INDIAN ARMY DAY-A Salute to Field Marshall Cariappa & Brave Hearts-Puri
Jaswant Singh Puri/ January 15,2023
Indian Army Day is an annual celebration on January 15 in honour of Field Marshall Kodandera Madappa Cariappa. He as Lieutenant General took over as the First Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army on this day from the last British Army Chief, General Francis Butcher in 1949. This notable day of illustrious honour is solemnised in Cariappa Parade ground in Delhi Cantonment by organisinig parades, honouring the soldiers who protected the independence and dignity of the nation. Homage is paid to them with medals and then military exercises of cultural hues in New Delhi and at various Army Command Headquarters are organised.
The parade showcases the display of tanks, Brahmo missiles, soltum guns of the Army Aviation. Indian Army is one of the biggest armed forces in the world whose goal is to “Serve others before Self ”. Our country at the time of gaining freedom was facing chaos and riots due to migration of refugees from Pakistan. It was our Army to control such a situation under Field Marshall K.M. Cariappa who proved his mettle to manage the turmoil. He possesses the distinction along with Sam Manekshaw who earned the Five Star Title as Field Marshall. He was instrumental to secure a harmonious settlement for the army’s division between India and Pakistan. So Indian Army Day is celebrated to recognise his role to encounter the situation. It very aptly projects the strength, bravery and dedication of our Army. Gallantry awards, Sena Medals like Param Vir Chakra and Vir Chakra etc. are awarded to the soldiers for their dauntless courage and bravery. The Indian Army Chief pays his homage by saluting the parade on this occasion. So the day carries national significance as the true soldiers fighting for the safety of the nation are honoured.
In 1965, the Post of the Commander-in-chief was renamed as Chief of the Army Staff. The Present Chief of the Army Staff is General Manoj Mukand Narwane. However, all the three forces – army, air and naval are under the Chief of the Defence Staff. The first to assume office was General Bipini Rawat and at present, Lieutenant General Anil Chohan is the Chief of the Defence Staff.
India has fought many wars since independence like the First Kashmir War of 1947-48, China War of 1962, Indo-Pakistan War of 1965, Indo-Pak War for Bangladesh of 1971 called ‘Vijay Diwas’, Kargil War of 1999. In all the wars, our soldiers fought bravely to defeat the enemies in a befitting manner. The Indian Army on the whole plays a dominatingly important role during disaster also. Army Day is thus celebrated to pay tributes to the sacrificed Indian army soldiers at the ‘Amar Jawan Jyoti’ at India Gate in New Delhi.
Very recently, even women are not lagging behind as Captain Shiva Chauhan from the Corps of Engineers became the first woman recruited officers. She has been operationally posted at the challenging frontline post of the Siachen Glacier. She has proved that determination and will to commitment can achieve the hard physical training to qualify for the deployment on the world’s highest battlefield. She is posted at ‘Kumar Post’ at an altitude of 15,632 feet. She hails from Rajasthan from the Bengal Sappers. The soldiers on 20,000 feet high zone have to face ‘survival drills’, danger of avalanches, rescue operations, frostbite and biting chill. Captain Shiva Chauhan’s feat of adventure and indomitable will has instituted confidence and will-power for other women to follow suit.
There is one proud moment for India when the nation has sent the all-woman platoon of two officers and twenty five soldiers to the UN’s peace keeping force on the Sudan border in the hostile Abyei area to conduct patrols, exchange of dialogue with locals and perception management.
The 2023 Army Day marks the 75th anniversary of the Indian Army Day. This year, the Army Day Parade will be held in Bengaluru on 15 January. It is being held outside the national capital Delhi to impart it a wider visibility and seek participation of citizens. Karnataka becomes the first state to host this glorious event. Major General Pande said that the programme would begin with laying wreath at the Madras Engineering War Memorial. The parade would witness eight continents with a mounted contingent from the Army Service Corps and a military band comprising five regimental bands. Parade will be supported by a fly-past of Army Aviation Dhruv and Rudra helicopters. Various weapon systems will be on display.
The day is a celebration of accomplishments of India’s soldiers for their selfless service to the country, their love for the motherland and citizens of India. The Ministry of Defence said that this historical event at Bengaluru is an apt tribute to Field Marshall KM Cariappa who hails from Karnataka.
The author Jaswant Singh Puri also feels reminiscent when he worked as Documentation Officer in the Union Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Government of India. Sharing his lifetime experience the author said “he was was shifted to the Lakshmibai National Institute of Physical Education, Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh. On the recommendation of the Vice-Chancellor, the author was allotted a well-furnished accommodation in Cariappa Complex whose grandeur, decorum and high class facilities are beyond description.”
Puri further disclosed that “I worked under Major General S.N. Mukherjee and Sarbjit Singh Pawar as Vice Chancellors. I also worked for PYKKA (Panchayat Yuva Krida Aur Khel Abhiyan), Gwalior whose aim was to provide universal access to sports in rural areas and promote sports culture among boys and girls. The first PYKKA Newsletter was edited and authored by me under the able guidance of my superiors like Injeti Sriniwas, IAS, Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Sports, New Delhi.
The following lines by Ralph Waldo Emerson are really true:
“Not gold but only men can make
A nation great and strong,
Men who, for truth and honor’s sake,
Stand fast and suffer long”
Note: This article is dedicated to Smt. Alka Puri, M.A. (Hindi, B.Ed.). She was the Secretary, Ladies Club, Punjabi University, Patiala during the tenure of Vice Chancellor Dr. S.S. Johal who was awarded with prestigious award Padma Bhushan in 2004. Smt. Alka Puri was the wife of Dr. Ajit Singh Puri and mother of Jaswant Singh Puri.
(The views expressed are personal)