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HindustanTimes Mon,28 Jul 2014

The communicator par excellence

Mandeep Singh Bajwa, Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, May 18, 2014
First Published: 11:53 IST(18/5/2014) | Last Updated: 11:57 IST(18/5/2014)

To be a good communicator able to motivate his men and issue effective orders is one of the great qualities of a successful commander. Manekshaw ranks along with some of the great commanders in history like Napoleon, Patton, Montgomery, Slim and Mountbatten as a great articulator and motivator.


He was never happier than when interacting with junior officers and jawans where his undoubted charisma added to the ease of communication. With them he was highly inspirational and sympathetic. He had this uncanny knack of relieving tension with a witticism or a joke.

It helped that all his seemingly off the cuff remarks had been worked on for days even weeks earlier.

Sam’s written expression particularly to his staff was brief, lucid and to the point leaving no room for doubt. Reviewing a badly written paper submitted by a student a tad too full of himself at the Staff College he wrote. ‘Seen and despised’.

The officer got the message, worked hard thereafter and ended up as a corps commander. Here and at the Infantry School his strategic vision, extensive professional knowledge and clear articulation made him an excellent instructor.

He was known for brilliantly summing up professional discussions aided by his unfailing sense of humour. Sam liberally peppered his interactions with humour using it to make his point without causing offence. Sam’s notable charm worked wonders in helping him realise his organisational and personal goals.

His communication with his superiors was most effective and aimed at getting the best deal for the service without being obsequious in any way.

Being the darling of the media helped him to achieve his objectives particularly in the Bangladesh War. Knowing that the stakes were high in the ‘71 War, Sam thoroughly prepared and motivated his soldiers imbuing in them a great confidence and a resolve for victory.

New Naval Chief takes charge
The Navy found it’s morale badly sagging after a string of unfortunate accidents. The situation was exacerbated by the govt’s unwise decision to accept the resignation of Admiral DK Joshi, the Service’s Chief.

But the new naval chief, Admiral Robin Dhowan has quietly taken charge and set about undoing the recent damage to the Service’s image.

Not paying heed to vicious personal attacks both before and after assuming office he has in a professional manner identified the areas of concern and is quietly working towards amelioration.

Man enough to look within the navy he has conceded that there do exist problems which need urgent rectification with in-service efforts.

Dhowan has not fallen prey to the usual temptation of those who watch out for the armed forces’ interests by letting loose a tirade at the shortcomings of the Ministry of Defence’s political and bureaucratic leadership.

While inquiries into mishaps are still on, no speculation has been made on their findings Instead remedial action has already been ordered by the CNS.

Rigorous recommendations to improve the state of affairs have been made and communicated down the chain of command to all platforms of the navy.

I see the rebirth of a quiet professionalism within the navy and a desire to clean up their own act without ruling out the possibility of human error being the cause of most accidents.

(Would like to hear from descendants of World War I veterans? Please write in to msbajwa@gmail.com or call on 093161-35343)

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