From Vishnu Singh < >


This is the story of two funerals of two of India’s greatest war heroes

…One under NDA and the other under UPA…


India’s military grace and courtesy was on full display today at Brar Square as the nation stopped for a moment to pay homage to one of India’s finest soldiers…Marshal of the Air Force Arjan Singh…..The mourners assembled from all walks of life…past soldiers, grizzled veterans, air warriors, Navy veterans…all heroes in their own space, yet, gathered to pay homage to one of the greatest heroes of our military…..Across the nation, the Tri Color flew at half mast, a somber statement that the nation mourns one of its greatest sons…..and so did our political class…The Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, the President of India walked into the residence of the Marshal to pay his respects as did the Prime Minister of India…Today, we saw L K Advani and Man Mohan Singh also place wreaths on the great man….The Raksha Mantri took it upon herself to oversee all the arrangements……And the Air Force flew the Missing Man formation….Yes the Air Force will miss its greatest hero but he will forever remain  an inspiration….


In 1942,a young company commander stopped 8 bullets in his stomach in the battle of the Sittang river in Burma during World War II…they gave him up for dead, but Sam Manekshaw was a man of steel….He pulled through, got back into the war in about a year’s time……..and went on to become a legend….After the debacle of 1962,Nehru turned to Manekshaw to rebuild the devastated IV Corps in Tezpur….One of his first orders on taking over, was …”Gentlemen, any further retreat will be on written orders and no such orders will ever be issued by my HQ…”  The revival in morale was instant…..and he went on to become India’s Army Chief in 1969….When the East Pakistan crisis broke in March.1971,Mrs Gandhi was in favor of instant offensive…Field Marshal Manekshaw in the course of a Security meeting with the Prime Minister in the Chair, stood up and told her in no uncertain terms, that he needed 6 months to prepare for war and that it would be suicidal to go in now….Everyone assembled was stunned at this open defiance…But that was Manekshaw, forever blunt, forever forceful, forever speaking his mind…To the eternal credit of Prime Minister Gandhi, she agreed and the rest as they say is history…A new nation emerged in December,1971,and Gen Maneckshaw was appointed India’s first 5 Star Military Officer…..


This great soldier passed away on 27 Jun,2008 and they laid him to rest the next day with full military honors….The Supreme Commander of India’s Armed Forces was busy in her home state and could not spare time to fly down to Wellington to pay her respects to this patriot…The Prime Minister of the day, the erudite Man Mohan Singh, an accomplished scholar, probably never understood what military glory and pride was all about ..he could not spare time either…India’s Defense Minister, A K Anthony considered the journey to Wellington would be too taxing, so he detailed his MOS, Defence, Pallam Raju to attend…India’s Army Chief, Gen Deepak Kapoor was in Russia so they said ,he could not come back…although heroes like Manekshaw are any day more important than any foreign trip…The Air Force and the Navy Chief, probably, getting a sense of the way the wind was blowing all skipped…An ungrateful elite of a great nation skipped the funeral of the most beloved and respected soldier of our times……It was said, subsequently, that in the rush of things, even the cursory gesture of a wreath on behalf of the President was given a miss….It was as if India was in a hurry to get it over and done with…..This will go down, perhaps forever, as a blot on our military profile ….our failure to acknowledge our own…

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