Tuesday, September 21, 2010


From: vinay singh
Sent: 14 September 2010 09:58
Dear Brigadier Kamboj,
Thank you for posting Sarojini Naidu’s letter to Nathu Singh. Here is something else on the same lines, which is as relevant today as it was then. In January 1948, soon after taking over as GOC UP Area in Lucknow, Gen Nathu Singh wrote an Appreciation on the Defence of India, and forwarded it to Army HQ. He was greatly perturbed by a directive issued from the office of the C-in-C, which sought to reduce the size of the Regular Army to 150,000 - during World War II, it had risen to 2.5 million - with an annual budget allocation of 45 crore rupees for the next three years.

In the preamble, he wrote:
"We as soldiers must approach our leaders and submit our minimum requirements and make it clear that if funds are not provided for such a force, the responsibility will be upon them. A soldier is but a servant of the State. He must however, point out any weaknesses in the defensive structure of the country with all the emphasis at his command. In order to arrive at a correct appreciation, we must consider both military and allied factors and not be swayed by any notions of idealism or allow political considerations to affect our judgment...
...We must NOT decide on the size of our Defence Service on what we can financially afford but on what we need in the form of a Modern Defence based on the following considerations:
(a) What is the strength and armament of present and potential enemies of India?
(b) What is the force required by India to meet this threat
(c) What will be the cost of maintaining such a force?
(d) What is the maximum amount the country can afford to pay for its Defence Forces?
(e) To arrive at a compromise between (b), (c) and (do above, consistent with the safety of our land.
Keeping the above in view, the Land Forces which India should maintain are given in the enclosed appreciation. They are only my first thoughts."

Nathu Singh proceeded to list out the frame work of the Indian Army, for the future. By present standards, he was extremely conservative - he asked for one corps headquarters, one armoured division, two infantry divisions, one parachute brigade, one armoured brigade, and the associated complement of Artillery, Engineers and Signals. The number of infantry battalions was only 28. However, he advocated a large complement of territorial army, which would provide the second line of defence, and boost the resources of the regular army, during war.
In April 1948, Nathu Singh was promoted to the rank of Lt Gen and appointed GOC-in-C Eastern Command, at Ranchi. He continued his efforts to convince the political and military leadership of the necessity of maintaining a strong Army. When asked for a run-down of the Army, he wrote to Army HQ on 24 October 1950:
"...The situation facing the country from the military point of view is today virtually the same if not worse because, although Pakistan outwardly appears to be fraternising with our country, recent speeches of their leaders leave no room for doubt that they are preparing for a show-down with our country over the KASHMIR issue.
...Communist China's complete success over the KUOMINTANG and the establishment of the Peoples' Government, their recent activities, their declared policy towards liberation of Tibet, and the recent Mission from the latter country clearly indicate the writing on the wall. The Communist menace is gradually spreading towards the very borders of India.
...To ensure the security of our borders and our State, the Defence service ratio between INDIA and PAKISTAN should be two to one . If this is reduced, we will be laying our country open to an ever present danger of a major war."

Nathu Singh's remarks, especially with reference to Pakistan and China, display an insight of international affairs which very few Indians had, at that time. Even Nehru, who orchestrated India's foreign policy for almost two decades following Independence, failed to grasp the nuances which Nathu Singh had perceived. As a result, the Defence Forces were neglected, with disastrous results in 1962. An intimate knowledge of military affairs is important for those who decide the fate of peoples, and nations. Among his contemporaries, such as Churchill, Stalin, Chiang Kai Shek, Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Tito, and Nasser, Nehru was one of the few who had never worn an uniform.

This applies even to our present day political masters. Not one of our Prime Ministers or Defence Ministers, from 1947 till now, has ever worn an uniform.
Maj Gen VK Singh

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