A Soldier’s General : Sam Manekshaw and implications of his legacy

sam-manekshawFirst of all, a tribute to the best Indian soldier ever Field Marshal Manekshaw. He died today. He was one of the founding father of Indian modern state. As Nehru was prime inspiration and lighthouse in politics in initial years of India, Field Marshal was for army personnel. He was famous for his inspiring words and guiding a policy of involvement of army in political matters. It was fortunate for India to have him in those scary times of late 60s and 70s, when everywhere else in the world democracies were falling apart and military was taking over.
This brings us to the famous Indian victory of 1971. It was a great victory from military point of view, but more important implications were political and theoretical. Two nation theory fell apart: Pakistan was created due on the basis of two nation theory, which believed that Hindus and Muslims are two nation and cannot live with each other, on the other hand all the Muslims are same people whether they belong to any culture or ethnicity. Creation of Bangladesh disproved this theory and proved that ethnicity (culture) is more important factor than religion to determine the togetherness of a set of people, call it a nation or state or whatever. This war led to prolonged agitations in Sind and Baluchistan for their freedom from the hand of Punjabi majority Pakistan. And all of us of course know about situations in North West frontier province of Pakistan. This gives us interested results that as soon as you remove fear factor (in this case of India) Pakistan or any other country not based on ethnic integrity will fall apart. This war showed that Pakistan is a false concept and in long run it WILL cease to exist, timeframe being one-two centuries.
No army can win war without Local support: Though it is a well known fact, but this war was a shining example of the fact that in battleground number and high tech matter, but not until you have local support. I think USA citizens will agree with this after seeing Iraq and Vietnam wars. Indian army won the eastern sector (Bangladesh) in just 14-15 days, only due to prolific local support.
Economy is second front of war: India had a stronger economy (both were abysmal at that time, but comparatively). India could have sustained a long term war, but long term war would have been disastrous for Pakistan.
In international politics there is no permanent friend or foe: Indian government was very thankful to USSR for their support in Security Council. USSR vetoed the proposition of declaring India a aggressive nation two times. US was the main opposition of India. But in more important war from India’s perspective, 1962 China war, US supported India by sending its warships and USSR stayed and watched. And now in 2008 situation is again reversed.
Never let military victory turn in defeat at the table of diplomacy: Though it was evident that international pressure forced India to declare Bangladesh an independent nation. But India could be better off by declaring Bangladesh as autonomous region within Indian union. And India could have done it morally as Bangladesh was part of India just 25 years ago. India could have installed a proxy government or something like that. Now Bangladesh is also a problem alongside Pakistan. The second mistake was to release 95000 Pakistani war prisoners without compensation. Compensation could have been in form of Pakistan occupied Kashmir being taken back. We lost this diplomatic battle on the table of Shimla talk.
Pakistan averted to terrorism after seeing that it cannot win a face to face battle with India. Now this new battle has been favored Pakistan till now. You can only defend yourself and cannot attack back without risking a fully fledged war. It is a testing time for Indian diplomats. Whether they can convince the world of Pakistan sponsored terrorism or not, will decide the fate of millions in Indian subcontinent.


12 thoughts on “A Soldier’s General : Sam Manekshaw and implications of his legacy

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  4. Dear Chakresh,
    Albeit a little late, let me commend you for taking note of one of India’s bravest and loyal soldier.
    At the same time I cannot but help urge you to do some reading about the man and his role in the India-Pakistan War. Your information is factually incorrect at places.
    A case in point being –
    “guiding a policy of involvement of army in political matters”
    The Late Field Marshall, infact played no such role. The only role he played was that of soldier, and kept the Army separate from the Bureaucracy with neither meddling in each other’s affairs. Infact at one occasion when there were rumours about him planning a coup, he was called personally by Indira Gandhi to clarify on the issue to which he gave the legendary reply –
    “Don’t you think I would be a worthy replacement for you, Madam Prime Minister? You have a long nose. So have I. But I don’t poke my nose into other people’s affairs.”
    Otherwise, You’re doing a great job. Keep it up
    Warm Regards,


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