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Army chief walks down memory lane

punjab Updated: Nov 10, 2012 19:55 IST
Ravinder Vasudeva
Ravinder Vasudeva
Hindustan Times
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A glass of juice and biscuits in the dormitory he once lived in were all that the army chief, General Bikram Singh, needed to walk down the memory lane of his schooldays.

The chief of army staff on Saturday visited his alma mater, Punjab Public School (PPS), Nabha, as the chief guest on the 53rd foundation day of the school. And during his first visit to PPS Nabha since his appointment to the top post, Gen Bikram Singh said he never thought he'd become the army chief.

As the General walked into Beas-71 dormitory - his home from 1962 to 67- one could sense the emotions involved. Though the dormitory has now been turned into a classroom, the General chose to sit down, and sip on juice and snack on biscuits.

Gen Bikram Singh's emotion-filled speech during the foundation day celebrations showed how touched was the man who commands one of the mightiest armies of the World. "Though I am a soldier and strong enough to face any challenge in my life, I must confess: I had tears in my eyes when I saw the dormitory. Thank you very much PPS Nabha," the emotional army chief said in his address. "What I am today is because of you (PPS Nabha)."

A bright student and sportsperson in school, Gen Bikram Singh joined PPS Nabha in February 1962. He passed out in 1967, after completing his matriculation. Later, he joined the National Defence Academy (NDA) in 1968 and was commissioned in the Sikh Light Infantry regiment on March 31, 1972.

The Indian Army chief admitted that he had never thought he would become the chief of army staff, but credited the school for his rise in the army: "The values and confidence imparted by PPS ensured that I excelled in life." Nicknamed "Bikky" by classmates, the army chief also met his school friends - Lieutenant General TK Sapru (retd) and Brig Surjit Singh (retd).

In his speech, Gen Bikram Singh exhorted the students to join the army and their parents to not discourage them from serving the country: "Come forward to join this. You will get the spirit to lead against all odds and to counter evils working against you."

"Instead of advising their children against joining the army, parents should encourage their kids to serve the country. Army is an excellent profession," he said.

Known for his flair for painting in school, the General also interacted with the students and watched the cultural and horse show presented by the students. He praised school headmaster Jagjeet Singh for his contribution in building the confidence of the students. He parted with words of wisdom: "Shaheen (Eagle) hai tu, parvaaj (flying) hai kaam tera. Tere aage asman aur bhi hai, aur sitaron ke age assma aur bhi hai."