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Sunday, 29 June 2008

From Today's Papers - 29 Jun

'Sam Bahadur' was a Soldier's General

By Vishnu Makhijani

New Delhi
His handlebar moustache and his ramrod stiff gait gave Field Marshal Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw a commanding presence on the battlefield, but to the troops that served under him he was their beloved "Sam Bahadur", a soldier's general who put their well- being before his own.
Manekshaw, 94, who died in a military hospital in Wellington in Tamil Nadu early Friday after battling a series of age-related illnesses, will be best remembered for the decisive campaign he crafted during the 1971 India-Pakistan war that saw the emergence of Bangladesh as an independent nation after the surrender of over 90,000 Pakistani troops in what was then the eastern wing of the country.
That campaign was the defining moment of his tenure as the Indian Army chief 1969-73 and led to his elevation as India's first field marshal, a largely ceremonial post but which ensured he maintained close links with the 1.1 million-strong force till the very end.
Ever the one to speak his mind out on matters military, Manekshaw, a highly decorated officer who was awarded the Military Cross for gallantry during the Burma campaign of the Second World War, often found himself in a minority of one - but firmly stood his ground.
Three instances stand out vividly.
The first was when he famously refused to address then prime minister Indira Gandhi as "Madam", saying the sobriquet was reserved for occupants of a "certain kind of house".
"I shall stick to prime minister", he maintained.
The second was during the 1971 war when he had signboards reading "Hands in your pockets, You are entering Pakistani territory, Indian girls are prettier" erected at various spots as Indian troops advanced along the western frontier. Manekshaw was panned as being sexist and accused of insulting Indian womanhood but he stood his ground.
"It's the best way of telling the troops to behave and to concentrate on the job at hand," he contended.
The third happened at the very end of his career, days after he had retired from the army.
A young reporter from a tabloid, at the fag end of an interview, asked a seemingly innocuous question: "What would have happened had you opted for Pakistan at the time of independence (in 1947)?"
With a twinkle in his eye, Manekshaw replied: "I guess Pakistan would have won (the 1971 war)."
All hell broke loose when this was reproduced in print and there were demands he be stripped of his field marshal's rank but he stood his ground.
"The question was asked in jest, the reply was in jest and I never dreamed it would get into print. Now that it has, I do not deny saying so," Manekshaw maintained. Anyone else in his place would have taken the "I've been misquoted route" - and this is what differentiated Sam Bahadur from the others.
Twenty-five years ago, at the golden jubilee passing out parade of the Indian Military Academy at Dehradun, a newly commissioned second lieutenant picked up the courage to ask Manekshaw: "Sir, where do you get the strength of your character from?"
"From my school, son," he replied indulgently, but there was a deeper meaning to that because he is known to have told at least one close confidante that it was his years at Nainital's Sherwood College more than anything else that prepared him for his future life
Born in Amritsar on April 3, Manekshaw belonged to the first batch of 40 cadets to be selected for the Indian Military Academy and was commissioned into the 12 Frontier Force Rifles (later the Gurkha Rifles) on Feb 4, 1934. During the first Burma campaign, he took part in several actions against the Japanese and was wounded on one occasion but continued to lead his company with courage and tenacity, an action for which he was awarded the Military Cross for gallantry.
A graduate of London's Imperial Defence College, Manekshaw served in a series of senior positions during his career. After commanding a division in Jammu and Kashmir for a short duration, he took over command of a corps on the eastern frontier in November 1962. He thereafter headed the Eastern Command before being appointed the army chief on June 8, 1969. He retired on January 15, 1973.

Siachen, Sir Creek issues ‘doable’: Pak
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 28
Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmud Qureshi has claimed that India and Pakistan were close to resolving the Siachen issue, adding that finding a solution to the Sir Creek issue was also possible.
At a reception hosted in his honour last evening by Pakistan high commissioner to India Shahid Malik, he said, the two countries must hold result-oriented and meaningful dialogue. The environment was conducive for progress on outstanding issues and the two countries should grab the opportunity, failing which both would be losers. ”It is possible to resolve Siachen and Sir Creek issues…it is doable,” said the Pakistani minister, who had to cut short his three-day visit to India and return home in view of the death of his mother-in-law.
Giving examples of the Eruopean Union and ASEAN, he underlined that the two countries needed to build on commonalities to tap the huge potential that had remained unexploited for 60 years. All political players and the people in both countries were supporting the peace process. This was the right environment to move forward. Observing that the governments of the two countries should translate this environment into practical steps, he said, “If we fail to grab this opportunity, we will be losers.”
Qureshi, who met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and held official-level talks with external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee earlier yesterday, said Pakistan had a strong desire to move forward and wanted result-oriented and meaningful dialogue with India. He favoured liberalisation of the visa regime and promotion of trade, saying these measures could benefit people of both countries. He said the two nations should cooperate in energy sector in view of rising oil prices and in this regard pressed for early implementation of the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline project.n Qureshi also emphasised the need for peace and stability in South Asia for economic and social development of the region.

Indo-US security co-operation stymied by Indian reservations

* South Asia expert advises Washington to enhance military-to-military ties with India
By Khalid Hasan

WASHINGTON: India will only co-operate on security issues with the United States when it feels that there is a significant threat to its security interests, according to a South Asia expert.
In testimony before the House committee of foreign affairs, Walter Andersen of the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies pointed out that India’s reluctance to sign a logistics support agreement with the United States, allowing the refuelling of aircraft and ships in each other’s ports, arose out of concerns that this would undermine its policy of not allowing foreign troops on its soil. Andersen also urged for the signing of a memorandum of understanding on co-operative naval operations to safeguard the sea lanes of the Indian Ocean and critical choke points such as the Straits of Malacca and the Hormuz.
Interaction: Washington was also advised to enhance the scope and depth of military-to-military interaction by increasing the budget for Indian officers to participate in international military education and training (IMET), increase the level joint army exercises to the brigade level and encourage co-development projects that allow the US and Indian defence industry to collaborate in the development stages of specific Indian weapons programmes.
Andersen also suggested that Washington should support India as a permanent member of the UN Security Council to acknowledge India’s growing importance as an economic and military power on the world stage. He told the committee that India should be encouraged to remove restrictions on American investment, a prime example being the restriction on investment in the multi-brand retail trade where American firms are competitive. He argued that this would help reduce inefficiencies within India’s own distribution system, which is a significant drag on the country’s economy. He pointed out that there are also similar restrictions on insurance and financial services that stand in the way of investment from the US. Indian regulations make it similarly difficult for collaborative relationships between US and Indian educational institutions.

Indian military presence for SAARC Summit

President Mahinda Rajapakse has given approval for a heavy Indian military presence in Sri Lanka during the SAARC Summit from July 27 to August 3. The Presidential approval was granted following a request made by India in view of the tense security situation in the country. The formal request to have Indian troops, helicopter gun ships, bullet proof vehicles and related security arrangements was made by the three member Indian delegation that visited Sri Lanka on June 20.
The government it is learned had also agreed to allow the Indian navy to patrol and carry out surveillance in Sri Lankan territorial waters during the summit to ensure there are no terrorist attacks from the sea. The Indian delegation comprising National Security Advisor, M.K. Narayanan, Defence Secretary Sri Vijay Singh and Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon made the formal request at their meeting with President Rajapakse on Saturday, June 21. It is learned the government was requested to permit the entry of a large contingent of specially trained Indian security forces personnel into Colombo a week before the summit. These elite personnel are to take under their control the venue of the summit and the hotel the Indian delegation would be staying in.
The Indian Prime Minister and his officials along with his security personnel are to be transported in bulletproof vehicles and trucks that will be brought down to Colombo from India. Another special Indian helicopter and attack aircraft are also to be brought down for the Indian Prime Minister. India, informed sources said, also wants to set up special radars in Colombo as well. During the period of the summit, the skies in Colombo are to be taken under the control of a special Indian air force team in order to prevent any possible LTTE air attack, it is learned. The Indian navy is to patrol with fast attack craft the seas around the Colombo city during the summit. The Sunday Leader learns India has informed the government they do not want to leave anything to chance especially because of the presence of other heads of state from Pakistan, Nepal and Afghanistan where any untoward incident will be blamed on India.
President Rajapakse on Wednesday informed the cabinet of ministers that India had made a request for special security arrangements and that he had given the greenlight. It is learned the details of the security arrangements will be worked out by the Indian authorities with their Sri Lankan counterparts.
Informed sources said Pakistan has so far not made any specific request to bring their own security contingent and helicopters to provide security for their delegation.

Secrets behind the secret Indian visit

  • Foreign Ministry bypassed as top Indian officials hold talks in Colombo with President and others
  • Concern over security situation and doubts as to who will come from India for SAARC summit

By a Special Correspondent
The reverberations from the visit to Sri Lanka by India’s three top most bureaucrats – National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan, Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon and Defence Secretary Vijay Singh – continue in the echelons of power in Colombo.
This week, it took none other than President Mahinda Rajapaksa to repudiate ill-informed reports that India wanted the ongoing military offensive against Tiger guerrillas stopped. Some even speculated that India was doing so because troops were on the outskirts of Mullativu and were poised to seize control of Tiger leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran’s lair.
One official account, momentarily in the Media Centre for National Security (MCNS) web site even spoke of the Indian Defence Minister, A.K. Antony, coming to Colombo. However, the well known fact is quite different. He did not come.

Vijay Singh M. K. Narayanan Shiv Shankar Menon

In the absence of photo opportunities, media statements or even “inspired leaks” in the state media, little wonder wild speculation was not only rife but also reached ridiculous heights. More details of what went on behind the scenes are now emerging. They not only take the mask off the secret mission and its purpose but also provide an insight into new developments.
It was Thursday (June 18) when India’s High Commissioner Alok Prasad informed the Presidential Secretariat that a high-level Indian delegation was arriving the next day and wanted to have consultations. Their priority was a meeting with President Mahinda Rajapaksa. They also sought a meeting with Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, Senior Presidential Advisor Basil Rajapaksa MP and Presidential Secretary Lalith Weeratunga. This trio had travelled to New Delhi last year for talks with the three top bureaucrats in India.
Mr. Prasad was keen to ensure the visit remained confidential with no publicity given to it. Thus, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which conducts the country’s foreign relations, was completely unaware. It was told officially through a diplomatic note by the Indian High Commission only on Friday afternoon. By that time, the three-member delegation had already arrived in Sri Lanka in an Indian Air Force jet. That diplomatic note was a mere formality. The Ministry of Defence, using its own prerogative, had given the clearance earlier for the arrival of the special Indian Air Force flight. There was no question of the Foreign Ministry making a recommendation.
If that was bad enough, even Foreign Minister Rohita Bogollagama, who had returned from New Delhi only days earlier, was bypassed both in the preparation as well as the meeting phase. Whilst in New Delhi, some media reports quoted Bogollagama as saying India should keep away from meddling in Sri Lanka’s affairs. The Foreign Ministry later denied those reports though much to its chagrin some Indian officials privately insisted he said so. A witty official at the Ministry remarked that in keeping Mr Bogollagama out of the loop, the Indian team had in fact kept away from meddling in his (Minister’s) affairs.
Yet, Bogollagama had learnt from the grapevine about the impending arrival of the Indian team. On Thursday (June 19) he had raised the matter with President Rajapaksa. He received a terse answer. “Meywa api balagannang…..Oyagolla anith deval balaaganna…” (We will look after this. You all look after other things). Foreign Secretary Palitha Kohona was not on hand either. He was in Ukraine on a tour arranged by Udayanga Weeratunga, Sri Lanka’s Ambassador in Russia. He was due only that weekend.
When the Indian delegation arrived in Colombo, there was no Foreign Ministry official, not even from their Protocol Division, to receive them. Mr. Bogollagama was otherwise busy. At the BMICH he was chairing a conference of some 200 State officials where arrangements for the forthcoming SAARC summit in Colombo were being discussed. The telephones of at least three Foreign Ministry officials taking part in the conference rang. One of them found it was the media asking him, somewhat jocularly, “why is this sudden Indian landing?”
Another foreign Ministry official who was talking to a caller (identity not known) was heard to remark, “What discussion on SAARC arrangements. The Indians will get things changed the way they want. So this meeting should have been held after they got back to New Delhi.” On the other hand, one of the important meetings related to the SAARC summit, the one by the Steering Committee could not be held that week as its Chairman, Foreign Secretary Kohona was touring Ukraine.
Here are some of the more significant matters discussed by the Indian delegation: POLITICAL PROPOSALS TO END THE ETHNIC CONFLICT: The Indian team expressed the view that the All Party Representative (APRC) Committee is moving far too slowly. They had referred to recent remarks made by Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva that the APRC was a waste of time. Reference had also been made to Mr. Bogollagama’s remarks urging India not to delve in Sri Lankan affairs. The visiting delegation had drawn reference to the statement issued by their Government soon after the interim report of the APRC was released in January, this year. India declared those proposals as a “welcome first step” and urged the Government to move ahead with forward thinking proposals. They also sought Government views on the much touted “southern consensus” amidst fears that priority may be shifting to “divisive politics.” Talks also revolved on the non implementation of the 17th Amendment to the Constitution.
The Indian delegation had discreetly advised the Government to allow the Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal (TMVP) into the APRC only after their weapons were decommissioned. ECONOMIC ISSUES: Matters arising out of Petroleum Resources Minister, A.H.M. Fowzie’s threat to take over all Lanka-India Oil Corporation (LIOC) fuel outlets were raised. The delegation wanted to make sure Indian companies were not made scapegoats in crisis involving energy or food matters. They feared this would force a different turn on bilateral relations. There had also been discreet exchange of views on the economic involvements coming from China, Iran and Malaysia.
DEFENCE PROCUREMENTS: The delegation had inquired about Sri Lanka’s continuing procurements from Pakistan and China. They also inquired whether such matters were also being pursued with Iran. Due to the sensitivities in India, the delegation had expressed the view that Sri Lanka should strengthen defence co-operation with India. This would have to include delivering on other fronts, both political and economic. The Sri Lanka side had asked India for some “defensive” equipment promised earlier CURITY SITUATION: The delegation ascertained whether the intensifying military campaign against Tiger guerrillas is resulting in retaliatory strikes and security lapses. They also inquired about the difficulties in making the rest of Sri Lanka (besides the troubled North) safe. They were to express serious concern over the flow of Sri Lankan refugees to India. Another aspect was the hardships caused to the Tamil community in Sri Lanka including those in the plantation sector due to stringent security operations throughout the country. They were suffering many hardships.
The delegation wanted to be briefed on the military campaign against Tiger guerrillas. This was done at the Ministry of Defence by both the Commander of the Army, Lt. General Sarath Fonseka and Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda. SAARC SUMMIT IN COLOMBO: The delegation noted that there have been either attacks or discovery of weapons, bombs or improvised explosive devices in every potential SAARC venue identified earlier like Kandy and Nuwara Eliya. After Colombo was identified as the venue, there have been explosions in and around the City. Though Mount Lavinia had been earmarked for the summit retreat for heads of state attending the SAARC, there had been attacks in that vicinity.
The team urged the Government to provide proper environment and security for the SAARC summit. They said this was essential since India is concerned of any possible lapses. This is not only for their delegation but also for others such as Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nepal. This was particularly out of concern that an Indian connection would certainly be concocted in the event any unfortunate incident were to occur.
The Indian delegation wanted the Government of Sri Lanka to be very mindful of New Delhi’s sensitivities. This is taking into consideration what has been going on in the past, particularly since January this year. If this situation continued, they had explained the difficulties they would encounter in getting the “highest level” Indian delegation to attend the SAARC summit. They want an improvement in the ground situation. Among the factors highlighted by them:
• The ongoing military campaign in the north and resultant threats elsewhere.
• The security situation in the south.
• The absence of a “southern consensus” through the APRC.
• Feared accusations against India over political and economic issues. References to statements by Ministers Rohita Bogollagama, Nimal Siripala de Silva and A.H.M. Fowzie and whether the trend would intensify.
• Unhealthy relations with the international Community over human rights and a growing list of other issues.
However, in some official quarters in Colombo questions are being asked whether the Indian Government wants to hold on to the SAARC chairmanship. It will pass on to Sri Lanka only after the summit in Colombo in late July.
Visits by foreign dignitaries to Sri Lanka have always been followed with photo opportunities and news releases extolling the actions of the Sri Lanka Government. However, it was different this time.
One high ranking official who did not wish to be identified said Sri Lanka was not comfortable with the sudden visit of the Indian team. He said the mood that would reflect “we told the fellows off” was absent. He said there have been questions that propped up at brainstorming sessions. “Do we do some temporary thing to over ride the gathering clouds until we hold SAARC – which we can use for our future promotional endeavours? – or, “do we figure out a way to constructively engage our big neighbour for the long haul?” He said the “storming” still continues. So does the uncertainty.

When destiny played its part
Maj Gen E D'Souza (retd) | June 27, 2008 | 14:39 IST

Was Sam Manekshaw destined to be elevated to the highest rank in the army in the world, that of a Field Marshal? It would appear so in this case because Sam Manekshaw, when a student, had set his eyes on following in the footsteps of his father, Dr Hormusji Framjee Manekshaw, and one of his elder brothers, the late Air Vice Marshal Manekshaw of the Air Force Medical Corps, into the medical profession. And this is where destiny stepped in.

Sam Manekshaw's father had settled in Amritsar. Sam was sent to the well-known Sherwood College, Nainital, in the beautiful Kumaon Hills, Jim Corbett country, as a boarder. He did well in the Senior Cambridge Examination and had no difficulty in obtaining a seat in the Hindu Sabha College, Amritsar, to do his inter science examination in biology and chemistry, a prerequisite to qualifying for a seat in a medical college. He did well in this examination and had hoped to be sent to England, in the footsteps of his two older brothers. But his father Dr Manekshaw thought that Sam, who was then just 16, was too young to be exposed to the flesh pots of England. And this is where destiny took over.
While glancing through a newspaper, Sam saw an advertisement issued by the government, calling for eligible young Indian gentlemen to apply for the first ever course at the newly established Indian Military Academy, Dehra Dun. The first course was to commence in 1930. Of the 1200 young Indians who applied, Sam Manekshaw was one of the 16 to quality, which was quite an achievement.

The soldier who created a nation

He had set his sights on asking for a good infantry regiment, and in making his choice he was influenced by a Major Moore, one of his instructors, who belonged to the 12th Frontier Force Regiment, to join that regiment which carried with it the tag Frontier Force (FF), flaunted with much pride by those Indian and Cavalry Regiments entitled to use it.
When World War II ended, Sam was selected to fly with 35 Sikh Troops of his regiment as part of General Gracey's force to Indo-China and was the first to land at Saigon to implement the task of disarming 60,000 Japanese troops, including a Japanese general. He took this unusual role in his stride.
His exceptionally gifted qualities, both professional and personal, were soon recognized when he became the first ever Indian officer to become the Director General of Military Operations in Army HQ at a period when India's future was being shaped. Perhaps what influenced the powers that be in making this appointment were his ability to grasp the geo-political and military situation prevailing, and his uncanny ability to translate and apply them to India's military problems.

Images: Beloved Sam Bahadur

The next step in his steady rise in the Army hierarchy was the predicted move from Mhow to do the year-long course at the Imperial Defence College, London. This was strictly by stringent selection and senior officers deputed for this course were obviously headed for greater things. Brigadier Manekshaw returned from this course having earned the symbol idc, which he added to his psc earned at the Staff College, Quetta.
On his return to India he was posted on promotion to take over 26 Infantry Division responsible for the security of the Jammu-Pakistan border. But he did not stay here for long. Having successfully done the course at the IDC, predictably, he was moved to the then most important training institution of military training, the prestigious Defence Service Staff College, Wellington, nestling in the Nilgiri Hills or the Blue Mountain.
He was moved to the East in November 1962, to take over 4th Corps at Tezpur in the rank of Lieutenant General. This was a sensitive command after the recent Chinese incursions and much rethinking was demanded.
After a stint of a year, an experience he treasured, he was moved once again, but on this occasion to the North to take over the prestigious Western Command, headquartered in Shimla. But he did not stay here long. With trouble brewing in the East, he was moved to Calcutta to take over the very sensitive Eastern Command facing two major powers, China and Pakistan.

Manekshaw's Kashmir mission

Lieutenant General Manekshaw faced numerous critical situations not only in NEFA, Nagaland and Mizoram, but in West Bengal and Calcutta, with firmness and personal courage. He would face howling mobs baying for blood. His very presence � armed with only his cane and in his inimitable side cap, he would move around nonchalantly � had the desired help.
In 1969, General PP Kumaramangalam's tenure as Chief of the Army Staff was coming to an end and the government was faced with the problem of selecting a new Chief. The race was between two distinguished infantry Generals, both with good records of service and both Army Commanders, Lieutenant General Sam Manekshaw and the very impressive Lieutenant General Harbaksh Singh, a contemporary and an IMA product as well, the GOC-in-C Western Army. Whereas General Manekshaw had a better all-round record in command, staff and instructional appointments, General Harbaksh Singh had field experience as a Brigade Commander in the Uri sector and had led the Western Command successfully during the 1965 War against Pakistan; the choice facing the government was a delicate and narrow one.
Sam Bahadur

Both were commanding 'operational' Army Commands, both were war experienced, Sam Manekshaw earlier in his service but Harbaksh Singh later, and both were decorated. The latter had powerful connections, belonging as he did to the Patiala royal family. The prime minister was Indira Gandhi and the defence minister was Sardar Swaran Singh. There was a delay in announcing the choice, which meant that there must have been a debate. Eventually, at 1315 hours on that fateful day news seeped through the grapevine that Lieutenant General Sam Hormusji Framjee Manekshaw was to be the next Chief of the Army Staff. For his supporters the tense period of waiting had ended. Yet again destiny had intervened. Had the choice been otherwise, would India have had a Field Marshal? And a Parsi at that!

Excerpted from Enduring Legacy, Parsis of the 20th Century, Volume II � The Professions, Pages 492, 494, 497, 501, 502, 503, 504, 505 and 506. Editor: Nawaz B Mody

Image: File photograph of Field Marshal SHF Manekshaw, who passed away early on Friday morning, with Army Chief N C Vij at a parade in Delhi Cantontment in October 2004.

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