General Bipin Rawat has often exhibited the unusual trait of venturing into territories that were avoided by his illustrious predecessors

If there is one institution in the country that has escaped corrosion it is the Indian Army. But the recent turn of events has caused alarm and voices of concern have highlighted the need to isolate the army from politicisation. Army chief general Bipin Rawat has often exhibited the unusual trait of venturing into territories that were avoided by his illustrious predecessors. Eyebrows were raised when he talked about the sensitive issue of the changing demographic profile in the North-East impacting the politics of the region. What he articulated might not be wide of the mark but mentioning political parties in the context of security implications was open to interpretation. This was not the first instance where the general was seen caught on the wrong foot. On many occasions in recent years the army’s moves were seen to align with a political dispensation. It is a fact that the army is part of the government but its unbiased image needs to be preserved. This paper had also highlighted the pitfalls of entering into the danger zone. Similar views are emerging from within the community of veterans, which has expressed concern over the latest developments. Building railway bridges in Mumbai or providing a helping hand in a religious congregation might have been appreciated by the public, but the use of the army in carrying out civilian tasks is not warranted. It is a situation that should be avoided at any cost as the army has a specific role to play and it cannot be deployed frequently for civilian tasks in this manner. The army top brass should stand up to the administration to preserve its ethos without disturbing the political equation. It is the task of the generals to ensure that the institution maintains its standards as it has in the past. Following general Rawat's remarks that regional outfit AIUDF was growing faster than the BJP in Assam, the government stated in Parliament that the army was apolitical. The fact that the army’s apolitical character had to be reaffirmed is itself a cause for concern. Lieutenant General (retired) Prakash Menon also highlighted in one of his articles that the military's apolitical nature is the cornerstone of India's democratic foundation; and diluting it could be disastrous. The army is engaged in dealing with counter insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir and the North-East for decades now. The politicisation of the force will only complicate the complex task instead of helping the cause. Apart from the army, it is also the responsibility of the government to ensure that the institution remains isolated from suspicion of having a political hue. The armed forces have performed exceedingly well in dealing with adversities. They should be guarded from these unwarranted insinuations as it affects the morale of the force which cannot afford to be dragged into performing civilian tasks. They have a role cut out for them which they are performing well. There is no need to tinker with the system which has delivered whenever the situation has demanded it to.