Archive for September, 2012

Sam – Final Word …

Posted on September 27, 2012. Filed under: Personalities |

After the 1971 conflict with Pakistan, which ended in thirteen days and I took 93000 prisoners, my fans, the ‘yes-men’ around me, the sycophants, kept on comparing me to Rommel, to Field Marshal Alexander, to Field Marshal Auchinleck. ………………………………………………………. And just as I was beginning to believe it, the Prime Minister created me a Field Marshal and sent me packing to the Nilgiris. ………………………………………………………. A hard-headed, no-nonsense wife deprived a psychiatric home (what we in India call a lunatic asylum), of one more inmate.
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Gandhi Ji’s List of Seven Wondrous Ills of the World …

Posted on September 27, 2012. Filed under: Guide Posts, Indian Thought, Personalities |

Rights without Responsibilities

Wealth without Work

Pleasure without Conscience

Science without Humanity

Commerce without Morality

Worship without Sacrifices
Politics without Principles

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Nani Palkhiwala’s ‘India’ ….

Posted on September 21, 2012. Filed under: Indian Thought, Personalities |

Nani Palkhiwala, the  eminent lawyer and jurist, whose comments on each Budget Speech used to be awaited as eagerly as the budget itself,  wrote this about India way back on 16 January 1984. 

The picture that emerges is that of a great country in a state of moral decay. The immediate future seems to belong to the doomsayers rather than to cheer mongers.

We suffer from a fatty degeneration of conscience, and the malady seems to be not only persistent but prone to aggravation.

The life style of too many politicians and businessmen bears eloquent testimony to the truth of dictum that the single minded pursuit of money impoverishes the mind, shrivels the imagination and desiccates the heart. 

The tricolour fluttering all over the country is Black, Red and Scarlet 
– Black money, Red tape and Scarlet corruption.


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Fate of the Heroic Soldiers …

Posted on September 20, 2012. Filed under: Books, From a Services Career, Great Writing, Personalities |

This is Rudyard Kipling’ s immortal poem. It  tells the plight of  those who were one time heroes and were placed on the highest pedestal. But now??? 

There were thirty million English who talked of England’s might,
There were twenty broken troopers who lacked a bed for the night.
They had neither food nor money, they had neither service nor trade;
They were only shiftless soldiers, the last of the Light Brigade.

They felt that life was fleeting; they knew not that art was long,
That though they were dying of famine, they lived in deathless song.
They asked for a little money to keep the wolf from the door;
And the thirty million English sent twenty pounds and four !

They laid their heads together that were scarred and lined and grey;
Keen were the Russian sabres, but want was keener than they;
And an old Troop-Sergeant muttered, “Let us go to the man who writes
The things on Balaclava the kiddies at school recites.”

They went without bands or colours, a regiment ten-file strong,
To look for the Master-singer who had crowned them all in his song;
And, waiting his servant’s order, by the garden gate they stayed,
A desolate little cluster, the last of the Light Brigade.

They strove to stand to attention, to straighten the toil-bowed back;
They drilled on an empty stomach, the loose-knit files fell slack;
With stooping of weary shoulders, in garments tattered and frayed,
They shambled into his presence, the last of the Light Brigade.

The old Troop-Sergeant was spokesman, and “Beggin’ your pardon,” he said,
“You wrote o’ the Light Brigade, sir. Here’s all that isn’t dead.
An’ it’s all come true what you wrote, sir, regardin’ the mouth of hell;
For we’re all of us nigh to the workhouse, an’ we thought we’d call an’ tell.

“No, thank you, we don’t want food, sir; but couldn’t you take an’ write
A sort of ‘to be continued’ and ‘see next page’ o’ the fight?
We think that someone has blundered, an’ couldn’t you tell ’em how?
You wrote we were heroes once, sir. Please, write we are starving now.”

The poor little army departed, limping and lean and forlorn.
And the heart of the Master-singer grew hot with “the scorn of scorn.”
And he wrote for them wonderful verses that swept the land like flame,
Till the fatted souls of the English were scourged with the thing called Shame.

O thirty million English that babble of England’s might,
Behold there are twenty heroes who lack their food to-night;
Our children’s children are lisping to “honour the charge they made – “
And we leave to the streets and the workhouse the charge of the Light Brigade!

-Rudyard Kipling

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We Soldiers are No Holy Cows …

Posted on September 20, 2012. Filed under: Books, From a Services Career, Light plus Weighty |


They say that Otto von Bismarck, the guy who made the German Nation State and  founded the German Empire, with his credo of ‘blood and iron’, laid down some basic rules for recruitment into the German Army.

He opined that there would always be four types of individuals wanting to join the Army. The first type would be the lazy but intelligent category. The second type would be the lazy and stupid breed. The third would be the hardworking and intelligent lot and the last would be the hardworking but stupid variety.

The Iron Chancellor ruled that the hardworking and intelligent lot were to be marked for staff work, the lazy and intelligent types were to be earmarked for future high command.

The lazy and stupid, he ruled, made the best soldiers and were to be recruited at all cost. The last category which was the hardworking but stupid breed were to be hounded out like the plague. He observed that this type was the most dangerous to one self and least dangerous to the enemy.

The current problems of the Indian Army spring from the simple fact that the Army has recruited and taken in far too many hardworking and stupid persons –  a lot many of whom have risen quite high with several even making Chief.

No wonder the Army is the butt of the civil administration!

As regards the pompous asses who think that soldiers and their officers are holy cows and need to be treated with kid gloves, they should learn a thing or two about professional soldiering from none other than the practical yet wise George Bernard Shaw.

This guy’s  mother earth wisdom was  shown in his response to the lone voice which booed the opening of his play, which otherwise received thunderous applause. Shaw yelled to the loner, “My dear fellow! I quite agree with you! But what are we two against so many?”

Here follow some excellent observations about real professional soldiering from a true GBS – as he explains the basics of soldiering to an enchanting young woman.

All soldiers, dear lady, are  scared of death. It is the soldiers duty to live as long as possible.

And remember, nine soldiers out of ten  are born fools….. That was a narrow shave! … But a miss is as good as a mile.

You can always tell an old professional soldier by the insides of his holsters and cartridge boxes. The young ones carry ammunition while the older ones carry grub.

How is it that you have beaten us just now? Sheer ignorance of the art of war. I never saw anything so unprofessional – throwing a regiment of cavalry on a battery of machine guns with the dead certainty that if the guns began firing, not one man or beast would come through. I could not believe my eyes.

But when  the sergeant ran up, white as a sheet, saying we had the wrong ammunition, we laughed at the other side of our mouths. Of course they cut us to ribbons. ………. And there was this Don Quixote, flourishing like a drum major thinking he had done the cleverest thing possible, whereas he should be court marshaled. …………..  Of all the fools let loose on a field of battle, he must be the maddest.

He and his regiment simply committed suicide –  only the pistol did not fire.

Not fair for you to have led me on. Perhaps I am quite wrong. No doubt I am. Most likely he had got wind of the cartridge business and knew it was a safe job!

My dear young lady, now what are the two things that happen to a soldier so often that he begins to think nothing of them? One is hearing people tell all sorts of lies all of the time and the other is having his life saved by all sorts of people in all sorts of ways.

No Sir, I did not ask the reason when you cried on and now I don’t ask the reason when you cry off. I am a professional soldier. I fight when I have to and am very glad when I don’t have to. You are an amateur. You think fighting is fun.

I am a man who spoilt all his chances in life through an incurably romantic disposition; who ran away twice from home, who joined the army instead of his fathers business and who, running for dear life, climbed the balcony of a lady’s bed chamber instead  of diving into the nearest cellar …

Even the doughty Bill Slim opines that there would be lesser Battle Honors emblazoned on the ArmY’s colors were the ability to laugh at one self and treat lightly the grim business of war absent from the philosophy of soldiering!

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Ancient Guidelines from China …

Posted on September 20, 2012. Filed under: Chinese Wisdom, Great Writing, Guide Posts |

Here are some Guidelines excerpted from Brian Browne-Walker’s, The I-Ching or Book of Change – A Guide to Life’s Turning Points.

Progress is made in steps, not in leaps.  Move only as far as the opening allows.

By accepting things as they are and not making fruitless comparisons to the situations of others or some imagined ideal, we engages the power of the Creative.

Moderation of enthusiasm keeps one balanced.

Accept natural limitations and go forward with balance.

Withdraw into stillness and accept both challenges and blessings of the day.

Give up a stubborn and harsh way of life since it is beautiful to be soft. 

The necessary and the worthwhile come from the stillness within.

Look at the effects of your own thoughts and actions. Modesty brings greater rewards than the aggressive maneuverings of the ego.

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CARIAPPA – by Gen SK Sinha …

Posted on September 15, 2012. Filed under: Personalities |

I first met Cariappa on August 14, 1947 at a farewell party given by Indian officers to departing British and Pakistan officers. Cariappa was the chief host and among the guests were Lord Mountbatten and Field Marshal Auchinleck.

In his speech he gave fulsome praise to British officers for building our wonderful Army.

He was sentimental about officers going to Pakistan, saying, “We have shared a common destiny for so long that our history is inseparable. We have been brothers. We shall always remain brothers”.

A silver trophy showing a Hindu and a Muslim soldier holding their rifles pointing towards a common foe was presented to Brigadier Raza, the senior officer going to Pakistan. What an irony. In less than three months Indian and Pakistan soldiers were shooting at each other on the battlefields of Kashmir.

On August 15, 1947 Cariappa was promoted to major-general and became the first Indian general officer. On January 20, 1948, he took over as Western Army Commander in the rank of lieutenant-general – again the first Indian officer to hold that high rank. 

I was a major at that headquarters as General Staff Officer, Operations. We were conducting operations in Kashmir and I had to brief him in the Operations Room about the operational situation in Jammu and Kashmir. He complimented me on my briefing and enquired about the most threatened place in the state. 

I replied that there were reports of heavy enemy build-up against Naushera and a major attack appeared imminent. He said he would like to go there the next day and I accompanied him to Naushera. He went round the defences and then told Brigadier Usman that Kot feature overlooked our defences and must be secured.

Two days later Usman mounted a successful attack against that feature. He named it Operation Kipper – the general’s nickname. A week later, thousands of irregulars attacked Naushera. With Kot held by us, our troops inflicted a crushing defeat on the enemy who retreated leaving hundreds dead. This was the biggest battle of the Kashmir war. Usman became a national hero.

Cariappa would spend some 10 days every month going around in Kashmir and I invariably accompanied him as his staff officer. I recall two instances of his personal courage. We were travelling in a jeep to Uri. The brigade commander suggested that the flag and star plate on the car be removed as the area near Hemen Buniyar was under enemy observation and prone to sniping. Cariappa refused and said he wanted to test the accuracy of the enemy.

On another occasion, Cariappa stood on a hilltop near Tithwal surveying enemy positions. The local commander told him that the enemy could observe us and we should view the area from inside a bunker. He ignored this advice buts we started coming down the hill, an enemy shell landed where we had been standing.

Cariappa was a few years older than my father and I marvelled at his unending energy. I did not find it easy to keep pace with him. 

He was a staff officer’s nightmare. No detail, no matter how small, escaped his sharp eye. I had to keep jotting down numerous points and prepare tour notes.

One day, as we returned from tour, we saw his two kids coming out of his staff car. They had missed the school bus and the ADC had sent the staff car to fetch them. Cariappa was furious at this misuse of government transport. He directed me to initiate disciplinary action against his ADC.

Next morning he sent for me and enquired what action I had taken. I told him that I had admonished him and he had assured me that he would not make that mistake again. He enquired, “What about the loss of petrol to the government?” I replied that we were depositing Rs 40 in the Treasury, at the prescribed rate for the eight miles for which the staff car had been used. He said the amount should be debited to his personal account.

In addition to his the high standards of personal integrity, Cariappa was a strict disciplinarian. He summarily sacked three serving major -generals, one for being drunk at a function in Raj Bhavan, Mumbai, one for being unduly familiar with a junior officer’s wife and the third for misuse of regimental funds.

The Army needs to recall and follow the high standards of honesty and integrity set by Cariappa.

PS Gen Sinha evidently forgot to mention two famous memories re the FM –

First. The Hindi of the aristocratic Coorgi was ‘atrocious’ – and that is putting it mildly! For example when India became Independent, the future FM addressed his troops thus, “AB HUM MUFT … AB AAP MUFT … AB HAMARA DESH MUFT”.

Second. After the 1965 War Pakistani President Ayub Khan contacted him and offered to repatriate the Old Man’s son, who was an IAF Officer and a POW. Then Gen Cariappa’s response, “If you repatriate him then you will have to repatriate all Indian PsOW – – for they too are my Sons”.


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