Field Marshal Manekshaw Vs. Sehwag

This is the first-page scan of our Hindi newspaper:

Manekshaw and Sehwag

And this is the first page scan of our English newspaper – unless you look careful you won’t even notice the news:

Manekshaw-Pioneer

India’s first Field Marshal Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw, whose military victory in the 1971 Indo-Pak war led to the creation of Bangladesh, died yesterday. What caught my attention was the way both the newspapers carried the news. In the Hindi newspaper scan you’ll notice that Sehwag (he’s a cricket player) gets more exposure due to his performance against some match again Pakistan, and in The Pioneer the news is so small that it’s embarrassing. Contrary to this, Aishwarya Roy gets front-page coverage even if she sneezes.

In such details lie the values and ethics of the society, but is it really? This is how it seems media alters our perception. Both Alka and I found the way our newspapers have covered the news infuriating. There must be thousands of others feeling the same thing, but you ask the representatives of these newspapers and they will very cutely say, “Our public is more interested in Sehwag than Field Marshal Manekshaw.” I don’t think so.

Without being rude to Sehwag, does it make a difference if tomorrow Sehwag stops playing? But Manekshaw did help re-orient the boundaries of the Indian sub-continent and even the thankless Bangladeshi’s silently agree to that.

This is what this Hindu links says of Field Marshal Manekshaw:

A soldier’s General, Field Marshal Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw crafted India’s greatest military victory in the 1971 Indo-Pak war that created just not history but also a new nation.

Affectionately called "Sam Bahadur", Manekshaw (94) was the architect of many a military triumph but his finest hour came when Pakistani forces were vanquished in 14 days flat. And Bangladesh was born.

Handsome, witty and sporting his trademark handlebar moustache, Manekshaw had the rare distinction of being honoured for his bravery – Military Cross – right on the battle front itself during the Second World War. He was also the first Indian officer to command the Gorkhas after India got Independence.

Manekshaw, who got a second life after the young Captain survived near fatal wounds during the Second World War in Burma, is the first of only two Indian military officers to hold the highest rank of Field Marshal of the Indian Army (The other being Field Marshal K M Cariappa).

His distinguished military career spanned four decades from the British era and through five wars, including the Second World War.

Flamboyant by nature, Manekshaw always had his way with people, including his seniors and even the country’s Head of Government.

Just before the Bangladesh operations in December 1971, the then prime minister Indira Gandhi asked Manekshaw ,who was the Army Chief then, "General are you ready" (for the war). Pat came the reply from the dapper officer, "I am always ready sweetie." Gandhi was not unpleased, nor offended.

On another occasion, Gandhi asked him whether he was planning to take over the country. Pointing to his long nose, the General replied: "I don’t use it to poke into other’s affairs."

When Gandhi asked him to go to Dhaka and accept the surrender of Pakistani forces, Manekshaw declined, magnanimously saying that honour should go to his army commander in the East (Lt Gen Jagjit Singh Aurora).

Manekshaw said he would only go if it were to accept the surrender of the entire Pakistani army.

A shrewd tactician, Manekshaw meticulously planned the Indian attack on Pakistan on both fronts — East and West. While the Indian forces captured the then East Pakistan in the eastern sector, the army made heavy inroads in the western sector going up to Lahore.

Adopting a mature war strategy, he masterminded the rout of the Pakistan Army in one of the quickest victories in the recent military history to liberate Bangladesh.

The Indian government, as is normally the norm during the various Congress governments, made a highly costly strategical blunder by sidelining him during the Indo-China war just because he didn’t wag his tail:

In 1961, his outspoken frankness got him into trouble with Defence Minister V K Krishna Menon and his protege of the time Lt Gen B M Kaul. He refused to toe Menon’s line and was sidelined.

Manekshaw was vindicated soon after when the Indian army suffered a humiliating defeat in North East Frontier Agency (NEFA), now Arunachal Pradesh, the next year, at the hands of the Chinese that led to Menon’s resignation. Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru rushed Manekshaw to NEFA to command the retreating Indian forces. This had an electrifying effect on the demoralised officers.

In no time, Manekshaw convinced the troops that the Chinese soldier was not "10 feet tall". His first order of the day said, "There will be no withdrawal without written orders and these orders shall never be issued." The soldiers showed faith in their new commander and successfully checked further ingress by the Chinese.

Here’s a nice link on Manekshaw. This link contains a very beautiful line:

When I die I would rather have people say why there is no monument to me than why there is.

11 thoughts on “Field Marshal Manekshaw Vs. Sehwag

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  5. dRoZzY

    you have done justice to this post!
    initially i read it as yet another extension to this world talking about giving a damn to his demise…

    great work!

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