Rajputs – Why they Lost …

Posted on February 21, 2018. Filed under: From a Services Career, Regimental, Uncategorized |

From ……  They were defeated by Ghazni, Ghuri, Khilji, Babur, Akbar, the Marathas and the British.

A thousand years ago, Rajput kings ruled much of North India. Then they lost to Ghazni, lost to Ghuri, lost to Khilji, lost to Babur, lost to Akbar, lost to the Marathas, and keeled over before the British. The Marathas and Brits hardly count since the Rajputs were a spent force by the time Akbar was done with them. Having been confined to an arid part of the subcontinent by the early Sultans, they were reduced to vassals by the Mughals.

The three most famous Rajput heroes not only took a beating in crucial engagements, but also retreated from the field of battle. Prithviraj Chauhan was captured while bolting and executed after the second battle of Tarain in 1192 CE, while Rana Sanga got away after losing to Babur at Khanua in 1527, as did Rana Pratap after the battle of Haldighati in 1576. To compensate for, or explain away, these debacles, the bards of Rajputana replaced history with legend.

It is worth asking, surely, what made Rajputs such specialists in failure. Yet, the question hardly ever comes up. When it does, the usual explanation is that the Rajputs faced Muslim invaders whose fanaticism was their strength. Nothing could be further than the truth. Muslim rulers did use the language of faith to energise their troops, but commitment is only the first step to victory. The Rajputs themselves never lacked commitment, and their courage invariably drew the praise of their enemies.

Even a historian as fundamentalist as Badayuni rhapsodised about Rajput valour. Babur wrote that his troops were unnerved, ahead of the Khanua engagement, by the reputed fierceness of Rana Sanga’s forces, their willingness to fight to the death.

Let’s cancel out courage and fanaticism as explanations, then, for each side displayed these in equal measure. What remains is discipline, technical and technological prowess, and tactical acumen. In each of these departments, the Rajputs were found wanting. Their opponents, usually Turkic, used a complex battle plan involving up to five different divisions. Fleet, mounted archers would harry opponents at the start, and often make a strategic retreat, inducing their enemy to charge into an ambush.

Behind these stood the central division and two flanks. While the centre absorbed the brunt of the enemy’s thrust, the flanks would wheel around to surround and hem in opponents. Finally, there was a reserve that could be pressed into action wherever necessary. Communication channels between divisions were quick and answered to a clear hierarchy that was based largely on merit.

Contrast this with the Rajput system, which was simple, predictable, and profoundly foolish, consisting of a headlong attack with no Plan B. In campaigns against forces that had come through the Khyber Pass, Rajputs usually had a massive numerical advantage. Prithviraj’s troops outnumbered Ghuri’s at the second battle of Tarain by perhaps three to one. At Khanua, Rana Sanga commanded at least four soldiers for every one available to Babur. Unlike Sanga’s forces, though, Babur’s were hardy veterans.

After defeating Ibrahim Lodi at Panipat, the founder of the Mughal dynasty had the option of using the generals he inherited from the Delhi Sultan, but preferred to stick with soldiers he trusted. He knew numbers are meaningless except when acting on a coherent strategy under a unified command. Rajput troops rarely answered to one leader, because each member of the confederacy would have his own prestige and ego to uphold. Caste considerations made meritocracy impossible. The enemy general might be a freed Abyssinian slave, but Rajput leadership was decided by clan membership.

Absent meritocratic promotion, an established chain of command, a good communication system, and a contingency plan, Rajput forces were regularly taken apart by the opposition’s mobile cavalry. Occasionally, as with the composite bows and light armour of Ghuri’s horsemen, or the matchlocks employed by Babur, technological advances played a role in the outcome.

Ossified tactics

What’s astonishing is that centuries of being out-thought and out-manoeuvred had no impact on the Rajput approach to war. Rana Pratap used precisely the same full frontal attack at Haldighati in 1576 that had failed so often before. Haldighati was a minor clash by the standards of Tarain and Khanua. Pratap was at the head of perhaps 3,000 men and faced about 5,000 Mughal troops. The encounter was far from the Hindu Rajput versus Muslim confrontation it is often made out to be.

Rana Pratap had on his side a force of Bhil archers, as well as the assistance of Hakim Shah of the Sur clan, which had ruled North India before Akbar’s rise to power. Man Singh, a Rajput who had accepted Akbar’s suzerainty and adopted the Turko-Mongol battle plan led the Mughal troops. Though Pratap’s continued rebellion following his defeat at Haldighati was admirable in many ways, he was never anything more than an annoyance to the Mughal army. That he is now placed, in the minds of many Indians, on par with Akbar or on a higher plane says much about the twisted communal politics of the subcontinent.

There’s one other factor that contributed substantially to Rajput defeats: the opium habit. Taking opium was established practice among Rajputs in any case, but they considerably upped the quantity they consumed when going into battle. They ended up stoned out of their minds and in no fit state to process any instruction beyond, “kill or be killed”.

Opium contributed considerably to the fearlessness of Rajputs in the arena, but also rendered them incapable of coordinating complex manoeuvres. There’s an apt warning for school kids: don’t do drugs, or you’ll squander an empire.

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Imperial Services Cavalry Brigade Memorial …

Posted on January 15, 2018. Filed under: Regimental |

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Military History n Political Correctness …

Posted on January 3, 2018. Filed under: Regimental |

Self Evident Exchange of Views –

1. Gen KM Bhimaya

Dalits, proudly celebrating the 200th Anniversary of the Battle of Koregaon, were attacked by some miscreants.

I do not wish to delve into the political ramifications of this incident, except to admire this Battle as one of the very brave actions fought by an Indian Unit of the East India Company.

As a tribute to this valorous action, the designation of this Unit was changed to “Grenadiers.” At the village Bhima Koregoan, Captain Staunton with about 800 Dalit troops defied and defeated a large army of the Peshwa.

It was a battle of maneuver, deception, and raw “guts”. Please also read Gen S.L. Menezes’s “Indian Army”, page 291, for more information. The General was a dyed-in-the-wool ‘Grinder’.

2. Brig Jagtar S Grewal

It is a sad day that defeat of Peshwas is being celebrated. We should celebrate battle honors pre independence only which were abroad. This must be motivated by congress
Rightly said its political ramifications should not be discussed. Even such battles should be played down

3. Col PM Dubey VSM

Thanks Gen Bhimaya for presenting new and hidden face of the military history.

We should not be looking at this battle having been won by dalits or lost by Peshwas, which will dilute the very purpose of history. I think Gen SL Menezes has written this chapter to glorify the ancestors of his Regiment, Grenadiers.

What we need to learn is reasons of loss of battle and not won by whom. We need also to remember that on both sides Indians were fighting, may be the cause/aim was different.

4. Gen KM Bhimaya

I have failed to develop the art of being politically correct. I recall some astounding summing up in various military institutions of learning in which political correctness often clouded one’s judgment.

For a military officer, a feat of arms, regardless of when, or where it occurred, and who the participants were, should be the staple of intensive study. Even though the Confederates fought against the Union Army, some battles of maneuver (Chancellorsville, for example), in which the outnumbered Confederate General Lee inflicted a crushing defeat on the Union Army) are still being analyzed in detail.

This said, the Indian context may be different. As brought out by Puran and Gary, some historical footprints that hurt the national sentiments should not be glorified needlessly.

If I remember correctly, this was the Government’s policy immediately after independence, and battle honors, such as ‘Delhi’ and ‘Lucknow’ that featured in some battalions’ Battle Honors were removed.

Some regiments retained the British forbears’ names: Napier’s, Hodson’s, Queen Victoria’s, to quote a few examples, although these were “unofficial”.

Gen Menezes has not glorified this action in his book, but has lamented the fact, that, despite such gallant performance, the enlistment of these “lower caste” men was not encouraged. Their recruitment virtually discontinued, until the exigency of World War 2 brought them to the mainstream once again.

The Duke of Wellington, when he was the Prime Minister, was asked which was his toughest battle?

Everyone present in the gathering expected the obvious answer: Waterloo. Surprisingly, the Duke proclaimed, “Assaye”. Like Koregaon, this was a touch-and-go battle. The Madras Sappers were the most outstanding of all the participants. Since, under East India Company, the British awards could not be given to Indian troops, Madras Sappers’ services were recognized by awarding them special features in their emblem (I think it is the ‘Elephant’).

In another case of outright prejudice, 41 Bengali Regiment was disbanded because the men resented poor leadership, and, more important because of the activities of many Bengalis in the forefront of the independence movement.

Despite these performances, prejudices against color (the British preferred fair-complexioned men to the dark) and political activism precluded the recruitment of many potentially good soldiers and the “Martial Race” theory ruled the roost.

It is noteworthy that, in 1927, B.R. Ambedkar, one of the founding fathers of the Indian Constitution, had visited the memorial at Koregaon and paid his homage. Was he unpatriotic? I do not know.

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Regimental …

Posted on December 6, 2017. Filed under: Regimental | in-faraway-french-commune- ceremonial-send-off-for-two- first-world-war-indian- soldiers

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Veterans be Proud …

Posted on November 28, 2017. Filed under: From a Services Career, Regimental |

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1965 War: Battle of OP Hill …

Posted on November 21, 2017. Filed under: Regimental |

The Story in an exchange of Mails on Regt Website

1. My Mail –


Gen Sher Amir, 2 Dogra and of 10 NDA has written this piece re the Battle

Could I have your inputs pls as I have heard Sudesh Bhasin of the Second often talk about it.
2. Gen Bhimaya –

My dear Bert,

Sher Amir (JSW 1321, and I was 1330) is a good friend of mine, but I think he has made an out-of- context reference to the SECOND. The blatant infiltration took place under 2 DOGRA’S watch in August 1965, when our 2nd was deployed in Sarol, far away from the Op Hill.

Our 2nd mostly depended upon the intelligence provided by 2 DOGRA, who were in contact with the enemy. The intelligence was faulty, and it grossly underestimated the enemy strength.

CO 4/5 GR refused to attack the position because he had correctly estimated the enemy strength to be a well-dug coy plus. CO 2 Dogra had been relieved of command for a lack of aggressiveness.

Col Mazumdar (ex-Garhwali), who took over 2 Dogras provided the guts and spirit required for a challenging task. In the event, 2 DOGRA did well.

Remember, the unsuccessful attack by our 2nd Battalion had been mounted October 2/3, and the final attack by the Brigade (it had five battalions, and ample Arty support, plus 30 days for build up and recce) was launched November 2/3.

5 SikhLI, not 5 Sikh, as mentioned by Sher Amir, also played a very important part in the successful attack. Col (later Brig ) Sant Sing won the MVC. I think the Brigade Commander was Brig (later Maj Gen) Ahluwalia. The previous commander who had ordered our 2nd Battalion’s attack had been relieved of his command! Sher Amir has discreetly avoided to mention this.

Since I was not with the Battalion, I am unable to explain why our 2nd Battalion failed. Sudesh, Satish, and RK Singh would give you a more authentic story than what I can reconstruct.

It appears, insufficient time and deployment, woefully little arty support, and inflexible deadline imposed by the higher commanders may be some of the reasons why the attack failed. I was told that the B and D companies did not move forward rapidly to build on the late Khera’s foothold.

But again, Satish and RK would give you a more authentic version. How could anyone allot one mtn bty to provide support to a Battalion attack in mountains?

3. Col SK Singh –

Dear Sirs

From reading the given text, it appears that the aslt made by Advitiya Bn against an underestimated en posn, OP Hill, was STALLED and we may reconsider labelling it as such, rather than a failed attempt.

Col(Dr) SK Singh
4. Gen Bhimaya –

Dear S.K.,

History should be recorded truthfully lest posterity should misread it. Successes and setbacks are the smooth and rough edges of life, which should be taken together with equanimity. I will refrain from pinning the blame on anyone, because I am not aware of the then-prevalent challenges.

Be that as it may, it would be a stretch to label it as “STALLED.” I would hate to say this, but I have to : It was a failure. And it pains me to accept this, because the best portion of my service, seven consecutive years, was with the Regiment (five of them with the SECOND). Only elements of A and C companies pressed home the attack.

A coy, led my the late,gallant Khera and equally enterprising RK Singh (later Brigadier) almost took the first objective; C coy led by an equally brave officer, the Late Maj Sethi, lost its way to the objective, and suffered heavy casualties on account of shelling. B and D coys did not move forward to reinforce whatever successes A coy had achieved. I shall say no more of this. You can draw your own conclusions.

It is not always appropriate to correlate the intensity of battle with the number of casualties suffered: In Punch, 6 SIKH and other battalions of the Bde, repulsed a Divisional attack with minimum casualties. In Dograi, 3 JAT suffered heavy casualties, but took the objective.

Even the second Bde level attack with five battalions, and one month’s recce, mounted by us on OP HILL, entailed very heavy casualties that were overlooked in the wake of an unjustified triumph of a Pyrrhic victory! You may want to contact Gen Satish Sondhi (former Col of the Regt) and Brig RK Singh for a more authentic account than what has been tentatively reconstructed by me.

I will be glad to take the discussion further, should you so desire.

With regards,


5. Self –

Hope there is a response from Brig RK because I doubt whether dear Satish is even on this site.

A Capt Sethi of whom I heard a lot and who would surely have turned into a great Regtl Soul lost his life soon after the war in a village feud.

Another criticism I heard re this Battle was that the CO, who was a most professional type and became a Brig, was unfortunately overseeing the assault from where the MMGs were giving covering fire. I hope I am wrong.

Btw Gen Sher Amir had his half brother in our Third and this wonderful officer was killed prior to Maj Malhotra just before the Ceasefire.

Re Gen Bhimaya’s comments in the preceding mail, permit me to record my admiration for his strong sense of uprightness. Just after the Centenary two shameful incidents occurred in the same unit and the Regimental senior officers were gathered in the Dy Chief’s Office as he was the CoR and had been called re something by the Chief.

One Gen Officer lamented that what could the COR do? Where upon Gen Bhimaya burst out saying-

“You are asking what can the COR do? I will tell you what he can do! He can walk into the Chief’s Office and get the CO removed forthwith and the unit absolved of all op responsibility and sent into the hills for three months of serious training to sort things out. The Center Comdt can then be ordered to revamp the unit. That’s what the COR can do!”

Gentlemen, What more can be asked of a senior officer!
6. R K Gaur –

Thank you Gen Bhimaya for your very candid and objective inputs.
And my thanks to Brig Bhullar for some very pertinent observations on Gen Bhimaya.

I think these two have contributed some very valuable insights and made this conversation rich for our benefit.

I request Gen Sondhi and Brig R K Singh to please provide their inputs.

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GARH RIF – Regt History …

Posted on November 20, 2017. Filed under: Regimental |

Gen Bhimaya’s Comment/Appeal to the COR

My dear Col (COR),

1. Lt Gen Ata Hasnain’s piece on the recent burial ceremony of the mortal remains of our brave martyrs is comprehensive, accurate, and brief (with the soul of wit, of course).

2. It eminently fulfilled the needs of the targeted audience, civil and military. It is remarkable how he put together so may facts and figures at such a short notice.

3.The above piece is a good candidate for incorporation as a brochure intended for visiting officers, at battalion levels. Of course, CO’s can suitably modify some portions to bring in the special flavors of their respective battalions. Here, I enjoin caution, however. Our rich legacy and sacred heritage should be faithfully captured, that is, it should be characterized by unimpeachable veracity that brings forth outstanding and, for historical purposes, not so outstanding achievements.

4. In other words,it should be reliable history, not runaway hagiography.
With the preceding thoughts in mind, I would like to summarize my recommendations. These are intended to enhance the contextual clarity and the factual enrichment of Gen Ata’s piece.

A) The citations should be reproduced verbatim. I approached the office of the London Gazette and obtained the copies of the Gazette. I am listing the URLs below: Rfn Gobar Singh Negi Nk Darwan Singh Negi Lt WD Kenny

B. Maj Wardell was killed 23 November 1914, during the First Action at Festubert (There was a second attack at Festubert on or about 15 May 1915).

C. The designations (numbering) of Infantry Regiments was discontinued, effective 1 January 1946. Thus, on this date, our Regiment was designated Royal Garhwal Rifles,and this designation continued until January 26, 1950. Gen Hasnain (Senior) was aware of these changes and correctly referred to the battalions as 1 R.Garh. Rif., 2 R. Garh. Rif, and so on (For example, see, p.13 of Regimental History Vol III) during this transition.

D. 3 R.Garh.Rif also won the Regiment’s first Shaurya Chakra (Then known as Ashok Chakra Class 3)

E. Captain CN Singh was awarded the only MVC during the 1965 operations.
Some enterprising officer may please research the citation and share this with us. 2nd Battalion should accept this challenge.

F. Similarly, the awards won in Kargil and Sri Lanka should be properly documented with appropriate citations (Perhaps, the GRRC should take advantage of this opportunity).

5. Thank you once again for your initiative in adding another inspirational chapter to our History. Officers are welcome to bring out inaccuracies, if any, in this document.

With regards,


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4th Bn Sikh Regt – SaraGarhi – Sam n More …

Posted on November 7, 2017. Filed under: Regimental |

4 SIKH is a very Great Battalion but which, in my opinion, has had singular BAD LUCK. For instance in the 1962 War, two of its coys were airlifted to Walong where it did singularly well but due to a communication failure two coys were air dropped in Along.


Again in the 1965 War, this great unit went into the PAK POW Bag when things did not quite work out as planned.


And here is where it earned eternal Glory.

“DEFENCE OF SARAGARHI POST.”. Camperdown Chronicle (Vic. : 1877 – 1954). Vic.: National Library of Australia. 5 December 1907. p. 6. Retrieved 1 September 2014.


The Tirah campaign of 1897 teemed throughout with thrilling incidents of gallantry and heroism. After a space of years, perhaps none is remembered with more enthusiasm, or takes a more conspicuous place in the annals of the Indian Army, than the heroic defence of Saragarhi Post by a mere
handful of Sikhs against an attacking force of the Orakzais tribe, 6000 strong.

The magnificent defence of the native soldiers for nearly nine hours, until totally annihilated, was unparalleled in the events of the frontier war of ten years ago, and is now historical. September 12 is therefore a day memorable in the history of the Indian frontier regiments.

Up on the sun-baked frontier stations the memory of the brave men who fought until death for the honour of the British service is kept alive by a general holiday on every anniversary of the defence.

Saragarhi post, the scene of this thrilling fight, was nothing more than a small signalling station situated on a barren, wind-blown hill-slope between, Fort Lockhart and Fort Cavagnari on the Santana range of hills. Within its walls on.the night of September 11, 1897, were gathered twenty-three Sepoys and one follower, detached from the gallant 36th Regiment of Sikhs.

All was still and tranquil in this inhospitable outpost. The night was dark and starless. Meanwhile, in the darkness, the Pathans were gathering together at the foot of the ridge, silently and slowly. The whole plain was alive with moving bodies. Inside the little fort on the summit the sentries walked patiently to and fro during the small hours, unconscious of the danger at hand. As yet the presence of the enemy was unknown.

The quiet peacefulness of the fort, however, was soon to be disturbed. Down in the valley the wily leader of the Orakzais gleefully took in hand the placing of his men. The operations were to be a huge joke. What, indeed, could be more humorous? On his right lay Fort-Lockhart; on his left, Fort Cavagnari,, both full of Sahibs and Sepoys. But here, right in the very palm of his hand was a mere handful of Sepoys, entrenched possibly but surely not very terrible,without a British Sahib to encour-
age and command them. He would catch them unawares, take the place by assault, batter down the walls, and then pass on. Dawn was advancing and he would begin at once.

Up in the fort the sentries saw a flash In the darkness. Then came the crack of a rifle and a shot hurried harmlessly over the fort. The attack on Saraghari had commenced.

The sleeping Sepoys were quickly awakened. rifles clicked, bandoliers were filled. with ammunition. What was happening they sleepily wondered. Evidently a sniping party of tribesmen intent on giving trouble were at hand.

When daylight came the brave men within the walls of Saragarhi Fort saw that they were preposterously outnumbered. Undismayed they returned the enemy’s fire from the loop-holes of the walls. If they could keep back their assailants for a few hours, help would come from Fort-Lockhart.

By helio they informed the garrison of the danger of their position and a cheering message of encouragement flashed back across the hills to them. Fort-Lock-hart was sending all the men that its slender garrison could spare. The day advanced, and the fort was subjected to a constant fire, but the men of the 36th Sikhs fought stubbornly on. ‘The enemy began to close in around them.

Surely help would soon be at hand. Fort-Lockhart would save them. They did not know that the Pathans had already outflanked the relieving force, whose frenzied efforts of rescue were checkmated by the overwhelming forces of the enemy.

The little garrison of Saragarhi fought desperately for their lives. they had now been besieged for six hours. The construction of the fort, alas, was faulty in the extreme. At the corner of the flanking tower there was a dead angle, or, in other words a part of the wall could not be defended from any part of the parapet or loop-holes.

The enemy were now to take advantage of this weak spot in the building. The splendid efforts of the soldiers had so far kept them at bay. Again and again their bullets had driven back the Pathan mountain men. Their leader decided that the garrison must be rushed. All through the fight the Sepoy signalmen up on the parapet kept in constant communication with
Fort-Lockhart by heliograph.

The distracted commanding officer in that fort, with every detail of the fight before him, knew that the gallant little force in Saragarhi was doomed. He could do nothing to check the attack of the enemy or assist the garrison.

The crisis came at last. The Orakzais brought an unceasing hail of bullets to bear on the besieged fort. Intoxicated with fanaticism and the desire to kill, they advanced up the hill with a rush. The signalman
did not desert his post until at last he was driven to defend himself.

The enemy were now beside the dead angle in the flanking tower and battering a hole in the walls. Soon an opening was made and the Pathans crowded into the: fort. The brave men of the 36th Sikhs determined to sell their lives dearly, and retired to an inner enclosure. Here they gallantly fought until reinforcements of the enemy, climbing the walls on all sides, swarmed into the fort, when they were cut up to a man.

A wounded Sepoy lying on a bed shot four of the enemy before he was killed himself. The last surviving man barricaded himself in the guard-room and accounted for twenty of the Pathans.

Up on the frontier the defence of Saragarhi and the brave men who did their duty and died at their posts in the Frontier war of ten years ago will not be forgotten while British rule in India remains.

On September 12, 1897. the 36th Sikhs covered themselves with undying glory — Pall Mall Gazette.

And here is an extract from an Article on Sam Manekshaw on his 100th Birth Anniversary by Hamid Hussein which has lots on the old History of 4 Sikh ….

“He ie Sam, followed the routine of spending one year of probationary period with a British regiment; 2nd Battalion of Royal Scots after commission. He then joined the elite 4/12 Frontier Force Regiment (FFR).

This battalion had evolved through its one hundred and fifty year history going through various reorganizations which changed its name. It started as 4th Sikh Local Infantry after First Sikh War in 1846. In 1901, it became 4th Sikh Infantry and in 1903 became 54th Sikhs. The 1922 reorganization changed it into 4th Battalion of 12 Frontier Force Regiment. The 1957 reorganization gave it its present designation of 6 Frontier Force (FF).

The original designation of the force deployed on the frontier of newly acquired territories in 1849 was Punjab Irregular Frontier Force (PIFFER). Till today those who join Frontier Force Regiment are known as PIFFERS.

Young impressionable cadets in the Academy see their instructors as role models and the caliber of an instructor may be a factor when a cadet chooses his battalion.

Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Carter of 4/12 Frontier Force Regiment was a first rate officer and then instructor at Dehra Dun (he later commanded the battalion in 1942 when it was being reorganized into a reconnaissance battalion at Ranchi). He may have been responsible for two cadets of the batch joining the 4/12 FFR; Sam and Atiq-ur-Rahman, nick named Turk.

In the Second World War, Sam then a captain was leading Sikhs of Charlie company of 4/12 FFR in Burma.

A small group of Japanese soldiers surprised the troops and sneaked into the perimeter of the battalion at night. This caused panic and a number of soldiers bolted from the scene. Sam’s Sikhs firmly stayed in their positions. Sam had threatened them that he will personally distribute ‘bangles’ if any of them moved from their position.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx And –

When Major Shabbir Sharif of 6 FF got the highest gallantry award of Nishan-e-Haider fighting from Pakistan side, Sam wrote to his old British Commanding Officer (CO) of 4/12 FFR in England that he was so proud that an officer of ‘his battalion’ got the honor although Sam’s forces were fighting against Pakistan.

In 1973, when he came to Pakistan for post-war negotiations, he requested that dinner be served in the silverware of his parent battalion. 4/12 FFR (6 FF) was then stationed in Okara and cutlery of the battalion was carefully packed and sent to Lahore where Sam was entertained. During his 1973 visit to Pakistan, Sam was given a lunch at Station Artillery Mess in Lahore. Sam went around looking at the impressive array of trophies in the mess. He stopped by a trophy and asked what a trophy of 54th Sikh (4/12 FFR) was doing in the artillery mess. One Pakistani officer confided that the trophy was brought to the mess for the special occasion.

In March 1973, when Sam visited England, he hosted a dinner where all serving and retired officers who had association with 54th Sikhs and 8th Gorkha Rifles were in attendance.

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Deleted Post …

Posted on October 23, 2017. Filed under: Pakistan, Regimental, Searching for Success |

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Gen Bhimaya on Leadership …

Posted on August 9, 2017. Filed under: Regimental |

Here is the noted Thinker and Historian on Matters Military, commenting on a recent ‘Take’ on this riveting subject. Though the US Brigs SLA Marshal’s and Bill Slim’s lecture to West Point Cadets are among the last words on the subject, the field remains wide open for endless discussion. My vote is for Slim’s take!


To revisit a field that is well-beaten is both exciting and challenging. One is excited to find something new that might pique one’s interest, or that might have escaped one’s attention before. One may also find it challenging because, often, the simplest concept is difficult to explain because of the embedded nuances.

Then, there are always the rewards of serendipity to boot. I leave it to the readers to delve deeper into this bold if unverified statement to identify examples from their own experience.

The preceding thoughts were my initial impulses when I came across a research article on leadership of great team captains in sports (The Wall Street Journal, May 13-14, 2017, C1-C2)

To make it easier for the reader, let me follow the bullet format to list important findings, summarized in this article. Against each finding, I have added some brief but controversial comments in parentheses, primarily to provoke a discussion.

v “The leaders of history’s championship dynasties relied on a range of surprising traits, from dissent and rule-breaking to emotional self-control and a low-key communication style.”
(This is the central finding and readers might want to keep this uppermost in their minds).

· True leaders took care of tough, unglamorous tasks. They did not dazzle in the field but labored in the shadows and often led from the back.
(How true! The true leader toils in the background lending a helping hand to the needy, encouraging the weak, while cleaning up their mistakes firmly but unobtrusively. They seldom crave for recognition; the team’s success is their final reward).

· True leaders broke the rules for a purpose. They are not exemplars of fair play. They often test the limits of the rules, but soon after the objective is achieved, they return to normal. (Does the “out- of- the- box leadership of Major Gogoi fit this description?)

· True leaders communicated practically, not in grand speeches (Simple, understandable language that the riflemen understand is important. This implies ruthless elimination of English words that may mean different things to different riflemen; according to some officers who had the privilege of commanding both the Gorkhas and the Garhwalis, important patrol briefing used to be done by the Subedar Major, to combine experience with clarity of thought and expression. It may not be necessary now as most of us, hopefully, understand the language our troops speak. The important thing is grandiloquence and grandstanding are less important than simplicity and clarity.)

· True leaders knew how to use deeds to motivate. (Words are not enough. True leaders should exercise leadership by example of deeds, not merely by words. Deeds by example have tremendous substantive, as well as symbolic values).

· True leaders are independent thinkers, unafraid to dissent. (While dissent is a necessary part of healthy discourse that often leads to robust decision-making, one does not have to dissent as a matter of habit, or on frivolous issues. Dissent must be grounded in solid reasoning (MacArthur’s dissent with the Navy and the Joint Chief of Staff about his plan for the Inchon landings was not based on his ego, but a careful study of the British General Wolfe’s audacious and successful battle against the French in Quebec).

· True leaders are relentless. (In brief they follow the dictum, “Never give up.” And they cling to this spirit until the end: victory, or fighting to the last).

· True leaders possessed remarkable, emotional self-control. (Now, this is a tough one. This implies the ability to block out negative feelings and supplant it with emotional fortitude: courage in adversity, ability to handle panic with whatever it takes, for example, steadfastness, if possible, and humor, if necessary).

I do not wish to paraphrase the concluding remarks of the author.

He states, “They helped their teams to become dynasties by behaving a certain way, by making the right choices on the job—every hour, every day. They were dedicated to doing whatever it took to make success more likely, even if their efforts were unpopular, controversial, or completely invisible. They were not in it for personal glory but for the greater good of the team.” (Can there be a better epitome of selflessness?)

It is important for officers to study leadership in all walks of life, so they can be eclectic in internalizing their virtues. As leaders, it is our indivisible responsibility to identify leadership potential among our men, and help develop it.

It is a continual responsibility that needs to be shouldered with care and circumspection.


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