Lieutenant Harbans Singh Bains is a Military Cross awardee with a difference: he got it for saving lives, and not taking them. An Army Medical Corps officer, he was serving as the Regimental Medical Officer with 1/12 Frontier Force (51st Prince of Wales' Own Sikhs) in Northern Italy.
On April 11, 1945, during the assault across the Santerno river in the Ca Di Lugo area, not satisfied with the speed with which casualties were reaching the Regimental Aid Post (RAP), he moved forward to the battle area. There, he showed outstanding courage in collecting groups of wounded men, dressing their wounds and evacuating them by jeep.
Regardless of heavy shelling and the risk of running into thickly laid, unmarked minefields which lay all around, he continued his splendid work throughout the night and well into the following day. During this period, a 120 casualties from the Battalion and supporting arms like Engineers and Artillery passed through his hands.
The citation for his MC reads: 'His outstanding work, far beyond the call of duty, was an inspiration to all who saw him, and maintained the high morale of the forward companies, under the most difficult conditions.'
Such cool courage under fire and devotion to duty comes naturally to men from the Bains stronghold of Mahilpur in Hoshiarpur district, from where Harbans hails. Such a propensity for being well forward in battle became a habit with him. The citation for the Ati Vishisht Seva Medal (AVSM) awarded to him for distinguished war service in 1971 reads: 'He was always with his forward most Advanced Dressing Section.'
At that time, he was the chief medical officer with 54 Infantry (Bison) Division that spearheaded the Indian advance in the Shakargarh sector. After a distinguished career, he retired as a Brigadier and now lives a quiet life in Sector 21, Chandigarh, looked after by his daughter and son-in-law.
A pioneering niche magazine on internal security
Threats to national security, peace and harmony from within are increasing every day. Terrorism, left-wing extremism, insurgency, communal violence, industrial unrest, organised crime and just plain simple law and order are problems that are getting compounded with time. Unfortunately, there isn't a great understanding of the issues involved, though there is a growing awareness of the challenges we face.
'Homeland Warriors', the first niche magazine on internal security, focuses on just such challenges, presents solutions, showcases the security forces that are tackling these threats and presents an all-round viewpoint on issues of national security.
Presented in an attractive and sophisticated format, the magazine uses the country's best writers and experts to propound its thesis that internal security and the forces engaged in it have been neglected for a long time, need urgent reforms, modernisation and qualitative enhancement in the short and medium timeframe.
Edited by the young and dynamic Karanjit Chopra, assisted by an eminent editorial panel that includes General Kamal Davar, the first head of the Defence Intelligence Agency, reputed security analysts General Ashok Mehta and Brigadiers Gurmeet Kanwal and Arun Sahgal, historian Rana Chhina and Pushpindar Singh, the founder of the Vayu group, the magazine promises to sharpen the national focus on a vital area of security. It will also seek to provide a platform for police, paramilitary forces, intelligence agencies and the armed forces to articulate threat perceptions and their all-round requirements.
This is a venture of Vayu Aerospace and Defence Review, a 39-year old extremely respected publication in the fields of aviation and defence, both at home and aboard. The eminence of Vayu's panel of professionals and experts covering all aspects of defence gives it great credibility and a deep insight into various facets of the field.
The Agusta Westland scandal
The mark-up in deals for defence equipment and the consequent profit is so high that unimaginable sums are paid as commissions and bribes to secure contracts. The final decisions are taken by politicians, with some inputs from bureaucrats, and the bulk of the bribes paid to them.
However, defence officers who carry out technical evaluation are suborned through large sums of money added to lavish hospitality. In such a situation, it's very difficult for honest professionals to carry out objective, scrupulous appraisals of the goods on offer.
The Armed Forces must carry out investigations of their own to determine whether retired Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi is guilty of misdemeanours in the purchase of the AW-101 helicopters or not. Their own in-house probes, subsequent summarisation of evidence and prosecution, if necessary, are much more reliable, straightforward and speedy than by any other agency of the government.
The reputation of the nation's most respected institution is at stake. There must be no sloppiness or undue tolerance in this matter. The top brass must act without delay.
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