Archive for September, 2012

Sam Manekshaw’s Lecture – 25 Years after Retiring …

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

This Lecture was on Armistice Day – 11TH November, 1998 – some 80 Years after the end of the First Great War! A bit long with personal asides – but hardly rambling! 

A while ago, I was invited to a seminar where the subject was youth and people said that the youth of this country was not pulling its weight, that society generally was not satisfied with how the young were functioning. When I was asked what I thought about it, I said that the youngsters of this country are disappointed, disturbed and confused.

They cannot understand why all these untoward things are happening in this country. They want to know who is to blame. Not them. If they want to study at night and there is no power, they want to know who is to blame. Not them. If they want to have a bath, there is no water; they want to know who is to blame. Not them. They want to go to college and university and they are told there are not any vacancies; they want to know who is to blame. Not them. They say – here is a country which was considered the brightest jewel in the British Crown. What has happened to this Bright Jewel.

No longer are there excuses with the old political masters saying that the reason why we are in this state is because we were under colonial rule for 250 years. They turn around and say that the British left us almost fifty years ago. What have you done? They point to Singapore, they point to Malaysia, they point to Indonesia, and they point to Hong Kong. They say that they were also under colonial rule and look at the progress those countries have made.

They point to Germany and to Japan who fought a war for four and a half years- whose youth was decimated and industry was destroyed. They were occupied, and they had to pay reparations; Look at the progress those countries have made. 

The youngsters want an answer. So, Ladies and Gentlemen, I thought I should give you the answer. The problem with us is the lack of leadership.

I do not mean just political leadership. Of course, there is lack of that leadership. There is, more importantly, lack of leadership in every walk of life – whether it is political, administrative, in our educational institutions, or whether it is our sports organizations. Wherever you look, there is lack of leadership.

I do not know whether leaders are born or made. There is a school of thought that thinks that leaders are born. We have a population of 960 million people and we procreate at the rate of 17 million – equaling the total population of Australia – each year, and yet there is a dearth of leadership.

Can leaders be made? My answer is – Yes. Give me a man or a woman with common sense and decency, and I can make a leader out of him or her.

What are the attributes of leadershipThe first, the primary, indeed the cardinal attribute of leadership is professional knowledge and professional competence.

Professional knowledge and professional competence have to be acquired by hard work and by constant study.. Unless you know what you are talking about, unless you understand your profession, you can never be a leader.

The next thing you need for leadership is the ability to make a decision and accept full responsibility for that decision. Have you ever wondered why people do not make a decision? The answer is quite simple. It is because they lack professional competence or they are worried that their decision may be wrong and they will have to carry the Can.

According to the law of averages, if you take ten decisions, five ought to be right. If you have professional knowledge and professional competence, nine will be right, and the one that might not be correct will probably be put right by a subordinate officer or a colleague. 

But if you do not take a decision, you are doing something wrong. An act of omission is much worse than an act of commission. An act of commission can be put right. An act of omission cannot. 

Take the example of the time when the Babri Masjid was about to be destroyed. If the Prime Minister, at that stage, had taken a decision to stop it, a whole community – 180 million would not have been harmed. But, because he did not take a decision, you have at least 180 million people in this country alone who do not like us.

What comes next for leadership? Absolute Honesty, Fairness and Justice.  We are dealing with people.  No man likes to be punished and yet a man will accept punishment stoically if he knows that the punishment meted out to him will be identical to the punishment meted out to another person who has some Godfather somewhere.

.Next attribute of Leadership – Moral and Physical Courage Moral courage is the ability to distinguish right from wrong and say so when asked, irrespective of what your superiors think or what your colleagues or your subordinates want.

A ‘yes man’ is a dangerous man. He may rise very high. He may do anything but he can never make a leader because he will be used by his superiors, disliked by his colleagues and despised by his subordinates. 

A personal anecdote. In World War II, my Frontier Force battalion, which is now in Pakistan, was fighting the Japanese. We had a great many casualties. Young Major Manekshaw was commanding Charlie Company, which was a Sikh Company. the other companies were  Pathan companies. As we had too many casualties, we had pulled back to reorganize, re-group, make up our casualties and promotions.

The Commanding Officer had a conference and he turned to me and said, “Sam, we have to make lots of promotions. In your Sikh company, you have had a lot of casualties. Surat Singh is a senior man. Should we promote him to the rank of Naik?” Now, Surat Singh was the biggest Badmaash in my company. He had been promoted twice or thrice and each time he had to be marched up in front of the Colonel for his stripes to be taken off. So I said, “No use, Sir, promoting Surat Singh. You promote him today and the day after tomorrow, I will have to march him in front of you to take his stripes off”. So, Surat Singh was passed over. 

The promotion conference was over, I had lunch in the Mess and I came back to my company. Now, those of you who have served with Sikhs will know that they are a very cheerful lot  always laughing, joking and doing something. When I arrived at my company lines that day, it was quite different, -everybody was quiet. When my second-in-command, Subedar Balwant Singh, met me I asked him, “What has happened, Subedar Sahib?” He said, “Sahib, something terrible has happened. Surat Singh felt slighted and has told everybody that he is going to shoot you today”.

Surat Singh was a light machine gunner, and was armed with a pistol. His pistol had been taken away, and Surat Singh had been put under close arrest. I said, “All right, Sahib. Put up a table, a soap box, march Surat Singh in front of me”. So he was marched up. The charge was read out – ‘threatening to shoot his Commanding officer whilst on active service in the theatre of war’. That carries the death penalty.

The witnesses gave their evidence. I asked for Surat Singh’s pistol which was handed to me. I loaded it, rose from my soap box, walked up to Surat Singh, handed the pistol to him and spoke to him in Punjabi, “You said you will shoot me. Here, shoot me”.  He looked at me stupidly and said, “Nahin, Sahib, galtee ho gayaa”. 

That night Subedar Balwant Singh said, “Sahib, you have made a great mistake. Surat Singh will shoot you tonight”. I said, “Bulao Surat Singh ko”. He came and I said, “Surat Singh, aj rat ko mere tambu par tu pehra dega, or kal subah 6 bjay, mere liye aik mug chai aur aik mug shaving water lana”. Then I walked into my little tent.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I did not sleep the whole night. Next morning, at six o’clock, Surat Singh brought me a mug of tea and a mug of shaving water. Thereafter, throughout the war, Surat Singh followed me like a puppy. If I had shown fear in front of my men, I should never have been able to command them. I was frightened, terribly frightened, but I dared not show fear in front of them. 

Those of you, who are going to command soldiers, remember that. You must never show fear.So much for physical courage, but, please believe me, I am still a very frightened man. I am not a brave man.

The next attribute of leadership is loyalty.  Loyalty is a three way thing.  You expect loyalty, you must therefore, give loyalty to your colleagues and to your subordinates. Men and women can be very difficult, they can cause many problems and a leader must deal with them immediately and firmly. 

Finally, for leadership; men and women like their leader to be a man, with all the manly qualities or virtues. 

The man who says, “I do not smoke, I do not drink, I do not ….. (No, I will not say it)’, does not make a leader. Let me illustrate this from examples from the past.  You will agree that Julius Caesar was a great leader – he had his Calpurnia, he had his Antonia, he also had  his Cleopatra and, when Caesar used to come to Rome, the Senators used to lock up their wives. And you will agree that he was a great leader. He was known in Rome as every woman’s husband yet he was a great leader.

Take Napoleon, he had his Josephine, he had his Walewska, he had his Antoinette and Georgettes and Paulettes. And you will agree he was a great leader. Take the Duke of Wellington – do you know that the night before the battle of Waterloo, there were more Countesses, Marchionesses and other women in his ante – chamber than staff officers and Commanders. And you will agree he was a great leader.

Ladies and Gentlemen, a thought has just struck me. All these leaders- Caesar, Napoleon and the Duke of Wellington- they had one facial feature in common, all had long noses!

So much, Ladies and Gentlemen, for leadership, but no amount of leadership will do this country much good. Yes, it will improve things, but what this country needs is Discipline. 

We are the most ill-disciplined people in the world. You see what is happening – you go down the road, and you see people relieving themselves by the roadside. You go into town, and people are walking up and down the highway while vehicles are discharging all sorts of muck.

Every time you pick up a newspaper, you read of a scam or you read of some other silly thing.As we are the most ill-disciplined people in the world, we must do something about discipline.

What is discipline?  Please, when I talk of discipline, do not think of military discipline. That is quite different.  Discipline can be defined as conduct and behavior for living decently with one another in society. Who lays down the code of conduct for that? Not the Prime Minister, not the Cabinet, nor any superior officer. 

It is enshrined in our holy books; it is in the Bible, the Torah and in the Vedas, it is in the teachings of Nanak and Mohammad.  It has come down to us from time immemorial, from father to son, from mother to child.

Nowhere is it laid down, except in the Armed Forces, that lack of punctuality is conduct prejudicial to discipline and decent living. Having an eye for pretty girls,  I once walked up to a sprightly something and asked, “My dear, why were you so kind to me, when only the other day you treated a VIP from Delhi so shamefully?”.

She smiled and said,  “Oh, That So and So! First he comes over an hour late. Then then haragnues us because his grand children were not garlanded. You should have seen him raising his Dhoti and scratching!!! And he said that in Service of his Country he had even gone to Jail! And he had the gall to say that as he was very busy his lecture had been prepared by his Secretary! No wonder he was booed off.

Having talked about leadership, having talked about discipline, I want to mention something about Character. We Indians also lack character. Do not misunderstand me, when I talk of character. I don’t mean just being honest, truthful, and religious, I mean something more – 

Knowing yourself, knowing your own faults, knowing your own weaknesses and what little character that we have, our friends, our fans, the ‘yes-men’ around us and the sycophants, help us reduce that character as well.

Some years ago, Hollywood decided to put up the picture of the great violinist and composer, Paganini. The part of Paganini was given to a young actor who was conversant, somewhat, with the violin. He was drilled and tutored to such an extent that when the little piece, the Cadenza, was filmed, it was perfect. 

When the film was shown, the papers raved about it, and the critics raved about it. And this man’s fans, ‘yes-men’, sycophants, kept on telling him that he was as good a violinist as Heifetz or Menuhin. 

And do you know that I took eight months in a psychiatric home to rid him of his delusion? Do you know, Commandant, that the same thing happened to me?

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 ……….. ……………….  ……………………………………………   …………………………………. and 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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