“Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw” by Hanadi Falki

I have always been a huge admirer of the late Field Marshal Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw (1914-2008) so jumped at the chance to read one more book about him. This ebook titled, “ Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw” is written by Ms Hanadi Falki. Frankly there wasn’t much in the book that one hadn’t already read about. It looked like a re-hash of arcticles, book extracts, interviews and the like. The personality of the Field Marshal is so strong, and his story so interesting however, that we feel like reading about him all over again – which is exactly what I did.

As a military commander and a leader in war and peace, Sam Manekshaw has few parallels in Indian military history. He was the 7th Chief of the Army Staff of the Indian Army- from 1969 to 1973- and his greatest contribution was winning the 1971 War against Pakistan. This led to the bifurcation of the Pakistani State and the birth of the new country of Bangla Desh.

The book traces his life and career in the Indian Amy from the time he joined the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun in 1932 in the very first batch of cadets. He served the Indian Army for four decades and fought in five wars till he retired in 1973. A grateful nation then bestowed upon him the rank of Field Marshal. He was the first General and COAS in the Indian Army to be so honored.

Apart from his exploits as a military leader, (he won the coveted Military Cross for bravery as a young officer in the British Indian Army during Second World War in Burma), Manekshaw’s character as a person of the highest integrity and professionalism stand out in the many anecdotes in the book. He had the courage to stand up to those in authority including the Prime Minister, Defense Minister and the political leadership of the country.

As I have said before, I have been and remain a huge admirer of Field Marshal Manekshaw. I am therefore terribly puzzled how under his watch India released 93,000 Pakistani Prisoners of war but did not do enough to get back 54 of our Defense Personnel, They simply did not make it back to their homeland . I was hoping that this book would cover this unsavory part of Indian military history but I continue to remain disappointed on this score.

I wish the book had been better arranged for ease of reading. It does not follow a prescribed pattern. For example, it has his childhood and early years suddenly appearing from out of the blue, much after the start of the book. However this slim volume, despite its shortcomings, remains interesting because of the man the book describes and his exploits- in war and peace.

Remembering Field Marshal Manekshaw

A couple of days ago we remembered a true hero, Sam Bahadur on his death anniversary. On June 27, 2008 , Field Marshal Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw passed away, aged 94 in Coonoor in the beautiful Nilgiri Hills. He had settled there on retirement from the Indian Army, close to the military cantonment of Wellington.

Sadly, when India’s first Field Marshal and perhaps greatest soldier passed away, neither the President of India, the Prime Minister or even the Defence Minister A K Antony  attended his funeral . Every one had some excuse or the other. Continue reading “Remembering Field Marshal Manekshaw”

G for Generals: #A to Z Challenge

For me today, G is for Generals because of my deep interest in military history. I am often asked how I developed such an interest despite never having served in the defence services. It’s not that I came from a family with a military background either though my grandfather went to Mesopotamia (as it was then known) during the First World War as a doctor with the old IMS in the British Indian Army. His son became a doctor like him and maintained the tradition, this time serving in the jungles of Burma during the Second World War. His brother served for many years in the Indian Navy being one of the earliest fliers in the Fleet Air Arm.

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“Little Man From The East” : Maj. Gen. M.K.Paul (Retd)

“Little Man From The East: Marching Through Tumultuous Decades” is , in my view, a “must read” for anyone interested in 20 th century Indian history. It also happens to be the story of a soldier engineer commissioned into one of the oldest Regiments in the Indian Army,  the famous Madras Engineer Group. This outfit, more commonly called The Madras Sappers, and more fondly as ‘The Thambis’ was raised  in 1780.  Major General M K Paul (retd), the author, served with distinction in the Indian Army for nearly 37 years before retiring in 1991.

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” Call me General, dammit!”

It’s unfortunate but many of us civilians do not have much idea of ranks in the Defence Services. This leads to awkward – and often amusing – situations. Many years ago, someone from our organisation wrote to a retired Major General of the Indian Army who was the Chief Executive of a large industrial undertaking. Unfortunately, the letter was addressed to ” Major B…” Continue reading “” Call me General, dammit!””