The third dispatch marks the completion of the Phase 3 program and the end of the Mussorie component of the six-week Induction training–and it’s time to cover the Valedictory address, as well as some of the key highlights in the week that went by. More than the academic component, it was the cultural programs, sports meet, photographs, musings, and general bonhomie and the sense of celebration with the visiting family members that marked the last few days–and it is perhaps difficult to encapsulate everything in this column. Its best, therefore, to call it Mile Sur Mera Tumhara! Also Read – A special kind of bondLet me begin with a skit at the cultural program in which the anchor took the voice of the ‘spirit of LBSNAA’ which welcomes and sees off every batch of officers that comes and spends some time at the Academy. For mid-career and induction training programs, officers come across batches and many get to meet each other for the first time, but the spirit of LBSNAA binds them together in a unique esprit de corps, and they go back as friends for a lifetime. When two programs run together, the bonding cuts across batches–for they share many common experiences both inside and outside classrooms. In the mid-career programs, the Academy encourages participants to bring their families–it adds life, colour and vigour to the campus and the bonds of friendship get deeply entrenched. Also Read – Insider threat managementThe Valedictory address to the Phase 3 was delivered by Shatrughan Singh, the Chief Information Commissioner of Uttarakhand, and the ex-Chief Secretary of the state. In his seminal address which drew substantially from Yuval Noah Harari’s trilogy of Homo Sapiens, Homo Deus and Twenty-One lessons for the twenty-first century, he talked about how technology was likely to disrupt almost everything about governance and society that we are currently familiar with. The problems, or rather issues facing the planet are well beyond the ken of national governments–for issues like Climate Change, global migration and social unrest are not confined to any particular region–and need global answers. Even national governments will have to deal with a new set of issues: how will the political leadership deal with issues of access to drugs and therapies that reverse ageing and terminal illnesses and create options like ‘death on demand’, or Biblical longevities! Will these therapies be driven by markets, in which case the largest numbers will be excluded–but if the state decides to extend the benefits, like other freebies, substantial budgets will go to this. How will pension funds cope with having to dole out payments, month after month, ad infinitum? And while one set of technologies will extend the human life, the others–like robotics and Artificial intelligence–will make most of the redundant jobs. Many of the jobs that we know today–from drivers to doctors, from teachers to technical assistants to pimps and plumbers would become irrelevant! How will society deal with an economy which has no shortages, but also a very large section which is ‘unemployable’, and vulnerable to political demagogy which will rise as expectations soar–and ‘expectations’ can always outwit the best delivery systems which new technologies can put on offer! Governance will certainly be under strain on account of changes in global power equations–the US and Europe will no longer be able to set the agenda for global governance, and the Bretton Woods instruments which set the terms for the monetary and development architecture will have to take a back seat. Will India be able to join China in defining the emerging world order? While we are certainly better prepared as we have strong strengths in IT and BT–but what about our strategic thinking? Do we have what it takes to be centre stage? Certainly, food for thought for officers who are just about to enter the ‘policy space’ in both the Centre and states. The theme for the address at the Induction training program was on Sardar Patel and the establishment of the IAS. There were many in India who wanted to do away with a centralised, powerful and networked bureaucracy like the ICS–and wanted the provincial services to replace the ICS. However, it was Patel who, as the Home Minister in the Interim Cabinet, stood his ground and ensured that the country got a first-class civil service in which the best and brightest could contribute to nation-building. In the meeting held on October 21/22, 1946, eight of the eleven provinces (with the exceptions of Punjab, Bengal and Sind) favoured the establishment of an All India service. Incidentally, in this conference, there was a thought that as law and order was a state subject, the IP (the predecessor to IPS) may be provincialised. However, it was finally decided that the IPS should also be recruited centrally by the Federal Public Service Commission, and the Extremal Affairs Ministry also agreed to recruit diplomats through the same exam. It was only at his insistence that Article 311 became a powerful instrument to ensure that the bureaucracy could perform its functions without fear or favour. He was clear that if the civil servant did not have the freedom and independence to speak its mind to the political executive, the very edifice of governance would suffer. Patel’s role in integrating all the 500 odd princely states which held 48 per cent of India’s area and 28 per cent of its population was also highlighted. But for his insistence on a common instrument of accession for all the states–irrespective of their gun salutes and their separate treaties with the Crown of England–the process of getting them all together would have been quite complicated. The Academy is now gearing up for the JCM (Joint Civil-Military Program) on National Security. This program brings together officers of the rank of Joint Secretary and above in civil services and their equivalents in Defence, Police and CPMFs to discuss the broad gamut of national security in all its aspects, and sessions will feature lessons from Kargil to cybersecurity, India and her neighbourhood, including the high seas, left-wing extremism, energy and food security, et al. More on this in the next column! (Dr. Sanjeev Chopra is Director, LBSNAA, Mussoorie, and Honorary Curator, Valley of Words: Literature and Arts Festival, Dehradun. The views expressed are strictly personal)
TORONTO – A decision by Canadian military investigators to shut down a probe into allegations that recruits were stripped and tortured during exercises decades ago will now come under independent scrutiny, the Military Police Complaints Commission of Canada announced Thursday.In a detailed written explanation, the chairwoman of the commission, Hilary McCormack, said the “public interest” investigation will determine whether the matter was properly handled and whether improper considerations influenced the decision to close the case.“It is in the public interest for the allegations in this complaint to be investigated in an open and transparent manner,” McCormack said. “The allegations in this complaint are serious and raise issues that can impact on confidence in the military police and its independence.”It was not immediately clear how much of the original torture allegations will be aired in the commission’s review.The complaint about the investigation was made in December 2016 by Jeffrey Beamish, a former member of the Canadian Armed Forces.Beamish had initially alleged he was “tortured” during exercises at the infantry battle school at CFB Wainwright, Alta., between October 1983 and March 1984. He alleged others among the 33 recruits were also tortured during a prisoner-of-war scenario in which they were stripped and placed in cells too small to sit down in.“The complaint alleges that over the following 24 to 48 hours, the naked recruits were sprayed through the jail door bars with cold water from a hose while the windows were left open, letting in the outside air,” McCormack said. “It is alleged that the temperature outside was between -15°C and -30°C. As the recruits did not have access to bathrooms, they had to urinate on the floor.”Beamish said the experience left him with major depressive disorder, PTSD, night terrors, paranoia and adjustment issues. He went to military police, and they turned the matter over to their investigative arm — the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service.In August 2016, the lead investigator called Beamish to advise him the investigation was closed, according to McCormack. Beamish maintains he was told among other things that the courts would not punish anyone for what occurred, and that “torture” wasn’t an offence under the Criminal Code at the time of the original events. Beamish also said he was given nothing in writing and that the investigator confirmed he had not actually reviewed the file.His complaint alleges “professional negligence, incompetence, and failing to investigate serious criminal allegations.”McCormack said a professional standards investigation decided in September his complaint was unsubstantiated. Among reasons given was the initial investigator’s experience and quality of his work, but it did fault his communication skills.Beamish then turned to the military police complaints commission. After reviewing the available materials, McCormack said she decided to exercise her discretion and call for a proper review. While expressing no view on the merits of the complaint, McCormack called it important to decide whether “improper considerations” influenced the decision to close the initial investigation.The gravity of what Beamish initially alleged is “indisputable,” she said.“They involve an allegation of torture, a very serious offence, and they are also alleged to have been the result of institutional conduct by a CAF Battle School chain of command and/or persons occupying positions of power or leadership in the CAF,” McCormack said.The possibility that military police were declining to investigate serious allegations against the military brass could give rise to a perception of a lack of independence and “discourage” other complainants from coming forward, she said.As a result, she said, it would be in the public interest for the commission to conduct its own investigation and would now start that process.