"Mulkon ki tehzeeb hai aman ki baat karna. Kaun chahata hai ujrhey hue chaman ki baat karna? Sarhad ki had bhi ab dosti talashti hai. Ho sakey to sulajh ke watan ki baat karna!" (Peace is the language of civilised countries. Who wants to talk of destruction and war? A stable border is the need of the hour. If possible do work out a solution and create sustainable peace.) - Thus spoke Punjab's prolific poetess Bubbu Tir. It was with such a spirit of reconciliation that soldiers from India and Pakistan having hung up their spurs got together under the leadership of the noted Gandhian, Nirmala Deshpande, to build bridges, discuss contentious issues and achieve some sort of rapprochement between the warring neighbours.
Each country has a separate chapter of the organisation set up by these former military men called India Pakistan Soldiers' Initiative for Peace (IPSI). General Moti Dar and Brigadier JL Kaul are the body's president and secretary general for India with General Nasir Akhtar heading the Pakistan chapter. Distinguished veterans from both sides are office-bearers and serve as ordinary members too. The purpose of the organisation is to keep the dialogue process between the two countries alive through people-to-people contacts and meaningful discussions.
Apart from the cultural commonality, the military ethos of both countries is very much similar and members face no problems in achieving a degree of bonhomie once the initial mental reservations are done away with. Soldiers' traditional flexibility comes in handy here.
The two chapters pay visits to each other's countries once a year. These visits are used to establish personal equations which lead to further dialogue and discussion. Seminars are held with the inclusion of leading subject matter experts from both sides. One significant subject of discussion was the contentious issue of river waters. The forum was used to allay fears, particularly in Pakistan, on future projects in India which have caused anxieties on the other side.
I feel this is the most worthy initiative with some very sincere people on both sides taking keen interest in keeping the dialogue process alive, allying fears and anxieties and taking positivism forward. Who better then the warriors of yesterday to take this laudable step?
INS Trikand commissioned
The Indian Navy continues its pursuit of a blue-water capacity with a strength of 140 warships. INS Trikand bearing pennant number F-51, the last of the three 'Follow On' Talwar class (Russian Krivak III class) stealth frigates, was commissioned into the Indian Navy at Kaliningrad in Russia on June 29. The other ships in this class are Talwar (F40), Trishul (F43), Tabar (F44), Teg (F45) and Tarkash (F50).
The keel of INS Trikand was laid on June 11, 2008, and the ship was launched on May 25, 2011. Wide-ranging acceptance trials were conducted in the Baltic Sea in April and May this year. The ship carries a state-of-the-art combat suite which includes the supersonic Brahmos missile system, advanced Shtil surface-to-air missiles, an upgraded A190 medium range gun, electro-optical 30 mm close-in weapon system, anti-submarine weapons such as torpedoes and rockets and an advanced electronic warfare system.
The weapons and sensors are integrated through the Trebovanie-M combat information control system, which enables the ship to simultaneously neutralise multiple surface, sub-surface and air threats. The ship also incorporates innovative features to reduce radar, magnetic and acoustic signatures, which have earned this class of ships the sobriquet of 'stealth' frigates. Powered by four gas turbines and capable of speed in excess of 30 knots, the INS Trikand can carry an integrated Kamov 31 helicopter which is best suited for airborne early warning roles.
INS Trikand is commanded by Captain Ajay Kochhar, a gunnery and missile warfare specialist from Karnal who was commissioned in 1988.
Grand old man of the Services passes away
Colonel Jamsher Singh Gill from Gill village, south of Ludhiana, famous for producing not just valiant soldiers but also achievers in diverse fields joined the Army during the Second World War. He served with the illustrious 3rd /8th Punjab Regiment (now 3rd Baloch in the Pakistan army) in the victorious campaign in Italy being appointed a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) for his distinguished war services as well as being Mentioned in Despatches twice for gallantry.
He was a popular instructor at the Indian Military Academy in the period before Independence where among others he gave gentlemen cadets of the 1st Post-War Regular Course (including my father) the benefits of his war experience. He remained a father figure for them for the rest of his life. Serving on after the Partition he was transferred to the Jat Regiment, later becoming a gunner.
Retiring as a full Colonel to Chandigarh he created a niche for himself in the tricity with his convivial nature, charm and upright character. He was a popular figure, particularly at the Chandigarh Golf Club, where he remained an elder statesman chairing the standing committee and successfully conducting the club elections for a number of years. Popular with all ages his bonhomie, grace and sagaciousness will be sorely missed.