The Hush Post: One of the bravest men to have lived on Indian soil, Sam Manekshaw is truly an inspiration to us all. From leading the country to a decisive victory against Pakistan in the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War, to becoming the first Field Marshal of the country, Sam Manekshaw was known for his wit, straight talking nature and sense of humour.
On his 104th birth anniversary, here are some facts and quotes by one of India’s most fearsome warriors and Army generals.
- His full name is Samsher Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw. He was born in Amritsar to a Parsi family.
2. He served in five wars- World War 2, 1947 India-Pakistan War, 1962 India-China War, 1965 India-Pakistan War and 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War.
3. He was awarded the Military Cross in 1942, the Padma Bhushan in 1968 and the Padma Vibhushan in 1972.
4. Due to his extremely frosty relations with the political class of the country, no politician attended his funeral in 2008, and neither was a day of national mourning declared. He died of Pneumonia.
5. He joined the first batch of the Indian Military Academy in Dehradun, in 1932.
Quotes by the legendary warrior:
- Before the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971, when Indira Gandhi asked him if he was ready, Sam Manekshaw replied by saying “I am always ready, sweetie.” He used to refer to the former Prime Minister as sweetheart because of their Parsi connection.
- When asked what would have happened if he had served for Pakistan instead of India, he replied:“Then Pakistan would have won all the wars.”
- Yahya Khan, who was Pakistan’s military ruler, was Manekshaw’s junior in 1947. He took his motorcycle from Manekshaw, but never paid for it. Talking about the event, Manekshaw had said,“I never received the Rupees 1,000, but he paid me by giving all of East Pakistan.”
- His dislike for the political class was well known. Talking to Indira Gandhi, he once remarked, “You mind your own business, I’ll mind mine. You kiss your own sweetheart, I’ll kiss mine. I don’t interfere politically, as long as nobody interferes with me in the Army.”
- A person who was known for his flamboyance, he once said “He who neither drinks, nor smokes, nor dances, he who preaches & even occasionally practice piety, temperance and celibacy, is generally a saint, or a mahatma or more likely a humbug but he certainly won’t make a leader or for that matter a good soldier.”
- His pride for the Gurkha regiment was well known. Describing the Regiment, he said, “If anyone tells you he is never afraid, he is either a liar or he is a Gurkha.”
- When sent to command the retreating Indian Forces during the 1962 India-China war, Sam Manekshaw, upon arriving at the frontlines, said,“Gentlemen, I have arrived and there will be no withdrawal without written orders and these orders shall never be issued.”
- Describing the politicians of the country, he once said “I wonder whether those of our political masters who have been put in charge of the defence of the country can distinguish a mortar from a motor; a gun from a howitzer; a guerrilla from a gorilla, although a great many resemble the latter”
- Talking on leadership, he said “Give me a man or a woman with common sense and who is not an idiot and I assure you can make a leader out of him or her.”
- Believing that ‘Yes men’ were the most dangerous types of people for the society, he said “A ‘Yes man’ is a dangerous man. He is a menace. He will go very far. He can become a minister, a secretary or a Field Marshall but he can never become a leader nor, ever be respected. He will be used by his superiors, disliked by his colleagues and despised by his subordinates. So discard the ‘Yes man’.”
- Once, when the German Ambassador’s wife asked him if he knew how to dance, he replied by saying “I can’t dance, but I can hold a lady who dances.”