Revitalising Indian Military Ethical Leadership
Lt. Gen Ajai Kumar Singh, AVSM, YSM, SM, VSM

“KarmanyeVaadhikaraste Maa Phaleshu Kadaachana,
Maa karmaphalheturbhur Maa Te Sangostva Karmani”

Thy business is with action only, never with its fruits,
So let not the fruit of action be thy motive, nor be
Thou to inaction attached

Bhagwad Gita


Leadership is a term simple to understand and yet a quality which is extremely difficult to define. The Oxford dictionary defines a leader to be a person who by his personal behaviour sets an example for others to emulate. It inspires the follower in bringing out the best in them even when the work environment or conditions are not conducive. Leaders inspire and lead men under their command to face adverse situations, fight through challenges, make way through odds and walk that extra mile to finally emerge victorious.

Leadership serves as a guiding beacon for the subordinates to follow in order to ensure that the organisation as a whole achieves greater heights of glory and success in the ensuing times. Indeed, it can be said to be the defining factor on which pivots the entire organisation. As far as India is concerned, the nation looks up at the ‘Men in Uniform’ to be the hallmark of true leadership. Army leadership has held an exalted position in the nation as we are supposed to be the last bastion that the nation can turn to. On account of this, the armed forces and more so its leadership must possess the highest possible standards of morals and ethics and cannot afford to falter, let alone fail!

Over the years though some questions have been raised over the gold standards of military ethical leadership. These have come in the form of the military leadership being adversely commented upon in some cases. While one could brush these aside by looking at them as ‘one off cases’ or a ‘few rotten eggs’ in an otherwise perfect organisation, the fact of the matter is, matters of ethics and morals concerning the military are of great importance to not only us but also to the nation as a whole. The same is evident from the contents of a print daily dated 16 September 2019 which carried thought provoking remarks of the Hon’ble Supreme Court as follows : ‘Corruption in any department cannot be tolerated, but when it comes to corruption in the Indian Army, this fact shakes the very confidence of the society’[1].

The above remarks may put a question-mark on the firm belief that people have shown in the Indian Army. The Indian military leadership has for years rightly been hailed and recognized as the finest in the world. It has stood the test of time and lived up to very high ethical standards time and again. This fact holds true even today. However, when we are faced with questions like the ones raised above, there is a need to carry out introspection within the organisation to figure out whether there is something afflicting the Indian Military ethical leadership and recommend measures by which it could be revitalized and equipped better to discharge the enormous responsibility it has been entrusted with. Therefore, it is imperative for the readers to read this article in the correct perspective.

This article primarily seeks answers to two essential questions viz. ‘what strains the Indian military ethical leadership and what can we do to revitalise/strengthen it?’ However, let us first understand what ethics are and what we mean by Indian military ethical leadership.

What are Ethics?

Before going any further, it would be prudent to have a look at few closely related and usually interchangeably used terms concerning the subject at hand, namely, ethics, integrity, honesty and morals. The following definitions for the same are found in the ARTRAC Leadership manual (2015) [2]: -
Morals: Concerned with the principles of right and wrong behaviour.
Integrity: The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.
Honesty: Free of deceit and untruthfulness; sincere.
Ethics: Moral principles that govern a person’s behaviour or the conduct of an activity.

It is worth noting that there is no legalese attached to any of these words as they are not enforced through any provision of law. They are in fact concerned with an individual’s own convictions and principles. While guidelines and rules can spell out ethical behaviour, the actual conduct of the same has to be driven by individuals themselves. Thus it is important to understand that ethical behaviour comes from within and cannot be driven from without.

The English word ‘ethics’ is etymologically derived originally from the ancient Greek word ‘ethikos’ meaning relating to one’s character, which itself originated from the root word ethos meaning character and moral nature. From that was derived the Latin word ‘Ethics’, then French word ‘Ethique’, and subsequently English word ‘Ethics’. The word itself has been deeply studied and explained by scholars. Important amongst these works are by Rush Worth Kidder who defines ethics as ‘the study of the ideal human character or the science of moral duty’[3] and Prof Richard William Paul and Prof Linda Elder who speak of it as a ‘set of concepts and principles that guides us in determining what behaviour helps or harms creatures. [4]

Here it is relevant to distinguish between ‘ethics’ and ‘morals’. While morals refer to knowledge of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, the term ethics implies to the application of these values in conduct.

Having understood ethics, it is essential to understand that the subject of ethics is not new to us. In fact, it would be fair to say that ethical behaviour has been integral to our culture and has been enunciated in detail in many of our ancient scriptures. Examples of the same are found in most of our holy scriptures. The Bhagvad-Gita calls for Anasakta Karma (work done without attachment/expectations) and Lok-Samgraha (selfless action done for public good) and Sva-dharma (own dharma or own duty) [5]. While the Holy Quran tells us that the Prophet Muhammad has asked us to serve God “as if we could see Him” and said, “God sees you although you cannot see Him”. [6] Further, the Guru Granth Sahib tells us ‘truth is higher than everything, but higher still is truthful living’[7]. The crux of Indian ethical behaviour can be found in the Sanskrit verse - ‘Atmano Mokshartham Jagat Hitaya Cha’ (For ‘liberation’ of the self (own soul) as well as for the welfare of the world)[8].

A study of our literature reveals that ethical values have been considered to be essential for the functioning of our society. Thus, ethical behaviour to us Indians should come naturally and should in fact be our way of life.

Understanding Military Ethics

The understanding of military ethics revolves around the critical question: what is the relevance of military ethics for a soldier? To answer this question it is prudent for each man in uniform to have a crystal clear understanding of the concept of military ethics. This understanding facilitates the application of just behaviour while dealing with matters of ethical dilemmas and enables each and every soldier to discharge his duties and responsibilities best suited to the ethical standards of the organisation.

According to the US Department of the Army FM 100-1, the Professional Army Ethics is a shared set of values, the guiding beliefs, standards, and ideals that characterize and motivate the Army.[9] The emphasis on military ethics are epitomised in the few lines of the morning prayers at the National Defence Academy, Kharakvasla, Pune “Awaken our admiration for honest dealing and clean thinking and guide us to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong” as also… “Endow us with the courage which is born of the love of what is noble and which knows no compromise or retreat when truth and right are in peril”.[10]

Ethical Leadership

Having developed an understanding of the term ethics let us now understand ethical leadership. Ethical leadership has been defined by various scholars as under:-

Cumbo[11] while defining Ethical Leadership focuses on the leader. As per him, a leader is considered ethical when inward virtues direct the leader’s decision-making process.

Lieutenant Colonel Christopher M Barnes defines Ethical Leadership as the demonstration of appropriate conduct through personal and professional actions and relationships and the promotion of such conduct to subordinates through two-way communication, reinforcement and decision making[12].

Based on the above ethical models and definitions of Ethical Leadership by various scholars and practitioners, Ethical Leadership can simply be defined as an art practiced by a leader who seeks answers to the following questions before making his decisions :-

Is the action or step a fair and unbiased one?
Will this decision stand good with respect to the defined and established values of leadership?
Will the end result be encompassing the values of honesty, transparency and larger interestof the organisation?

Military Ethical Leadership

As per the US Army Leadership Doctrine, one of the primary responsibilities of an Army leader is to maintain an Ethical Environment that supports development of a character that possesses the desire to act ethically in all situations which implies doing the right thing for the right reason and with the right goal.[13] Further, ethical military leaders internalise and practice the Professional Army ethics, elements or values of Integrity, Duty, Loyalty and Selfless Service, as outlined in the Department of Army Field Manual 22-100.

Military Ethical Leadership can be thought of as ethical leadership of the highest form, through which a military leader can call upon his men to follow him even into death. Nothing exemplifies this better than the poem ‘The Charge of The Light Brigade’ by Lord Alfred Tennyson. While the poem itself is a masterpiece, the following lines from the poem lucidly bring out the importance of military ethical leadership:
“Forward, the Light Brigade!”
Was there a man dismayed?
Not though the soldier knew
Someone had blundered.
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die.
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.[14]

Practising Military Ethical Leadership

Having understood military ethical leadership, it is important to understand as to how military ethical leadership is practised. In essence, any ethical leadership and thereby military ethical leadership is practised through a combination of two concepts i.e. ‘Ethical Triangle’ and ‘Ethical Pyramid’.

Ethical Triangle. The Ethical Triangle expounded by James Svara[15] aims at balancing three critical aspects of decision making, namely, ‘Principles’, ‘Virtues’ and ‘Consequences’. As shown in Fig 1 below, the leader has to balance the three criteria so as to get the right result that he wants.

Thus an ethical leader should aim to satisfy the ethical triangle wherein he makes value-based decisions and ethical choices based on what seems good for the armed forces.

Ethical Pyramid. The second concept enabling ethical leadership is the Ethical Pyramid Theory[16] by Victor Cullen which depicts the three ethical criteria and shows how an individual’s ethical values should align with those of his organisation (in our case the Indian Army). The three criteria of egoism (consequences to self), benevolence (consequences to others) and principles (application of ethical standards) are inter-related. However, for an ethical leadership to be of the highest order, maximum importance has to be laid on ‘Benevolence’ instead of ‘Egoism’ while ensuring the non-dilution of ‘ethical principles’ the same concept when transposed to Military Domain can be illustrated by a Military Ethical Leadership Triangle as shown in Figure 2 below :-

Indian Military Ethical Leadership

Military ethical leadership is nothing new to us. It has been integral to our leadership since the days of Mahabharata and Ramayana. During the battle of Mahabharata, when Arjuna chose not to fight against his cousins due to an ethical dilemma, lessons on ethics and values were preached to him by Lord Krishna through the Bhagavad Gita wherein he was explained the concept of Dharma and asked to undertake the fight as it was ethically right. Besides this, there are countless other examples in our ancient scriptures wherein the highest form of military ethical leadership has been practised.

Let us now see some stellar examples of our military ethical leadership from the post-independence period. These would give you an insight into the exemplary military ethical leadership displayed by our great military leaders.

Lt Gen Thakur Nathu Singh Rathore:

He was offered the appointment of the first Commander-in-Chief of the independent Indian Army so as to replace the retiring General Roy Bucher by Sardar Baldev Singh, then Defence Minister. He, however, declined the offer stating that General K M Cariappa, OBE (later Field Marshal K M Cariappa) was senior to him and thus more eligible for the prestigious appointment.

Field Marshal K M Cariappa, OBE:

He displayed unparalleled values of military ethical leadership when his son Flt Lt KC Cariappa was shot down and taken as a prisoner of war (PoW) during the 1965 Indo-Pak War. On being offered the release of his son by Gen Ayub Khan, the Field Marshal is reported to have mocked at the idea and reported to have said that he is like any another soldier of the nation fighting for his motherland and should be given the same treatment as that being given to other Indian PsoW.

Lt Gen Shankar Rao Pandurang Patil Thorat, KC, DSO: A General endowed with qualities of character and strategic vision. He predicted the nefarious designs of the Chinese in his note of 08 October 1959. He had the moral courage to tell the then Defence Minister Shri Krishna Menon the truth before it happened. Had he been the Chief as proposed by Gen K S Thimayya, DSO the course of Indo-China 1962 war would definitely have been different!!

The above examples have set the highest ethical standards for our junior military leaders to emulate and imbibe. Our forefathers have established a set of ethical values and provided us with the right ethical direction. On account of the same, the Indian military practises ethical leadership of a high order. While this holds true in most cases, due to various factors over the years, our military ethical leadership has come under some amount of strain.

Indian Military Ethical Leadership Under Strain

Before delving into this section, it is reiterated even at the cost of repetition, the Indian military practises ethical military leadership of gold standards. There is no disputing the fact that Indian military leadership has been largely ethical over the years and this has resulted in a strong foundation being laid for the practise of ethical leadership within the organisation. Thus, by and large everything is fine and there is no cause for worry. However, no organisation is perfect and there is always scope for improvement. The Indian military is no exception. Against this backdrop, it is perceived that our military ethical leadership have come under strain on account of some reasons. These are as under:-

Lack of Belief in the Organisation: There is no organisation better than the Indian Army or the Indian defence services. That said, of late, it would be fair to say that there is a growing lack of belief in our great organisation in some quarters. While some of this perception can be attributed to the social media wherein any individual can cast an aspersion on the highest office bearer of our organisation with no accountability at all. Besides this, there have been few instances where our senior leadership could have served the cause of our organisation better. It is also true that in certain cases if the true intent and reason for certain actions taken by our military hierarchy had been communicated to the environment, a better understanding of the same would have resulted. The consequence of the above has been that some individuals of our organisation have become disenchanted with our organisation and what it stands for.

Rising Sycophancy: While loyalty is a preferred virtue, of late it is being replaced by sycophancy in some cases. The same has given rise to ‘Yes Men’ who agree to everything that their leader says even when they know that all of it may not be right. Such an approach results in a ‘self-reinforcing loop’ wherein, the leader comes to believe that all that he says is right and the followers in turn tell the leader only what he wants to hear which is, ‘that you are always right’. A major reason for this rising sycophancy is the acceptance of the same by the senior leaders rather than nipping it in the bud. That said, it cannot be denied that the same is causing avoidable harm to the Indian defence forces, particularly as it deprives leaders of correct briefing and alternate views from subordinates which would have enabled leaders to take best possible decisions.

Ambition over Capability: Ambition equivalent to capability is necessary for achieving well thought out goals. However, ambition not commensurate to potential/capability leads an individual to aim at unrealistic goals. Thus each and every individual believes that he is good enough to move up the organisation ladder and this in turn leads to aspirations that no organisation can meet. The Pyramidal Structure of the Organisation as well as the Promotion Policy in the Army[17] with only few officers being able to make it to the top has also aggravated the problem. In addition, the lucrative opportunities perceived to be available in the outside environment have compounded the issue. The overall result of this is that number of disenchanted individuals in the organisation keeps growing, which in the long run is not good for it.

Misplaced Loyalty to Organisation: An important strength of the Indian defence forces is the “Battalion/Regimental Izzat”. It leads to an individual being proud of what his battalion/regiment has achieved till date as also standing by it in trying times. At times though, this leads to a misplaced sense of loyalty to the organisation. Wherein, even when a well understood/recognised wrong is being done in the “battalion/regiment”, an individual of this unit is supposed to put his ideals/principles to a side and stand by his unit come what may. In fact it also could be possible that the seeds of this behaviour are sown during the initial academy days when the squadron or company spirit is invoked and misplaced loyalty is called for at all costs. Moreover, over-emphasis on battalion / regiment sometimes may jeopardise the holistic interest of organisation (i.e. Army/Navy/Air Force) as a whole.

Misunderstood Zero Error Syndrome: There exists a notional belief that the present Indian Army tolerates a “zero error” functioning, in that, there is no place for any mistakes and your first mistake might be your last. Sadly, nothing can be farther from the truth. This results in false/incorrect reporting of facts and incidents and hiding of things from your superiors. This also leads to the “classic cover up” style of functioning as also the “play safe” attitude. This attitude also leads to an irony wherein we struggle to rise and achieve higher ranks that give us command of troops (battalion, brigade and higher) and when that command comes, we want to have as short a tenure as possible so as to exit from it safely. Such an attitude is not a healthy sign for the organisation. As regards the “zero error syndrome”, it is important and necessary to note that the Indian defence forces and the Indian Army specifically are organisations wherein errors are acted upon keeping in mind whether they were errors of ‘omission’ or ‘commission’. However, had it been true that “zero error” syndrome did exist in the Indian defence forces, most of the higher military hierarchy would not be where they are today!!

Existence of Unethical Leadership: It is unfortunate but also true that unethical leadership does exist in our esteemed organisation, though the amount of the same may be marginal or extremely limited. The same exists in the form of dishonest officers, misuse of authority and privileges and abuse of power. This may be true for other organisations as well. Some may also argue that as the Indian defence forces are a part of the same society, with lowering of morals in the society the same was bound to happen in our organisation. But lowering of ethics in the military leadership has far more severe consequences than any other form of leadership. This is because, in the defence services more than anywhere else, a true leader has to lead by personal example at times even to certain death. Thus, when an unethical military leader himself is walking on thin ice, it is difficult to imagine as to how he can inspire others who are following him.

Embracing Materialism: Ancient Indian philosophy and culture which did not give importance to materialism is unfortunately being blindly cast aside and instead a blind infatuation with materialism as found in the Western world is now the order of the day. While there is nothing wrong in picking up latest gadgets which are of use, what is of concern is the attitude of “Keeping up with the Joneses” culture which is becoming more and more prevalent in our society in general and the Defence Services in particular.

Culture of Ends Justifying Means: A culture of “ends justifying means” is on the rise. It is felt that “ways” are of no consequence and importance. Thus ideals and principles are cast aside without a thought and an attempt is made to win at all costs. Such victories though come at a heavy cost and lead to an ethos wherein there are no “honour codes” and everything and anything is sacrificed at the altar of success.

Having said the above, it is important to add that our organisation as such is in fine fettle and the above issues are an exception rather than a norm. It is, however, important to understand that in an organisation where leaders are followed without a question and wherein we have the privilege to lead some of the finest troops in the world, it should be our endeavour to provide them with the finest leadership. With this aim the instant section examined what exactly is causing the strain on our military ethical leadership. The next section would now look at ways of relieving the same so as to revitalise it.

Revitalising Indian Military Ethical Leadership

While our military leaders are well trained and professionally sound as is evident from the fine manner in which our military has acquitted itself when faced with contemporary challenges such as Doklam, Galwan/Ladakh and the on-going national security challenges along our Northern borders, it is the ethical aspect that needs to be revitalised and resurrected. In the following paragraphs there are some pointers about what can possibly be done in order to achieve the same.

Inculcating Spirituality: Spirituality is often mistaken for religion and thus felt to be of little or no use for the soldier /military leader. Nothing can be farther from the truth. While religion refers to a set or institutionalised system of religious rituals, forms of worship, beliefs and practices; spirituality focuses on principles, values and ethics, meaning, clarity, direction, authenticity, purpose and presence. A leader when spiritually awakened can tap into his inner self. The strength that spirituality provides to those who have undergone personal and professional crisis is well known and documented. Thus in an organisation where combat can lead to death and career progression stops at an early age of 35, the benefits of spirituality can be profound. Further, inculcating spirituality would lead to individuals believing in the cause, having faith in their leaders, being able to stand by and depend on their peers and comrades and most importantly, understanding the meaning of life and realising that there is nothing more important than being self-aware and living in the present. While there are many ways of inculcating spirituality, meditation is one of the most suitable one and thus recommended to be tried out.

Lay down an Ethical Code of Conduct: The most oft quoted ethical code is the ‘Chetwode motto’ that one imbibed in the Indian Military Academy wherein the interests of the nation, men and self are to be looked after in that order. The ARTRAC Leadership Precis (2015) has laid down a ‘Code of Conduct’ as also laid down the ‘Core Values of the Indian Army’[18]. These are our important guiding beacons; however, an ethical code that gives out options to tackle today’s contemporary ethical dilemmas is missing. While laying down the same is a challenge, as it would need to cover a huge canvas of varied requirements, the starting point would be to realise that the same needs to be undertaken and then getting down to doing so earnestly. Having laid it down, it would be equally important to seek the views of the environment so as to open it to critique and allow it to stand the test of time through periodic reviews.

Creating an Ethical Environment: An important pre-requisite for revitalising military ethical leadership is to create an ethical environment. We have to establish structures and processes that would help generate the same. While this is a subject in itself, it essentially involves working out ‘shared values and vision’ that would be willingly followed by all. The subject of ethics being individual-centric rather than professional, one requires for the organisation to be educated about the same so that one undertakes the same willingly rather than through coercion. Thus, initially we have to reach out and patiently explain the necessity of the same to one and all. Also, the highest standards of ethical environment and conduct are essential to maintaining a healthy military service. An ethical environment is built when the followers trust their leaders and willingly pursue shared values. Thus, to revitalise our military ethical leadership, it is important to develop an ethical environment in which it can thrive and prosper.

Inculcating Ethical Fitness: More important than physical fitness is ethical fitness for, without it, we are definitely destined to be doomed. While this is an amorphous concept, yet as a military ethical leader, standards for ethical fitness should be laid and expectations for maintaining them should also be clearly defined. It is important to understand that ethical fitness does not only mean obeying the law of the land but instead looks at living the values that one stands for.

Military Ethical Training: Military ethical training has to be thought of and undertaken with as much, if not more seriously, than professional military training. Military ethical training has to be undertaken at all levels with both ‘Top Down’ and ‘Bottoms Up’ approaches. To facilitate the same we could commence with the selection of the ‘ethically inclined’ core team. This core team would be responsible for undertaking institutionalised military ethical training at all levels, namely, pre-commissioning training, junior, mid and senior level courses. This training would be undertaken by utilising a building blocks methodology wherein after laying a basic foundation, at each level, addition would be made to the existing structure. Further, military ethical training will also be imparted in units. For undertaking the said military ethical training revolutionary changes are not required instead the same can be imparted through existing training institutions with few minor modifications in training syllabus and curriculum. The essence of military ethical training is to realise that we are not training someone to undertake anything extraordinary but instead preparing him/her for a way of life!

Moral Fibre the most Critical Selection Criterion: In all forms of military leadership, but most certainly strategic military leadership, a strong moral fibre is the most desirable criterion. Thus the methodology of assessment of this invaluable virtue through Confidential Reports needs to be reviewed. It also goes without saying that the focus of assessment of officers being selected to tenant strategic military leadership positions should be in the domain of ethical behaviour and conduct.[19]

Leading by Example: The most powerful tool that a leader has to deploy is his own personal example. Thus it is essential that an ethical leader sets high ethical standards for himself and lives up to them so that others can emulate him. He has to epitomise these standards and set an example of impeccably high ethics. Thus as concerns ethical standards, the ethical leader has to walk the ethical talk.

Transparency in All Actions: Gone are the days when actions of leaders were taken in isolation and not open to scrutiny. In today’s world of Right to Information (RTI) and social media, it should be well understood that all actions undertaken by leaders are done in the open domain. But more important than this is the fact that one must take such actions that enables one to sleep at peace or look at oneself in the mirror. Thus all actions undertaken by military ethical leaders whether at work or off office hours should be transparent and fair. Further, one should be strong enough to allow one’s subordinates to air their views openly for an open debate is always better than an unspoken dissent.

Mentoring and Counselling: It goes without saying that our subordinates are only as good as we make them. Thus an important part of military ethical leadership is active mentoring and counselling. While this was a done thing in the past, military leaders today are shying away from it for varied reasons. This needs to change immediately. It is axiomatic that a military ethical leader will motivate, mentor and through counselling create numerous military ethical subordinates. The loop being a reinforcing one, will have exponential dividends and thus motivating subordinates through relevant spiritual, as distinct from religious, preachings from our glorious heritage can be immensely helpful. Importance of ethical quality of fearlessness in the face of death in military organisation is too obvious to need elaboration. In removing fear of death from subordinates, preachings by Sri Krishna in Gita enunciating immortality or imperishability of soul, particularly in Shloka No 13, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24 etc in 2nd chapter of Gita can be considerably useful. Similarly, for inculcating ethical quality of concentrating on duty, without worrying about consequences, preaching by Sri Krishna in Shloka No 47 in 2nd chapter of Gita is very relevant. Further, ethical qualities like patience, controlling ones negative impulses or instincts and senses which are so relevant for military leadership, have been repeatedly and succinctly emphasized in the Vedas, Upanishads, Gita, Quran, Bible, Guru Granth Sahib and preachings by saints and Sufis, apart from Ashtanga Yoga & Maharshi Patanjali, which can be suitably imparted by military leaders to their subordinates to bring out the best military character from their ‘within’.


“Yat-Yatacaratisresthas – tat-tad eve’tarojanah
Sa yatpranamkurute - lokas tad anuvartate”

Whichever may be the way of life that a superior adopts –
that very one is by other people followed.
What he makes his guiding principle,
the world too behaves according to the same

Sri Krishna[20]

In conclusion, it is reiterated that this piece should not be taken out of context. It is not an outcome of a drastic fall in military ethical leadership or on account of cases of extreme low morals and ethics being displayed by our leadership. It is firmly believed that the edifice of Indian military ethical leadership rests on extremely strong foundations and as such there is no major lowering or fall in its unimpeachable standards. It is only that over the years it has come under some strain and the reasons for which have been elucidated in the article. The Indian military being an integral part of our society, it is but natural that we are also affected by the ethical norms characterising our society. Thus, most of these strains that have been deliberated upon in this article are societal in nature. Therefore, it is imperative that some thought is spared for finding solutions to the issues that we are faced with. This piece aims at some practical recommendations towards the same.

As Indian military leaders, we must be aware that we have an important and sacred responsibility towards our nation and our fellow soldiers. To enable us to discharge this duty effectively, we must be cognisant of the fact that inherent within each one of us is the seed of military ethical leadership. It should be our endeavour to nurture this seed and make it grow into a healthy plant first and a sturdy tree subsequently. It is firmly believed that Spirituality is the panacea which will help in achieving this! It would further help in revitalising our military ethical leadership which would upgrade our gold standards of military ethical leadership to platinum!!

Endnotes :

[1]India Today, ‘Corruption in Army shakes confidence of society, says court in order sentencing retired Major Gen to jail’,
[2]Leadership, ARTRAC, HQ ARTAC Shimla, 2015
[5]Dr. Desh Raj Sirswal, ‘Ethics of Bhagvad Gita’,
[6]Dr Abroo Aman,"Ethical values in Islam: Particular reference with Prophet Muhammad's (peace and blessings be upon him) Mission", Quran: Bukhari “Iman” 37, Ibn Maja “Muqaddima” 9,'s_peace_and_blessings_be_upon_him_Mission
[7]Harkamal Singh, ‘Human Values Based On Shri Guru Granth Sahib’, Shri Guru Granth Sahib: Pg 62,
[8]Lt Gen Aiyengar SRR,PVSM, AVSM, VSM (Retd), ‘Ethics & Military Leadership’, Journal of Defence Studies, Vol 7, Issue 2, Pp 121-142.
[9]Colonel Frank B. Weaver, US Army, General Creighton Abrams, ‘Ethical leadership at the Strategic level’.
[11]Monahan Kelly, ‘A review of the Literature concerning Ethical Leadership in Organisations’, Emerging Leadership Journeys, Vol 5, Issue 1, Pp 56-66
[12]Lieutenant Colonel Barnes Christopher M, ‘What is Ethical Leadership’
[13]Horn N.J Zachary and Orvis Kara L, ‘Instructor’s guide for ethical climate training for Army Leaders’.
[14]Lord Alfred Tennyson, ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’,
[15]Higashi Richard, ‘Shaping Small Unit Ethics’, Center for Interagency cooperation, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
[17]Brig Rumel Dahiya (Retd) and Col Vivek Chadha (Retd), ‘Officers’ Promotion Policy in the Army’, IDSA Issue Briefs 89, 30 November 2012
[18]Leadership, ARTRAC, HQ ARTAC Shimla, 2015
[19]Prakash Menon, The Print, Quality of India’s military leadership under test. Moral fibre can overcome political bias, 17 Aug 2021,
[20]Sethumadhavan T.N., Shrimad Bhagavad Gita, Chapter Three, Verse 21.

(The paper is the author’s individual scholastic articulation. The author certifies that the article/paper is original in content, unpublished and it has not been submitted for publication/web upload elsewhere, and that the facts and figures quoted are duly referenced, as needed, and are believed to be correct). (The paper does not necessarily represent the organisational stance... More >>

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