Anecdotes Sam Manekshaw worth Revisiting

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*May be a repeat but worth reading again!)*

Once upon a time ..there was a General.. ( Field Marshal SAM)...

 On his return from UK in December 1957, Sam was promoted Major General & posted as GOC 26 Infantry Division. At that time Gen Thimayya was the Chief of Army Staff & Krishna Menon the Defence Minister. During a visit to his division, Menon asked Sam what he thought of Thimayya. Sam said that he was not permitted to 'think' about his Chief. Menon was annoyed & said, "Stop your British way of thinking. I can get rid of Thimayya, if I want." Sam replied,"You can get rid of him. But then I will get another Chief & I won't be allowed to think about him too.You know, it is very wrong to ask a Major General what he thinks of the Chief. Tomorrow, you will be asking a Brigadier what he thinks of me. This is not done, in the Army." This put Menon in his place & he fell silent.  

The Indo Pak War of 1971 started on 3 December 1971, after Pakistani aircraft bombed Indian airfields in the Western sector. 
Indira Gandhi was then in Calcutta. Sam Manekshaw telephoned Jacob at 6 p.m. & asked him to inform the Prime Minister that the war had begun & he was issuing orders to Eastern Command to go ahead immediately. Characteristically, Sam 'informed' The Prime Minister rather than seeking permission. Jacob informed the Army Commander, who left at once to brief the Prime Minister, who was staying with the Governor at Raj Bhawan (Government House).The Navy & Air Force were also informed & full scale operations commenced the next day.

During the 1971 war a very large number of prisoners were taken. They were lodged in several camps all over the country. When the first train carrying the prisoners reached Delhi  enroute to one of these camps, Sam went straight to the Railway Station to meet them,  without informing anyone in Army HQ.  The POW's had just arrived & were waiting on platforms, when Sam reached the station, the first Indian officer to meet them.  
The POW's & their escort were surprised to see the Chief walking around, with just his ADC for company.  After chatting with them for some time & sharing a cup of tea, he left, as several other senior officers began to arrive.The POW's were seen shaking their heads, saying that they wished they had Generals like this in Pakistan.

During the 1971 war, India  won a decisive victory over Pakistan. A new nation had come into being & Sam, as the prime architect of the victory, became a hero. Apart from capturing almost a hundred thousand prisoners the Indian Army had occupied several hundred square kilometres of Pakistani soil in Ladakh. After a year, when talks were held in Simla between the Prime Ministers of India & Pakistan, it was expected that India would be able to wrest some major concessions from Pakistan & negotiate a permanent solution to the Kashmir problem. Unfortunately, Sam was kept out of the summit & had no part to play in the negotiations. Though Bhutto and Indira Gandhi had informally agreed to accept the cease fire line in Kashmir as the International Border, this was not reduced to writing. As a result, the military gains, achieved at great cost in human lives, were frittered away by politicians & bureaucrats. When Indira returned form Simla, she told Sam about the meeting. Bhutto had told her that he had recently taken over & was not in a position to take major decisions. He needed more time & promised that in six months everything would be done as she desired. Sam reportedly told the Prime Minister: "Bhutto has made a monkey out of you."


Another of Sam's endearing qualities was his sense of humour. In September 1970, Sam & Silloo went to the USSR. After being received with due ceremony by several Soviet Marshals, they were taken to their hotel suite. Silloo asked one of the Marshals "Where is my room?" The Russians were non plussed, till Sam explained that he & his wife slept in separate bedrooms, because he snored. Then
taking the Marshal aside, he whispered, "You know, she is the only woman who has ever complained." The Russian laughed & slapped Sam on the back.
During his visit to Lahore, for the delineation talks after the war, he was invited to an Officers Mess where he recognised a silver trophy, which looked like one from his old regiment.On enquiry, it was found that the trophy had indeed once belonged to 4/12 FFR. Sam had recognised it after more than 30 years.During the same visit, Sam asked General Tikka Khan why he always wore dark glasses. "You don't smoke, you don't drink, & neither do you like pretty faces.I do all these things & still I don't hide my face".


 In 1989, Sam went to visit the Military Hospital, in Secunderabad. Along with the Medical Officers, the nurses were also lined up to meet him. He stopped near the youngest one & asked her why she was improperly dressed.The poor girl blushed a deep scarlet & began to stammer. The matron, who was an old battle axe, came to her rescue & asked Sam what he meant. 
"Matron, as far as I remember, skirts are to end three inches above the knee.  Your girls have skirts going right down to the knee." And holding the hapless girl's skirts with both hands, he  lifted it until it came to the correct height.

There were giggles galore, but the matron was not to be silenced."Sir, I have asked the girls to wear longer skirts, because the men stare at them in the wards," she said.

"Matron, have you ever asked the girls whether they mind the men staring at them?"asked Sam, moving on.This silenced the matron, while the girls grinned from ear to ear.

Sam is a born leader & practises the same techniques he did on the battle field now in the boardroom.
During the 1971 war, a decision had to be taken to launch a pre emptive air strike against the Pakistani defences in Karachi.The Air Chief agreed to do it, but suggested that they get it cleared by the Defence Minister. "Why should we?" asked Sam."Once the political decision to wage war has been taken by the Government, we must take responsibility for all military decisions ourselves."It was this type of leadership & the excellent cooperation between the three services, which won the war. 


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