‘Gen Bipin Rawat and I were of the same mind’, says Gen Naravane on his relations with 1st CDS

Recalling his relationship with India’s first Chief of Defence Staff, General Bipin Rawat, former Army chief General MM Naravane has said that their views generally gelled including on redeployment and rebalancing of forces and they “were of the same mind” on a number of issues.

General Naravane said General Bipin Rawat’s death in a helicopter crash on December 8, 2021, was a “big shock” and noted that he had met the CDS a day before.

“It was a big shock to us especially since we had on December 7 been together for the curtain raiser for the PANEX exercise which was to start shortly thereafter. That is the last time I met him. On 8th, he went to Wellington and I went to Mau. That’s where I got the news of the crash. It was quite a big shock to me,” Gen Naravane said in “Podcast with Smita Prakash’.

Gen Naravane said he met Gen Rawat when the latter came to Eastern Command as the MGGS (Major General, General Staff).

“He was so big that somehow paths had never crossed. After he came to the Eastern Command as the Major General (General Staff), that time I was also Major General in Nagaland. Then he came as the Commander 3 Corps and our interaction was much more. When he was Chief, I was Vice Chief, then he was CDS and I was Chief…we were more or less together after that,” he said.

“We used to have a lot of heart-to-heart talk. That time, neither did he think he will become chief, nor did I think I will be taking over from him. We just used to talk about what is good and bad for the Army. How things can be done in a better manner. And in a lot of these things, our views were quite common,” he said.

“It’s just fate and destiny that he became chief and he could implement those points and once he went on to become CDS and I became chief, I could follow up on those points because we were of the same mind and we used to discuss that,” General Naravane added.

He said that both of them wanted to do almost the same things for the army.

“Our methods might have been different, but what we wanted to do was almost the same. Our views generally gelled on a number of things including redeployment, and rebalancing. We were of the same views on 90 per cent of the things. Of course, there always will be differences,” he said.

Gen Naravane underlined the importance of indigenous weapons while lauding the Centre’s Make in India initiative in the defence sector.

India should make the bulk of its weapons within the country to “extent possible,” he said.” Make in India, Aatmanirbhar Bharat initiative is a very good thing that has been done. So we reduce our weapons imports to the extent possible. Why I say to the extent possible because no country makes 100 per cent of the things themselves,” General Naravane said in ‘Podcast with Smita Prakash’.

“Russia is making helicopters, 30-40 per cent of the components come from abroad. We realised that we cannot be dependent on external supply chains. We can have a portion of it external. The bulk of it should be within our country,” he added.

He said the adversary should not be underestimated.

“We should not discount any opposition. If you underestimate your opposition and try to play them down, you are likely to get surprised. We should always look at them as a professional army. At the unit level, they will also try their best to win. As an Army, you know that you have the backing of the country, and government, the will of the people and so on. And that is where we are at a great advantage,” he said.