Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Gen Nathu Singh & AFSPA: Readers Views

Dear Chander,
1.Seen a series of 'hagiographic' / hard line mails related to these unrelated topics. Did not wish to follow the long trails, and unable to resist a comment, am resorting to this device.
2. Have interacted- a fairly intense exposure in 1988/89- with the formidable General and admired his overpowering personality and principles even at that stage. Also recall an informal moment with Bipin Joshi in the Chief's office wherein he declared Gen Rajendrasinghji as his most admired Chief.At that time I thought that he was over-indulging his Regimental loyalty! However, the character and selflessness shown by these stalwarts in the 'succession stakes' makes them stand very tall; notwithstanding any warts.
3. The moot point is as to why is this 'model' out of date now-at least in the essential numbers required. Are we not selecting right or developing wrong? I don't buy the line that the 'manufacture' has stopped. My considered view is that, in our obsession with numbers/quantification, we have discounted/ under weighted the non-quantifiable core character values.We tried, not very successfully, to remedy the balance and others have since followed up- but the present systems need radical tweaking. And for that you need creative Leadership like Gen Nathu'- the kind not chained by 'conventional/received wisdom'.
4. Which brings me to AFSPA - the rash of 'conventional' defence of, the content and need for this Act, is getting 'dyspeptic'. Ironically, highly respected and admired colleagues have plugged this line. By definition, LICO are politico-military in nature; the strategic space/objs are public sp vs alienation- the existing CONTEXT can, therefore, not be disregarded.The Valley and Manipur are getting alarmingly alienated.
5. No one can question the need for legal/ prophylactic cover for tps; the issue is how best to package it. Justice REDDY Report provides a take-off platform-but all heels are dug deep in the conventional rut/ turf battles? Also, the lack of synergy and the blame-games are no longer amusing. One hopes that the Army will ultimately play the salvager as always,through some innovative thinking and leadership.
Lt Gen YN Sharma, Former Army Commander

I never had the good fortune of knowing the famous and gallant general (Lt Gen Nathu Singh), the account by VK was absolutely spellbinding!
When Gen Nathu Singh was Army Commander, Brig (later Lt Gen K Umrao Singh) was, (perhaps) Chief of Staff. I used have daily and leisurely chats with Gen Umrao on the Ham Radio. I had my 'home brew rig in the corner first floor room in Central Vista Mess (Air Force).
His call sign was VU2US and was popularly know by his 'handle' Uncle Sam (U for uncle and S for sam). We were all very pally and while discussing something, unwittingly, I cracked an old Army joke: Sant Singh is better than Natha Singh (Something is better than Nothing).
Uncle Sam retorted seriously, Rai do'nt repeat that ever because Gen Nathu Singh has just been succeeded by Gen Sant Singh!
Col BK Rai
Former Secretary to Government of India, 3rd Graduates Course of the IMA, Premature Retirement in 1970

Dear Sir,
I had had the privilege of meeting General Thakur Natu Singh at his younger son, Cmde. Ranvijay Singh's residence in Delhi in the mid seventies. He took me into his study and gave me a glass of beer while my wife chatted with pretty Kumud, his daughter-in-law, in another room.
He told me that, contrary to general belief, he was from a humble background. One day when he was playing with other children, the Raja come riding and the other kids ran helter-kelter but he did not. The Raja approached him and asked sternly, " Why have you not run away like the others?" Natu Singh replied that he had done no wrong so why run away. The Raja was impressed by his candour and gave orders to have him brought to the palace and requested his parents to allow their son to be brought up by him. He was first sent to Mayo College and then to Sandhurst.
Hearing this frank admission, and the manner in which he told me made me feel very privilaged to meet a great gentleman. Regrettably, both Ranvijay, a fine Navy pilot, and Kumud, a lovely lady, are no more. As also General Thakur Natu Singh.
Hirak Nag
Cdr HK Nag, Joined JSW in August 1952

Dear Chander,
I would like to add that Lt Gen Nathu Singh had two sons in the Services. Pratap Singh the elder, joined our Course- 1st Course (JSW) NDA, while Ranvijay joined the Navy in the 2nd Course. Pratap was commissioned in the Infantry and took premature retirement as a Major to join the tea gardens. I haven't met him since commissioning but about two years ago he had long chat with me on telephone, while staying with Ranvijay at Sainik Farms. No contact with him since. Both the brothers are thorough gentlemen.
SK Bahri
Lt Gen SK Bahri, 1st JSW Course, Former MGO, Army HQ

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