'Sam gave dignity to Army in 1971, after 1962 debacle'
Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw's military acumen apart, his tremendous capability and remarkable quality came out well in the form of the rapport he developed with the political leadership of the time when he led the Army as its chief.
"Manekshaw stood up to the political leadership of that time, be it Prime Minister Indira Gandhi or the entire Cabinet and told them that he needed time to prepare for 1971 war. The rest is history today," Lt Gen Deepinder Singh, who had the privilege of serving the former Army chief as his military assistant between 1969 and 1973, on Friday said.
Condoling the death of Manekshaw at Wellington Military Hospital early Friday, Singh, who wrote a book on the Field Marshal, said: "The rapport developed by Manekshaw with Indira Gandhi and the political leadership and his wisdom prevailing in the 1971 war led to the stature of the entire Army being raised to a high pedestal in the eyes of the nation."
"Manekshaw gave a tremendous amount of dignity to the entire armed forces, particularly in view of the 1962 Indo-Chinese debacle that led to the morale of the defence forces dip to its all time nadir," Singh, who is now settled in Panchkula near Chandigarh, told PTI.
Expressing shock over the demise of Manekshaw, he said: "The icon is gone. I have fond recollections of Sam Bahadur under whom I served."
Singh was also from the Gorkha Rifles just as Manekshaw and he went on to become an Army Commander and retired in 1988 as the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Southern Army Command.
He was also the Overall Forces Commander of the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) that went to Sri Lanka after the July 1987 Rajiv Gandhi-J R Jayawardane accord.
He said that Manekshaw was both gracious and courteous as he was giving and caring. "All he demanded from his fellow officers and ranks was that they put in hardwork, which was nothing, as the Army men were being paid for it.
"There is nothing extreme that he asked for from his fellow officers and men. He was kind and gentle towards one and all. But was a great military leader," Singh, paying his tributes to the departed Field Marshal, said.