General Vijay Kumar Singh, a third-generation officer with an impressive career and an impeccable track record, took over on Wednesday as the 26th chief of the Indian Army. He replaces General Deepak Kapoor. Singh is the first trained commando to become army chief.
His ascension to the post comes at a time when there is
widespread concern about the army chief’s office being embroiled in controversies, especially surrounding the Sukhna land scam in which several senior army officers were indicted by a court of inquiry.
General Singh, 59, is the 24th Indian chief (the first two chiefs after independence were British) of the 1.13 million-strong army. His appointment, announced on January 23, came despite efforts by a powerful lobby within the army to scuttle it, projecting some recording errors in his age shown with two different branches of the army. Singh would be in office for over two years.
General Singh has an illustrious army record. He participated in the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971 and was part of the Indian Peacekeeping Force in Sri Lanka in the late 80s. Not only did Singh complete almost all professional courses offered by the army in India, but he also completed the army rangers course of the US Army War College.
Singh held several crucial positions across the country, in militancy-hit areas and along the border. He commanded a strike corps in western sector before taking over as the eastern army commander.
The new chief has multiple challenges before him, foremost being the need to restore the confidence in the impartiality and high moral values of his post. He will have to deal with corruption and nepotism in the army and help the government formulate effective policies on naxalism and other security challenges.