Sikhs Read: A Soldiers General

Sikhs Read: Book Reviews
A Soldier's General

General (retd) Joginder Jaswant Singh, former army chief and incumbent Arunachal Pradesh governor came in for wholesome praise from Arjan Singh, marshal of the Indian Air Force on Saturday.

‘A thorough professional who completes the job at hand, honest and one who has complete faith in his subordinates,’ Arjan Singh said, surmising the traits of the Arunachal Pradesh governor at the release of his autobiography.

A Soldier’s General, published by HarperCollins India, which is part of the India Today Group, is an account of General J.J. Singh’s life as a third generation soldier who rose to became the 22nd chief of the Indian Army.

‘I have no hesitation in saying it is a must read for all personnel of the armed forces particularly the younger ones,’ Arjan Singh said.

The marshal released the book with Subhashini Vasanth, wife of Col V. Vasanth, who was awarded the Ashok Chakra posthumously, and Jagtinder Kaur, mother of Lt Navdeep Singh, another posthumous recipient of the Ashok Chakra. Both officers are from General J.J. Singh’s Maratha Light Infantry regiment. The retired army chief said that despite the limitations of holding a constitutional position, he has touched upon various issues concerning the security theatre of the country including the situation in Jammu and Kashmir and the Sino-India border dispute.

The views, he said, are personal. The who’s who of the Capital’s power circle attended the launch, including law minister Salman Khurshid, Arunachal chief minister Nabam Kuki, Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne, navy chief Admiral Nirmal Verma and a host of serving and former officers, diplomats and bureaucrats.

The retired general’s family was part of the launch, with his grandchildren reading out excerpts from the book. His daughter Urvashi said she was proud of her father, who she said was inspired by great warriors such as Guru Gobind Singh, Ranjit Singh, Rana Sangha, Chhatrapati Shivaji, Tipu Sultan and Zorawar Singh.

All through his career as an army officer, General J.J. Singh kept his faith and religion personal. He said when he became army chief, he was described as the first Sikh to head the army.

‘I am a secular son of India. I never considered myself as the first Sikh to become the army chief,’ he said.

But the retired general added in the same breath that he is proud to be a Sikh and a Maratha. He admitted that writing an autobiography was not very easy and he realised why very few former chiefs have entered this territory.

But whatever he put in came straight from the heart. Gen J.J. Singh said apart from the younger officers, middle and higher leadership of the country would find comments of an army chief who had to deal with a number of issues such as relations with neighbours, defence policy, modernisation of the army, moral ethics and corruption. The Northeast figures prominently in his 400-plus page memoir in English. Singh said, “It should be of special interest to the Northeast with which I have had a sentimental attachment having started my career in Nagaland. For 13 years of my adult life I have served in Nagaland, Assam, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. I have reflected on the issues and challenges of the region in my book as I see them and the way forward. I have tried to offer suggestions on the issues I have dwelt on, international or national. The great Ahom general Lachit Barphukan, one of my idols, also figures prominently. I have touched upon insurgency and the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act in the region. It is a personalised description of events, experiences and perceptions.”

Besides Assamese, the book is being simultaneously translated into Hindi, Marathi, Punjabi, Bengali, Malayalam and French.

Sources: The Daily Mail

& Telegraph India


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