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Durable Link to this BlogSunday, October 03, 2004

General Cariappa

Field Marshal K.M. Cariappa (1900-1993)

Born in the martial race of Kodavas, Kodandera Madappa Cariappa was perhaps the most famous soldier of independent India. He was the first Indian commissioned officer in the army. Till then the privilege belonged only to British. He fought in both world wars. To study Military organizations in different countries he undertook world tour on his own in 1925, and toured China, Japan, USA, Canada, Great Britain, France, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy.

He was the first non-British officer to receive special training at Military Staff College Quetta.

As First Army Chief of Staff of Independent India, he had the onerous task reorganizing Indian Military in three divisions. Air, navy and army (1948-53). A strict disciplinarian, he organized the living standard of Indian Jawans, who till then led a very measly existence. He got them many perks and facilities unknown till then. The early years were full of hardships for free India and the country owes a lot to this great soldier for bringing in public awareness regarding the fighting forces and importance of defense.

In 1953, he was appointed High Commissioner to Australia and New Zealand, and organized cultural events to bring the three countries together. He was member of National Advisory Committee of Planning and All India Ex-serviceman's League, and President of All India Council of Sports. He was very active and associated with many cultural and social activities till his end.

He was honored with the title of a Field Marshal quite late in life. But he never aspired for publicity, perks or titles and always kept away from politics. When we realize that many newly freed countries in the world are actually military dictatorships, Cariappa set an example.

He showed that a great soldier could be a great civilian as well.

Below is a picture of me with Cariappa, taken in Mysore.

General Kariappa and Jyotsna Kamat

Amma's Column by Jyotsna Kamat

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Jyotsna Kamat

Jyotsna Kamat Ph.D. lives in Bangalore.


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