Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw is arguably the only military general in the history of Independent India who is still most reverently remembered by the generation. Manekshaw was the first Indian Army officer to be promoted to the rank of field marshal.
Popularly called, 'Sam Bahadur,' Manekshaw was the epitome of soldiering and visionary military leadership. He was a key architect of India's glorious military victory over Pakistan in the 1971 War, which eventually led to the birth of Bangladesh.
Manekshaw is most ironically remembered his blunt attitude and statements made to the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on the lack of preparation and strength with the Indian Army before setting out to the war in April 1971. He was the chief of the Indian army during the 1971 war with Pakistan.
So who was Gen Manekshaw really? And how did he chisel the Indian Army as one of the most powerfully built, well-fortified army forces in the world?
Gen Manekshaw: A biography
Born in 1914 to Parsi parents in British India, Sam Manekshaw began his military career in what was then known as the British Indian Army during World War Two.
The fifth of six children, he acquired his school education at Sherwood College, Nainital. Thereafter, he returned to Amritsar for his studies at the Hindu Sabha College. In July 1932, he joined the Indian Military Academy as part of its first batch, and that becomes the watershed.
He got married to Silloo Bode on 22 April 1939 and had two daughters.
Manekshaw's army career began in 1934 when he was commissioned into 4/12 Frontier Force Regiment.
Later he joined in the fight during World War II. Manekshaw, then just a young captain fighting had sustained multiple bullet injuries against the Japanese in a Burmese jungle in 1942. He was evacuated from the location by his orderly Sher Singh, and fortunately, survived.
His major breakthrough was indeed the 1971 India-Pakistan war. A recipient of the Padma Vibhushan and Padma Bhushan, Manekshaw died in 2008.
His blatant statement to the then PM on the condition of his army personnel in fact helped him to channelise his fellow men to mark the victory against Pakistan. In addition to the war, Manekshaw also made history by resisting the political pressure to intervene at an inopportune time, going even to the extent of offering to resign.
The Field Marshal in Bollywood?
Interestingly, in her next directorial venture after Chapaak, Meghna Gulzar is planning with her new biopic on Manekshaw.
The announcement that came on Manekshaw's 11th death anniversary will have Vicky Kaushal donning the Field Marshal's uniform.