Monday, June 30, 2008

A Soldier fades away....

Field Marshal Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw or Sam Bahadur as he was popularly known amongst the gorkha's of the 8 Gorkha Rifles, is probably one of the most honored and revered general in Independent India. Only one of the two generals to be awarded the title of Field Marshal, he remains one of the towering figure who had given the dignity and prestige to the Indian armed forces of today. Been in almost five wars through a span of forty years, his is a great service to the nation.

My father, having got the opportunity to work quite close to the general during the 1971 Indo-Pakistan war, still remembers the charm and personality of the gentleman soldier. My father and his colleague armed with a Nagra recorder and an Arriflex camera, were the few hand picked journalists by Doordarshsan assigned to cover the war from the front lines. On doing so there were several occasions where he had the opportunity to interact with the general. He remembers him to be known for his humility among his troops and would never fail to to give an encouraging pat to the deserving soldier. In spite of holding one of the highest rank, he was always considered as a fellow soldier amongst the troops. The troops could easily associate themselves with him, and he could do so with the troops. A joke once in a while would always be on the cards. It was his simplicity that helped him to motivate the troops and made them a force to reckon with. He also wanted the men to show good behavior and respect towards the enemy and civilians, which was obeyed diligently by the men. Not one instance of atrocity was reported against the Indians during the invasion of 1971.

His outrageously brilliant tactics and plans scripted one of the most glorious moments of the Indian Armed Forces when they routed the Pakistani troops and capture Bangladesh. Attempts by the Pakistan troops on the Western front was well anticipated and thwarted by the General. Thousands of Pakistani troops in Bangladesh surrendered putting an end to the conflict. A well planned ground strategy, combined with the coordinated efforts of the IAF and the Navy along with the contribution of RAW and the local resistance, the Indian Juggernaut was impossible to stop. When the Pakistani generals surrendered, he let his subordinates at the war front to take the honor. That shows the humility of the man. All the Pakistani POWs were well treated in the Indian jails, far better than how the Indian POWs were being treated in Pakistan.

He was a powerful man in the country at that time. So much so that the high ranks of the Indian politicians, including Mrs. Indira Gandhi, feared that he might take over the country. And with the amount of loyalty he commanded from the soldiers of the country, it was very much possible for him to do so. However he never wished to do that as he himself had disclosed it to Mrs. Gandhi when she asked about it. In fact he took a lot of liberty with the Prime Minster, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, calling her by the name of Sweetie. He always spoke his mind regardless of the consequences, and this had landed him in trouble quite a few times. He was gifted with a timely and charming sense of humor, and whether a soldier or the PM, he used to impress them all with it.

A smart general who always knew what he was up against, weighed well his chances, and did what it took to win. That was the kind of man he was. An outspoken and shrewd tactician with a sense of humor, that was almost too good to mask even the gravest of situations. As he passed away on the 27th of June, the whole nation mourns for the nation's hero. As he himself had quoted "A soldier does not die. He just fades away.....". Jai Hind..!!


Visu said...

What a nice experience your dad must have had.. I don't know much about him, but on hearing from one who closely worked with him, Hats off to this gentleman da. But then, cinema always portray things wrongly, An army man always portrayed stubborn and rude. This is a perfect example of how wrong they are actually.
We terribly miss him da,As you said he fades away(Only stars fade, remember?) :)

aarthi said...

Its difficult to find a better blog than experiences includes ur dad's experiences with manekshaw,Indo-Pak fought in 1971,humorous nature of Sam..addressing our PM as Sweetie..

Indeed your dad is very lucky to spend sometime with him.. We've missed a great is never easy to be part of an army..his looks are so powerful and gentle..if not from you i would've never known about his other characters (i.e., sense of humour,interacts closely with his troop,Sweetie :D ..)..

i always wonder why some stars are highlighted after their death.!!

Long live in our the hearts the Padmabhushan and Padmavibhushan awardee.. :)

Aslam said...

dear aarthi... apparently u dont visit many blogs often... so i guess the appreciation is a bit over weighted...
anyway... thanks.