KM Cariappa, the first Indian Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army
"An Indian and to the last breath would remain an Indian. To me, there are only two Stans – Hindustan (India) and Foujistan (the Army)." – Field Marshal KM Cariappa
You all know about the Commander-in-chief of the Indian army, Kodandera Madappa Cariappa. He is the one who led the Indian army in the Indo-Pakistani war of 1947 and the one remembering whom, India celebrates the army day. India best remembers him as the legend who made the Indian Army truly Indian. And this is why General Bipin Rawat, the current Indian Army chief, feels that the time has come to honour the late Field Marshal with the Bharat Ratna award.
Kodandera Madappa Cariappa
- He was born on January 28, 1899, and grew up listening to stories of valour of World War I veterans.
- It was in his college that he came to know that the army was recruiting Indians as officers. He quickly became one of the best cadets in the batch, excelling in subjects such as battle tactics, military strategy, leadership techniques and administrative skills.
- Cariappa was made Second Lieutenant in 1919. And above all, he became the first India officer to have British officers serving under him in 1942.
- Most importantly, it was Cariappa who strengthened and supported it during its formative years.
- Soldiers who served under him also remember him motivating them frequently, saying, “I will never ask you to do anything that I am myself incapable of doing.”
- He became free India's first Chief of Army Staff on 15 January 1948, a day also celebrated as the Army day in India.
- The then US President also conferred him with ‘Order of the Chief Commander of the Legion of Merit’, the first ever kind of award given to army personnel.
- Being a true gentleman, he was awarded the General Service Medal, Indian Independence Medal, Order of the British Empire, 1939-1945 Star, Burma Star, War Medal 19391945, Indian Service Medal and Legion of Merit also.
- After Indian independence, Pakistani tribal lashkars were attacking Kashmir. At that time under his leadership, the army cleared the raiders from the Jammu-Naushera Axis.
- Once Pakistani troops captured his son, Flt. Lt K. C. Nanda Cariappa, as a prisoner of war during the 1965 war. The Pakistani commander offered him the special treatment and release of his son but he refused. His words were
"He is my son no longer… He is the child of this country, a soldier fighting for his motherland like a true patriot. My many thanks for your kind gesture, but I request you to release all or release none. Give him no special treatment."
- After looking at the living conditions of the INA prisoners, he wrote a letter to the British Adjutant General recommending that steps be taken to immediately improve their living conditions. He also recommended pardoning of those who were not guilty. That's what make him a great Indian leader and a true patriot.
- Take a look at the anecdote that are enough to make him a great Indian leader and a man of words.
"When the war was raging in Kashmir in 1947, there was food scarcity in many of the villages. Once, a group of hungry people stopped him at Baramulla telling their suffering. Cariappa assured to them that he would do his best after the chase. The next day, he fulfilled his assurance by returning to the town with flour, rice and salt that he distributed to the needy families. Later, the grateful residents of Baramulla also named a park after Cariappa (it still exists today)."
KM Cariappa was one of the country's most exceptional military commanders and will be remembered always also.