Patriotism Sad Songs

Always on my mind….

Today the 15th of January is a unique day in India.

India celebrates Army Day on January 15 every year to commemorate the achievements of the first Indian Commander in Chief of the Indian Army — Field Marshal K.M. Cariappa.

On this day, Cariappa, who led Indian forces to victory in the 1947 war, took over the command of the Indian Army from General Sir FRR Bucher, the last British Commander-in-Chief in 1949 and became the first Indian Commander-in-Chief of Independent India. The Army Day is celebrated every year to honour Cariappa and the defence forces. After Bucher’s retirement, Nehru wanted to appoint another British General in his place but the Indian Senior Officers resisted and told him in no uncertain terms that there was no shortage of leadership in the Indian generals. He was forced in that sense to “allow” an Indian General. Until last year, the main Army Day parade was held at the Cariappa Parade ground in Delhi where Service Chiefs paid homage to the Indian Army. The Army Day Parade showcases the evolution of various weapon systems held in the Indian Army’s inventory. Soldiers are also awarded Gallantry awards and Sena medals on the day. From this year, the parade is being taken to different locations, to bring about increased visibility of these events and secure greater engagement with the local population. It is being held in Bengaluru, with COAS General Manoj Pandey presiding.

I thought it would be apt to pay homage to the brave men in uniform. We must remember our bravehearts who gave their all (& continue to do so) to ensure we stay healthy and happy , secure in our warm homes….

One of the immortal stories of extreme valour in the innumerable such stories from our proud men.

This water bottle belongs (belonged) to Naik Gulab Singh of Charlie Company, from 13 Kumaon. In November 1962, on 18th of the month, he and his 120 colleagues staged an unparalleled act of valour at  Rezang La in Eastern Ladakh’s Chushul.   On 18 November 1962, the ‘C’ Company (Charlie company), under the Kumaon Regiment’s 13th Battalion, lived up to the ‘Last man last roundmaxim.

The 120-strong company, led by Major Shaitan Singh, (picked up a posthumous Param Veer Chakra himself) fought off over 1300 Chinese soldiers at an altitude of over 18,000 feet until they ran out of bullets. In fact, even after running out of ammunition, it is reported that the resilient Indian soldiers utilised their bayonets and engaged in hand-to-hand combat with the Chinese who were stronger in number and better equipped. This is regarded as an event with no parallel in modern military annals. The action resulted in virtually the entire company making the supreme sacrifice, to the last man. This is the modern equivalent of “Pawan Khind” where a band of intrepid soldiers stared at certain death and in embracing it, defeated death itself.

Naik Gulab Singh originally from Rewari in what is now Haryana, took it upon himself to silence a Chinese Machine Gun position that was posing a huge threat to the Indians. Imagine the number of bullets he took when carrying out the task successfully. That’s his water bottle, imagine how many struck his body .

Major General Ian Cardozo writes in his book “Param Vir: Our Heroes in Battle” when the snows receded from Rezang La, there was absolute carnage: the fallen heroes of India frozen with their fingers still on the trigger, every man found with scores of bullet wounds on their bodies frozen when they fell in their trenches. The Mortarman had an unexploded shell in his hand. The Medical orderly still holding syringes and dressings in his hand when shot. Almost every mortar shell and every bullet used up. This is the most ferocious example of last man standing battle where 120 Indian heroes gave their lives , killing more than 1300 Chinese and effectively thwarting the Chinese advance into Ladakh. Freedom isn’t available for free, we have to pay a heavy price for it.

When the details of this action emerged in the summer of 1963, the fallen heroes were retrieved and their funerals performed with state honours. The story ignited a spark in Chetan Anand, who made what is the best movie based on War to come out of the country, Haqeeqat. With an ensemble star cast and an amazing musical score by the Prince of Pain, Madan Mohan , it had gut wrenching lyrics by Kaifi Azmi. If you’ve not seen it, do see it today itself. Drop everything and feel the anger rise for the bumbling idiot who did everything to destroy the nation and unfortunately was helped by the British to become the PM. Virtually every single time his leadership was tested, he didn’t disappoint in flunking the test. I shudder to think what damage he would have done with the traitors and corrupt members of his inner circle, had it not been for the few good men like Vallabhbhai Patel and B R Ambedkar who stopped him in his tracks.

A sombre song from the movie is almost a dirge, a requiem by the living to themselves, the living dead, left out to die by an inept administration and uncaring government. (Remember the “not even a blade of grass grows there” flippant remark by the man who stole an election to get to rule a country by means most undemocratic when his own party refused to elect him as it’s leader). The hopelessness of the situation and pathos is only too apparent in Kaifi Saab’s poetry . Rafisaab shows his mastery over all kinds of emotions. He is the sublime sultan of sadness in this one.

Even a song between the romantic pair which normally should have been pure joy and passion is steeped in the pain of the narrative. The introduction to the melody itself shows the pain. Bharatratna Lata Mangeshkar enjoyed a creative partnership with Madan Mohan very unlike any other in her long innings. The two gave an endless supply of unforgettable melodies that are truly gut wrenching. This one is no exception.

On this day of remembering our brave hearts, (of which my family has had its share too: scores of very proud men in uniform over three generations, stretching back to WWII down to the IPKF and dealing with the Kashmiri terror) my sincere entreaty to each of you is to respect the men in uniform much more than we do now.

Of the many virtues one cannot buy, and valour and patriotism top the list. Stay blessed.


By abchandorkar

Consultant Interventional Cardiologist, Pune, India

22 replies on “Always on my mind….”

What a glorious way to pay homage to our army men! Excellent writing in great detail with emotion and respect for our army. Of course, it is our duty to appreciate, to feel ever indebted to our great brave men, for their unique sacrifice to the cause of the country. It would be a sin not to do so. If one thinks of the sacrifices made by the freedom fighters before independence and the country being run most shamelessly and inefficiently afterward, one would hang one’s head in shame. Only now, the country has started taking some bold steps in right direction.
The song is soul stirring, thanks to the composer, the lyricist and above all Rafi saab.

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Indeed good reminder of Field Marshal K.M. Cariappa.
Those were the days when Indian Army specially our Soldiers were considered the Best in the World … But always under politicians then and now.

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A very sober day indeed!
No array of words would be equal to sacrifices our men in uniform made.
Thanks for the reminder you have given in above write-up to all of us who are leading a life of comfort decades later unmindful of blood shed on white, snowy mountains then.
Well, that’s life…

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खरंच….युद्धाच्या चित्तथरारक कथा….
दोन्ही गाणी अतिशय सुंदर आणि तितकीच हृदयद्रावक…..hat’s off to our real heroes….and my Naman🙏🙏🌹🌹

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