Hectic Days in Halwara-14: The Epilogue


The morning after the war ended was strangely quiet. We had not restarted routine training flying and there were no operational tasks.    In any case it was a Saturday.    Over the past few months we had forgotten the concept of a week-end.   All of a sudden, the need to go to work on a Saturday morning had disappeared.    No official change in the rules for working hours had been declared. Technically therefore it was still a normal working day. In the operational units, most of the aircrew were sunning themselves with cups of tea in hand.    All the stories of the war, from our own station and from other stations, were being recounted.    The flight offices remained mostly empty.    Groupie Gole and I went round the station and visited all the units and sections. Groupie Gole had a marvellous way of speaking a few words of appreciation that made the officers and men feel nice about the work recently done.

19th December 1971 was one of the slowest Sunday-mornings I have ever experienced. From early in the morning I attempted to put a call through to my residence in Wellington. 19th December happened to be the date of birth of my third daughter – Swagata – normally known as Mishti.    She had just completed her eighth year.    I missed her as I was sure she was missing me. I had left home on 29th November when all the children were ill.    For the past two weeks, I had had no contact with them.  No mail and no telephone calls.  As long as there was a war to fight, the thoughts of my near and dear ones did not have much space in my consciousness.    This morning however the thoughts of my wife Leena and the children enveloped me.    Not being able to connect home on the phone was frustrating.    However, this was the first Sunday after the war and I am sure every one was calling everyone else. When a war is not being fought, a Wing Commander is a fairly low-life in the hierarchy. I could not really blame anyone for my failure to get a phone-connection. From the 20th morning, I decided to create some meaningful work for myself. I cornered Alan D’Costa and got him to restart my training on the Su7.    By the time Groupie Gole got to know about our moves, I had already finished two duals and four solo flights. The station commander was not amused. Apart from decorating my log book and massaging my ego, he asked me, what earthly good will these sorties do to me or to the air force? Of course he was right, but was not the two things he excluded important for me? I looked him in the eye and asked whether I was not entitled to a little bit of pampering.    His fondness for me as a person was evident from the little smile he gave me as an answer and we dropped the subject. I however stopped badgering Alan for any more flying. Though the war was over, there was plenty of work to be done. All the paperwork for the honours and awards recommended from the station had to be completed. All the boys who had done their jobs well had to be called up and congratulated. Groupie Gole in his wisdom sent my name up for an AVSM (Ati Vishisht Seva Medal). I of course managed to remain bare-chested; though the command HQ had concurred with the station commanders recommendations, powers that be at the Air HQ thought that I had only done what I was supposed to do, so no special recognition was necessary.    As the year end drew near, personal administrative requirements mounted. Groupie Gole’s children were coming off school hostels for their winter break. They had to be picked up. He asked me to hold the fort while he took a short break. Unfortunately, I was thinking in a similar way for myself. I wanted to get back home quickly. If that was not possible then at least I wanted to go home for the Christmas-New-Year week. If I had to stay back to let Groupie go on a short break… well I was sad. Alan now came up to help me out. He told the station commander that he was not planning for any break; he would be on the station. I could therefore be given a short break as well. This talk took place on the afternoon of the 24th December. As soon as Groupie Gole agreed to this suggestion from Alan, all my friends got into action. Sukhi Singh was about to take off for Hindon to carry out a routine rotation of a type 77 (Single Seat MiG21) for its maintenance. Bharat Kumar stopped him and offered me the choice of taking the aircraft to Hindon. I had not flown a MiG21 for more than a year, having handed over the squadron on 30th November 1970 to Harsaran Gill. There were no ‘two-seat trainer MiG21’ on the station to give me a refresher dual check. Bharat Kumar subjected me to an hourlong cockpit soak and a blind fold check to let me fly the aircraft. I Landed at Hindon by the evening. A duty call on Gopal Arora’s widow (Gopal had died on the ground when a bomb fragment had exploded on the 4th morning) and a call on Basanti Gill to hold her hand and share the grief of the non-return of Harsaran from the war took the evening away. (Harsaran who was my successor as Archer One had not returned from an attack over Badin from Jamnagar). In the officers Mess, there was a victory celebration going on. Some of the boys pulled me there for a late appearance. I did go there and meet all the boys, but the Victory Celebration was somewhat subdued in the absence of the near and dear ones. Early next morning a Chetak Helicopter took me to Palam, A Super Consellation from Number 6 Squadron Pune dropped me to Bangalore, A Chetak from HAL Flight Test Department dropped me to the Golf Club Helipad at Wellington just behind my house Ekant (Thanks to IM Chopra). Wing Commander OM Kunhiraman brought my son Subir down to the helipad. Subir was then just under three years of age and was astonished to find his Daddy emerge out of a helicopter without a prior warning. I had a wonderful end of the year celebration at home.    On 31 December I returned similarly by a helicopter courtesy HAL upto Bangalore, an AN12 dropped me back at Palam. On the new year I caught up with Groupie Gole and Mrs Gole at Palam and drove back to Halwara with their two children in their tiny car. I was relieved from my duties when Wing Commander JC Sabherwal, the Chief Operations Officer of Halwara  returned from hospital,  perhaps on the 20th January. I was back home in Wellington on the morning of the Republic Day of 1972. Thus ended my involvement in the only war I fought in my lifetime in the air force.


40 responses »

  1. All’s well that ends well. Except, perhaps, for those like Gopal Arora and Harsaran Gill and of course their families. Wars inevitably extract a price. An inordinately high price in my view – on both sides. And leave scars not just on soldiers’ bodies but on a nation’s soul as well.
    Your last sentence on the post is a flat statement. Personally, I am not unhappy about it being the only war you ever fought. I am reasonably sure there are others who might agree with me. Albeit, some readers might not – as we had witnessed a small comment by me on your previous post sparking off a less than palatable debate. Ah well, I have long since accepted that civilisation and democracy come at a price. Tolerance of imbeciles is just one of them.

    • i do agree with you, wars are indeed a ‘serious business’ apart from the veneer of ‘swashbuckling romance’ that can be applied on them
      Another little matter, if my ‘intrusion’ in an earlier episode was in any way less than acceptable, IOU one.
      Cheers !

      • Dear Pradeep,
        Expressing your views on the previous post or reacting to my or anyone’s comment/s was, by no means, any intrusion. You owe me nothing.
        I had stopped reacting to comments after Air Cmde. Sen’s (Tapas kaku to me) explicit suggestion that he “hoped” the discussion on that post had ended and it was time to move on. I have way too much respect for him to decline his decision.
        On my part, I had very similar experiences, like yours, at that time. Some of it going beyond mere reading newspaper reports and listening to various radio channels.
        Tapas kaku very correctly remembered that I was 17 in 1971. I had not only known about the influx of nearly 10 million refugees fleeing from General Yahya Khan’s forces in East Pakistan to take shelter in India (an overwhelming number of them in West Bengal where I then lived and studied), but being a senior student of RKMV, Narendrapur, had visited many refugee camps to distribute relief such as chire, gur, rice, dal, potatoes, onions, powdered milk, clothes, bed rolls, blankets, medicines, baby food, tarpaulin and a variety of things on behalf of the Rama Krishna Mission. Therefore, as Tapas kaku had hoped, I believe, I can more than just “recollect” what was happening at that time and what led to it.
        However, I beg to be allowed to put forward a few points to question the reasons allegedly claimed to justify the war. An inflow of 10 million people mainly between March and December 1971 would be a sizeable number to handle even for China or the USA. The Govt. of India’s census put India’s population at 580 million in 1971. Net annual growth rate of the Indian population at the time was well over 2%. [It may be of some interest to curious readers that The Population Division of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) as also the United States Bureau of the Census put both the number and the growth rate of Indian population at figures higher than NSSO, Govt. of India proclaims]. Even going purely by the Indian government’s statistics, simple arithmetic tells us that India was producing over 12 million new tummies to feed circa 1971.
        Refugee influx is broadly a humanitarian problem – resulting from a variety of reasons. Not all of them are necessarily or always man-made. History bears testimony to large exodus of people to safer neighbourhoods to escape the consequences of natural disasters too.
        In any event, since India was at least legally and morally bound to feed its own growing population (the size of which was larger than the number of refugees), I do not for a moment believe that the refugee inflow was the real reason for the 1971 war. Wars are essentially political decisions and I know of no country where politicians are regarded as the greatest of patriots. India and Pakistan never got along as good neighbours ever since 1947. We keep hearing Indian politicians blabber about J & K being an “integral part” of India. That makes one wonder about their idea of the geographic boundaries of J & K. The vast portion of J & K that Pakistan encroached upon immediately after independence (and has since “leased out” part of that to China too!) continues to remain under Pakistan’s occupation. What all goes on there is public knowledge. Little has changed on the ground despite four wars between 1948 and 1999 between the two less than friendly neighbours. And whatever change has taken place in the so called POK, has surely not been for the better. Instead, we hear of plebiscites and converting the LoC the into international border and so on and so forth as Pakistan continues its proxy war and Indian military, at not inconsiderable cost, remains busy trying to contain infiltration from across the LoC. Can’t quite call it a heavenly scenario, can we?
        Do you for a moment believe that China or Israel or the USA would have tolerated such infringement? Let alone for so many decades. That, again, is without prejudice to the fact that the overwhelming majority of the US population is (descendants of) European invaders who encroached upon that vast land and its resources and continue to act masters in someone else’s home.
        Any war anywhere in the world in the Cold War era – was also essentially – an indirect confrontation between the USSR and the USA. Whether it was the Arab-Israel conflict or India-Pakistan. Sometimes, either of the two great warmongers would directly engage itself in battle while the other would support the opposition without fail. E.g. Vietnam and Afghanistan. The global perspective of the Indo-Pak conflict was no exception. It was just post-ping pong diplomacy period and Richard Nixon was unabashedly flirting with Mao Zedong & company of course overlooking all of China’s human rights violations and conveniently forgetting the US government’s self-appointed role of being THE Crusader for Democracy. Those familiar with realpolitik, therefore, hardly raised their eyebrows at the US awarding the MFN (Most Favoured Nation) status to the great People’s Republic of China.
        To counter the US-China backing of Pakistan, India and the USSR signed Indo-Soviet Treaty of Peace , Friendship and Cooperation in August, 1971 – basically a strategic alliance to counter the threats from two common enemies of both India and the USSR – namely the PRC and Pakistan.

        The following quote from the Wikipedia may not be irrelevant here.
        “The United States supported Pakistan both politically and materially. U.S. President Richard Nixon denied getting involved in the situation, saying that it was an internal matter of Pakistan. But when Pakistan’s defeat seemed certain, Nixon sent the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise to the Bay of Bengal, a move deemed by the Indians as a nuclear threat. Enterprise arrived on station on 11 December 1971. On 6 December and 13 December, the Soviet Navy dispatched two groups of ships, armed with nuclear missiles, from Vladivostok; they trailed U.S. Task Force 74 in the Indian Ocean from 18 December until 7 January 1972.
        “Nixon and Henry Kissinger feared Soviet expansion into South and Southeast Asia. Pakistan was a close ally of the People’s Republic of China, with whom Nixon had been negotiating a rapprochement and where he intended to visit in February 1972. Nixon feared that an Indian invasion of West Pakistan would mean total Soviet domination of the region, and that it would seriously undermine the global position of the United States and the regional position of America’s new tacit ally, China. In order to demonstrate to China the bona fides of the United States as an ally, and in direct violation of the US Congress-imposed sanctions on Pakistan, Nixon sent military supplies to Pakistan and routed them through Jordan and Iran, while also encouraging China to increase its arms supplies to Pakistan
        The Nixon administration also ignored reports it received of the genocidal activities of the Pakistani Army in East Pakistan, most notably the “Blood telegram”.
        The Soviet Union supported Bangladesh and Indian armies, as well as the Mukti Bahini during the war, recognizing that the independence of Bangladesh would weaken the position of its rivals – the United States and China. It gave assurances to India that if a confrontation with the United States or China developed, the USSR would take counter-measures. This was enshrined in the Indo-Soviet friendship treaty signed in August 1971. The Soviets also sent a nuclear submarine to ward off the threat posed by USS Enterprise in the Indian Ocean.”

        Tapas kaku’s next remark was about the West Pakistani (military) authorities not allowing the implementation of the results of the general elections (in East Pakistan – that the Awami League led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, had won the previous year. Actually the Awami League had won 167 of the 169 allotted to East Pakistan thus giving it a majority in Rawalpindi’s National Assembly) that, as he says “ led to a civil war there that in turn led to the refugee influx on to India.”
        It is not clear if the non-implementation of the results of a democratic election in a neighbouring country was India’s motivation for going to war. Or was it the consequent civil war? Or the refugee influx? All three may be connected but are very individual issues. As for the refugee influx, I have already discussed it at length above and refuse to accept it, with good reasons I hope, as a reason for going to war.
        As for the other two, surely those were internal problems of another country – neighbour or otherwise. I have always known only the USA acts unilaterally in its godlike mission of establishing the holy democracy at select places that’s convenient to her. While on the other hand, supporting, bankrolling, arming and otherwise helping untold number of despots, monarchs and military dictators. Had India picked up a clue from the great US of A way back in 1971? For a change, let’s turn our gaze to another neighbour a little farther to India’s east where a Nobel Prize winner lady continues to remain under house arrest having won landslide victory in the national election of that country way back in 1990. It is my ignorance if I have missed the accounts of Indian politicians’ and military’s hearts bleeding for those deprived souls. India shares about a 2560 km long border with that country and arms and drug trafficking are not unheard of activities along those areas.
        I, however, find plenty of news of the Indian government shamelessly gyrating its hips to entertain the ruthless junta in order to win civil and military contracts from them and top Indian military officials engaging in “meaningful” dialogues with the suppressors of democracy and civil rights to build “strategic alliance”. So much for the frightful Chinese dragon who – at least – didn’t need to don a hypocritical gown of democracy to offer extensive military cooperation and involvement in developing ports, naval and intelligence facilities and industries, specifically the upgrading of a naval base in Sittwe, while also not forgetting to flood the junta with arms of a wide variety.
        Even domestically, there’s no dearth of examples in India of democratically elected state governments being dismissed for what the propagators presumed to be political expediency.
        Can we, therefore, infer that none of the three possible reasons cited for justifying the war stand scrutiny? And, in all likelihood, I do not suffer from any selective amnesia as I was, much to my amusement, assumed to be ailing from?
        Tapas kaku’s “response” (addressed perhaps not just to Mark?) had ended with “Those of us in uniform do take the responsibility of our omissions and commissions. I wonder though whether the same yardstick is applied to our politician, bureaucrats and affluent middle class armchair critics.”
        My observations to this thinly veiled sarcastic remark are as follows:
        1. “Men in uniform”, to a layman, are not just people serving in the Indian Army, Air Force or the Navy and Coast Guards. They embrace a variety of other groups including para-military / commando forces such as the NSG, CRP, BSF, ITBP, RAF, CISF, COBRA, SSB and a host of others as also all the central and state police forces including traffic cops. I see no reason to exclude the people such as those working in the central excise department or the customs – all of whom serve “in uniform”.
        2. If the author was so dismayed with the influx of 10 million refugees – evidently under extra-ordinary circumstances, I wonder how he would react to no less than an additional 30 millions (by conservative estimates) that infiltrated from Bangladesh into India between 1972 and the present time. And continue to pour in every day by the hundreds or even thousands Perhaps he should check out how the demographic profile of people in districts of West Bengal and Tripura that border Bangladesh have changed over the decades, I presume many of us personally know dozens of such illegal entrants and possibly know of thousands. More than just one somebody “in uniform” surely isn’t doing his job. huh? Or would you say that the attackers of the infamous 26/11 could sail in so easily to Mumbai to butcher hundreds at will and do all that they did if people “in uniform” had acted as responsibly as is needed? I am yet to learn about the corrective actions taken to guarantee prevention of recurrence of anything remotely close to it.
        3. It is quite pointless trying to argue about the honesty, integrity, taking responsibility for omissions & commissions of police, excise or customs officials. Even newborns know that such species are in grave danger of extinction. India’s rankings in the annual survey of Transparency International make things amply clear.
        4. As regards the author’s questioning the politicians, bureaucrats and affluent middle class armchair critics are concerned… ah well, they are a rather diverse lot, aren’t they? And why did he not include the judiciary? For fear of the weird thing called “contempt of court”? Politicians, especially those in power, are elected representatives of people whose (legitimate) orders a bureaucrat or any government official – not excluding those “in uniform” – are bound to obey. Without a question. As an officer who served the IAF for not inconsiderable period, the Author, I’m sure, knows well enough that all people “in uniform” have just two simple choices. Either carry out the order without a question; or announce one’s refusal and face all that the refusal entails. This is the system in India and in much of the world. If one disagrees with it, the Indian Constitution grants that person enough freedom to change it within the parameters laid down in the Constitution. Or even to amend the Constitution as per the requisite procedure. Alternatively, the person is also free to abandon the citizenship of this country and seek a home wherever one wishes provided that country accepts the person to live there. Fair and clear, isn’t it? Personally, I have neither hesitation nor shame in admitting that I am not affluent. Nor am I sure of the class I belong to. Such adjectives are highly subjective in any case. And can be interpreted by different people in different ways. The chair I am sitting on to type this long comment does not even have arms! Being a critic, in my considered view, is neither a sin nor an offence. On the contrary, I consider objective criticism to be a healthy and necessary practice. But an armchair I honestly don’t have although, in all fairness to armchair owners, I really wouldn’t consider that a grievous possession.
        And finally Pradeep, my dear, I hope you’ll agree that oftentimes in life we must learn to ignore some things. We have had the misfortune to witness some of the inanest comments and reactions from people with sub-normal cognitive abilities. Have pity on them for their disability, if you want but it’s a waste of time trying to impress upon them that “Tumi adham, tai bolia ami uttam hoibo na keno?”

    • Pallav at the risk, only because I do not know you personally, of sounding as though I am patronizing you I like the way you write and what you write. Thank you for both; being eloquent and opinioned, it makes the reading easy but more than that you speak for those of us who believe what you but fall short of being able to do so eloquently. Thank you so much.
      I spent my youth growing up amongst these wonderful ‘men in uniform’, they taught me a great deal about integrity and honesty. I am relutant to ‘put them in uniform’ only because it is a narrow descriptor of all they were and are. I am glad that Air Cmdre Sen is putting things in writing, it is long overdue and much needed. Wg. Cdr. H.S. Gill had dinner (and a few drinks) at our home on the evening before his attack on Badin, I can remember the fierce conversation; it had nothing to do with nationality, it was one professional voicing the determination to make sure that any professional who got in his way would be dealt with. And, it was apparent that his squadron loved the man.
      Nothing you write do I disagree with. I hope some day we may be able to share a few drinks and I will learn from you. Please keep writing.

      • Dear Mark,
        Even at the risk of sounding flattered, I must, if only in fair gentlemanliness, thank you for your extravagantly generous comment – perhaps a little undeserving in favour of opinions I expressed.
        Writing, for decades, had been my sole source of survival. And it, perhaps, still is. It’s a matter of life and death for me to make people read what I write. Nonetheless, for lessons I learnt from the likes of Air Cmde. Sen, I attempt to publicly voice only what I firmly believe in. And in most cases, to have plenty of logic to substantiate my arguments.
        In your commen,t you have mentioned the professionalism of Wg. Cdr. Gill. I admire that. I have always had unreserved admiration for professionalism – regardless of whether the professional was a IAF pilot bombing Pakistani targets, or a certain Md. Atta and his comrades, who allegedly rammed planes in to some “American” buildings on 9th Sept. 2001. If professionalism is the sole, or even chief criterion for adjudgment, I hope, few will have little option but to place the Attas much above anyone else the world had witnessed before. I do not know who the Commanding Officer of the so called Atta-s were, but evidently he was a person who knew well enough that his lieutenants would MOST CERTAINLY not return alive from the mission he was sending them into. Honestly, I do not know of m/any such C.O.-s in any organised defence force/s.
        Personal survival, my dear Mark, as I hope we all shall agree, is a vital element. None of us know many who outlive the phenomenon to prove it wrong. Parents, wife, offsprings, grandkids, relations, friends are not an easy bond to neglect even when a soldier’s motivation to defeat the enemy may be unquestionable. Indian Defence Forces, to the best of my knowledge and belief, do not have fedayeens, or kamikaze pilots.
        It’s a pity that we continue to glorify “soldiers’ valour” while the country they represent starve.
        On the front page of The Times of India – oops Sunday Times – of July 11, 2001, the following news item appeared for all to see (and hopefully ponder):
        Mega defence deal: Six subs for Rs 50K cr
        The first paragraph of the news item reads as follows:
        NEW DELHI: If you thought the Rs 42,000 crore project to procure 126 multi-role fighters for the IAF was the “mother of all defence deals”, think again. The stage is now being set for an even bigger project—this one worth over Rs 50,000 crore for six new-generation submarines for the Indian Navy.

        The Defence Acquisitions Council (DAC), chaired by defence minister A K Antony, has finally decided that three of the six submarines will be constructed at Mazagon Docks (MDL) in Mumbai and one at Hindustan Shipyard Ltd (HSL) in Visakhapatnam, with the help of a foreign collaborator.

        “The other two submarines will either be imported from the foreign vendor directly or constructed at a private shipyard in India. Fresh estimates show each of these six diesel-electric submarines will cost almost Rs 8,500 crore,” a source said.
        The ToI, in a “coloured” box alongside the news item. had also highlighted what Rs. 50,000 crores could do for/in India.
        • Nearly double the Union govt’s health allocation of Rs. 25,154 crores
        • Increase the govt’s education budget of Rs. 49,904 crore
        • Add 25% to the Rs. 40,100 crore allocated to NREGS (National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme)
        • Multiply by five the Rs. 10,475 crore allocation for power
        • More than double the Rs. 24,079 crore meant to build roads.

        I leave it to the wisdom of patriots to decide the priorities.

        That Indian diplomacy in the past six decades had been a total failure necessitating the upping of defence expenditure to a vulgar degree brings as much glory to Indian government(s) as it does for AFCS to have a pupil, whose only claim to glory,. so far as we have witnessed, other than proving himself to be more idiotic than, perhaps, he was born as, is to post vacuous comments on the internet about things he is as knowledgeable as, perhaps, the Dalai lama is about missile technology.

        As for your invitation for an evening of drinks and discussions, I am, frankly, grateful. Although I have not the slightest notion about where you live and if and when I may be able to visit that precious territory unless you personally organise it all.
        Kindly let me know, if you care to, how we may contact each other without advertising ourselves on TKS’ Tales.
        Best regards,

    • Dear Pallav,
      Enjoyed reading your reply. And would indeed like to engage in discussing the points that you raised, as they are thought-provoking. But probably that would need some other mechanism (not this one). i’d look forward to that.

      • I agree Pradeep.
        TKS’ Tales isn’t exactly a social networking forum.
        I live in Kolkata. I presume you know Air Cmde. Sen well enough.
        I am sure he can guide you to me if he so cares.

  2. Hi Uncle:
    I enjoyed very much your description post-war. It is a beautiful description of your feelings.

    Thanks for sharing your experience and vivid recollections with us.


    Sanjay Mathur

  3. what bull pradeep.. u dont owe anything to anybody. The peacenicks amongst us can go to wagah , burn candles with Ms A Roy, Kuldip Nayar etc and sing songs of friendship. Nations are built and protected by the blood, guts and sacrifices of its citizens/soldiers. pallav got plastered, pasted and the frustation shows. come on pallav, nothing personal. its your opinion against ours.

    • Manoj with due respect, i enjoy both dissent as well as being dissenter. But that is it. i feel there is no point in any further flag-waving. On this proscenium (this blog) the main protagonist is “TKS” and the stage-play is “his experiences”. Let us not, even unwittingly turn the spot-light anywhere else. We can only try to be a good audience. Enough said. Cheers.

  4. Sorry about a rather significant data-entry error.
    The news report in The Times of India about procuring submarines was dated July 11, 2010 and not 2001 as mistakenly typed.
    I apologise to all who might have noticed before I discovered it.
    Thank you.

  5. Dear Sir,

    Your posts make for good reading as usual. Thank you for sharing your experiences.

    Just had one query related to your flights on the SU-7 and the MiG-21… which one did you like flying better? Which one was more enjoyable to fly? I’m expecting you to favour the Mig since you commanded a squadron of that type but still needed to know your opinion.

    • Dear Sajay

      Each type ofaircraft holds its own charm for the pilot. My total experience on the Su7 was too small to form a definitive feeling. I flew the MiG21 much more and liked it. However, purely as a thing for joy of flying, the Gnat was hard to beat. The Hunter was also quite lovable.


  6. pradeep .. flag waving. come on

    when i see madrassa logic being paraded as logical / intellectual thinking its too much really. Good english cant hide madrassa logic.

    a) immigrants being equated with citizens !! ha ha since we have a high population growth so what if people keep on flooding our country??

    b) is it the military fault that the political class cant exploit gains on the battlefield to further countrys interests? I mean that we could not solve problems with pakis is an indictment of the political class rather than abt war.

  7. Dear Air Commodore Sen,

    Further to your answer to Sanjay’s question – What were your experiences in dissimilar combat exercises against other aircraft such as the Su-7 or the HF-24 both on Migs and the Gnat. I was also wondering if the Gnat and the Ajeet were the same aircraft or whether the Ajeet was an upgraded Gnat.

    Many thanks


    • Dear Premjit: To answer your query honestly, I would have to pen a very long reply. Air Combat involves too many factors to give out any simple answer. Broadly, the aerodynamic quality of the aircraft

        at the altitude and dynamic situation where the combat takes place

      and the skill of the pilot are two most important factors. The third important factor is the initial advantage of position that one of the combatants may have. Each type of aircraft has its own dynamic zone of comfort. For instance, a clean Gnat below 5000 feet asl at speeds around 350 knots will be hard to beat. MiG21 at 3 to 5 Km altitude and at speeds above M.85 will perform very well. You will see that I am hedging my answer. That is because the environmental factors are so important. The funny part of air combat is the these factors keep changing. The pilot who controls these changes better is likely to win.

      Let me give you an example. You will understand that accelaration available to an aircraft is important in air combat. Now, let me put one HF24 and one Gnat in formation at 5000 feet asl at an initial speed of 250 Knots and ask both the aircraft to select maximum power at the same time. The Gnat will shoot forward and disappear leaving the HF24 far behind. Now, if I take the same two aircraft at the same height at an initial velocity of 420 knots, we will find that the Gnat has no hope of keeping up with the HF24. The Gnat will flounder at 480 knots or so with a super-sensitive longitudinal control troubling the pilot while the HF24 will happily reach up to 580 or 600 knots with wonderful control response.

      A Gnat in its happy zone will put a sabre through the hoops, but if the Gnat pilot is foolish and allows the aircraft to slow down to less than 200 knots then a Sabre will simply shoot it down. Therefore, a pilot must know where his aircraft is happiest and his opponent is not, and try to keep the battle ay that dynamic zone. If he is successful, he will win.

  8. Dear Tiku sir,
    Thank you for a wonderful blog. I’ve just been through “Hectic Days in Halwara” and I hope to catch up with the rest of the blog soon. Your account is especially interesting since most of the people mentioned are my friends and colleagues.

    The late “Hi Speed” Gill was my first instructor and taught me gliding. His loss is very personal indeed.

    J Thomas

  9. Sir,
    Let me congratulate you on some very excellent writing. I am thankful that this record is now part of the history of the Indian Air Force.
    I think there is a reluctance among IAF officers to write about their experiences, mostly driven by a feeling of “just having done our job”. I think however that it is the duty of officers to tell of their experiences so that succeeding generations of officers have the benefit of them. The Army is much more history minded in that way and has institutionalized this practice.
    And a minor nitpick, in 1971 there were no Navy Super Constellations. They were all IAF 6 Squadron Super Connies. My late father (HMPS Pannu) got posted to 6 Sqn in 1972 and was Flt Cdr of the Super Connie flight till 1976. He picked up his Wg Cdr rank at about the same time the Connies were handed over to the Army. (A decision he was not very happy about, since he had finally honed the Maritime Recce capabilities of 6 Sqn to a level above their preference for UK couriers !)
    I had being trying to persuade him to write down his experiences, but sadly that was not to be – and some invaluable experiences are lost with him.
    Anandeep Pannu

  10. Sir,
    The memories of 1971 war is like fragrance of Siuli flowers.It lingers.In my r’esume participation of 71 war takes a pride place in achievement categories.And it has given me lot og of advantage in my carieer progression.This war has ensured achievement motivation rest of my life.No behaviroial training in corporate sector can match the learning i had in those wonderful 17 days.Pathankot stay has remained as the golden period of my life.The real meaning of of pride and professionalism can only be understood in in war scenerio.
    To be continued

  11. Dear Pallav,
    You are a fine example of “Argumentive Bhadroloke” of Bengal.
    Full of sound and fury.Excellent on data collection and statistical detail.And you have that unmatched ability to manuover an argument with statistical interpretation to project negative side of an historical event.It concerns me more of your understanding of the word “professional”.Values and ethics are the founding pillars of a professional.A doctor is a professional, hence he has to take an oth.
    Pallav,it is apparent that you are a well read man.I have a small small request. Can you give a narration positive impact of 71 war .By the way i also participated in 71 war as a non comissioned officer.

  12. Dear Pallav,
    It appears that you have an obscure understanding of the word “Professional”.Enclosed you will find defenation of the word along with description taken from “wikpidiea”
    A professional is a person who is paid to undertake a specialised set of tasks and orchestrate them with uncommon skill. Traditional examples of professionals included doctors, lawyers, and clergy but is now more widely used to include estate agents, surveyors , environmental scientists, forensic scientists, education and many more. It is also used in sport to differentiate amateur players from those paid for their work. Hence Professional footballer or Professional golfer. In some cultures the term is used as shorthand to describe a particular social stratum of well educated, mostly salaried workers, who enjoy considerable work autonomy, a comfortable salary, and are commonly engaged in creative and intellectually challenging work. Less technically, it may also refer to a person having impressive competence in a particular activity.
    Because of the personal and confidential nature of many professional services and thus the necessity to place a great deal of trust in them, most professionals are subject to strict codes of conduct enshrining rigorous ethical and moral obligations.

    The main criteria for professional include the following:
    1. Expert and specialized knowledge in field which one is practicing professionally.[6]
    2. Excellent manual/practical and literary skills in relation to profession.[]
    3. High quality work in (examples): creations, products, services, presentations, consultancy, primary/other research, administrative, marketing, photography or other work endeavors.
    4. A high standard of professional ethics, behavior and work activities while carrying out one’s profession (as an employee, self-employed person, career, enterprise, business, company, or partnership/associate/colleague, etc.). The professional owes a higher duty to a client, often a privilege of confidentiality, as well as a duty not to abandon the client just because he or she may not be able to pay or remunerate the professional. Often the professional is required to put the interest of the client ahead of his own interests.
    5. Reasonable work morale and motivation. Having interest and desire to do a job well as holding positive attitude towards the profession are important elements in attaining a high level of professionalism.
    6. Participating for gain or livelihood in an activity or field of endeavor often engaged in by amateurs b : having a particular profession as a permanent career c : engaged in by persons receiving financial return
    7. Appropriate treatment of relationships with colleagues. Special respect should be demonstrated to special people and interns. An example must be set to perpetuate the attitude of one’s business without doing it harm.
    8. A professional is an expert who is master in a specific field.

  13. Imagine there’s no Heaven
    It’s easy if you try
    No hell below us
    Above us only sky
    Imagine all the people
    Living for today

    Imagine there’s no countries
    It isn’t hard to do
    Nothing to kill or die for
    And no religion too
    Imagine all the people
    Living life in peace

    You may say that I’m a dreamer
    But I’m not the only one
    I hope someday you’ll join us
    And the world will be as one

    Imagine no possessions
    I wonder if you can
    No need for greed or hunger
    A brotherhood of man
    Imagine all the people
    Sharing all the world

    You may say that I’m a dreamer
    But I’m not the only one
    I hope someday you’ll join us
    And the world will live as one

      • With due respect, Tapas kaku, all great accomplishments in human history began with what you class as “only a dream”.
        I have been walking the earth for many decades now, yet I succeed in dreaming with my eyes wide open.
        If it is any consolation, I have neither fallen nor failed in achieving what I aim at. Not yet anyway.
        I am also fortunate to have met and received the support of more people who have faith in my vision than I have come across sceptics who doubt the merits of such dreams.
        Finally, there is something worse than not to succeed. It is not to have tried. I do my karma and try… and let others squabble over the outcome of my efforts.
        Kind regards,

  14. Dear Pallav,
    I agree one must have a dream.Let us uppose we achieve your
    dream of a perfect world.What will happen than,i dread to think.Dream itself will disapear from the earth.Think of your life for a moment devoid of hunger,pain,sorrow etc.No Pallav ,i will not dream which is not achievable.
    On the contrary i will try to create my world of perfection.

    However Pallav,i admire your poetic imagination and creativity.You have an out of box thinking process.I am hooked to your writing.You have made this blog very very intersting.

    • Thank you Pradip.
      My thoughts about much of our “values and ethics” are radical, unconventional and non-conformist. Proponents of such ideals and thoughts, who are often classed as pariahs by their contemporaries, are commonly held by the world at a later time to acknowledge the visionary. History bears too many testimonies to such examples. Giordano Bruno, Galileo Galilei, Oscar Wilde, Bertrand Russell… just too many. Don’t forget that less than 500 years ago Bruno was burnt alive at the stake in an open market square on the direct instigation of the Pope himself merely for saying that it is the Earth that revolves around the Sun and not the other way around as says The Bible. It is interesting to recall what Bruno told the judges at his trial. “Maiori forsan cum timore sententiam in me fertis quam ego accipiam” (Perhaps you pronounce this sentence against me with greater fear than I receive it).
      Other than that, I am too much of a non-violent person. I firmly believe that it is absurd to try to root out violence by greater violence. That, in effect, makes all wars redundant and all those fighting wars not valiant heroes but mere puppets of a dogmatic convention.
      I disagree with your thinking and interpretation of dreams. Perhaps the first paragraph of this comment will inspire you to re-think.
      TKS’ Tales was quite interesting from the moment it started. Albeit, I found most readers’ comments rather thoughtless, irrelevant and unstimulating. If I had “aimed” at making it more interesting through my comments, I am glad you acknowledge that I “succeeded”. Perhaps that proves what I claimed in my previous comment?

  15. Dear Pallav,
    You are wrong about Bruno.
    As per the Catholic Encyclopedia (1908)
    asserts that “Bruno was not condemned for his defence of the Copernican system of astronomy, nor for his doctrine of the plurality of inhabited worlds, but for his theological errors, among which were the following: that Christ was not God but merely an unusually skillful magician, that the Holy Ghost is the soul of the world, that the Devil will be saved, etc.”[
    • holding opinions contrary to the Catholic faith and speaking against it and its ministers;
    • holding opinions contrary to the Catholic faith about the Trinity, divinity of Christ, and Incarnation;
    • holding opinions contrary to the Catholic faith pertaining to Jesus as Christ;
    • holding opinions contrary to the Catholic faith regarding the virginity of Mary, mother of Jesus;
    • holding opinions contrary to the Catholic faith about both Transubstantiation and Mass;
    • claiming the existence of a plurality of worlds and their eternity;
    • believing in metempsychosis and in the transmigration of the human soul into brutes, and;
    • dealing in magics and divination

    Bruno was a believer in polygenism, that each race had been created separately, he believed in CoAdamism; that there were more than one Adam, and that there were also an infinite number of Gardens of Eden:

    I can imagine an infinite number of worlds like the Earth, with a Garden of Eden on each one. In all these Gardens of Eden, half the Adams and Eves will not eat the fruit of knowledge, and half will. But half of infinity is infinity, so an
    infinite number of worlds will fall from grace and there will be an infinite number of crucifixions.

    — Giordano Bruno, ‘On the Cause, Principle, and Unity’, 5th dialogue
    You have a problem.You take some hostorical data than distort it convienience your so called radical ideas.
    To be continued

  16. For Pallav – From Halwara Happiness


    The soldier stood and faced God, Which must always come to pass. He hoped his shoes were shining, Just as brightly as his brass.

    “Step forward now, you soldier, How shall I deal with you ? Have you always turned the other cheek ? To My Church have you been true?”

    The soldier squared his shoulders and said, “No, Lord, I guess I ain’t. Because those of us who carry guns, Can’t always be a saint.

    I’ve had to work most Sundays, And at times my talk was tough. And sometimes I’ve been violent, Because the world is awfully rough.

    But, I never took a penny, That wasn’t mine to keep… Though I worked a lot of overtime, When the bills got just too steep.

    And I never passed a cry for help, Though at times I shook with fear. And sometimes, God, forgive me, I’ve wept unmanly tears.

    I know I don’t deserve a place, Among the people here. They never wanted me around, Except to calm their fears.

    If you’ve a place for me here, Lord, It needn’t be so grand. I never expected or had too much, But if you don’t, I’ll understand.

    There was a silence all around the throne, Where the saints had often trod. As the soldier waited quietly, For the judgment of his God.

    “Step forward now, you soldier, You’ve borne your burdens well. Walk peacefully on Heaven’s streets, You’ve done your time in Hell.”

  17. My name is Indian and so am I. I have three generations of the forces blood in me. My brother was wounded in Op Vijay so I probably might feel the wrath of war more than you. Yet I am not cynical or critical.

    I do have a long association with Halwara as my dad did three tenures there, he commanded a sqn and was the COO there a long time back.

    I just wish people could spend some time at LoC and then come back to talk theory. Also since we don’t judge people by stating that Peace activists are folks who couldn’t get a real job, I would humbly request you to refrain from judging us.

    • @Yuvi Gill
      I congratulate you on your pedigree.
      I also fully support your freedom to think anything you want.
      The truth, however, is that I was not even aware of your existence.
      You posted a comment addressed to me.
      All I did was merely to respond to it as I deemed best.
      You ought to be ready to receive a reply if you address a comment to someone.
      Fair and square, wouldn’t you agree?

  18. Exactly!

    This is the appropriate reply – Vedanta.

    God is the infinite principle embodied in everyone and in everything.

  19. Dear Pallav,
    It is apparent that you are a knowledgeable person. But be careful, knowledge without discretion is dangerous. Some Israelites went to Jesus, and begged him to teach them the art of raising people from the dead. Jesus was reluctant, but gave in. The Israelites saw a heap of bones in the desert and decided to test their new-found knowledge. A lion came to life and ate them up. In our next door step China lion and Pakistan lion is waiting to eat us up.
    In one of your post you had given some statistical detail on our defense spending. This year Chaina’s defense budgetary allocation is few notches up from our allocation. Do you understand the enormity of the situation.

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