Sam Manekshaw’s legend lives on : The Tribune India

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Sam Manekshaw’s legend lives on

Sam Manekshaw’s legend lives on


Col NS Ahuja (retd)

IT was 1969; my wife and I were recently married. As a young captain with just seven years in service, I found myself in the presence of a living legend — Gen Sam Manekshaw, who later became Field Marshal. Our encounter with him was at a mess party. The atmosphere buzzed with the camaraderie of fellow officers and their spouses. Then, like a gust of wind, in came the flamboyant Manekshaw, full of energy and moving briskly through the crowd to interact with as many officers and their ladies as possible.

His social graces were exceptional, and he had a witty remark for everyone. The party was infused with an air of awe as he regaled us with captivating anecdotes from his illustrious career. In our group, he spent a good five minutes, weaving tales that left us entertained and inspired.

Fast-forward to the brink of the 1971 India-Pakistan war, just before the storm of conflict was unleashed. As the Army Chief, Gen Manekshaw addressed troops and officers, delivering a pep talk that resonated with conviction and valour. He urged us to march into battle, fight gallantly, teach a lesson to our adversaries and return victorious with chests adorned with well-deserved medals. His words were a potent elixir, fuelling our spirits with unwavering determination.

He epitomised the quintessential fauji leader — forthright, courageous and possessing unquestionable integrity. His Gorkha roots shaped his character, and he stood tall as a man of guts, someone who led by example and walked the talk. India’s resounding victory in the 1971 war, which saw the capture of over 93,000 PoWs in a fortnight, is a classic case study of exemplary military leadership.

After retirement, he embraced a life of tranquillity but was often beckoned to share his wealth of experience for motivation and inspiration. His legacy echoed in military circles, a testament to a lifetime dedicated to the service of the nation.

With the release of the movie Sam Bahadur, the legend of Field Marshal Manekshaw is witnessing a renaissance. The celluloid narrative charts his remarkable journey, capturing the essence of a man who transcended the ordinary and etched his name in the annals of military history. It is a befitting tribute to a man who left an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of those who served under his command. His legacy, burnished by the silver screen, continues to inspire new generations, ensuring that the tale of Sam Bahadur would endure as a timeless ode to valour and leadership.


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