Lt-Gen Bikram Singh next Army Chief
New Delhi, March 3
The ministry made a formal announcement this evening. Lt Gen Bikram Singh will be second-ever Sikh, after General JJ Singh (retd), to command the 1.3 million-strong Indian Army.
The ministry’s spokesperson Sitanshu Kar said in a statement: “Lt Gen Bikram Singh, has been designated as the next Chief of Army Staff, in the rank of General, with effect from the afternoon of May 31, 2012. He will succeed the present, General VK Singh, who retires from the service on May 31 2012”.
The present Army Chief, General VK Singh superannuates on May 31. The process to announce the Army Chief is normally done in advance. In this case the Government has strictly followed the principle of seniority.
At present, Lt Gen Bikram Singh is heading the Eastern Army Command and is stationed at Kolkata. The security of the sensitive North-East and the Eastern states is under his domain of duties.
The Army-chief-designate was the Delhi-based spokesperson of the Indian Army during the Kargil conflict in May-July 1999. At that time he was a Colonel and was on the verge of being promoted as a Brigadier.
The retirement date of the present Army Chief had led to all sorts of theories in the past few months. It was only on February 10 this year that the Supreme Court refused to reconcile the date of birth (DoB) of General VK Singh. It said the DoB would remain as May 10 1950 and not May 10, 1951 as claimed by Gen VK Singh.
Had the apex court accepted the DoB of May 10, 1951, then General VK Singh would have retired after completion of a three-year tenure that is March 31, 2013. In that scenario Lt Gen KT Parnaik, the present Northern Army commander, would have been the next Chief as Lt Gen Bikram Singh would have retired in the intervening period.
An Army Chief retires at 62 years of age while all Lieutenant Generals retire at 60 years of age.
Had General VK Singh quit after the February 10 SC order, Lt Gen Shankar Ghosh would have been the senior-most officer. Unfortunately for Gen Shankar Ghosh, he retires the same day as Gen VK Singh.
Lt Gen Bikram Singh, the Army-chief-designate, was commissioned into the Sikh Light Infantry (Sikh LI) regiment on March 31, 1972.
During his distinguished career, he has headed the Srinagar-based 15 Corps. Lt Gen Bikram Singh has served as deputy force commander of a multi-nation UN peace keeping mission in Congo. He had also served as UN observer in Nicaragua and El Salvador during the early 1990s.
His long list of decorations include a Param Vishist Seva Medal (PVSM), a Uttam Yudh Seva Medal (UYSM), an Ati Vishist Seva Medal (AVSM), Sena Medal (SM) and a Vishist Seva Medal (VSM).
Lt Gen Bikram Singh has studied with distinction at the Defence Services Staff College, the Army War College and the US Army War College, Pennsylvania. He has also done an M.Phil in Defence Management from the Indore University.
He is married to Surjeet Kaur, who is a housewife. The couple has two sons.