Come April, General Manoj Mukund Naravane will retire as the 27th chief of the Indian Army. Only time will tell if the Narendra Modi government will appoint him as India’s Chief of Defence Staff or not.
But one thing is for sure — Gen Naravane will leave behind a legacy that most will understand only with time.
As the Army chief, he worked without any fanfare or publicity, even though he was personally responsible for some key strategic and tactical decisions that will shape the Army’s outlook in the coming years.
Gen Naravane’s tenure has been an action-filled one. From the ongoing standoff with China along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) to the reiteration of the ceasefire at the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan, from rewriting of the Order of Battle (ORBAT) to focusing on conventional warfare rather than just counter-terrorism operations, his tenure as Army chief has seen it all, including focused modernisation.
Gen Naravane has been both a dove and a hawk, depending on the issue. This was because, at the end of the day, he was, and is, a “quintessential Army man” — a term I used to describe him in a profile I did when he took over as the Army chief on 31 December 2019.
He took over from his antithesis Gen Bipin Rawat, who spoke freely at the cost of being accused by many of going beyond the realm of the Army chief at times.