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To many of us who grew up in the first thirty years of India’s independence, Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw was a major hero. We mourn his passing away at the ripe old age of 94. He was the Chief of Army Staff during the Indo-Pak War of 1971 and led India to its greatest military victory after Independence. This war resulted in the creation of a new nation- Bangla Desh.

A grateful nation made him a Field Marshal in 1973 but Sam Manekshaw was always called “Sam Bahadur” with love and respect because he was the epitome of the Gorkha Officer. He was the first Indian to command a Gorkha regiment in the Indian Army. He won the Military Cross for bravery during the Burma Campaign in the Second World War. At the time of the traumatic 1962 debacle against the Chinese, Sam Manekshaw was considered one of the best Generals and one of the few who had the courage to stand up to his political masters.

Sam Manekshaw was a born leader. Here is an extract from “Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw ,Soldiering With Dignity” by Lt. Gen. Depinder Singh. ” The North Eastern Frontier Agency, now called Arunachal Pradesh, was where we suffered our worst defeat, and it was to 4 Corps that providence ironically decreed and Army Headquarters ordered Sam Manekshaw to succeed Lieutenant General B M Kaul, the man who had almost ruined his professional career. He took over 4 Corps on 28th November 1962 on promotion to lieutenant general, and the same day addressed a conference of what must surely have been a very shaken group of staff officers. He entered the room with his usual jaunty step, looked as if he were meeting each eye trained on him and said, ‘Gentleman, I have arrived! There will be no more withdrawals in 4 Corps, thank you;’ and walked out. But the charisma that surrounds the man had preceded him and soldier and officer alike knew the ‘chosen one’ had arrived and henceforth all would be well. It was as if the dark and oppressive atmosphere had suddenly been lightened and Sam was the bearer of the light.

In another incident when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi asked him if he was going to Dacca to accept the surrender of the Pakistani Army there, he said that was the job of Lt. Gen. Jagjit Singh Arora, GOC-in-C,   Eastern Command who was the local commander and the honour should go to him.

Field Marshal Manekshaw was perhaps the last of a dying breed of professional soldiers. He personified gallantry and leadership.If you feel for him, like I do, please light a candle for him at IBNLive.com.

Good bye, Sam Bahadur. The nation grieves for you.

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This is Post No: 207 of the “A Step A Day” series : To provide perspective and provoke thought to facilitate self-development across a wide spectrum of issues- big and small- crucial for executive success