Wednesday, October 3, 2012

biography -Field Marshal KM Cariappa, OBE

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     Kodandera Madappa Cariappa was, for generations of Indians, the epitome of military leadership. As the country's first Indian Commander-in-Chief of the Army, he laid the foundations of the modern Indian Army. Kipper, as he was affectionately called, was a 'pucca' sahib, even more than the British themselves. Though many Indians considered him a WOG (Westernised Oriental Gentleman), he was fiercely patriotic. Known for his iron discipline, integrity  and forthright views, Kipper had many admirers. However, what he was known for  best was his love for the Indian soldier, or 'jawan'. No wonder, the troops loved and worshipped him. For a military leader, there can be no greater approbation.

      Kipper was born on 28 January 1900, at Madikeri (Mercara), in Kodavu (Coorg), a small state on the Western coast of South India. It is a picturesque region, known for its coffee plantations, and is inhabited by the Kodagas (Coorgs), a warlike race. Cariappa came from a family of prosperous farmers, belonging to the Kodandera clan. His father, Madappa, was an official in the revenue department, who lived in a house called Lime Cottage, in Madikeri. Madappa had four sons, Aiyanna, Cariappa, Nanjappa and Bopaiah, and two daughters, the eldest being Bollu.  After his schooling at the Centre School in Madikeri, Cariappa joined the Presidency College in Madras, in 1917. While at the College, he came to know that Indians were being selected for commissions in the Indian Army, and would be trained in India. The British Government had decided to open a Temporary School for Indian Cadets (TSIC), for the duration of the War, at the Daly College, in Indore. Candidates were to be selected from families which were loyal to the Crown, and had displayed zeal in recruitment of soldiers for the War. The age limit was fixed as 25 years, and there was to be a written test, followed by an interview. The period of training was not to exceed one year, at the end of which the cadets would be granted temporary King's Commissions. As an incentive, it was stated that these officers would be eligible for confirmation as permanent commissioned officers, after the end of the War. The first batch was to have 50 cadets, with another of the same size to follow after six months. 

               Cariappa had always aspired to become a soldier, and decided to apply. Of the 50 vacancies, only one was allotted to Coorg. Out of seventy candidates who appeared, forty two were finally selected, and granted admission. Cariappa was one of the successful candidates, and on 1 June 1918, joined the TSIC, which was also called the Daly Cadet College, at Indore.   At the College, Cariappa performed well. He took keen interest in all activities, and played hockey and cricket. Being shy and reticent by nature, his social interaction with others was limited. This could also be due to the fact that most of the other cadets were from an aristocratic background, and included the sons of the rulers of Indian States such as Jamnagar, Jind, Kapurthala and Baroda. Though he could not match them in wealth and a luxurious life style, Cariappa was able to hold his own in all activities concerned with training. When he passed out, he was placed seventh in overall order of merit.

                It was initially planned that the period of training would be only six months. However, after the end of  World War I, it was decided to extend the training by one year. Hence, instead of December 1918, as initially planned, the batch  passed out on 1 December 1919.  39 cadets passed out, and were granted temporary commissions. Subsequently, vide a Gazette Notification issued on 9 September 1922, 33 were granted permanent commissions, with effect from 17 July 1920 (one died, two were found unsuitable, and three resigned). The date of commission was decided by the War Office in order to make them junior to the batch which had passed out from Sandhurst on 16 July 1920. In fact, 27 officers had been commissioned into the Indian Army from Sandhurst on 17 December 1919; 104 from Wellington on 29 January 1920; and 57 from Sandhurst on 16 July 1920. By this adjustment of their seniority, the Indian officers became junior to 188 British officers, who had passed out after them. This was done to account for the shortfall in training, as compared to the Sandhurst trained officers, who had undergone two and a half years training, while the Indore batch had spent only 18 months. There were loud protests, from the affected officers, who felt that the decision was discriminatory and unfair.   Some of them even resigned in protest, and were allowed to retire.  As it happened, Cariappa's batch was the only one to pass out from Indore, because subsequent batches were trained at Sandhurst. Before this, nine Indians, serving in the Imperial Cadet Corps, who had rendered service during the War, had been granted King's Commissions, in August 1917. These were Zorawar Singh, Kunwar Amar Singh, Aga Kasim Shah, Khan Muhammad Akbar Khan, Malik Mumtaz Muhammad Khan, Kunwar Prithi Singh, Bala Saheb Daphle, Rana Jodha Jung Bahadur, and Kanwar Savai Sinhji. The first batch of Indians to join Sandhurst in January 1919 had five cadets, of which two died and one was withdrawn. The two who  passed out from Sandhurst, on 16 July 1920, were Syed Iskander Ali Mirza and Iqbal Ali Beg, but the latter did not join. The sole survivor, Syed Iskander Ali Mirza, did not stay in the Army for long, and was transferred to the political service.

            Cariappa's first posting was to the 2nd Battalion, the 88th Carnatic Infantry, then stationed at Bombay. After spending just three months there, he was transferred to  2/125 Napier Rifles, which moved to Mesopotamia in May 1920. After his return to India in June 1922, Cariappa was again transferred, to the 7th Prince of Wales Own Dogra Regiment. The battalion was then located at Khirgi, in Waziristan, and its main task was to keep the Pathan tribesmen under control, and maintain law and order. Within a few months of his arrival, Cariappa had his baptism by fire. He was leading a convoy of twenty lorries, which was ambushed, a few miles outside the post. Cariappa immediately rallied his men, and led an assault against the tribesmen, who were firing from a hill top. The quick reaction resulted in the tribesmen running away from the scene, and the convoy suffered  very little damage. By the time reinforcements arrived, Cariappa had the situation well under control.

               In 1923, the process of Indianisation began, and two units of Cavalry (7th Light Cavalry and 16th Cavalry), and six of Infantry (2/1 Madras Pioneers, 4/19 Hyderabad, 5/5 Mahratta Light Infantry, 1/7 Rajput, 1/14 Punjab and 2/1 Punjab) were nominated, to which Indian officers  were to be posted. In June 1923, Cariappa was transferred  to 1st Battalion the 7th Rajput Regiment (Queen Victoria's Own Light Infantry), known in short as 1/7 Rajput (2 QVOLI), which was one of the units thus selected, and this became his parent unit. The battalion had just moved to Waziristan, and was employed on duties similar to those of his erstwhile unit. Life on the Frontier was monotonous, but not free of danger. The tribesmen were quick to exploit the slightest sign of laxity in vigil, and the frequent skirmishes often resulted in casualties. The North West Frontier was the best training ground for young officers, and Cariappa learned the basics of his profession during the  three years he spent there. He developed an excellent eye for ground, and learnt the importance of good administration, which were to stand him in good stead in later years.

               In 1925, Cariappa decided to go on a Grand Tour. He had saved enough money, and General HQ in Delhi not only accorded him permission, but arranged for his stay with British units, wherever possible. Cariappa went around the World, and visited Europe, USA, Japan, China and several other countries. He met a large number of soldiers, as well as civilians, of different nationalities, and was able to see for himself, the reason why some of them were far ahead, in many fields. The trip was a great education for him, and he returned a much wiser and better man. The battalion had moved to Fatehgarh in 1925, and for the first time in his career, Cariappa was able to settle down. It was here that he got his nick name, 'Kipper'. It is said that a British officer's wife found his name difficult to pronounce, and started calling him Kipper.

        As a young officer, Cariappa took his soldiering seriously. He was a stickler, who lived by the book, and thus rarely got into trouble. There is an interesting anecdote about Mussourie, which was then a popular holiday resort for British officers. Once, Cariappa applied for a few days leave, to visit the hill station. When his CO heard about it, he told Cariappa to go somewhere else. Cariappa was surprised, and wanted to know the reason. The 'Old Man' (an euphemism in the Army, for the Commanding Officer, or Commander) told him that Mussourie was full of disreputable women, and it was a regimental tradition that bachelors did not visit the place. Cariappa took the advice seriously, and did not go to Mussourie till after he was married, and his son was born.

        During those days, life in cantonments in peace stations was staid, and leisurely. Since these sojourns were short, and intended as a respite from the rigorous activity on the Frontier, officers and men tried to make the most of it. Fatehgarh was small town, with little to offer in terms of entertainment or sight seeing. Cariappa had plenty of time on his hands, and he utilised it by reading books on history, tactics, and also some classics. He began to write, in military journals, and also in newspapers. From these, he not only got some extra income, but also the pleasure of seeing his name in print. He enjoyed music and theatre, and was an avid fan of Prithvi Raj Kapoor, K.L. Saigal, and M.S. Subbulakshmi.  Prithvi Raj Kapoor became a close friend, and often stayed in his house, in Delhi and in Coorg, in later years.
           Cariappa was a man of frugal habits, and smoked and drank in moderation. His cigarettes were made especially for him by a firm in England, and carried the letter 'C' on them. In later years, he gave up cigarettes, and switched to cigars, and still later, to a pipe. He avoided strong drinks, and consumed alcohol only during formal functions and parties. He was very fussy about his attire, and took pride in always appearing immaculately dressed. One could never find him dressed casually, even in his own home. He was fastidious about punctuality, etiquette, and table manners, and there are many stories and anecdotes about his fads, concerning these aspects.     
               In those days, as it is even now, the Staff College was considered a stepping stone to higher ranks, in the Army. The Staff College at Camberley trained officers of the British Army, whereas the one in Quetta had been established primarily for the Indian Army. Once Indian officers began to get commissions, a few vacancies were earmarked for them at Quetta, but these remained unfilled, since Indian officers were still too junior, and none had passed the entrance examination. In July 1931, Cariappa had been posted to HQ Peshawar District, as DAQMG. This was a non graded staff appointment, and gave him some experience, of the functioning of administrative staff at higher headquarters. His superiors and colleagues urged him to appear for the Staff College examination, and offered him guidance and coaching. Through the efforts of one of his friends, he went to England, in January 1932, for tuition, by the Royal United Services Institution (RUSI). He was also able to get a month's attachment with a British battalion, the Coldstream Guards. He attended two short courses, at the Small Arms School and the Royal Artillery School, to round off his preparation. As a result of the hard work put in by him, Cariappa passed the entrance examination, and became the first Indian officer to attend the course at the Staff College, Quetta.

               Cariappa's presence on the course was regarded with some amusement, by his colleagues. British officers treated those from the Colonies with contempt and disdain, and they were rarely given their due. Cariappa tried to take the sarcasm and discrimination in his stride, and rarely got into a confrontation. However, on one occasion, he spoke up. In a large gathering, towards the end of the course, student officers were invited to comment on the course, and suggest improvements. Cariappa felt that the number of vacancies for Indian officers at the Staff College was too small. This would deprive a large number of deserving Indians from attending the course. In the ultimate analysis, it would affect the quality of the Imperial Army, and may prove to be their undoing in a major war. Everyone, including the Commandant, was stunned by these remarks, and the audacity of the Indian officer.

               Afterwards, Cariappa was called by the Commandant, and told that his remarks seemed to be politically motivated. He was advised to broaden his views, and think in terms of the Army as a whole, rather than 'Indianisation,' which showed a narrow vision. After the course, Cariappa asked for an appointment at the India House in London, or the War Office, but this was not accepted. He joined his unit at Kohat in 1934, for a third tenure of regimental service on the North West Frontier.

               After successful completion of the staff course, officers were normally given  staff appointments, since they carried higher emoluments. Cariappa also tried for a staff job, which he deserved. It was two years before  he was posted as Staff Captain, in March 1936, to Deccan Area, in Secunderabad. It was a non graded appointment, but Cariappa did not complain. Finally, in 1938, he was promoted Major, and appointed DAA & QMG in the same HQ. In 1939, when World War II started, he was posted as Brigade Major to 20 Indian Brigade, in Derajat. One cannot help making a comparison between Cariappa and Thimayya. Both joined the Army at a time when very few Indians held commissioned rank, and discrimination between them and their British colleagues, in promotions and appointments, was quite well known, though not officially sanctioned. Thimayya always rebelled against such discrimination, and mostly got what he wanted. On the other hand, Cariappa rarely displayed any ambition, and accepted whatever came his way.
         While at Secunderabad, Cariappa was married, in March 1937, to Muthu Machia, the daughter of a forest officer. Like him, she was a Kodavu (Coorg), and also well educated and sociable. At that time, Cariappa was still a Captain. He was thirty seven years old, and his wife almost half his age, at twenty. Muthu was a very beautiful woman, and known as the Ava Gardner of Coorg. They had a few years of wedded bliss, and two children, a son and a daughter. Their son, K.C. Cariappa, affectionately called Nanda, was born on 4 January 1938, followed by their daughter Nalini, on 23 February 1943. Nanda later joined the Indian Air Force, and rose to the rank of Air Marshal. Cariappa and Muthu were an ill matched pair, and before long, cracks begin to appear in their marriage. Cariappa's frequent transfers, coupled with his total involvement with his profession, resulted in the distance between them growing larger, and Muthu began to feel neglected. She was an extrovert, fond of parties and dances, while Cariappa had no time for such trivialities. They started living apart, and she turned to drink, to assuage her resentment and pain. The alienation turned into bitterness, and in September 1945, they separated. There was no formal divorce - Muthu simply left the children in his house, and began living with a friend. She did not live long, and died three years later, in an accident. Cariappa never remarried, and preferred to live alone, with his children. In later years, his sister, Bolu Chengappa, or her daughter, Sagari, often stayed with him, to act as his official hostess, when he was the C-in-C, in Delhi, and later High Commissioner in Australia.

               In 1939, the Government, in response to the demand of a large section of Indians, and heated discussions in the Assembly as well as the Council of States, formed the Committee on the Indianisation of the Officer Ranks of the Indian Army. The Skeen Committee, as it came to be known, issued a long questionnaire to officers commissioned after 1919, asking for their views on the progress of Indianisation. A large number of officers were called as witnesses, to give evidence before the Committee. One of them was Major K.M. Cariappa, who was called in June 1939, as the 26th witness. He was then the senior Indian officer, with 19 years service, and the Committee held detailed discussions with him, over several days.
               Cariappa was not satisfied with the pace of Indianisation, and stated this in no uncertain terms. In the last 20 years, only 250 Indians had been granted commissions, including the King's Commissioned Indian Officers (KCIOs) from Sandhurst, and the Indian Commissioned Officers (ICOs) from Dehradun. He felt that the ICOs made better regimental officers, and were better suited to the Indian Army than KCIOs. As to the type of entry, he felt that the  'O' (open) entry cadets were much better than the other two - the 'A' cadets who came from the ranks, and the 'S' cadets who came from State Families. The latter provided a back door entry to those who could not get admission through open competition, and resulted in the induction of officers of lower quality and higher age group, who would have to be wasted out, and could not aspire for command of a battalion.

               Cariappa was also against the 8 Unit Scheme, and called it segregation. These units were top heavy, with the British officers being very senior, and the Indians all very junior. This precluded the development of camaraderie and harmonious relations between officers. What was worse, these units were considered inferior, and looked down upon, not only in the Army, but also by civilians. "There are too many critical eyes set on these units, and naturally so - but is it fair on the young Indians? In these circumstances, they will have to be 100 per cent perfect to be considered  average - quite an impossibility," he said.

               When questioned about the poor response from the public for entry of good cadets, Cariappa stated that it was due to lack of education about career prospects in the Army. When asked what could be done to improve matters, he said,"... no Indian   had as yet been placed in a position of responsibility to demonstrate whether he can run the show properly or not." Another point which was discussed was the use of ICOs to replace Viceroy's Commissioned Officers (VCOs), as platoon commanders, unlike the KCIOs, who became company officers. Cariappa felt that this was similar to using a Rolls Royce in place of a Ford car. He also had very strong feelings about the difference in rates of pay of KCIOs and ICOs. Other anomalies were overseas allowance, marriage allowance etc, to which only KCIOs were entitled. The ICO, who was drawing less than half the pay of the KCIO, had to dine in the same mess, and pay the same charges, which was definitely a severe drain on his finances. All this, coupled with the ICOs being made to carry out tasks which only VCOs are made to do in non Indianised units, gave them a feeling that they were inferior to KCIOs, he stated. The Skeen Committee adjourned on 24 August 1939, and could never reassemble, due to outbreak of World War II. However, the records of its deliberations make interesting reading, and give an insight into Cariappa's mind, and the opinions he held at that time.
         In January 1941, Cariappa was posted as DAQMG of 10 Indian Division, which was then in Iraq. The GOC was 'Bill' Slim, and he was overjoyed when Cariappa joined his staff in Baghdad. World War II had begun, and he spent the next one year in Iraq, Iran, Syria, and in North Africa. While they were in Syria, the division was advancing through a town called Derazar. The Mayor came to meet Cariappa, and asked him if he could let the women out. On enquiry, he revealed that having heard rumours about the way Indians treated women, he had ordered them all to stay indoors. Cariappa was amused, and also angry. With indignation, he told the Mayor that Indians never misbehaved with women, and if there was any such instance, strict action would be taken against the offenders. The Mayor left, and returned after a few days, to apologise. As Cariappa had predicted, there was not a single case of misbehaviour with women, involving Indian troops. 

               In March 1942, Cariappa was posted as second-in-command of 7 Rajput Machine Gun Battalion, which was a new raising, at Fatehgarh. On 15 April 1942, he was promoted Lieut Colonel, and given command of the battalion.  He became the first Indian to command a battalion, in the Indian Army. In a way, his promotion was a sign that the British had finally 'accepted' Indians, in the officer cadre. The way was now open for Indians to reach the top echelons of the military, and Cariappa's appointment was widely acclaimed, not only by his compatriots, but several Englishmen, including Slim, who was now commanding 15 Corps, which had just retreated from Burma. Major (later General) Maharaj Rajendra Sinhji, who had been commissioned into the 2nd Lancers from Sandhurst on 14 July 1921, and was destined to succeed Cariappa as the C-in-C in 1953, wrote: ".....VCs, DSOs are a flash in the pan. A bit of luck, and there it is. But the command of a battalion is not mere luck."

               Cariappa's battalion comprised Muslims and Rajputs, in the ranks. Among officers, two thirds were British, and one third Indian. The unit was equipped with Vickers machine guns, which required considerable skill in handling. A battalion under raising has to start from scratch, not only in terms of administration and training, but in building up esprit de corps. Cariappa soon welded his men into an effective fighting force. He was a hard task master, and always on his feet, training and motivating his troops. After three months, the unit was redesignated as 52 Rajput, and moved to Lahore, as part  of  43 Indian Armoured Division. It was converted into an Armoured Corps unit, and its machine guns were replaced by tanks. But this did not last long, and within two months, they were reverted to Infantry, redesignated 17/7 Rajput, and moved to Secunderabad, in the Deccan. With two conversions, and two moves within as many months, the unit and the CO were not only confused, but tired, and breathed a sigh of relief when they reached Secunderabad.
               On 1 April 1943, Cariappa handed over command of his battalion, and proceeded to HQ Eastern Command, as AQMG. Though he had been given command of a battalion, he would miss the opportunity to lead it in battle, against the Germans or the Japanese. Several other Indians, such as Rajendra Sinhji, Nathu Singh, Thimayya, Thorat, and Sen  had this chance. Thimayya even commanded a brigade, in Burma. As result, Cariappa could not earn a decoration, as most of the others did. This was a pity, and Cariappa remained bitter at the injustice, though he accepted it, as always.

               As AQMG, in Eastern Command, Cariappa was involved with logistics, of several formations, including the Fourteenth Army, now being commanded by Slim. He was not very happy, cooling his heels in a staff job, while most others were on active service. He knew that battle experience was essential, not only for personal improvement, but also for further promotion. In August 1943, the South East Asia Command was formed, and the Fourteenth Army was placed under its command. There were several changes, and Cariappa volunteered to serve in an active formation. He was posted as AQMG, 26 Indian Division, then located  near Buthidaung, in Burma. It was a staff job, but at least it was on the battle front. The division was being commanded by Major General C.E.N. Lomax, who was in fact junior to Cariappa. It was in the thick of fighting, and was instrumental in pushing the Japanese back from the Arakan. Cariappa did an excellent job, and was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE), for his services. Though it  could not be compared to a DSO, or an MC, which were awarded for gallantry, it was some compensation for his efforts.

               On 1 November 1944, Cariappa was promoted to the rank of Brigadier. However, instead of being given command of a brigade, which he expected, and deserved, he was posted as a member of the Reorganisation Committee. Cariappa protested to the Military Secretary, but to no avail. Again, one cannot help but make a comparison with Thimayya, who raised a shindy and offered to resign when told that he was not being sent back to his brigade, after recovering from sickness; he got back his command, though he was only officiating as a brigade commander. Cariappa did not believe in making an issue of personal matters, such as promotion or posting. If he could get what he wanted by using the laid down channels, it was good enough. If he could not, he accepted it, like a good soldier.     

               Cariappa spent about a year on the Reorganisation Committee, which had six British and one Indian officer, with Lieut General Sir Henry Wilcox as the Chairman. He was stationed at Delhi, and had an opportunity to see, at close quarters, the working of General Headquarters, and the Viceroy's Secretariat. This was to prove invaluable, when he took over as C-in-C, after four years. It also gave an opportunity to the British hierarchy, which included Lord Wavell, the Viceroy, and Field Marshal   Auchinleck, the C-in-C, to assess Cariappa. The Committee was the brainchild of Auchinleck, who knew that after the war, there would be a need to reorganise the Army. He wanted the Committee to make a perspective plan for the next 15 to 20 years, catering for Indianisation of the Army. When the report was submitted, it was found that only 50 per cent Indianisation  had been recommended, and that too by 1960. The Viceroy's Commissioned Officer (VCO), peculiar to the Indian Army, was also to go. Cariappa did not agree with these recommendations, and recorded his dissent. Auchinleck was also unhappy with the report, and felt it had not examined the issues in sufficient depth. In the event, before any action could be taken on the report, events had overtaken the issue, and instead of reorganisation, the Indian Army had to undergo division, along with the country.

               In November 1945, Cariappa was finally given command of a brigade. He was posted as Commander of the Bannu Frontier Brigade, in Waziristan. Having served in the NWFP as a young officer, Cariappa was conversant with the terrain, as well as the habits of the Pathan tribesmen who lived in the area. He had seen that the British policy of trying to keep them under control by force had not succeeded, and resolved to try a different method. He decided to win the hearts and minds of the tribesmen, by extending a hand of friendship. He knew that they were warm and hospitable, if treated with respect, and as equals.  
        One day, while passing through a village, he saw a group of Pathan women carrying pitchers of water. When he found that they had to fetch water daily from another village, four miles away, he immediately ordered a well to be dug near their own village. The Pathans were overwhelmed by this gesture, and started calling him 'Khalifa'. Later, when the region was torn by communal strife, Bannu remained a haven of peace, thanks to the goodwill generated by Cariappa. When Jawahar Lal Nehru visited Bannu, as Head of the Interim Government, Cariappa organised a public meeting, which was attended by all tribal leaders. Next day, when he visited Razmak, where another brigade was stationed,  Nehru was fired upon by the tribesmen, and the visit had to be called off. Nehru was impressed by Cariappa's leadership qualities and rapport with the tribesmen.

         Alongwith his efforts to win over the locals, Cariappa paid due attention to the living conditions of his troops. He improved medical and canteen facilities for the men, and ensured that they were given adequate opportunity for games and entertainment. One of his innovations was establishing separate messes for VCOs. After Independence, VCOs were redesignated as Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs). Cariappa, as the first Indian C-in-C, retained the system of separate messes for JCOs, started by him in Bannu. These exist even today.

               In February 1946, he was  appointed Presiding Officer of one of the General Court Martials constituted to try members of the Indian National Army (INA). Before the trial, he visited some of the detention camps, where the prisoners were lodged. He found them full of rancour and hatred against the British, for treating them badly, and holding them without trial. Cariappa was pained by their plight, and wrote to the Adjutant General, requesting him to expedite the trials. He also recommended that some of them, such as Shah Nawaz Khan, G.S. Dhillon, and P.K. Sehgal, should be pardoned. Cariappa pointed out that there was considerable amount of sympathy and support for the prisoners among the political leaders, who would, at a later date, be ruling the country. He felt that their attitude towards the Indian Army would be affected by the treatment given to the INA prisoners, and this must be considered by the Government. It would be fair to assume that the British decision to let off most of the prisoners, was prompted as much by the impassioned pleas of soldiers, such as Cariappa and Nathu Singh, as it was by the strong reaction from the general public, and the political leaders.

               Notwithstanding his feelings, Cariappa performed his duties on the Court Martial without fear or favour. One of the officers tried by his court was Captain Burhanuddin, of 2/10 Baluch Regiment. He was found guilty, and Cariappa announced the sentence of 7 years rigorous imprisonment. After this, he went up to the accused, and shook hands with him, as well as his counsel. There were raised eye brows, and Cariappa was later called by the Adjutant General,  to explain his conduct. Cariappa thought he had done nothing wrong. He said," I sentenced him as the President of the Court, and shook hands with him as a gentleman."

               In January 1947, he was sent to UK, to attend the Imperial Defence College, along with J.N. Chaudhuri, who was only a Colonel. This was the first time Indian officers had been sent on this prestigious course, and was the result of the foresight of Auchinleck. The 'Auk' knew that the British would be leaving India soon, and appreciated the necessity of training Indian officers to fill senior appointments in the Government and the Army. Cariappa's old commander, and mentor, Bill Slim, was the Commandant of the Imperial Defence College. He saw Cariappa as the future C-in-C of the Indian Army, and often invited him for discussions on the situation then unfolding in the sub continent.

               At the Imperial Defence College, Cariappa was exposed to a much wider canvas, than he had been used to. He realised that officers of the Indian Army had a long way to go, before they could achieve the levels of those from the developed nations. During this time, there was a lot of talk of India, and the Indian Army, being divided.  Cariappa, realising the dangers of dividing the Army, and the lack of experience of officers, at senior levels, made a statement that it would take at least five years before the Indian Army could stand on its feet, without the help of British officers. This was picked up by the press, and caused a furore in India. Liaquat Ali Khan, of the Muslim League, felt that Cariappa's intentions, in keeping an undivided Army, were suspect, and took up the issue with Mountbatten. Cariappa was summoned to India House, in London, where Lord Ismay, Mountbatten's Chief of Staff, was present. Cariappa clarified that he had made the suggestion only because he felt that an undivided Army could help the two newly independent nations in getting over their teething problems. He was admonished, told to knock the idea out of his mind, and not to mention it again. In a telegram to Mountbatten, on 4 May 1947, Ismay wrote: "It is hard to know whether Cariappa in putting forward his idea was ingenious and ignorant or disingenious and dangerous, or both."

               Cariappa took the advice, and did not talk about it again. In fact, he was not the only one who felt this way. Brigadier Nathu Singh, of his own regiment, had already taken up this matter with the Defence Minister, Sardar Baldev Singh, several months earlier. Cariappa could not complete the course, as he was recalled in July, to supervise the reorganisation of the Army, before Partition. Immediately on his return, he wrote to Nehru, making another fervent appeal to prevent the division of the Army. Nehru's reply was non committal. On one occasion, he collared Jinnah at a social function, and told him categorically that if the Army was split, both India and Pakistan would be vulnerable to outside attack. Jinnah laughed it off, saying that if this happened, both countries would get together and face the enemy.

        On 15 August 1947, the day India became independent, Cariappa was promoted Major General, and appointed Deputy Chief of General Staff, at Army HQ. He saw, from close at hand, the traumatic events which followed the partition of the country. The Indian Army was partitioned also, and there was considerable wrangling and heart burning over the division of regiments, military establishments, and weaponry. But worse was to follow. On 22 October 1947, hordes of Pakistani tribesmen entered Kashmir. After dithering for a few days, the Maharaja signed the Instrument of Accession on 26 October, and Indian troops were airlifted to Srinagar, just before the raiders could capture the town. Then began the long and difficult struggle to drive them out of Kashmir.        
         In November 1947, Cariappa took over as GOC-in-C Eastern Command, relieving Lieut General Sir Francis Tuker. He remained at Ranchi for just over a month. As the Kashmir situation worsened, he was moved to replace Lieut General Dudley Russel, who resigned as GOC-in-C, Delhi and East Punjab (DEP) Command, in January 1948, after he was denied entry to Kashmir, which formed part of his command. HQ DEP Command was then located at Delhi, and one of Cariappa's first acts was to rename it as Western Command. He soon took control of the situation, and selected Thimayya to replace Kalwant Singh, as GOC JAK Force, which was renamed as SRI Division (later 19 Division), at Srinagar. Atma Singh was appointed GOC of Jammu Division (later 25 Division), at Jammu. Cariappa also moved his own HQ to Jammu, and raised a Corps HQ, at Udhampur, under Shrinagesh, to command all operations in Jammu and Kashmir.

       Cariappa  had some of his finest hours during the Kashmir operations. Operation KIPPER, for the capture of Naushera and Jhangar, was planned by him, and succeeded. This was followed by Operation EASY, for the link up with Punch, and Operation  BISON, for the capture of Zojila, Dras and Kargil. If he had been given additional troops, and the necessary permission, he would have succeeded in pushing the Pakistanis out of Kashmir, for which plans had been made. Unfortunately, this did not come about, due to the intervention of the United Nations, after an appeal by India. Characteristically, Nehru took the decision to appeal to the UN Security Council without consulting the Armed Forces.

               India's report to the  UN Security Council was lodged on 1 June 1948, under Article 35 of the UN Charter. On 15 June, Pakistan replied to the UN, denying that she was aiding the raiders. After several meetings, the Security Council adopted a resolution on 21 April 1948, calling for a cease fire, a plebiscite, and the appointment of a commission. Both India and Pakistan rejected the resolution, but agreed to receive the commission. The United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) was then formed. The UNCIP adopted a resolution, asking both countries to agree to a cease fire, and conclude a truce agreement, for further consultations for a plebiscite. India accepted this resolution, while Pakistan refused.

               On 6 July 1948, Army HQ issued instructions that no major operations were to be undertaken without their sanction. Cariappa was told to concentrate on stabilising the existing positions, and not to expect any additional troops, as none could be spared, keeping in mind the Hyderabad operations, and overall  situation in the country. Cariappa protested that such a defensive policy would be harmful, since the enemy was on the offensive in Tithwal, Punch, and Hajipir pass. There was a threat to Leh, and if this fell, Kargil could be reinforced, posing a serious threat to the Kashmir valley. He pleaded for continuing the offensive operations, for the capture of Kargil, Domel, and  Mirpur, and asked for two additional brigades. With great reluctance, he was given permission only for the advance to Kargil, and allotted a brigade for the task. To make matters worse, the Indian Air Force was forbidden to attack installations near the border, to avoid reports from the UNCIP.

               Considering the restrictions placed on him by his own Government, and the lack of support, in terms of troops, it is indeed commendable that Cariappa succeeded in achieving what he did. Due to political considerations, a defensive policy was imposed on the Army. That he did not allow this to be transformed into a defensive mentality was a major achievement. As a result of the defensive policy, India lost several key objectives, in Uri and Tithwal sectors. Since the road to Ladakh could not be opened till Zojila, Dras and Kargil were captured, Cariappa decided to do so, on his own. In disobeying orders, which forbade all offensive operations, he took a grave risk. But had he not done so, Ladakh may not have been part of India today. As it happened, these key objectives were captured, after a brilliant manouevre, including the use of tanks, for the first time, at such altitudes. The country owes an eternal debt to Cariappa, for the risks he took. If he had failed, it would have ended his career.             

        There are several incidents during the Kashmir operations which give an insight into Cariappa's character. He was utterly fearless, and was a frequent visitor to the front lines. Once, he was going from Srinagar to Uri. Brigadier L.P. 'Bogey' Sen, who was driving the jeep, suggested that they should remove the flag and star plates, since they were likely to be sniped at by the enemy.  Cariappa refused, saying that it would be bad for the morale of the men, if they saw the Army Commander travelling without a flag, out of fear. Soon enough, they came under sniper fire, but fortunately, no one was hurt. Cariappa remarked that these could not be genuine tribesmen. The ones he knew from his days on the Frontier were not such poor marksmen. On his return journey, the Pathans fired at his jeep again, and managed to puncture his tyre, but Cariappa was unperturbed. On another visit to Tithwal, he showed a similar disregard for enemy fire. He climbed a hill which was under observation of the enemy's artillery, and stood in full view of the enemy, his red tabs and peak cap with the red band on, much to the distress of the local commander. Within minutes of his moving away, a shell landed at the exact spot where he had been standing. Cariappa remained unruffled, and made light of the incident, remarking that even the enemy shell respected a general.

       Soon after taking over as Army Commander, he visited Naushera, which was held by  50 Parachute Brigade, commanded by Brigadier Mohd Usman. Cariappa told Usman that he wanted a present from him. When Usman asked him what he wanted, Cariappa said,  "I want you to capture Kot." This feature overlooked the Naushera Tavi valley, and was the key to the defences of Naushera.  Usman readily accepted the task assigned by his Army Commander, and captured the feature. When the town  was attacked by the raiders a few days later, Kot was held by Indian troops, and played a major role in the successful defence of Naushera. Cariappa had spent many years in the North West Frontier Province, and had a good eye for the ground. He appreciated the tactical importance  of Kot as soon as he saw it.

          Another quality which Cariappa possessed was broad mindedness. He treated all troops the same, and was utterly free of any parochial feelings. After the battle of Naushera, he visited 1 Rajput, which had suffered heavy casualties, and won several decorations. When he was shaking hands with the officers and JCOs, who had been lined up to meet him, the CO, Lieut Colonel  Guman Singh said, "Sir, this is your battalion," since Cariappa was from the Rajput Regiment. Cariappa replied,  "All the troops here are mine too."  During the same period, Air Commodore Mehar Singh performed the unique feat of landing a Dakota packed with weapons at Punch, at night. A few months later, he landed  a  Dakota at Leh, with Thimayya on board. Cariappa personally recommended Mehar Singh for a Maha Vir Chakra (MVC), and made sure he got it. Strangely enough, the Air Force brass were not very happy with 'Baba' Mehar, and he got no promotion after this.

         When India became independent, on 15 August 1947, Field Marshal Claude Auchinleck was appointed the Supreme Commander, and General Sir Rob Lockhart became C-in-C Indian Army. On the request of the Government of India, several British officers agreed to serve, for another few years, in critical appointments. On 1 January, 1948, General Sir Roy Bucher had taken over as C-in-C Indian Army. His one year engagement was to expire in January 1949, and the Government decided that he should be replaced by an Indian. At that time, the three senior most officers were Cariappa, Rajendra Sinhji, and Nathu Singh. All three were lieutenant generals, and Army Commanders. Rajendra Sinhji was a year junior,   but six months older than Cariappa.  Nathu Singh was two and a half years junior, in service as well as age. Being senior, Cariappa should have been the natural choice for the appointment of C-in-C, but this was not so. In fact, Sardar Baldev Singh, the Defence Minister in the Interim Government in 1946, had informed Nathu Singh, who was then just a brigadier, that he had been selected to be the first Indian C-in-C. Cariappa and Nathu Singh were from the same regiment, but there was little in common between them, including their views about the British. Nathu Singh is reported to have declined the offer, as he felt that Cariappa had a better claim for the job. In 1948, the most serious contender was Rajendra Sinhji, who came from a princely family of Gujarat. He had an impressive war record, and had won the DSO. The reason for some people not favouring Cariappa for the coveted appointment was that he was considered too strong and outspoken, apart from being 'anglicised'. There was also some criticism of his fraternising with Pakistani officers. Whenever he visited Pakistan, he stayed with his erstwhile colleagues, and they did the same when they visited India. This naturally raised hackles in certain quarters, and led some people to even doubt his nationalism. Fortunately, Cariappa's merit and seniority along with the support of his colleagues won the day. Rajendra Sinhji also declined the coveted appointment, in deference to Cariappa, and on 4 December 1948, the Government announced that Cariappa would be the next C-in-C.  

          On 15 January 1949, Cariappa succeeded General Roy Bucher, as Chief of Army Staff and Commander-in-Chief, Indian Army. (The designation Commander-in-Chief was discontinued, from 1 April, 1955). At precisely 9 a.m., Cariappa entered the office of the C-in-C, in South Block. General Sir Roy Bucher, welcomed him, and led him to his chair. They shook hands, and then General Bucher left. There was no other ceremony. Cariappa was wearing the badges of rank of a full general, and was 13 days short of his 49th birthday. After almost 200 years of British rule, an Indian had finally assumed command of the Indian Army, and to mark this historic occasion, 15 January became the official Army Day, in India.

        Soon after he took over as C-in-C, Nehru told  Cariappa that one of his important tasks was to bring the Army closer to the people. During British rule, the Army had been an instrument of power, and had been deliberately kept insulated from the public. Cariappa agreed with Nehru's views, and took several measures in this direction. The National Cadet Corps had already been formed, in October 1948, but it was Cariappa who gave it his whole hearted support, during its formative years. It was due to his efforts that the  Territorial Army was established, in 1949. Cariappa also did away with the concept of martial races, and within two weeks of his taking over, fixed percentages for recruitment were abolished, and it was opened to all classes. However, this was made applicable only to new raisings, and older units were not disturbed. The Brigade of Guards, which was raised, in August 1949, was open to all classes. It was an elite force, of hand picked men, modelled on the Coldstream Guards, in UK, with whom Cariappa had been attached, in 1932. Four of the senior most battalions of the Indian Army were converted to Guards, which was made the senior most regiment, of Infantry. 

      At Independence, India had three parachute battalions, but there was no parachute regiment. In 1952, the Parachute Regiment came into being. Cariappa was not a paratrooper, but had a lot of admiration and respect for them. During a visit to Agra in 1950, he witnessed a jump. On his return to Delhi, he asked Major General H.J. Wilkinson, the Director of Military Training, to draw up a programme for his pre jump training, followed by a jump. There was consternation, in Army HQ, and Major General Sharma, the Director of Medical Services, was given the task of convincing the Chief that it was not advisable. Cariappa refused to listen to his medical adviser. Next day, Wilkinson again tried, but failed to persuade him to change his mind. Finally, he told Cariappa that in case there was an accident, that would mean the end of his career, and he would not be able to accomplish all that he wanted as C-in-C. This convinced Cariappa, and he dropped the idea.

       Cariappa served as Commander-in-Chief for four years, retiring on 14 January 1953. His greatest achievement was keeping the Indian Army apolitical, and establishing healthy traditions. Unlike Pakistan and Burma, which achieved independence from British rule at about the same time, the Indian Army has stayed out of politics, even during times of crisis. Most of the credit for this must go to Cariappa. In fact, he refused to take back INA personnel, primarily for this reason, since he was convinced that they would bring politics into the Army. There was a lot of pressure on him for this, and Nehru relented only after Cariappa threatened to resign on this issue. However, he adopted the slogan 'Jai Hind', used by the INA, and ended all his talks with this. 'Jai Hind' soon became the Indian Army's slogan as well as form of greeting, between men and officers.   He also opposed the reservation of vacancies for scheduled castes and tribes,  when there was talk of implementing this in the Army, as with other government services.

               Before he retired, he visited the Rajput Regimental Centre for a farewell visit. He was accompanied by his son and daughter. The children were driven to the Commandant's house in a private car, and remained there, during the day long visit. According to the mess rules, children were not permitted in the officers mess, and Cariappa would not violate them, even if he was the Chief. On his way to the railway station, he was surprised to find that the  entire police force of the town, and a large number of civilians, had lined up the road, to cheer him. He was really moved. On reaching the station, he got down from his car and went inside his saloon. Then, remembering that he had forgotten to say good bye, he came out, and found the District Magistrate, Mr Virendra Kumar, as well as the Superintendent of Police, Mr Ali Qadeer, on the platform. He thanked them, and after shaking hands with everyone present, went back to the saloon.
               Though he was a staunch 'Rajput', he never did anything to favour his own regiment. In fact, just before he retired, Major (later Colonel) Mustasad Ahmed, the Centre Adjutant, went to Delhi to get the new regimental headgear approved. Cariappa called him over for lunch, and while they were talking, Mustasad blurted out; "Sir, now that you are laying down the office, we feel that you have not done anything special for the regiment." Cariappa smiled, and remarked, "So that is what you all think". Fifteen years later, in 1968, they met again in Delhi. Mustasad mentioned that with the Chief being a gunner, the Artillery was now getting the best foreign assignments. Cariappa immediately retorted; "You remember, you once told me that I have not done anything special for the regiment. If I had, people would be saying the same about me."   

       Cariappa was known for his indomitable character. He was always direct and straight forward in dealing with his superiors, as well as subordinates. Above all, he was fair, and never bent the rules, for himself, or anyone else. He did not have favourites, and neither did he ever carry a grudge. When his appointment as C-in-C was announced, he wanted to take Major (later Lieut General) S.K. Sinha, who was his staff officer in HQ Western Command, to Delhi with him, as his Military Assistant.  The Military Secretary pointed out that the appointment was tenable by a lieut colonel, a rank which was given only after a minimum service of six and a half years, while Sinha had just five years service. Of course, as the Chief, Cariappa could waive the rules if he wished. When Cariappa heard this, he dropped the idea, as he did not want to break a rule, for showing a favour to anyone, and thus setting  a bad example. He sent for Sinha, and explained the position to him, regretting his inability to appoint him to the coveted appointment.
      Another time, he visited Madras  Area, soon after taking over as Chief. A general officer, who was a close friend, tried to informally discuss his future employment with him. Cariappa snapped at him, "Please talk to the Military Secretary." In fact, Cariappa was a stickler for discipline and propriety, and even his close friends hesitated to take liberties with him. Thimayya was related to him, and had been a colleague, during the War, and later in Kashmir. During a visit to Srinagar, when Cariappa was the Army Commander, he and Thimayya were travelling in the same car. Thimayya lighted a cigarette, and had just taken his first puff when Cariappa reminded him that smoking was prohibited in military vehicles. Thimayya immediately snuffed out the cigarette, and continued talking, as if nothing had happened. After some time, out of habit, he pulled out a another cigarette, but remembering Cariappa's admonishment, put it back. Cariappa noticed this, and asked the driver to stop, so that Thimayya could smoke.

       On the day Cariappa's appointment as C-in-C was announced, he came to the Delhi Gymkhana Club, with the British High Commissioner, and was sitting in the balcony. There were several Army officers present, attending a party. Brigadier Sarda Nand Singh went up to Thimayya and suggested that they should ask the band to play 'For he is a jolly good fellow', and he being the senior officer present, should lead the chorus. The last thing one could accuse Thimayya was of timidity, but he declined, saying that the Old Man may consider it an act of indiscipline!           
               Cariappa had a quick temper, but like a tempest, it would blow over in no time. Even when he was angry, he was open to reason, and willing to be corrected if he was wrong. In 1951, he visited the Rajput Regimental Centre to present the Cariappa Banner, which was awarded to the best training company of the year. There was a doubt whether the banner should be escorted, on parade, like the Colours. The Centre Commandant, Colonel Guman Singh, did not believe in polite gestures, and after consulting the orders on the subject, decided that the banner was not entitled to an escort.

               When Cariappa arrived on parade, and saw that the banner named after him was not being properly escorted, he went crimson with rage. The initial blast was borne by Lieut General Thakur Nathu Singh, who was GOC-in-C Eastern Command. He in turn gave a dressing down to the Adjutant, Major Mustasad Ahmed, who could do little else than look at the Centre Commandant, who happened to be the Army Commander's son-in-law. Without batting an eye lid, Guman Singh told the Chief that he had read the rules carefully, and the banner was not entitled to an escort. Cariappa immediately cooled down, and became his charming self.  

           Having donned the mantle of independent India's first Army Chief, Cariappa was faced with a very heavy responsibility. The politicians in power had no experience of defence matters, since the British rulers had kept the Army insulated from public glare. It was for Cariappa to establish a sound working relationship between the Armed Forces, and the bureaucracy, as well as the politicians in power. He had his problems with both. The Defence Secretary, H.M. Patel, was always looking for opportunities to assert the supremacy of the bureaucracy, over the Armed Forces. He once asked all three Service Chiefs to attend a conference, which he was to chair. Since the Service Chiefs were senior, in rank, to a secretary to the Government, Cariappa refused to attend himself, and sent his Chief of General Staff. He advised the other two Chiefs to follow suit. 

        Cariappa also had his brushes with Nehru. He had foreseen the Chinese threat, and wanted to defend the border more effectively. In May 1951, he presented an outline plan for the defence of the North East Frontier Agency. Nehru dismissed his plans, adding that it was not the business of the C-in-C to tell the Prime Minister how to defend the country. He advised Cariappa to only worry about Pakistan and Kashmir; as far as NEFA was concerned, the Chinese themselves would defend our frontiers! Cariappa was terribly hurt, but like a good soldier,  accepted the rebuke from the Prime Minister. In later years, he realised his mistake. If he had persisted, and corrected Nehru's fantasies with more forceful arguments and facts, perhaps the debacle of 1962 would not have taken place.   

          One of the most well known stories about Cariappa is about his inadequate knowledge of Hindustani, which was one reason why many people called him a 'Brown Sahib'. Soon after Independence, during a visit to the forward areas, he had to address the troops. He wanted to tell the troops that now the country was free, and so were all of them. What he said was something like this. "Is waqt aap muft, ham muft, mulk muft, sab kuchh muft hai". (The word 'muft', in Hindustani, means free of cost, or gratis. Freedom, or liberty, is denoted by 'azad').

                           Cariappa realised that India's growing population was one of the reasons for her backwardness, and was one of the earliest proponents of family planning. In 1951, he wrote the forward for a book on the subject, written by Dr. Satyawati. He also laid stress on the need to have a small family during his talks to the men, as well as their families.  During his 'durbars', he exhorted the men to undergo vasectomy operations, for which arrangements had been made in all military hospitals. Once, during his visit to a hospital in Shillong, he asked a soldier what ailment he was suffering from. The soldier replied, "from the disease you have given us." Cariappa was surprised till it was explained that the man had just undergone a vasectomy. On another occasion, while addressing a large gathering of Army wives at the Family Welfare Centre at Amritsar, he said, "Mataon aur behnon. Ham chahta hai ki aap do baccha paida karo, ek apne liye, ek mere liye."  (Mothers and sisters. I want you to produce two children, one for your self, and one for me.) He wanted to say that they should have two sons, one of whom should stay with the family, and the other should join the Army.

         Cariappa was a meticulous host, as well as a guest. Even after his retirement, when he lived alone, he entered his own drawing room fully dressed. Once when he was the Chief, Lieut  General Thakur Nathu Singh, then Army Commander of Eastern Command, was a house guest. They had both served in the same regiment, and Nathu Singh wanted to pull Cariappa's leg. So he put on a 'kurta' and 'pyjama', and sat in the drawing room. When Cariappa entered the room some time later, he immediately ticked off Nathu Singh, who replied that what he was wearing was the national dress, and Cariappa had better get used to it. Another time, after he had retired, he happened to visit Lucknow. He was invited to dinner by Brigadier V.D. Jayal, a retired KCIO. During the dinner, the servant served him from the right side. Cariappa corrected the servant, and told him to do so from the left, in future. He also told  Jayal that he should train his servants properly.

       Cariappa was fastidious not only about his dress, but all aspects of mess etiquette. He was a moderate drinker, and insisted that dinner was served by 9 p.m., so that every could be home by 11 p.m. He was very particular about paying for his drinks, during his tours. When he was the Chief, he once went to visit the Rajput Regimental Centre, at Fatehgarh. After his visit, his ADC asked for a mess bill. When the Mess Secretary declined, on the plea that the C-in-C and Colonel of the Regiment was an honoured guest, he was told very firmly that Cariappa had given very  clear orders in this regard. If he was invited to a mess party, or in some officer's home, he would graciously accept the food and drinks offered by his hosts. But all expenses incurred at his place of stay would be paid by him. The Centre Commandant, Colonel Guman Singh, knew Cariappa, as well as his temper. He immediately had a mess bill prepared, which was promptly paid.

       Cariappa laid great stress on personal integrity, and did not allow any incident of moral turpitude to go unpunished. Soon after he took over as GOC-in-C Eastern Command, he ordered the dismissal of two officers who had contracted plural marriages. After he became C-in-C, three senior officers were asked to retire, for 'un officer like' behaviour, and this had a salutary effect. He addressed two personal letters to all officers, which contained guidelines on dealing with the men, and other duties. The first letter had the Cadet's Prayer, at West Point, and all officers had to carry copies of both in the breast pockets of their uniforms. 

       There can be no better illustration of Cariappa's sterling character, than that concerning his son, Nanda Cariappa, a fighter pilot who was shot down in Pakistan, during the 1965 War (Nanda rose to be an Air Marshal, and retired as AOC-in-C, South Western Air Command). Field Marshal Ayub Khan sent a message to Cariappa that his son was safe and would be well looked after. He also offered to release him, if Cariappa desired. Cariappa replied, "I will ask no favour for my son, which I cannot secure for every soldier of the Indian Army. Look after all of them. They are all my sons."

       Cariappa's love and affection for the Indian 'Jawan' was well known. He often said," Our Jawans are absolute gems." After his retirement, when he moved to Roshanara, his house in Mercara, he had a statue of a Jawan kept on his mantlepiece, next to a photograph of his father. Cariappa started his day by paying obeisance to both. He never accepted any criticism of the Indian Army, or the Jawan, and was quick to rise to their defence. He once filed defamation charges against a newspaper which carried derogatory remarks about the Indian Army. When the Editor apologised, and retracted the remarks, Cariappa withdrew the suit.

          Though Cariappa was a strict disciplinarian, he also had a great sense of humour, and could be extremely charming and full of fun. One such incident was described by  Harjit Malik, in a 'middle', entitled THE GENERAL DANCED, in the Times of India, of 3 June 1993. When Cariappa was the Chief, he went on a visit to France, where the ambassador, H.S. Malik, asked him to stay at the embassy. When he heard that the French celebrate the Quatorze Juillet by dancing on the streets, he expressed a desire to join the celebrations. There was great consternation, in the embassy as well as his staff, but Cariappa was firm.  Accompanied by the Maliks and their daughter, Harjit,  the General proceeded to the Latin Quarter, and the party luckily found an empty table at one of the pavement cafes. Cariappa sat for a while, erect as a ramrod, looking at the thousands of Parisiennes, dancing with gay abandon, or locked in embrace, oblivious of the World around. Then the music, and the atmosphere, became too much, and he got up, and asked Harjit for a dance. And soon, people saw a sedate old gentleman, impeccably dressed, with a young girl on his arm, dancing the foxtrot, in a crowd of long haired and scantily dressed bohemians.

            Soon after his retirement, Cariappa was offered the job of Indian High Commissioner in Australia, by the Prime Minister, Pandit Nehru. After some deliberation, he accepted, and sailed for Sydney in July 1953. His niece, Sagari, volunteered to go with him, and keep house. When Cariappa arrived at Canberra, the Governor General, Field Marshal Slim, broke protocol, and called on Cariappa at his residence, even before he had presented his credentials.

       His stay in Australia was eventful, and soon everyone was talking of the Indian High Commissioner. During  one of his trips, he saw a war memorial, which was not being looked after, and surrounded by bushes. Cariappa stopped his car, walked up to the memorial, and began clearing the growth with his own hands. Soon, a crowd had collected. The incident was widely reported in the Press, and the Australians felt ashamed that a foreigner had to show them how to respect their martyrs.

      On another occasion, when Cariappa was going to attend a function organised by ex servicemen, his car broke down. Cariappa took a lift in a truck. During the journey, the truck driver asked him who he was. When Cariappa replied that he was the Indian High Commissioner, the driver laughed and said, "In that case I am the King of Nepal." When they reached their destination, Cariappa thanked the driver, saying," Thank you, Your Majesty." The driver, seeing his hosts, realised that he had indeed been travelling with the Indian High Commissioner, and apologised.
            Cariappa's tenure in Australia was not without controversy. Once, he made certain remarks about Australia's white migrants policy, which favoured immigration of white races only. This created a furore in the Press, and there were demands for his recall, for interfering in the domestic affairs of another country. But Cariappa remained unfazed. He knew that he was right, and his views had many supporters. Ultimately, the Australian Government was forced to review its immigration policy, and make it more liberal.

        Cariappa returned to India in 1956, and retired to his house, Roshanara, in Mercara, in Coorg. But he continued to take a keen interest in all matters concerning the Army. When the Chinese attacked India in 1962, he went to the local recruiting office, and offered to enlist, as a soldier. In 1965, after the cease fire, he expressed a desire to visit the troops, on the front. During his visit to 17 Rajput, the battalion he had raised in 1942, the troops raised their war cry, after he had spoken to them. The Pakistani battalion commander on the other side was agitated, and asked his men to man the trenches. He then registered a strong protest. When he was told the reason for the war cry, he immediately came across, saluted Cariappa, and requested him to come over, so that his men could also have a glimpse of the legendary General.
               Though Cariappa had been C-in-C of the Indian Army for four years, he was only 53 years old when he retired. Today, the Chief retires at 60. Not only Cariappa, but several other senior officers had very short tenures. Nathu Singh retired at the age of 51, and Thimayya and Thorat at 55. This was one of the biggest blunders of the Nehru Government, which insisted on keeping British officers after Independence, on the grounds that Indian officers lacked experience. At the same time, it allowed its most experienced officers, such as Cariappa, Nathu Singh, Thimayya and Thorat to retire, at a very young age. In the event, the Nation was deprived of their services when it needed them most. When the Chinese attacked India in 1962, both Thimayya and Thorat had spent just a year out of uniform. Who knows, if they had been still serving, the Nation would have been spared the humiliation it suffered. 

        The welfare of ex servicemen always remained Cariappa's prime concern. In 1964, he founded the Indian Ex Servicemens League (IESL), by amalgamating the Federation and the Association, which were rival organisations, often working at cross purposes. He was also responsible for creation of the Directorate of Resettlement. In 1957, he took up cudgels on behalf of Major  General Tara Singh Bal, who had been unjustly retired by the Government, and had him reinstated. Keeping the IESL free from politics was one of his major achievements.

               Cariappa also had made a brief foray into politics, in early 1971. Convinced that the country could not be governed by the present system of elections, he recommended that the general elections scheduled in 1971 be cancelled, and President's rule be imposed for a few years, keeping the Constitution in suspended animation. Political parties were to be abolished, and Martial Law imposed in disturbed States. Once the situation had stabilised, elections could be held, with just two or three parties, as in UK or USA. As was expected, there was a violent reaction from all political parties, and Y.B. Chavan, the Home Minister, denounced in Parliament the call for 'Army Rule by an ex C-in-C'. Cariappa wrote an angry letter to Chavan, berating him for misleading the House, and demanded an apology, which never came.

               A number of his friends and admirers had been trying to persuade him to join politics and stand for elections, so that he could contribute to the Nation's development. After deep reflection, he agreed, and decided to contest foe the Lok Sabha seat from the North East Bombay. Lieut General S.P.P. Thorat, and several other retired officers came forward to assist him in his campaign, in addition to several well known industrialists and the erstwhile Maharaja of Mysore. Cariappa declined to join any political party, and stood as an independent candidate. Unfortunately, two of his opponents were V.K. Krishna Menon and Acharya J.B. Kripalani, both veterans and political heavy weights. Cariappa, though widely respected, was a novice in the rough and tumble world of politics. He refused to use money or muscle, to get votes, and in his campaign speeches, talked of honour, integrity and probity, which seemed unintelligible to his audiences. Most of them came to his meetings with a sense of amusement, and laughed at his 'fauji Hindustani', which few in Bombay could comprehend. Not surprisingly, he lost, and came a poor third, behind his two seasoned opponents, who had several decades of experience, backed by the resources of their respective political parties. Apart from lack of experience, he went wrong in the choice of his constituency. If he had stood from his native Coorg, perhaps he would have won.

        In 1986, the Government decided to appoint him a Field Marshal. Technically, a Field Marshal never retires, and therefore, retired officers cannot be given this rank. However, the decision stemmed from the deep sense of respect and esteem in which Cariappa was held, by all sections of Indian society. Cariappa graciously accepted the honour. On 28 April 1986, at a Special Investiture Ceremony held at Rashtrapati Bhawan, he was presented the Field Marshal's baton by President Zail Singh. In deference to his age - he was 86 - he was offered a chair, while the citation was being read out. True to his character, Cariappa declined the offer, and stood ramrod straight, throughout the ceremony.

         After 1991, Cariappa's health deteriorated. He was suffering from arthritis, and a  weak heart, and needed constant medical attention. He was shifted to a cottage, in the Command Hospital, at Bangalore. The end came on 15 May 1994. Cariappa died in his sleep, peacefully. Two days later, his mortal remains were cremated at his ancestral home at Madikeri, in Coorg. The cremation had all the ceremony and pomp which befitted a Field Marshal, and the three Service Chiefs, along with Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw, were in attendance, when his son Nanda Cariappa lit the funeral pyre, and the buglers sounded the Last Post, with the Honour Guard reversing arms. Many of the mourners, including some soldiers in uniform, had tears in their eyes, as they bade farewell to the man who had always treated them like his sons, and whom they called the 'Father of the Indian Army'. 

          Kipper is no more. But if the adage about old soldiers never dying, but fading away, was ever true, it was in his case. He had become a living legend, even before he rose to the highest military rank. Every man has faults, and perhaps Cariappa too had some. But they are hard to find. Even those who did not openly adore him respected him, grudgingly. He had the strongest character and sense of values, qualities that are hard to come by today. Although a strict disciplinarian, he was always just and fair, and even those who felt the rough end of his stick vouch for this. The Indian nation owes him an eternal debt, for his contributions, which are too numerous to recount. Of course, if Cariappa had been alive, and told this, he would have said that he only did what he felt was his duty. Though anglicised in habits and behaviour, he was a patriot and kept the interest of his country always uppermost, followed by that of the soldier. Every Indian Army officer is reminded of the immortal words of Field Marshal Lord Chetwode, as he takes the Final Step, and passes out, from the Indian Military Academy. " The safety, honour and welfare of your country come first, always and every time; the honour, welfare and comfort of the men you command come next; your own ease, comfort and safety come last, always and every time."  One of the few who followed it, in letter and spirit, was K.M. Cariappa.         


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