it has underlying truth in its summation, I consider it to be a wake up call for the Army to accept , brain trust , revise, reform, recast and transform its leadership understanding from positional to personal and driven more by character, competence and courage in equal order. It should not be the case to fiercely protect that which is eating into the institution of the Army, only because it has been called out by an outsider. It is not freedom of speech alone but there is problems which have become a pattern than exceptions. When leadership transcends the current truism of Do as I say to Do as I do, in our middle and senior leadership will we be approximating the ideal of Service before Self.Leadership essentially comes from self example and convictions than academic rhetorics and finds its culmination in selfless service.

  21. Very well articulated and an excellent rebuttal, a.k.a Marc Anthony. Bravo Sir

  22. Well said sir.The Army is still in the WW2 mould, with Batmen, helping to run the house.Even Pakistan has done away with it.Since Alexander,s time we have been losing, because of poor technology,tactics and training.Recently a Brigadier in the forward area sent a picture of the area,s map by WhatsApp, little knowing that Sundar Pichai, would know the name of the person, the time photo was taken,and of course the map..Training in AI, Robotics,IOT and like subjects should be ingrained in the officers.But then the senior Army officers should know the importance of the subject, and in its absence,we continue.

  23. If the army does not use satellite imagery,then they are going into war blind folded. And this means they are still in presatellite age. Time to get modern.

  24. Lutyens 'intellectual'…before coming on to the Army leadership he should have looked at the structural weaknesses imposed on the Defence forces chiefly the Army. Very limited intelligence capability. TSD of the Army for intelligence gathering disbanded,RAW and IB having oen fiefdoms, Satellites under MOD, responsibility for defence of India assigned to the Defence Secretary NOT the Chiefs. Yet this pseudo intellectual runs a campaign over 2 years to malign the current Army leadership.

  25. Sir, proud of your lucid rationality and optimism 😊

  26. Shankar very aptly conveyed but It’s not fault of Guruswamy He has lost his balance with age and when no one is paying any attention. He can’t comment on politics since he is aware of our come so next best is Armed Forces . On his FB he is being pulled and abused and his response with choicest words is testimony to his Mental state.

  27. Sir seems like you have belled the cat. Mr Guruswamy obtains his fame from bunch of JNU/tukre tukre gang of men and women who massage his ego. For a person who could not find his footing in NDA…lots of such self created think tanks hit back at the organization which they failed to be part of. Idiots have to be treated like idiots…his problem is that he is a very smart idiot

  28. I am glad that Gen Shankar has exposed Guruswamy's intellectual bankruptcy in republishing an article published only a few years back by merely replacing a few words. Are we setting standards for others with that kind of morality? Any criticism of Gen Shankar on that account is uncalled for. Our constitution guarantees Freedom of Speech equally to every Indian.

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