Archive for March, 2017

Circa 637 AD Letters of the Islamic Caliph and the Persian Emperor …

Posted on March 25, 2017. Filed under: Books, Personalities |

Historic Letters (British Museum) from The Islamic Caliph to the Persian Emperor and the latters’ response.

From: Omar ibn Al-Khattab (Islamic Caliph) To: Yazdegerd III Sassanid (Persian Emperor)

Bismillah, al-Rahman, al-Rahim.

I do not foresee a good future for you and your nation, save your acceptance of my terms and your submission to me. There was a time when your country ruled half the world, but now see how your sun has set.

On all fronts your armies have been defeated and your nation is condemned to extinction. I point out to you the path whereby you may escape this fate. Namely, that you begin worshipping the one god, the unique deity, the only god who created all that is. I bring you his message; order your nation to cease the false worship of fire and to join us, that they may join the truth.

Worship Allah the creator of the world. Worship Allah and accept Islam as the path of salvation.

End now your polytheistic ways and become Muslims, so that you may accept Allah-u-Akbar as your saviour. This is the only way of securing your own survival and the peace of your Persians.

You will do this if you know what is good for you and for your Persians. Submission is your only option.


Islamic Caliph, Omar ibn Al-Khattab.


From: Yazdegerd III Sassanid (Persian Emperor) To: Omar ibn Al-Khattab (Islamic Caliph)

In the name of Ahura Mazda, the creator of life and wisdom.

In your letter you summon us Persians to your god whom you call Allah-u-Akbar; and because of your barbarity and ignorance, without knowing who we are and whom we worship, you demand that we seek out your god and become worshippers of Allah-u-Akbar.

How strange that you occupy the seat of the Arab caliph but are as ignorant as any desert roaming Arab. You admonish me to become monotheistic in faith. Ignorant man, for thousands of years we Persians have, in this land of culture and art, been monotheistic and five times a day have we offered prayers to god’s throne of oneness. While we laid the foundations of philanthropy, righteousness, and kindness in this world, and held high the ensign of good thoughts, good words, and good deeds, you and your ancestors were desert wanderers who ate snakes and lizards, and buried your innocent daughters alive.

You Arabs who have no regard for god’s creatures, who mercilessly put people to the sword, who mistreat your women, who attack caravans and are highway robbers, who commit murder, who kidnap women and spouses; how dare you presume to teach us, who are above these evils, to worship God?

You tell me to cease the worship of fire and to worship god instead. To us Persians the light of fire is reminiscent of the light of god. The radiance and the sunlike warmth of fire exuberates our hearts, and the pleasant warmth of it brings our hearts and spirits closer together, that we may be philanthropic, kind, considerate, and that gentleness and forgiveness may become our way of life, and that thereby the light of god may keep shining in our hearts.

Our god is the great Ahura Mazda. Strange is this, that you too have now decided to give god a name, and you call God by the name of Allah-u-Akbar.

But we are nothing like you. We, in the name of Ahura Mazda, practice compassion, love, goodness, righteousness, forgiveness, and care for the dispossessed and the unfortunate; but you, in the name of your Allah-u-Akbar commit murder, create misery, and subject others to suffering. Tell me truly who is to blame for your misdeeds? Your god who orders genocide, plunder, and destruction, or you who do these things in god’s name; or both?

You, who have spent all your days in brutality and barbarity, have now come out of your desolate deserts, and are resolved to teach by the blade and conquest, the worship of god to a people who have for thousands of years been civilised, and have relied on culture, knowledge, and art as mighty edifices.

What have you, in the name of your Allah-u-Akbar taught these armies of Islam besides destruction, pillage, and murder, that you now presume to summon others to your god?

Today, my people’s fortunes have changed. Their armies, who were once subjects of Ahura Mazda, have now been defeated by the Arab armies of Allah-u-Akbar; and they are being forced, at the point of the sword, to convert to the god by the name of Allah-u-Akbar, and are forced to offer prayers five times a day but now in Arabic, since apparently your Allah-u-Akbar only understands Arabic.

I advise you to return to your lizard infested deserts. Do not let loose upon our cities your cruel and barbarous Arabs who are like rabid animals. Refrain from the murder of my people. Refrain from pillaging my people. Refrain from kidnapping our daughters in the name of your Allah-u-Akbar. Refrain from these crimes and evils.

We Persians are a forgiving people, a kind and well meaning people. Wherever we go, we sow the seeds of goodness, amity, and righteousness; and this is why we have the capacity to overlook the crimes and the misdeeds of your Arabs.

Stay in your desert with your Allah-u-Akbar, and do not approach our cities; for horrid is your belief and brutish is your conduct.

Persian Emperor,

Yazdegerd III Sassanid.

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Great Regimental Officers …

Posted on March 25, 2017. Filed under: Regimental |

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my melancholy duty to recall the outstanding contribution of a war hero to the Regiment, and to the Nation. With great sadness, I report the demise of Lt Col Karam Singh Kang, VrC at Amritsar. He was 95.

Col Karam Singh Kang’s career in the Army witnessed the gathering storm of struggle for India’s independence. While serving with the Central India Horse, he was saved from life imprisonment by a remarkable display of presence of mind by one of his VCOs. When the SIKH squadron refused to embark for overseas service, Col Kang was pushed aside by one of his VCOs, thereby seemingly giving an appearance to the British that he did not object to overseas service!

Soon thereafter, Col Kang was commissioned into 4/18 Royal Garhwal Rifles. His performance in the PT course was outstanding, and consequently, he was appointed PTO at the Regimental Centre. After seeing active service with the 4/18 during the closing stages of the war, he was ready for another stint of operational service with the 3 R.Garh.Rif in J&K. And this was his finest hour. In spite of being wounded, he led his company with raw courage and captured a hill feature which the Pakistanis had contested fiercely.

After recovering from his war wounds, he had a long tenure—again in field –with the Assam Rifles. He took over command of 8 GARH RIF in 1961, and after his successful command tenure, he held a number of staff appointments before retiring.

Although we had met briefly at the Regt Biennial Conference in Lansdowne, 1964, he remembered this meeting with clarity and affection. When I was transiting Kolkata in 1966, I spoke to him briefly. He brooked no such display of synthetic camaraderie. He shouted, “How can you go without having a drink with me”, or words to that effect. When I reached his residence, Mrs. Kang overwhelmed me with her kindness and genuine “JAT” hospitality.

After Mrs. Kang’s untimely death, he divided his time between U.S. and India. His children had, by then, settled down in U.S. Finally, he breathed his last, June 10, 2016, in his hometown of Amritsar. May his soul rest in peace.


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Great Regimental Officers …

Posted on March 24, 2017. Filed under: From a Services Career, Regimental |

An unintended reference to Lt Col Partab Singh Raghav (he did not use this surname) brought back nostalgic memories of this great Garhwali.

Though I met him briefly as a subaltern at the 2 GARH RIF officers’ mess at Fort William, way back in 1958, I had heard a lot about him (kind courtesy, Lt Col Inder Singh Rawat, KC, (now going 101 yrs) also serving with the 2nd Battalion at that time.

Lt Col “Percy” Partab Singh was a dynamic CO of the 3rd. Maj (later Brig) L.S. Puar was his 2IC, and Capt (later Brig) C.M.Cariappa, his Adjutant. Together, these officers constituted a magnificent triad that was the toast of the Brigade. Brig (later Lt Gen) K. Bahadur Singh, the Brigade Commander, adored the Bn, not so much for their alacrity in implementing orders and instruction, as for the CO’s, principled stand on certain regimental matters.

Lt Col Partab Singh also commanded 6/5 GR (FF). Unfortunately, his medical category came in the way of his promotion. Col Partab Singh was one of the first Indian Commissioned Officers from the Regiment to have attended Staff College Quetta.

Lt Col Inder Singh Rawat (if his memory is still as good as it was, when I met him a few years ago) would have more anecdotal history to share about this officer. If anyone else has more information, or some corrections to offer, please feel free to do so.



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Tagore’s ‘Gitanjali’ …

Posted on March 23, 2017. Filed under: Eloquence, Great Writing, Searching for Success |

The poem is “about universal aspirations” and improving ourselves and is a great source of inspiration and motivation.

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action –
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

PS  Rabindranath Tagore was an admirer of Tolstoy’s humanism. However according to Tagore, “Everything about Tolstoy is filled with strength and energy and violence!”
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Officers and Men …

Posted on March 21, 2017. Filed under: From a Services Career, Guide Posts |

Gen KM Bhimaya writes — “First of all, let me admit that I retired almost thirty years ago, and am not fully aware of the changing sub-cultural mores of officers and other ranks. Also I do not claim to have been a model CO. Nevertheless, one can always observe the behavior and attitude of the serving rank and file and reach some conclusions.

I understand that education has brought about a sea change, particularly among riflemen. Unfortunately, the demands of the battlefield have not changed much. If anything, they have become more rigorous than what they were before. So, we cannot afford to dilute the training and disciplinary standards, the two pillars of success in combat.

Some important issues have been touched – some within the limited control of the CO, and others clearly beyond his control. Though he is held accountable in case of lapses. For example, how can a CO be held responsible for the unit shortcomings arising out of officer/equipment deficiencies?

The real heroes in those situations are not those who beat their chest and shout, “We are ready to face any enemy aggression to our sacred motherland” – or words to that effect, but those who work silently to make the best use of whatever they have, while complaining loudly of the deficiencies, at the risk of their careers.

The point about visiting the unit lines in the evenings reminds me of the RAI (Rules and Instructions) that were in force until 1962 (later rewritten as Defense Service Regulations). This is a useful document which very few officers care to read. It lays down some procedures that, if followed scrupulously, may  bring down disciplinary cases (some of these occur more out of ignorance than out of willfulness).

For example, the Quarterly Roll Call is a ritual that is worth its weight in gold, because all ranks are periodically reminded of their rights and responsibilities.

One will be surprised to discover how most of our men believe that leave and promotion are their rights. They should be reminded that both these dispensations are privileges. Leave can be denied because of exigencies of service and promotions are earned not by seniority but by professional competence.

What is not given in the DSR are the informal good practices that promote better officer-men relationship and minimize administrative lapses. For example, comprehensive instructions for the MT, and their ruthless enforcement reduce careless accidents and increase road worthiness of the unit transport fleet.

The time the CO devotes to “leave parade” brings rewards out of proportion to the effort expended. That is the time he meets one-on-one with the rifleman, enquires about his family, ensures that his full leave entitlement is paid and casualties are properly notified, and is served with a warning not to be absent without leave without sufficient reasons. At one stroke, the CO has looked after both the morale, and disciplinary angles.

Of course, all of us have realized the relationship between morale and discipline. The relationship is direct, not symbiotic!

I have only restated some of the fundamental aspects of man management. This list is illustrative, not exhaustive. On first scrutiny, they appear mundane, but in fact are not.

Even in the corporate world they talk about formal and informal relationships. Formal relationships are easy to establish and maintain, but it is the informal relationship which has a direct bearing on unit morale. Be aware that the line between informality and familiarity is thin and treacherous.

There is a host of other areas that can be discussed. The best recommendation is not to fight the problem but find a resolution within the confines of law. Once again, this is easier said than done, but done it can be.

The relationship between the officer and the sahayak is one-on-one and personal. I cannot describe it better than what the COAS has done. Strained relations stem largely out of misuse and a lack of sensitivity.

All of us know that Indian soldiers are very touchy about pollution and purity, that is, they resent having to carry used plates, or wash used plates. Some of them dislike carrying children, or taking children to school. We should avoid that. As far as polishing boots, yes, as stated by the COAS, it is their duty (part of upkeep of officers’ uniform, kit and accoutrement.

What the civilians do not understand is their relationship in combat: They protect each other. An experienced sahayak is of invaluable help to a young officer in combat, because he may even save his life.

Sam Bahadur would not have been a living legend but for his Sikh batman (4/12 FFR) who forced the RMO to attend to Sam’s wounds. Maj Tobit (later Lt Col) MC of 1/18 RGR would not have survived the grenade wounds he suffered but for his batman who dragged him out of the danger zone and nursed him before handing him over to the RAP. If this is the unspoken contract and trust and mutual affection between the officer and his sahayak, where is the question of any friction and unease?

Yes,  avoidable incidents can happen, if you take families to field firing range, accept bribes from soldiers to promote them, and if you do many other unspeakable, disgraceful acts. I suspect officers are no more money- conscious than they were in the late 1950s (Some of those, particularly those who could not pass Part D, were obsessed with the idea of making Rs 475/- per month).

In conclusion, yes, it is because of lack of regimentation – the right kind of regimentation in light of the changing sub-cultural mores that problems occur”.

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The Mizoram Story – Unni Kartha …

Posted on March 16, 2017. Filed under: Indian Thought |

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Sepoy Shiv Ram Godre Case …

Posted on March 6, 2017. Filed under: From a Services Career |

Maj Gen K.M.Bhimaya, Ph.D. (Retd) writes –


The recent debate in “Times Now” is a recipe for Disaster!.

It cuts at the taproot of civil-military balance, prevalent in the largest democracy on this planet. The abridgment of certain fundamental rights, notably, communication to the press, has been put in place in the Army Rules/Orders after due consideration and concern toward the maintenance of civilian control over the military.

In other democracies, open criticism of government policies by serving officers have met with severe reprimands and instant relief from command. And there are excellent reasons for this.

The men in uniform may have leanings toward an ideology, different from those held by the elected political leaders. Nevertheless, they are bound to follow the lawful command of the duly elected government in power. The unstated assumption is that it is the unquestioned prerogative of the duly elected government to determine the national interest and formulate policies that could best safeguard that interest.

The Armed Forces, at best, can function in an advisory capacity.

A lawful command, as enshrined in the relevant rules, is neither debatable nor negotiable. An individual who dares to disobey this lawful command should suffer the inevitable consequences. That is how armed forces remain a cohesive, disciplined force in the rough and tumble of the battlefield, and maintain their integrity and camaraderie, while taking the rough with the smooth, in peace and in war.

Allowing the rank and file to act according to their ideology, and not in obedience of a lawful command, would destroy any armed forces from within, and ipso facto, from without.

Although it has not been established whether the Sepoy was talking to his army friends, or  “communicating to the press”, in the broader context of civil-military relations, I consider my comments in the preceding paragraphs extremely relevant.

Comment by Lt Gen RK Gaur (Retd) – Very well said. Timely, cogent, clear message. Thank you Bhima.

Also Read –

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The INA Story – Hamid Hussein …

Posted on March 4, 2017. Filed under: Pakistan |

“The Dreams of Empire lure the Hearts of Kings; and so men Die”.                             – Corporal G.W. Driscoll who fought in Burma in 1944

The Indian National Army (INA) was formed during the Second World War from Indian Prisoners of Wars (PsOW) captured by the Japanese. Later, it was re-named Free Indian Army (FIA) but it remained known by the INA name.

WWII saw rapid expansion of the Indian Army to participate in this global conflict.  On the eve of the War, the strength of Indian army was 189’000.  During the war, it expanded to 2.3 million. At the start there were less than five hundred Indian commissioned officers and by the end there were 9540 Indian officers. Nine thousand Indian officers were Emergency Commissioned Officers (ECOs) with only six months of training.

In Malayan,  the British command collapsed under the ferocious Japanese offensive.  More than 60’000 British and Indian officers and soldiers were captured by the Japanese. British officers were separated from Indian officers and soldiers and kept in a separate camp.  A number of Indian officers and soldiers joined the INA – some volunteered for the INA while others were coerced to join it to avoid hardships of captivity.

The Japanese soldiers wrote new chapters of barbarity and inhumane torture and execution of thousands of PsOW.

The Japanese motives for forming the INA were their own.  They did not envision any significant role for the INA in their grand strategy.  Japanese military ethos was different where martial tradition was interwoven with racial superiority and a divine monarchy.  Japanese soldiers rarely surrendered but fought till death or committed suicide rather than surrender.  They had little respect for any soldier who surrendered.

In this environment, a racially inferior Indian soldier who surrendered rather than dying for his cause put Indian PsOW at a low level in Japanese eyes. A soldier who surrendered and now offered to fight against his former comrades was viewed with suspicion and deemed vile. The Japanese were not ready to properly arm and equip him as as there was no guarantee that if the tide turned, they may also shift their loyalty.

Their main objective was to use the INA for propaganda purposes and try to infiltrate the Indian Army and cause disaffection and tamper with the loyalty of Indian troops. This was the main reason that only a handful of junior Japanese officers were attached to the INA project. The British called those in the INA, Japanese Inspired Fifth ColumnistS (JIFSs).

There were two distinct periods of the INA.  The First INA was formed under the auspices of Indian Independence League (IIL) headed by Rash Behari Bose. The First INA was organized in September 1942 and Captain Mohan Singh (1/14 Punjab Regiment) was appointed General Officer Commanding (GOC).  By the end of the year, the INA strength was about 17’000.  This force was organized as No: 1 Hind Field Force in three brigades;

Gandhi Brigade commanded by INA Major H. S. Betar— Nehru Brigade commanded by INA Major Inayat Jan Kiani (5/2 Punjab Regiment) — Azad Brigade commanded by INA Major Prakash Chand

A special service group was headed by Captain Taj Muhammad Khanzada (5/11 Sikh Regiment) and intelligence group headed by Captain Tajjammal Hussain and several small Motor Transport (MT), engineer and medical support units were also established.

In the first three months, the main efforts were geared towards propaganda to enlist more PsOW for INA and some rudimentary training.  There was multi pronged friction between the main players on the scene.  Several members of the council of action had no confidence in President Rash Behari Bose.  IIL and INA had serious differences with Japanese occupation authorities as Japanese objectives were different.

Indo-Burmese animosity was also at play.  Indian laborers and business interests were dominant in the Burmese economy.  Burmese resented this Indian presence and were openly hostile.  Those Burmese who were now cooperating with the Japanese wanted to limit the influence of Indians.  On 8 December 1942, the senior most INA officer Naranjan Singh Gil (4/19 Hyderabad Regiment) was arrested by the Japanese and Mohan was helpless to do anything.

Mohan Singh sent a secret letter to all formation commanders of the INA that if he was arrested, INA would stand dissolved.  He was arrested on 29 December and the first INA ceased to exist as a functional entity.  Mohan Singh was later moved to Sumatra and he faded away from the scene.  After the Japanese surrender, he was brought back to India.

In February 1943, Rash Behari Bose after meeting with several officers and Non Commissioned Officers (NCOs) reformed the INA but under his own control.  A Committee worked on re-organization and in April, a new organization named Directorate of Military Bureau (DMB) of IIL was established.  Lieutenant Colonel J. K. Bhonsle (5/5th Mahratta Light Infantry) was appointed Director DMB and several officers including Captain P. K. Sehgal (2/10 Baluch Regiment), Captain Shah Nawaz Khan (1/14 Punjab Regiment), Lieutenant Colonel A. D. Loganadan (Indian Medical Service), Captain Habib ur Rahman (1/14 Punjab Regiment), Lieutenant J. C. Stracey (1/14 Punjab Regiment), Lieutenant Krishna Murti, Captain Mata ul Mulk (2/15 Punjab Regiment), Captain K.P. Thimmaya (2/10 Baluch Regiment) and Major B. C. Allagappan (Indian Medical Service) were assigned to head various departments of the bureau. Lt. Colonel A. C. Chatterji (Indian Medical Service) and Captain Ehsan Qadir (5/2 Punjab Regiment) were also given senior positions in IIL.

In July 1943, Subhas Chandra Bose took the leadership role of IIL and renamed INA as Azad Hind Fauj (Free Indian Army) in Singapore.  This was the second INA.  Earlier, when Bose was in Germany, he had tried to enlist Indian PsOW.  There were about 15’000 Indian PsOW captured on North Africa but only 800-1000 had been co-opted to join Free Indian Legion (FIL).  The INA was now organized as No: 1 Division with four brigades;

Subhas Brigade commanded by Captain (INA Major General) Shah Nawaz (1/14 Punjab Regiment      Gandhi Brigade commanded by Captain (INA Lt. Colonel) Inayat Jan Kiani (5/2 Punjab Regiment)    Azad Brigade commanded by Captain (INA Colonel) Gulzara Singh –     Nehru brigade commanded by Captain (INA Colonel) Gurbakhash Singh Dhillon (1/14 Punjab Regiment)

Provisional Govt of Azad Hind

Provisional Govt of Azad Hind

Photograph: 1:  1st Row (L to R): Lt Col Chatterjee, Lt Col J K Bhonsle, Dr. Lakshmi Swaminathan, Chandra Bose, A. M. Sahay and S. A. Ayer.

 2nd Row (L to R): Lt Col Gulzara Singh, Lt Col Shah Nawaz Khan, Lt Col Aziz Ahmed, Lt Col M. Z. Kiani, Lt Col N. S. Bhagat, Lt Col Ehsan Qadir and Lt Col Loganathan.

No: 1 Division was sent to Assam front and two more divisions were also formed.  No: 2 Division was at Rangoon while No: 3 Division consisting mainly of civilians remained in Malaya.  Special service group was named No: 1 Bahadur Group and commanded by INA Colonel Burhanuddin and No: 2 Bahadur Group was commanded by INA Major Fateh Khan.  Intelligence group was under the command of INA Colonel Shaukat Ali Malik (Ist Bahawalpur Infantry).

By early 1944, the second INA was 40000 strong.  In February 1944, INA had its first encounter with the Indian army in the Arakan campaign. Japanese used it mainly to cause confusion among Indian army and try to subvert the loyalty of Indian troops.  No: 1 Division was withdrawn from Imphal front in August 1944.  No: 2 Division was later launched on the Burma front.

In the context of the Second World War, the military aspect of INA was just a sideshow of a sideshow.  Real clash was between a million men strong British 14th Army (Four Corps) and the Japanese 15thArmy.

Military performance of INA was not significant due to a number of factors.  Total of 750 INA men were killed in action, 1500 died of disease, 3000 surrendered or deserted, 200 escaped to Siam and 9000 were captured after the final Japanese defeat.

In comparison, the Indian army engaged in heavy combat suffered more casualties than the whole INA.  In fact, 1/14 Punjab Regiment before the surrender lost one hundred and forty soldiers and officers killed in action.

Netaji Bose and many in the INA believed that as soon as they made contact with their Indian army colleagues, they would simply cross over and join them.  This did not happen and Indian units fought hard against the INA.  Indian soldiers who were fighting the INA considered them as traitors.

There were several cases where INA soldiers were shot by Indian army soldiers rather than being allowed to surrender.  This problem was significant enough for the British high command to issue a special order prohibiting this practice.

Netaji Subhash Bose was disappointed at the performance of the INA.  After hundreds of desertions, he lashed out at the INA officers stating that it was ‘the loose conduct, luxury and corruption of the officers that had been responsible for the state of morale in which desertions were possible.  The disaster has been a failure of leadership’.

There is no question about Bose’s commitment to his ideals.  He resigned from the coveted Indian Civil Service (ICS) and was forced out of the leadership of the Congress party as he did not compromise with even Gandhi and Nehru; who were the icons of Indian leadership.  He had escaped from India via Afghanistan and had dedicated his whole remaining life for an armed struggle for freedom.

His charismatic personality and charming manners won many adherents among Indian PsOW.  However, he was disappointed in the INA project as he did not get enough commitment from PsOW who lacked similar zeal for the armed struggle.

Two Indian officers who played a prominent role in the INA wrote about their experiences in 1946 just before independence.  These accounts are confusing as these officers tried to justify their actions but gave contradictory evidence about what they actually believed.

Captain Shah Nawaz Khan was serving with the 10th training battalion of 14th Punjab Regiment at Ferozepur when his own battalion embarked for Malaya.  He arrived in Malaya on 29 January 1942, only two weeks before the surrender.

He narrates in his autobiography that he felt let down as he was not allowed to fight against the Japanese. Re the surrender order, he writes ‘I resented this order, especially when I felt that I had not been given a fair chance to fight the enemy, and to have brought me to Singapore so late in the fight, only to be ordered to lay down my arms, which I considered a crime and an injustice to my honor as a soldier”. He also claims that during captivity he organized a block of Indian officers to resist enrollment in INA.

He gives the following reasons for joining the INA-: A. Giving protection and help to PsOW. B;. To stop being exploited by the Japanese. C. To sabotage and wreck it from within, the moment we felt that it would submit to Japanese exploitation.

He claims that ‘personally I wished to get out of the INA.’ but ‘I had committed myself too far and could not retrace my steps ‘.  He claims that he worked hard to keep the rank and file out of the INA.  He goes on to give the bizarre argument that ‘I set about to find such men for the INA. as would be willing to fight the Japs if they were dishonest with us’.

He elaborates on this theme by stating that ‘I also realized that if on going into India which was probable due to poor British defence, and as the Japs were dishonest, I would be much more useful to my country with a rifle in my hand  in India, than as a POW. in Malaya’.

He also claimed that he advised Mohan Singh to disband the INA because the Japanese were exploiting it.  In defense of awarding death sentence to Sepoy Muhammad Hussain for desertion from INA, Shah Nawaz very eloquently described that ‘if in spite of voluntarily joining the organization and accepting its rules and regulations and given ample opportunities of staying behind, away from the front, the man still insisted on betraying his country and his comrades, he well deserved the punishment he received’.  He didn’t comprehend that the same rule applied to him when he deserted.

In May 1942, he had joined the first INA and in February 1943, he joined the second INA..  Shah Nawaz in his statement during his court martial alluded to friction between Indian officers. Captain Mohan Singh was made commander of INA and Shah Nawaz resented this fact. He considered Mohan Singh an ‘average officer’ and too junior.  There were many senior and more capable Indian officers with 15-20 years service compared to only eight years service of Mohan Singh. He also considered Mohan weak and that ‘he would not be able to cope with Japanese political intrigues’.  After thoe Japanese defeat, Shah Nawaz surrendered on 16 May 1945 to Second Lieutenant Tehel Singh of 2nd Battalion of Ist Punjab Regiment.

Captain Prem Kumar Sehgal was commissioned in 1939 in 5th Battalion of 10th Baluch Regiment.  This was an Indianised battalion but next year, he was transferred to 2nd Battalion of 10th Baluch Regiment and sailed with the battalion to Malaya.  He was captured by the Japanese in February 1942. He states that ‘I felt terribly let down by the British, who had handed us over to the Japanese and told us to obey their orders tohoe same way as we had been obeying the orders of the British’.

He gives bizarre reasons for joining the INA.  He claims that “If sincere and patriotic officers kept out, it would be quite easy for the Japanese to exploit their men”.  He narrates that “I finally made up my mind to join the Indian National Army because I felt that the Japanese were absolutely determined to go to India and if they were accompanied by a really strong INA. the Japanese would not be permitted to commit the same atrocities as they had committed in Malaya and other countries in East Asia and also if they did not honor their pledges regarding Indian independence, a well armed and organized INA. would be in a position to put up an armed opposition against them”

It was naïve on his part to believe that a victorious Japanese army that had defeated the m British  would be kept in check by a handful of Indian officers and soldiers who were essentially going to India hangers on of a military juggernaut

A mere Lieutenant of the Indian army with less than three years of service, Sehgal held some lofty positions in INA.  He started as Military Secretary to Directorate of Military Bureau and then Assistant Chief of Staff, Deputy Adjutant General, Commanding Officer of 5th Guerrilla Regiment (later re-organized as 2nd Infantry Regiment) and ended up as temporary GOC of 2nd Division of INA.  In April 1945, he surrendered to 4th Battalion of 2nd Gurkha Rifles.

Lieutenants and Captains became Brigadiers and Major Generals and VCOs became Captains and Majors in INA.  Most had actual experience of commanding only a platoon but now were assigned to command battalions and brigades.  They neither had the experience nor training for commanding formations.  In addition, the formations existed mainly on paper with no proper equipment and no logistical support to sustain combat operations. The outcome was a foregone conclusion. On the first contact with their former comrades of Indian formations, the INA disintegrated.

After the Japanese defeat, former INA members were captured and interrogated.  3880 who were designated White were reinstated in the army without loss of seniority and 13000 Greys were discharged with the loss of pay during captivity but with retention of pension.  6000 Blacks were scheduled for court martial but only less than two dozen faced court martial.  Mohan Singh never faced the court martial.  Later during INA trials, lead Defene Council, Sir Bhulabhai Desai claimed that 23,000 volunteered to serve as combatants for INA

In November 1945, court martial proceedings were held at Delhi against three INA officers.  There were seven members of the General Court Martial presided by Major General A. B. Blaxland.  Indian members of the General Court Martial were Lieutenant Colonel Nasir Ali Khan (7 Rajput Regiment), Major Pritam Singh (IAC) and Major Banwari Lal (15 Punjab Regiment).

Of three members in waiting, two were Indian; Major S.S. Pandit (1/1 Punjab Regiment) and Captain Gurdial Singh Randhawa (13thDCO Lancers).  Congress had steadfastly opposed Bose and his INA.  However, now it decided to take full political advantage of this crisis of the Raj.  Congress provided seventeen top notch lawyers for the defense.  The list included India’s top legal minds including three former justices of high courts.  Main charges against three officers were waging war against the King and in case of Shah Nawaz also abetment in murder by passing death sentence to INA deserter solider. 

Defense argued that when the struggle for freedom reaches a stage where there is an organized government and organized army, and then it must be accorded all rights, privileges and immunities of a fighting army.  In case of capital punishment, defense argued that these sentences were never carried out.  All three were convicted and awarded various prison sentences.  Later, their sentences were set aside by C-in-C due to enormous political pressure.

In July 1945, army conducted a survey of Indian soldiers and officers about INA.  Field Security Section (FSS) and Criminal Investigation Department (CID) conducted the survey.  In addition, regimental and battalion adjutants were tasked to inquire about the feelings of Indian rank and file about INA.  In general, the opinion was that INA was nationalist but they had violated their oaths.  However, they should be treated differently and not punished excessively.

After sentencing of some INA personnel, Congress and Muslim League members of Central Assembly demanded release of all INA prisoners.  Congress decision to support INA officers was purely political.  It wanted to use the trial to speed up British departure with the aim of getting the power without first solving their problem with Muslim League.  An interview of one of the lead counsel of defense Committee Asaf Ali with a former POW Captain Hari Badhwar of 3rd Cavalry clearly proves this point.

Ali told Badhwar that based on all the facts he had learned, ‘if Congress were in power, it would have no hesitation in removing all INA from the services’ and that ‘Congress would not hesitate to put INA leaders on trail when they come to power’.  Badhwar asked Asaf that now that they knew all the facts they should not champion INA cause.  Asaf replied that they ‘dare not take that line’ as they ‘would lose much ground in the country’. 

Muslim League stance was even worse.  It first stayed aloof from the trial but when it saw that general public interest was aroused, it also jumped on the bandwagon.  Muslim League decided to provide its own defense committee to one of the accused Captain Abdur Rashid.  His defense gave the absurd argument that he didn’t join to fight British.  He joined it to thwart the Hindu conspiracy of ruling whole India at the exclusion of Muslims with the help of Japanese.  After sentencing, Muslim League claimed that Rashid was victim of religious discrimination.

Congress and Muslim League championed the cause of INA on their own terms but their later actions proved that it was only for political gains and had nothing to do with any specific principle.  Once in charge of government after partition, neither Nehru nor Jinnah re-instated any INA officer.  In early 1948, Prime Minister Nehru consulted with three people about the INA issue.   Lieutenant General Srinagesh, Major General J. N. Chaudhuri and P.V.R. Rao of Defence Ministry were unanimous in their view that INA personnel should not be re-instated in the army.  Nehru’s response was that of a politician stating that ‘I disagree with your reasons but I agree with your conclusions.’

Many ex-INA soldiers and officers became actively involved in militant Hindu and Muslim organizations.  Some reports suggested that many incidents of organized violence against civilian population during mutual bloodletting of partition were committed by these ex-INA men.  Once breach of discipline is tolerated and condoned then soldier is no better than a brigand.

Ex-INA found no future and drifted towards their respective political or religious organizations. Many were responsible for participating in the killings of unarmed and innocent civilians during partition holocaust. In Pakistan, many ex-INA officers participated in 1947-48 Kashmir war. This operation was conducted outside the normal chain of command of the army in a very immature fashion with far reaching negative consequences.  Use of ex-INA soldiers for Kashmir operations in 1947-48 had a negative effect on the discipline of Pakistan army. Three years later, several officers were arrested for the conspiracy to overthrow the civilian government.  Most of these officers had participated in Kashmir operations.

Indian POWs joined INA for a variety of reasons.  Rapid war time expansion of Indian army meant that majority of soldiers and Indian officers were inexperienced with few years and in many cases few months experience of military service.  Surrender of large number of Indian and British soldiers in Malaya was a bewildering experience for everyone.  Only few officers joined INA from patriotic motives.  Most were either coerced or joined INA to avoid hardships of captivity.  A large number of officers, VCOs and other ranks remained loyal to their oath and suffered horribly. INA consisted of POWs and there were very rare cases of actual desertion and almost no case of active effort to cross over to the Japanese held areas to join INA.

Regimental loyalty was a major factor of esprit de corps and if a regiment had a good set of officers and VCOs, then it had good discipline during captivity.  This factor was not lost on their captors and resistant officers and VCOs were put in an ‘Officer’s Separation Camp’ to force them to join INA with the hope that Other Ranks (ORs) will follow them.  If Indian officers and VCOs were steady, then the rank and file followed their example.

Two Indian officers and VCOs of 3rd Cavalry set an example for the rest of the regiment and it stayed out of INA.  Captain K. P. Dhargalkar, Captain Hari Badhwar and Subedar Major Ismail Khan of 3rd Cavalry set personal example and kept their men steady during captivity.

On the other hand, 1/14 Punjab Regiment underwent several major changes in few years that eroded regimental bond. As process of Indianization, VCOs were posted out and more senior Indian officers had been milked away for newly raised war time battalions.  Battalion had only junior Indian commissioned officers and no time tested VCOs to keep the soldiers steady.  First shock of combat, quick collapse and surrender shattered the battalion and most of the Indian officers and soldiers joined INA.

2/10 Baluch Regiment was a non-Indianized battalion with British officers.  Only three Indian officers not originally from the battalion were posted to the battalion during the war.  Captain P.K. Sehgal with only two years of service was transferred to the battalion just before the war.  Lieutenant Burhanudin was the scion of the princely family of Chitral.  He was serving with Royal Indian Air Force (RIAF) and during the war attached to the battalion.  Captain K. P. Thimayya was running his family’s plantation and was a reserve officer.  He was posted to the battalion when war started. 

All three ICOs joined INA but they were not able to convince fellow battalion mates.  In the absence of British officers, seasoned VCOs kept the battalion steady during captivity and three ICOs were not successful in convincing soldiers to join INA.  In the absence of British officers, proud Punjabi Muslims, Pathans and Dogra VCOs and ORs remained loyal to their oaths.

Large numbers of 4/19 Hyderabad Regiment joined INA. This was an Indianized battalion and not a happy one.  In 1940, battalion was in Singapore and old Commanding Officer (CO) was transferred.  New British CO was unpopular and had problems with officers and men.  British and Indian officers were not on talking terms.  Uncontrolled drinking and brothel visits took the toll on battalion’s discipline. Lieutenant Zahir udin was on a detached duty with a company of Ahirs.  He was living with a German woman strongly suspected to be a German spy. There was enough evidence that she was undermining the loyalty of Ahirs.

Zahir was moved out of the battalion and Ahirs protested.  CO asked for help and a Gordon Highlanders detachment disarmed Ahir guards, removed all arms and surrounded the barracks.  It was tactful handling by Thimayya that open mutiny was avoided and crisis was resolved.  However, Thimayya asked for transfer and only two months before war, one of the most effective and respected Indian officer was not with the battalion.

It was no surprise that many soldiers of the unhappy battalion joined INA during captivity.  On the other hand 2/15 Punjab Regiment remained steady during captivity.  Legendry Subedar Major Sher Dil Khan was the tower of strength and in the absence of British officers held the battalion together during captivity.  Subedar Makhmud Anwar was tortured to death for refusing to join INA.  With the exception of few Sikhs, Punjabi Muslims, Jats, Sikhs and Pathans (Khattaks) remained loyal to their oaths.

The story of INA is a little known chapter of the Indian army.  Most post-independence work on the subject is polemic with very little insight or in depth analysis.  A rapidly expanding army with a large number of junior officers and recruits was thrust in a global battlefield in the background of political awareness of India.

Sudden collapse of Malayan command with surrender of thousands of soldiers en mass and removal of their British officers bewildered everyone. INA was viewed as a life line thrown by their Japanese captors and a number of officers and men joined it from different motives.  In military terms, INA was not successful but it’s impact on British civil and military decision making process indirectly provided stimulus to the independence movement.


The I.N.A. Heroes: Autobiographies of Major General Shah Nawaz, Colonel Prem K. Sehgal & Colonel Gurbax Singh Dhillon of Azad Hind Fauj (Hero Publications: Lahore), 1946 ……… Ram Singh Rawal.  I.N.A. Saga (Allahabad: New Literature), 1946………….. I.N.A. Defence Committee.  (Delhi: Delhi Printing Press), 1946……….. Philip Mason.  A Matter of Honor (Norwich: Fletcher & Son Ltd.), 1974 ……….. History of The Ist Battalion of 14th Punjab Regiment.  (East Sussex: The Naval and Military Press Ltd.), Reprint of 1946 Edition ………… Mahmood Khan Durrani.  The Sixth Column (London: Cassel & Company), 1955 ……….. Lieutenant General Sir Francis Tuker.  While Memory Serves (London: Cassell & Company Ltd.), 1950 …………. Brigadier (R) R. P. Singh.  Rediscovering Bose and Indian National army (New Delhi: Manas Publications), 2010……. Fergal Keane.  Road of Bones: The Epic Struggle of Kohima 1944 (London: Harper Press), 2010 ………. Daniel Marston.  The Indian Army and the End of the Raj (New York: Cambridge University Press), 2014 …… Humphrey Evans.  Thimayya of India (Dehra Dun: Natraj Publishers), 2009 Edition …………. Lieutenant General ® S. L. Menezes.   Fidelity and Honour (New Delhi: Oxford University Press), 1999 Paperback Edition of 1993 Edition. ………….. Kundu, Apurba.  Civil-Military Relations in British and Independent India, 1918-1962 and Coup Prediction Theory. PhD Thesis, University of London School of Economics and Political Science, 1995 …………….. Osborn, Robert Bruce.  Field Marshal Sir Claude Auchincleck: The Indian Army and the Partition of India.  PhD Dissertation, The University of Texas at Austin, May 1994 ………….. General J. N. Chaudhury Lecture at Cambridge Trust, 5 May 1973.

Hamid Hussain 26 February 2017 Defence Journal, March 2017

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China eyes Indian Tech Expertise …

Posted on March 2, 2017. Filed under: Chinese Wisdom |

China eyeing high-skilled Indians to turn itself a technological hub – Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury, ET Bureau 

China is hoping to attract highly skilled Indian workers on the lines of the United States as it strives to turn the country from a manufacturing hub into a centre of technological innovation.
The move, which comes at a time when bilateral ties have hit a low amid China’s attempts to shield Pakistan-based internationally designated terrorists and block India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group, could act as a confidence building measure, people familiar with the matter said.

In a recent article titled ‘China should hire Indian science, high-tech talent to maintain innovation ability’, state-run Global Times said that China has perhaps not been working hard enough to attract science and technology talent from India to work in the country.

This could open up a new destination for highly skilled Indian workers at a time when they are facing potentially tougher visa rules in the US.

“Over the past few years, China witnessed an unprecedented boom in tech jobs as the country became an attractive destination for foreign research and development centres,” Hu Weijia, a staffer with the Global Times wrote. “However, now some high-tech firms are turning their attention from China to India due to the latter’s relatively low labour costs. Attracting high-tech talent from India could be one of China’s options for maintaining its innovation ability.”

US-based software firm CA Technologies has disbanded its almost 300-person research and development team in China while setting up a team in India with some 2,000 scientific and technical professionals over the past few years, Chinese news portal reported recently. India, with a sufficient young talent pool, is becoming increasingly attractive, the Global Times said.

While many Indians are based in the trading hubs of China the country has so far failed to attract Indian talent in high-tech sectors, its modernisation drive notwithstanding.

“There is a general impression in China that Indians are technically smart and have contributed to the US research and innovation driven industries. The Communist Party of China has set the objective of transforming China from a manufacturing hub to a place known for development of new-age technology,” said an official, who did not wish to be identified.

The Xi Jinping government, according to an expert on Chinese economy, intends to change the perception of China being a manufacturer of cheap goods.

“This trend has been observed in the health sector, with an exclusive institute on medical research that has been set up in Shanghai. This is attracting largely researchers from Scandinavia, Canada and the US,” the expert told ET on condition of anonymity.

While the move can be seen as a confidence building measure, the Chinese will approach this as a pure business model, the expert said.

The Global Times article expressed similar sentiment. “China cannot afford to risk a decline in its attractiveness for high-tech investors. The nation is among the third echelon in cutting-edge technology fields and is working to catch up with the US and the result of its efforts will decide whether China will maintain its status as an emerging global economic power,” the newspaper said. “China has made the mistake of ignoring Indian talent, and instead has attached a greater importance to talent coming from the US and Europe.”

It said the talent pool in China is not large and flexible enough to meet demand for the rapid expansion of innovation capability. “In Silicon Valley, a considerable number of software developers working there are born outside the US. China should also strive to attract more foreign talent into the country as it aims to build itself into a world-class research hub… China has made the mistake of ignoring Indian talent, and instead has attached a greater importance to talent coming from the US and Europe,” it said.

According to the article, certain enterprises in Southwest China’s Guizhou province provide better lifestyle and salaries for Indian talent than in Bengaluru.
A total of 1,576 foreigners were granted permanent residence in China in 2016, an increase of 163 per cent over the previous year.


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