Chief of Army Staff (CoAS) Purna Chandra Thapa announced a series of sweeping changes inside the army. He made his property details public, a first-of-its-kind in the institution’s history. Moreover, he vowed to rid off corruption, nepotism and other unlawful activities in the army. Thapa also promised to provide equal opportunities to everyone serving in the army to get a chance to be part of the UN Peacekeeping Mission. Army officers in the lower rank were often excluded from the UN Mission opportunities, a financially lucrative deal for a year in conflict-hit places around the world. Thapa, in his speech at the army headquarters on Tuesday, urged the rank and file to perform their duties honestly. He warned those slacking to straighten up and perform, and stressed the need for a better equipped army to defend and protect the country. CoAS Thapa also unveiled a plan to educate the army on new technologies as a part of their digitization efforts. “The cancer that exists like a remnant affects the organization for a long time. So, this needs to be cured on time,” Thapa told the gathering, marking his first year at office. Hinting at reports of wrong doings in big projects being undertaken by the army, Thapa announced the formation of a special mechanism headed by an inspection officer to control corruption. The body has the right to inspect any projects and offices within the army at any time.
Thapa’s speech was markedly different from his predecessors. He wants to affect change within the institution for the long-term health and wellbeing of the institution of the army and the country as a whole. His initiations to encourage active participation of women, attract capable and qualified men and women to the army, upgrade both hardware and software of the institution are some of the commendable moves that deserves sincere appreciation. Thapa should be applauded for his honest take on the current status of the institution and his commitment to make the changes accordingly. Thapa has a long list of projects to be completed before he hands over the power to the new chief two years down the road. He has commanded the respect of rank and file inside the institution for his honesty, integrity and dedication to make real changes. In fact, he has already started a number of good initiatives including strictly enforced professional code of ethics of army officers, discouraging nepotism and favoritism and making recruitment process fair and transparent and taking action against those involved in corruption and misappropriation. He also established mechanisms to directly hear grievances from the lower-rung army personnel and address them right away. Most recently, he has started an internal investigation into the corruption and misappropriation involved in Rs 15 billion spent so far in the construction of fast track project through military intelligence.
We appreciate his preparation to take action against those using fake academic certificates to get promotion in the army. Although he has taken some notable initiatives already in regard to bringing reforms within the institution, there is still a long way to go. As the CoAS Thapa vows to bring overall reform in the army institution, we also wish to see him working toward developing army as professional body, not a business entity. To start with, the army should thoroughly investigate the ongoing fast track project and the issue of fake certificates and punish those found guilty. Such an action will mean Thapa is serious about his efforts to make sweeping changes inside the army.