Vijay Kumar Singh
General Vijay Kumar Singh, PVSM, AVSM, YSM, ADC (born 10 May 1951) is an Indian politician and a retired four star general in the Indian Army. In May 2014, he was appointed as the Minister of State of External Affairs and Minister of state (independent charge) for North East Region in the NDA-led Indian Government. On 10 November 2014, the Development of North Eastern Region ministry was passed to Jitendra Singh.
During his military career, Singh served as the 24th Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army from 2010 to 2012. Most of his military career was spent in special forces roles, including service in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 and U.S. Army Ranger training; he was the first commando to be promoted to the rank of General. He became the first serving Indian military chief to take the Government of India to court.
In 2014, after his retirement from the military, he joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and was elected as the Member of Parliament of the Lok Sabha in the Indian general elections, 2014, from the Ghaziabad constituency of Uttar Pradesh.
He has written his autobiographical book, Courage and Conviction.
Early life and education
Vijay Kumar Singh was born in Bapora village, Bhiwani district, Haryana. His father was a Colonel in the Indian Army and grandfather a Junior Commissioned Officer. Singh was educated at Birla Public School, Pilani, Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan. He is also an alumnus of National Defence Academy (India).
He graduated from the Defence Services Staff College. He was an honours graduate of the United States Army Infantry School, a graduate of the Rangers Course at Fort Benning and the United States Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
Singh is experienced in both counter-insurgency and high-altitude operations. He also saw action as a young Lieutenant in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 while serving as an intelligence officer of 2 Rajput. During his career he has served in various positions:
- Instructor in the Indian Military Training Team (IMTRAT) headquarters in Bhutan.
- Instructor at Infantry School twice and Chief Instructor at JLW (Commando Wing), Belgaum.
- Commanded an Infantry brigade.
- Military Operations Directorate at the Army Headquarters.
- Brigadier General Staff of a Corps during Operation Parakram when Indian troops were mobilised on the border in the wake of the attack on the Indian Parliament in 2001.
- Commanded Ambala-based 2 Corps and Jalandhar-based 11 Corps.
- Commanded the Army's Eastern Command.
Singh became the 24th Chief of Army Staff on 31 March 2010, and was the first commando to achieve that position. Towards the end of his career there was a dispute regarding his date of birth, causing him to become the first serving officer of the Indian Army to take the government to court. As a consequence of an error made when he had enrolled with the National Defence Academy in 1965, official records mis-stated the year in which he was born. He withdrew the writ in February 2012 when, according to The Hindu, the Supreme Court of India "refused to intervene". The Court noted that there was no dispute regarding his actual date of birth and that the matter being contested was regarding how that had been recorded. It ruled that Singh had on three occasions accepted the misrecorded date.
The BBC noted in 2012 that defence experts considered a drive to modernise the Indian army had suffered from "a lack of planning and acrimony between the military and the defence ministry". This report followed an interview given by Singh in March 2012 that had caused a political row. Singh said that over a year earlier he had reported to A. K. Antony, the defence minister, that he had been offered a bribe of US$2.7 million if the army bought several hundred sub-standard vehicles. Antony issued a rebuttal to the interview, saying that he had requested at the time that Singh provide a written report regarding the incident and that this had never been submitted. Two days after the interview with Singh, correspondence between the general and the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, was leaked. This criticised the standard of India's defences and caused a further political row.
Subsequent to his retirement from the military, Singh showed support for the anti-corruption movement. He was seen on the stage in August 2012 at the Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi, where Ramdev was fasting in protest of alleged black money and corruption. He was reported to have declared that "It is shocking but true that over two lakh farmers have committed suicide since 1995. The problems of farmers will have to take the forefront in this movement as the government has turned a blind eye to their woes." Around that time he also compared the movement, whose principal figurehead was Anna Hazare, to that of the Bihar Movement that had been led by Jayaprakash Narayan in 1975. He said that "When I evaluate the country's present condition, it is similar to that of 1975. Jayaprakash Narayan had then said Vacate the throne, common people are coming. He felt then that corruption is the root of all problems ... the situation in the country is the same today".
Singh joined the Bharatiya Janata Party on 1 March 2014. He won the Ghaziabad (Lok Sabha constituency) seat in the 2014 Indian general election, defeating Raj Babbar of the Indian National Congress by a margin of 567,260 votes.
MoS of External Affairs and MoS (independent charge) for North East Region
In May 2014, Singh was appointed as Minister of State of External Affairs and Minister of state (independent charge) for North East Region in the NDA-led Indian Government. He was relieved of responsibility for the North East Region in November 2014, when Jitendra Singh replaced him. He has held the office of Minister of State (Independent Charge) under the Statistics and Programme Implementation portfolio in the NDA government.
Role in Operation Raahat of April 2015
Singh is praised for leading Operation Raahat, a rescue mission to evacuate Indian citizens and other foreign nationals from Yemen during 2015 Yemeni Crisis. Prime Minister Narendra Modi in April 2015 said, “I believe this is the first time in the world that a government minister has stood on the battlefield like a soldier to do this work ... I salute General V. K. Singh.”
Honours and awards
V. K. Singh won the following awards during his career:
- Param Vishisht Seva Medal
- Ati Vishisht Seva Medal
- Yudh Seva Medal for his distinguished service during Operation Pawan
During his service as the COAS, V. K. Singh was appointed Honorary Aide-De-Camp to the President of India. He was the Colonel of The Rajput Regiment to which he belonged and also Honorary Colonel of The Brigade of Guards, by virtue of being the Army Chief.
On 11 March 2011, Singh was inducted into the United States Army War College (Class of 2001 graduate) International Fellows Hall of Fame. He is the 33rd International Fellow and the first Indian Armed Forces officer to be inducted.
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- Dutta, Sujan (30 July 2011). "Generation shift in air force". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2012-03-26.
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- "India's corruption scandals". BBC.
- "Gen. V.K. Singh to retire today". =The Hindu. 31 May 2012. Retrieved 2012-05-31.
- "V.K. Singh: throw the corrupt out of power". 4 August 2012.
- Ali, Mohammad (13 August 2014). "Ramdev takes on Congress, warns of march to Parliament". The Hindu.
- "VK Singh now battles with Baba Ramdev". Zee News. ANI. 12 August 2012.
- "V K Singh, Baba Ramdev named in FIR for violence at Jantar Mantar". Financial Express. PTI. 24 December 2012.
- "V K Singh, Ramdev named in FIR for violence at Jantar Mantar". Times of India. 24 December 2012.
- "Former Army Chief Gen. V K Singh joins BJP along with other Officers". Bihar Prabha. IANS. 1 March 2014. Retrieved 2014-03-01.
- "List of ministers in Narendra Modi's government". Economic Times. 27 May 2014. Retrieved 2014-06-07.
- Sharma, Aman (11 November 2014). "What went wrong? VK Singh lost Doner to MoS for personnel Jitendra Singh". Economic Times. Retrieved 2015-04-21.
- "India begins evacuating citizens". The Hindu. 31 March 2015. Retrieved 2015-03-31.
- "Presstitutes remark row: PM Narendra Modi says media ignoring V K Singh’s good work in Yemen". Indian Express. 19 April 2015. Retrieved 2015-04-20.
- "Gen. V.K. Singh is new Chief of the Army Staff". The Hindu. 1 April 2010. Retrieved 2012-03-26.
- "V. K. Singh: the veteran of wars who lost the age battle". Daily Bhaskar. 26 March 2012. Retrieved 2012-03-26.
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