By Sri Krishna
“The day is celebrated to honour our country’s soldiers who set the greatest example of selfless service and brotherhood, and above all, love for the country. We are proud to say that the Indian Army is one of the most powerful militaries of the world, competing with superpowers like US, Russia and China.”
A tweet from Prime Minister Narendra Modi
It will indeed be a proud moment for the Indian Army on January 15 as it celebrates its 71st birthday. On this day in 1949, an Indian officer Field Marshal Kodandera M Cariappa (then a Lieutenant General) took charge as the first Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army, one of the biggest armies of the world, from the last British Commander-in-Chief of India General Sir Francis Butcher.
It will be the first major public event of General Manoj Mukand Naravane as the 28th Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), who succeeded General Bipin Rawat on December 31, when he addresses his men at the Army Parade ground on this day.
The showcase event of the Army Day is the annual parade at the Cariappa Parade Ground in the national capital with General Naravane reviewing his first parade after taking over as the Army Chief. The address by the Army Chief is indeed of immense importance since it would reveal the thinking of this crucial arm of the defence forces considering the threats faced by the country on two fronts – Western and Northern.
He will probably focus on the increasing security concerns along the borders and modernisation of the armed forces with focus on Make in India.
The day is celebrated in the form of parades and other military shows in the national capital as well as in all headquarters to salute the valiant soldiers who sacrificed their lives while protecting the country and its citizens.
It will be an occasion for the nation to pay respects to the soldiers and officers who laid down their lives in the five wars that the nation has fought since Independence – 1947, 1962, 1965, 1971 and 1999.
As Prime Minister Narendra Modi had tweeted “Our Army always puts the nation first. I salute all those great individuals who sacrificed their lives while serving the nation. India will never forget our valiant heroes.”
As he went on to say “On Army Day, I convey greetings to the soldiers, veterans and their families. Every citizen of India has unwavering trust and pride in our Army, which protects the nation and is also at the forefront of humanitarian efforts during times of natural disasters and other accidents.”
The day is celebrated to honour our country’s soldiers who set the greatest example of selfless service and brotherhood, and above all, love for the country. We are proud to say that the Indian Army is one of the most powerful militaries of the world, competing with superpowers like US, Russia and China.
President Ram Nath Kovind had said in his tweet “On Army Day, greetings to the valiant men and women of the Indian Army, to veterans and to families of those who have worn the uniform. You are our nation’s pride, the sentinels of our liberty. Citizens sleep securely knowing you are ever awake and ever vigilant #PresidentKovind.
The Indian Army formed in 1776 under the Government of the East India Company as a military department at Kolkata has as its motto: ‘service before self’ and its mission: to ensure national security and national unity, defend the nation from external aggression and internal threats, and maintain peace and security within its borders.
Comprising 80 per cent of the country’s active defence personnel, the 1.3 million strong force is the biggest volunteer Army in the world.
The Army indeed makes the nation feel proud and on this day it is indeed imperative to pay respect to Indian soldiers who are considered among the very best on high altitudes, jungle warfare and mountain warfare, with the Siachen conflict regarded as a standing example of mountain warfare. It controls the highest battlefield in the world at the Siachen glacier which is 5,000 metre above sea level.
On this day, it is imperative to recall the role of Army in providing succor to the people in times of natural disaster as in Operation Rahat, when the Army carried out evacuation of those affected by 2013 North India floods, which was considered as one of the biggest civilian rescue operations in the world.
Indian Army has many feathers in its cap such as the construction of the Baily Bridge in Ladakh in 1982 which is at the highest elevation in the world.
The Indian horsed cavalry regiment is one of the last three remaining regiments in the world.
It is one of the biggest contributors to the United Nations peace keeping operations, and has conducted large peace-time exercises like Operation Brasstacks and Exercise Shoorveer.
It goes to the credit of the Army that it is one of the few in the world that has never initiated a war and its Peace Keeping Force is known for its counterinsurgency efforts.
Apart from the iconic victories such as Kargil war, Siachen conflict, Chola incident, Liberation of Goa, Liberation of Dadra and Nagar Haveli, the Indo-Pakistan wars of 1965 and 1971, the Sino-Indian conflict on 1967 at the Nathu-la pass in Sikkim, the Army has also undertaken Operation Vijay, Operation Meghdoot and Operation Cactus.
– The author is a senior journalist and media consultant.