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?Guru? of battlefield?

india Updated: Dec 20, 2006 00:58 IST
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RETIRED ARMY officials have a lot to contribute in terms of their martial knowledge, which could probably explain why many of them take to writing post-retirement. Like Colonel Ravi Batra, these days more famous as actress Pooja Batra’s father!

Col Batra has written three books, including one which brings out the poet in him, but his book ‘Leadership in its finest mould – Guru Gobind Singh’ begs for a reading because it looks at Guru Gobind Singh as a military leader, tactician and strategist on the battlefield.

The fact that Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) published the book in 1978 and reprinted it in 1992 speaks volumes about the book. Besides, the only Indian member of Royal Society of Historians and a renowned historian, Late Prof Ganda Singh had also written a foreword for the book.

According to Col Batra there are about 40 recognized books on Guru Gobind Singh but none had ever seen him as a military leader.  Col Ravi Batra says that we, especially the men in uniform must clearly fathom the vision, originality,
innovativeness and the horizons of his great leadership and then learn from him with a sense of pride as we all Indians have his blood in our veins.

Parsi heritage…
Mhow, acronym for Military Headquarters of War, may be associated with all things military, but there is a strong Parsi legacy to this small town as well. Mhow is an Army Cantonment that was set up in 1818 when the Holkars gave the land on lease to the British Army to look after the entire central India of that time.

Mhow was then considered a city of butlers, helpers and waiters as it comprised mainly of people who were either brought by the British or came to get employment in the Cantonment.

With the passage of time Mhow became a very important market of Malwa region (some say even better than the present Indore). Needless to say Parsis also came here around the same time and since then their contribution to the development of the town has been immense.

At one point of time there were two Parsi schools and two Zoroastrian cricket teams, but sadly, the Parsi population, like everywhere, has dwindled. What however remains is their rich architectural heritage which can be seen in the beautiful edifices that line the stretch from Railway Station Road to Manek Chowk. In fact, there was a time when all the buildings on this stretch were inhabited and belonged to Parsis.

Though all the buildings are huge, one of the most admired is the grand Bhayaji House on Bhayaji Road. The building has more than 40 large rooms and a huge basement. Behramshaw Bhayaji, who was a first class judicial magistrate in Mhow Court built the building. Now his son lives here.

Mercury House is another landmark building of Mhow, which belonged to Eduljee Masalawala, an Army contractor. One of the most beautiful buildings of Mhow, it is spread on about three and a half acres and has a sprawling garden too.

It is now the official residence of the MCTE Commandant. Even the Infantry School Commandant’s house belonged to a Parsi.
The present Cantonment Hospital was built by Dourabhji Pistuljee who donated this hospital to the people of Mhow.

So much for the Parsi buildings. But the population itself has dwindled and according to a recent headcount, there are just 52 Parsis in Mhow. Probably lesser in numbers than the buildings built by their predecessors.

AWWA to the help…
Army Wives Welfare Association (AWWA) conducts a wide range of activities for the welfare of wives of jawans and officers. But the Infantry School AWWA unit has set up a special human resource development centre (HRDC) under which it conducts these programmes.

Sudha Verma, wife of Infantry School Deputy Commandant Major Gen Anand Mohan Verma, who heads this HRDC along with Sanjana Jog said that these courses are conducted for the families of jawans free of cost and at nominal charges for officers’ wives.

Training is also given in computers, sweater knitting, stitching, embroidery, art and craft and cooking. But more important is that the HRDC has fixed Friday as the day for solving family disputes and other grievances of the wives of jawans.