June 28, 2008
Remebering Sam Manekshaw
The first Indian to become a Field Marshal, Sam Manekshaw passed away at age 94, on 27 th June.On any metrics Field Marshal Sam Maneekshaw is one of the greatest solider of India his heroics in WW2 fighting against Japanese despite his stomach ripped with 7 bullets and his Leadership during Indo-Pak 1971 war, his no compromise attitude with babus and Netas are legendary,
Sam Manekshaw confronted with Indira Gandhi herself and could be the only person who have guts to crack a joke with her.
The Field Marshal narrated this incident at the inaugural Field Marshal KM Cariappa Memorial Lecture in October 1995 at Delhi.
"There is a very thin line between being dismissed and becoming a Field Marshal. In 1971, when Pakistan cracked down in East Pakistan, hundreds and thousands of refugees started pouring into India, into West Bengal, Assam and Tripura. The Prime Minister held a Cabinet meeting in her office. I was then summoned.
A very angry, grim-faced Prime Minister read out telegrams from the Chief Ministers of West Bengal, Assam and Tripura.
She then turned around to me and said, 'What are you doing about it?' And I said, 'Nothing, it's got nothing to do with me. You didn't consult me when you allowed the BSF, the CRP and RAW to encourage the Pakistanis to revolt. Now that you are in trouble, you come to me. I have a long nose. I know what's happening.'
She said, 'I want you to enter Pakistan. And I responded, That means war!'
She said, 'I do not mind if it is war.'
I said 'Are you prepared? I am certainly not. This is the end of April. The Himalayan passes are opening and there can be an attack from China.'
I turned around to the Prime Minister and said that the rains were about to start in East Pakistan and when it rains there, it pours and the whole countryside is flooded.
The snows are melting, the rivers would become like oceans.
All my movement would be confined to roads."
Manekshaw told Gandhi that the Air Force would not be able to provide support because of climatic conditions. "Now Prime Minister, give me your orders. The grim Prime Minister with her teeth clenched said, 'The Cabinet will meet again at four o'clock.'
The Cabinet members started walking out. I being the junior most was the last to go and as I was leaving, she said, 'Chief, will you stay back?'
I turned around and said, 'Prime Minister, before you open your mouth, may I send you my resignation on grounds of health, mental or physical?'
She said, 'Everything you told me is true.'
'Yes! It is my job to tell you the truth,' I responded. 'And it is my job to fight, it is my job to fight to win and I have to tell you the truth.'
She smiled at me and said, 'All right Sam, you know what I want?' I said, 'Yes, I know what you want!'"
As a true leader, When Indira Gandhi requested Manekshaw to travel to Dhaka to oversee the surrender of Pakistan, Maneshaw refused to do so, stating his Army Commander in the East, Lt General Jagjit Singh Aurora, should have the honor.
It unfortunate that our commander in chief of armed forces, aka president, Service chiefs, Defense minister or none of the senior cabinet colleagues don’t have time to pay final rites. A nation which observed 3 days of official mourning on pope’s death, don’t even show minimum respect to its legendary soldier.
Soldiers never die, they just fade away.
Three cheers to Sam!