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Thursday, November 19, 2015

Braveheart

The date was 16 Dec 1971, a cold winter day in Delhi, when the news on the All India Radio flashed that Pakistan Army had surrendered to the Indian Army in Dhaka! A first in the recorded history of India when an instrument of surrender was signed by Pakistan when Lt Gen AAK Niaizi led army laid down arms before Lt Gen JS Aurora the joint commander of Bangladesh India Allied Forces. In a brilliant display of strategy and valor Gen Sam Manekshaw, the then Chief of the Indian Army had had carved out Bangladesh , what was erstwhile East Pakistan in just two weeks of battle! My head swelled with pride like that of any other Indian. My resolve to join the armed forces became even stronger!

General Manekshaw left an indelible impression on my young mind, for his courage, strength of character, leadership, honesty of purpose and his towering personality! He was one of the five children born in a Parsi family of a doctor who earned a living in Amritsar. He passed out with honors from Sherwood College , Nainital and once jokingly said that they had produced two distinguished alumnus  one himself, and another Amitabh Bachhan, many years his junior! On completion of school he wanted to study medicine in England but since he was only 15 years old, his father asked him to study in India till he attained the age of 18! He was so upset that he did not speak to his father for next 18 months and with support of his mother wrote the entrance examination for Indian Military Academy, Dehradun. He enrolled for the First Course in Oct 1932. The rest was history, as he moved places and held key appointments in the Army during his long career.

As a Major, while fighting in Burma against the Japanese during the Second World War he was hit by Light Machine Gun fire in his belly damaging the kidneys and lungs! The doctor attending him asked what happened, and even in the hour of crisis he quipped, ‘I was kicked by a donkey’!  Major General Cowan, who saw him, pinned his own Military Cross on his chest stating that a dead person cannot be awarded Military Cross! In subsequent years he continued as a trusted soldier to annex Kashmir and quell the riots in Kolkata at the call of the then Home Minister Sardar Patel! Before entrusting the Kolkata to Army , Patel asked Sam , how many casualties he expected , to which he replied, ‘around hundred’. Sardar Patel asked him to go ahead and to his surprise not even one life was lost while the army handled the situation and brought it under control!

The Gurkha battalion was led by the British Officers prior to the Independence and Sam Manekshaw was the first Indian commander post freedom. On his visit to the Gurkha battalion he asked one soldier, if he knew his name? The soldier replied, ‘Sam Bahadur’ and thus that became his identity for all time to come!

In Jan 1973 he was elevated to the rank of Field Marshal for the rest of his life for the invaluable contribution. He served on the Board of Directors of fourteen companies post retirement and was loved and respected for his knowledge, integrity and leadership qualities!

I am happy that I too, could contribute my bit by serving the Indian Navy for twenty years, in the traditions that were ingrained by the distinguished Field Marshal. He lived his life by the credo of Baron Chetwode which is engraved on the entrance in IMA, ‘the safety honor and welfare of your country comes first, always and every time. The honor, welfare and comfort of the men you command comes next. Your own ease , comfort  and safety comes last , always and every time.’


PS: This is my entry for Tata Motors/Indiblogger sponsored #madeofgreat contest (http://madeofgreat.tatamotors.com/)

29 comments:

  1. Great tribute to a great hero. I remember the 1971 war and feeling immensely proud to belong to the country that had produced such a soldier. Thanks for this post, Rahul. At a time when we are discussing trivial things on social media and turning cynical in the extreme, such a post is a spirit lifter.

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    1. Thanks a lot Zephyr for liking the post! There are a lot of positive things around us which we fail to appreciate!

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  2. What an excellent tribute to a courageous man! And such an inspiration, truly a personality #madeofgreat.

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    1. Thanks Arti! We are blessed that such people were born and made the country proud!

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  3. Sherwood pass out, that's great. I am reading about him for the first time. Thanks for sharing this.

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    1. Can understand Saru that he achieved most before you were born:) thanks for reading !

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  4. We are lucky he did not study medicine.He made us proud being in army.

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  5. I am feeling very happy reading about your inspiration to join the India Army. Such laurels Mr Manekshaw brought to the entire country!

    It was once my dream to join the Public Services (IAS actually) but it just remained a dream. I don't have any regrets though, i am doing well even now :)

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    1. Yes Alok sometimes God has kept better options for us which we do not realise at that time:)

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    2. Absolutely...at the end of the day happiness matters!

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  6. Great heroes like Manekshaw will continue inspiring generations.

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  7. Indeed a nicely written post. I wish you good luck for the contest
    Here is my answer
    The association of Tata Motors with Lionel Messi is that of two greats. Lionel Messi has been exceptionally talented who with his hard work, determination and sacrifices has got better and tougher in his chosen sport so is the Image, reputation and quality of TATA Motors that have transformed brilliant ideas into masterpieces of engineering and created a brand and products that we are so proud of as Indians. Lionel Messi has transformed his body and the mind body co-ordination into a masterpiece of precision and excellence it would not be wrong to say that Lionel Messi is the TATA Motors of sports where as TATA Motors is the Lionel Messi of vehicles both giants in their own spheres driven by the drive to excel and lead by example. So Lionel Messi is the best choice for becoming the brand Ambassador for TATA Motors
    aaloke19@gmail.com

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  8. Your post defines #madeofgreat to the hilt. Goodluck for the contest
    My answer is:
    Authenticity, reliability, simplicity, as well as its commitment to innovation are the pillars of strength on which TATA have built a brand that has put India on the global map. It is a brand that has stood the test of time just like Lionel Messi who tackles opposition on the field with his skill,agility,strategy,brilliance and raw power to reach and score a goal so has been the track record of TATA motors who has become a brand leader and a global giant. These qualities make TATA Motors and Lionel Messi perfect partners who stand for the same set of values thus Lionel Messi is the perfect brand ambassador to represent TATA Motors.
    Hope my best to be a winner here; do contact me for the prize at mahima2014j@gmail.com
    fingers crossed

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  9. Your post describes #madeofgreat so well that it has winner written all over it. Good luck for your entry.
    Here is my answer.
    Like minds think and act alike looking at the track record of TATA Motors it has stood the test of time and built a business that was built using bricks of hard work on a foundation of trust. Authenticity, reliability, simplicity, as well as its commitment to innovation are the trademarks of brand TATA Motors. These same qualities are present in Lionel Messi who with his immense talent has made a mark for himself on the international football field .Facing all hardships he has worked hard toiling on the fields and in training sessions facing injuries and pressure to come out trumps and be a winner. Thus these two greats Lionel Messi and TATA Motors are made for each other .There association is a bond of two legends
    In case you pick me a winner my email id is : princess09hema@gmail.com
    Fingers crossed :)

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  10. Yours is a very well written post your .Its is a very nice description of #madeofgreat
    TATA Motors is a brand associated with performance, endurance and excellence. These words are also synonymous with Lionel Messi who plays as a forward and weaves his magic on the football field.Just as Lionel Messi is considered the best footballer in the world ,TATA motors which is Indias premier automotive manufacturer gives wheels to the people of India with its wide range of vehicles. Both believe in excelling in whatever they do and set examples for others to follow. They compliment each other as both are reliable trustworthy and leaders thus Lionel Messi is the natural choice as the brand ambassador of TATA Motors
    yagneshbjoshi10099@gmail.com

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  11. We are lucky he did not study medicine.He made us proud being in army.

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    1. Thanks a lot! Agree with you, and welcome to my blog!

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  12. It's always inspiring to read about such wonderful leaders who really know to lead a team from the front and it is all the more special when they are from a qualified bunch of citizens who devote their lives for the nation :-)

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    1. People like him will always be remembered!

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  13. It always feels great to read about people who have made something out of their lives. Yes, we all do, but then the lives of some people exude charm and inspiration like no other. Brilliant post. Congratulations on the prize!

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    1. Thank you Malino for reading and your kind comments!

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