Twisting Relations Between India and Nepal

Whatever may be the utterances of the leaders of Nepal, mainly the Prime Minister KP Oli and the Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali, the destiny of Nepal has been intertwined with India from centuries. Present-day Nepal may have been unified by King Prithvi Narayan Shah (1779 – 1850), but the presence of Indian rulers began much earlier in Nepal. Lichhavis defeated Kirat kings in Kathmandu valley and ruled from circa 400 to 750. Lichhavis originated from present-day Vaishali in Bihar.

Notwithstanding, the leaders of Nepal taking cudgels with India for the furtherance of their own agenda, people of Nepal do not see India as being projected by their leaders. But subterranean anti-India feelings have begun, especially after 2015 blockade. People of Nepal blame India for the hardship that blockade caused to them. A lie told a hundred times may begin to look like a truth after some time.

Some Nepalis perceive India as a big brother bully in the region. The foreign policy of any nation must start with the neighbouring countries. As they say, you cannot change your neighbours in the context of countries. India helped Bangladesh in 1971 because the people of Bangladesh wanted separation from West Pakistan. In the 21st century, it would be unthinkable otherwise to do so by any country.

Nepal’s main grudge against India is its various Treaties which they now consider are unequal while dealing with a sovereign nation. Sugauli treaty of 1816 signed between the British and Nepal is over 200 years old. And if one sees the fine print of the treaty, one will notice that the treaty has not been signed by the king or the Prime Minister of Nepal but by their representatives, later ratified by the Govt under duress. Even at that time – more than 200 hundred years ago, Nepal considered treaty to be disadvantageous to Nepal. And in all good wisdom, it needs to be reviewed. According to the treaty Nepal ceded all territories captured by it to the west of river Kali and certain territories in the south to the British empire. For the discussion of this paper, we shall only touch upon the boundary marked by river Kali between India and Nepal and not discuss territories ceded in the east and the south.

Main frictional point of the two nations has been the alignment of Kali river from its source to the point where it joins river Kali/ Sarda at Kalapani. Perception of both countries differ. Nepal thinks its origin is from the Limpiyadhura whereas India thinks it is below the Lipulekh pass. Because at the time of signing Sugauli treaty in 1816 there was no proper cartographic map of the area available and attached with the treaty.

Words play a big role in understanding the origin or the history of the place. Dhura in Nepali means a “RIDGE”. Word Dhura is suffixed by Nepali to name a place. There is no word as Dhura in Garhwali or Kumaoni of Uttarakhand which is immediately west of river kali. Limpiyadhura or Mangshyadhura (east of Limpiyadhura) therefore, to me, appears to have been named by Nepal forces when they were in occupation of Kumaon from 1790 – 91 till 1816. However, it will be worth mentioning that there does exist a village called Dhura in Garhwal, little short of Lansdowne. This village could have been established by Nepali forces when they were in occupation of Garhwal or the village came up during the time when Lansdowne was a Regimental centre of the 2nd Gorkha Rifles during the British time, needs to be verified. But there is a district named Dhadheldhura in western Nepal and a place called Khalasidura in Darjeeling. I will leave it to the readers to draw a conclusion.

Let us leave aside the names and conjectures and discuss the disputed origin of Kali river. Both India and Nepal agreed to set up the India-Nepal Joint Technical Level Boundary Committee to review the boundary issues in 1981- to find a reasonable solution. The Joint Committee has completed nearly 97 per cent of the work and two points of contention which could not be resolved by them were recommended to be dealt by the Foreign Secretaries/ Ministers of both the countries.

Nepal accuses India of not responding to their requests made three times since Nov 2019 to hold the Joint meeting to sort out the boundary issue. Therefore, Nepal took unilateral decision to assimilate territory up to Limppiyadhura (335 square kilometres) which was till now being shown as a part of Uttarakhand, India. Nepal parliament unanimously passed the proposal to do so and a new map of Nepal was published. This has created a tension in border districts in Dahrchula and Champawat areas. Trigger to do so is believed to have been 05 Aug 2019 decision to divide the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories and publication of the new map of India in which all areas west of Lipulekh pass have been shown as Indian territory.

The question to ponder is, could this situation have been avoided? And if so, who is to be blamed for the neglect of the issue, as important as border settlement? In my opinion, a large part of the blame lies in the door of India’s Foreign Ministry (Nepal desk). All neighbours of India consider India as a big bully giving scant respect to the sovereignty of their being. It is this attitude of India that neighbours like Nepal, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives wish to disengage with India. And China is ever ready to quickly fill that vacuum. Our foreign policy seems to have no clear vision whether in terms of neighbouring countries or the world. We do take some decision and sleep over it, unlike China which goes all out to take control of the situations. A recent case of losing development of railway line from Chabahar port to Zahedan is a case in point. We have not only lost a project but a trusted friend because of the lackadaisical attitude of the foreign office and the Finance ministry.

Way Forward

  • Lipulekh pass is important for India for its strategic reasons and has been in control of the area after Chinese aggression in 1962. India has built a motorable road to Lipulekh pass which was inaugurated on 08 Jun 2020.
  • Nepal claims it is her territory as per the Sugauli treaty of 1816 which demarcates the boundary between the countries based on the Kali river. However, the origin of the Kali river has not been defined and marked on any map in Sugauli treaty.
  • It is unfortunate that the situation has come to such a passé where new maps have been published by both countries. It could have been avoided.
  • A renowned team of hydrologists should have been consulted to establish the origin of the river Kali, like USGS (United States Geological Survey) and put the issue to rest once for all.
  • If the USGS verdict favoured Nepal, India could have bought/leased the area from Nepal and due consideration paid, or
  • There could have been suitable exchanges of areas by both the sides like it was done with Bangladesh where various enclaves were exchanged with the satisfaction of both the countries. For the long-term border solution, give and take policy needs to be accepted, like in the case of Bangladesh wherein she received 111 enclaves and India 51. Citizens were given a choice to choose their destiny with the country they like. Case in point is the area of Susta* which remains to be resolved with Nepal.

*(Susta — is an enclave east of river Gandaki/Natayani). Nepal considers Susta as a part of its west Nawalprasi district. Whereas India considers it to be part of West Champaran district of Bihar and it is presently administered by India.)

By Col Shiv Om Rana, Ph D

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Theory Of Evolution

A hypothetical conversation between a mother and genetic scientist, Vasu, is given below to explain the theory of evolution as per Hindu scriptures based on mythologies “Dashavtar” (10 Avtars of Lord Vishnu).

“Mom, I am a genetic scientist. I am working in the US on the evolution of man. Theory of evolution. Charles Darwin, have you heard of him?”  Vasu asked.

His Mother sat next to him, smiled and said, “I know about Darwin, Vasu. But Have you heard of Dashavatar? The ten avatars of Vishnu?”

Vasu replied ‘no’.

“Ok! Then let me tell you what you and your Darwin do not know.

Listen carefully: –

The first avatar was the Matsya Avatar, it means the fish. That is because life began in the water. Is that, not right?”

Vasu began to listen with a little more attention.

She continued, “Then came the Kurma Avatar, which means the tortoise, because life moved from the water to the land. The amphibian! So, the Tortoise denoted the evolution from sea to land.

Third avatar was Varaha Avtar, the wild boar, which meant the wild animals with not much intellect, you call them the Dinosaurs, correct?” Vasu nodded wide eyed.

“The fourth avatar was Narasimha Avtarhalf man and half animal, the evolution from wild animals to intelligent beings.

Fifth, the Waman Avatar, the midget or dwarf, who could grow tall really very tall at will. Do you know why that is? Because there were two kinds of humans, Homo Erectus and Homo Sapiens and Homo Sapiens won that battle.”

Vasu could see that his Mother was in full flow and he was stupefied.

“The Sixth avatar was Parshuram Avatar, the man who wielded the axe, the man who was a cave and forest dweller. Angry, and not social.

The seventh avatar was Ram, the first rational thinking social being, who practised and laid out the laws of society and the basis of human relationships.

The Eighth avatar was Balarama1, a true farmer, his weapon was a plow, who showed value of agriculture in the life.

The Ninth avatar was Krishna, the statesman, the politician, the diplomat, the Ambassador, the subtle interpreter, the lover who played the game of society and taught how to live and thrive in the adharmic (irreligious) social structure.

And finally, my boy, will come Kalki, the man you are working on. The man who will be genetically supreme.

Vasu looked at his mother speechless. “This is amazing mom, how did you …. ? This makes sense!”

She said, “Yes it does Vasu! We Indians knew some amazing things, but just did not know how to pass it on scientifically. So, we made them into mythological stories.  Mythology creates faith and makes man sensible. It is just the way you look at it – Religious or Scientific. Your call.”

Vasu touched the feet of his mother and hugged her. She kissed and blessed him smilingly.

Note: –

1. However, there is a differing opinion for the 8th and 9th Avtar. Some believe that the Lord Balram was the 8th Avtar and being an elder brother of Lord Krishna, he was placed as 8th and the Lord Krishna as 9th Avtar. However, there is a different school of thought which does not believe in Lord Balram being an Avtar of Lord Vishnu. And I personally tend to agree with this thought. Because Lord Balram is believed to be an elder brother of the Lord Krishna. And if that be so, Lord Vishnu cannot be in two different Avatars at the same time.

Buddha

Therefore, another school of thought is that the Lord Krishna was the 8th Avtar and Lord Buddha is the 9th Avtar. Some Buddhist scholars do not agree with that thought. There is no definitive answer with me. If one looks at the period in which these Avtars are believed to have been born, it is reasonable to believe that Buddha may be considered to be the 9th Avtar. I leave it to the readers to draw their own conclusion.    

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Soldier & Personal Weapon

A CO cannot be exposed to danger in a Bn. The CO of the Bn is injured plus two of his escorts and all have succumbed to the injuries. The question is why did this happen? Why was CO right in the front? Where was his Coy Cdrs? Was he ordered to go there? I hope the truth comes out.
But what surprises me is that the Bn at an LAC wanting to confront the enemy in large number is without their personal weapons. Escorts of the CO are without their personal weapons. The officer himself is without his personal weapon. Chinese soldiers injure them with stone and rods/clubs. I saw a video a few weeks earlier circulating in WhatsApp gp our soldiers without their personal weapons engaged in a scuffle (pull & push). This trend I noticed in Doklam “Stand Off” also.
Since when have we (Armed Forces) become a “Civil Police”? Moving around in an LAC environment with Dandas in hand throwing stones like one sees CAPF/Civil police doing it Srinagar. Have we been involved too much in such stone-throwing exercise? Even when army goes out “In Aid to The Civil”, army caries weapons during its Flag March. That’s the deterrent.
The question is who ordered the Bn to go to the LAC without the personal weapons? And if the escorts and the officer had their weapon why did they not use it? If the Bde Cdr ordered the Bn to go without the personal arm then he is guilty of the fatalities. And so are all the Cdrs up the chain: may stop at the door of Raksha Mantri or Defence Secretary or CDS/CAOS – wherever.
We took pride in our “arms & amns”. Our seniors taught us and we taught our juniors that never part with your arms & amns and never part with your packed food. You never know what situation may be next.
In this case if there was a stone-throwing or an attempt to use a Lathi by the other side a warning shot should have been fired and if need be resort to firing. We have been a slave to the idea that after 1967 not a single bullet has been fired. And I think that mindset of the Cdrs at all level is frightening if at all it is so. In Sumdorong, Arunachal Pradesh, in 1986 Chinese patrol occupied a spur and later built up a Pl strength. There was a quick response and a Bde was ordered to occupy heights overlooking the post. I know an incident when a Bn asked to open fire when a Chinese patrol tried to probe the Fwd post. It was very quickly obtained and passed down to the Bn which did the honour. And after that, no Chinese or Chinese patrol tried to move out of their post towards our posts. I know it as I was posted in the Bde HQs and I was the one to pass the order back to the CO/Adjt to open the fire. Our Bde Cdr was with the Div GOC when I contacted him with the request of the Bn and which was approved. Suffice it to say that the GOC was Maj Gen JM Singh of the Guards (later Lt Gen).
PS: Josh w/o Hosh could be a possibility but as I said there lies a bigger malaise – moving without a weapon. This begs an answer.
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Telemedicine Consultation For Armed Forces Personnel

Hi Folks – I came across a useful website wherein members of the Tri-services can have an audio-visual telemedicine consultation. One needs to “Register” and the website will guide one through the process till one gets token for an appointment with the Armed Forces Medical Service Doctor and an e-Prescription.

The website is easy to use. Therefore, thought of sharing it especially in this time of COVID 19 pandemic. The link is given below: –

https://sehatopd.in/Home

Col Shiv Om Rana

*******************************************************

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205th Raising Day Celebrated Like No Other

Five years ago I Was at Mamun Cantt, Pathankot, to celebrate the bicentenary of 1/1 Gorkha Rifles on 24th April 2015. Over 1000 people of all ages, from all ranks, had come from as far as England and remote corners of Nepal to be part of the event.

Yesterday, 24 April 2020 was 205th Raising day and none of us could meet in any one place because of the lock-down in the country: Corona virus, COVID 19 being the culprit. But we did celebrate it like none earlier. Please read on how it happened.

Yesterday in the morning Maj Gen A Kumar (a die-hard First Gorkha officer and an ex- Col of the Regt) suggested in our Regimental group WhatsApp not to despair due to the lock-down and how to bypass it. I quote his message verbatim below.

Dear All.. on behalf of the Col of The Regt, I am taking the liberty of proposing a Toast for the Well Being and Prosperity of Entire First Gorkha Fraternity and Their Families ( both Serving and Retired ). Since we can’t celebrate the 205th Raising Day by indulging in traditional Barakhanas and Get Togethers , due to present day circumstances, I propose the following… Today at 7.30 PM sharp, COR is requested to send a Whatsapp msg on FGRA Gp and may be Bicentenary Gp as well, conveying his Greetings of the Day, ending with JAI HARI. By that time, all of us, wherever we are, should be ready with a drink of his or her choice. As soon as COR’s post is recd by us , we all say JAI HARI in respective LOCKED DOWN locs with SOCIAL DISTANCING in place and drink the same. “”Eota Twak Swattai Khane Ho”” Thereafter, it is individual’s choice to drink to his capacity/heart’s content and continue the Raising Day Celebrations in respective LOCKED DOWN locs with due approval of the Spouses 🙏. Hoping sincerely that this has the approval of the COR… JAI HARI. I am not a member of the Bicentenary Group. If COR thinks it appropriate, it could be replicated by him there also . Awaiting a nod or otherwise from COR please. Anyway, one way or the other, I intend doing so . It would , however , be nice and historic, if we do it across the Regt. 😊😊. Jai Hari.”

The suggestion was appreciated by all and agreed by the Col of The Regt.

Well, dot at 07.30 PM a recorded message was received in the FGRA WhatsApp group. And Jai Hari said. And drinks went down the throats all over the country.

Then started the messages to say Jai Hari in the group: coming from North of India, south of Vindhya, east and west. It was exhilarating. 

It was followed by group video calling with the glasses in the hands and sharing how lock-down is treating us all.

As I said, it was the Raising day celebration like no other, indeed.

Notes:-

1. “Eota Twak Swattai Khane Ho”. It is in Gorkhali meaning – one shot bottoms up.

2. Jai hari is a Regimental greeting which is said before the beginning of anything like saying “Bole Sonihal, Sat Sri Akal” in Sikh Regiment and “Jai Badri Vishal” in Garhwal Regiment. All regiments have their own greetins.

3. FGRA is First Gorkha Rifles Association

 

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A Hill Called *Melrose*

Prologue

In combat operations, it is generally not possible to find an objective with a proper noun. Therefore, world armies create their own names to identify their objectives for any operation to easy understanding assimilation by all troops involved in the operation.
Melrose is a name given to a hilltop for the identification of an objective during the Burma Campaign in the II World War.
This is the story of an attack by a Punjab battalion of the Indian army narrated by a son whose father led the battalion into the war which was considered so crucial to unhinge the Japanese march to India.

By
Dr Yashwant Thorat

(I received it in my email and I thought to share it……. Shiv Rana)

“May I have a light?” I looked up to see a Japanese, more or less my age, with an unlit cigarette in his hand. I reached for my lighter. He lit up. We were on a train travelling from Berne to Geneva in the autumn of 1980.

“Indian?” he asked. “Yes” I replied.

We got talking.

He was an official in the UN and was returning to home and headquarters at Geneva. I was scheduled to lecture at the university. We chit-chatted for a while and he gave me some useful tips on what to see and where to eat in the city. Then, having exhausted the store of ‘safely tradable information’, we fell silent.

I retrieved my book, ‘Defeat into Victory’, an account of the Second World War in Burma by Field Marshal William Slim. He opened the newspaper.

We travelled in silence.

After a while, he asked, “Are you a professor of Military History?”

“No” I replied. “Just interested. My father was in Burma during the war ”.

“Mine too,” he said.

In December 1941, Japan invaded Burma and opened the longest land campaign of the entire war for Britain.

There were two reasons for the Japanese invasion.

First, cutting the overland supply route to China via the Burma Road would deprive Chiang Kai Sheik’s Nationalist Chinese armies of military equipment and pave the way for the conquest of China.

Second, possession of Burma would position them at the doorway to India, where they believed a general insurrection would be triggered against the British once their troops established themselves within reach of Calcutta.

Entering Burma from Thailand, the Japanese quickly captured Rangoon in 1942, cut off the Burma Road at source and deprived the Chinese of their only convenient supply base and port of entry. Winning battle after battle, they forced the allied forces to retreat into India. The situation was bleak.

The British were heavily committed to the war in Europe and lacked the resources and organisation to recapture Burma.

However, by 1943 they got their act together. The High Command was overhauled; Wavell was replaced by Mountbatten and operational control was given to General William Slim, a brilliant officer.

Slim imbued his men with a new spirit, rebuilt morale and forged the famous 14th Army, an efficient combat force made up of British, Indians and Africans.

The Japanese, aware that the defenders were gathering strength, resolved to end the campaign with a bold thrust into India and a simultaneous attack in the Arakan in Burma.

In the ebb and flow of these large events chronicled in Military History, my father, a soldier, played a part, first in Kohima in clearing the Japanese from the Naga Hills, then in Imphal and finally in the deeply forested mountains of Arakan.

Destiny took him there.

In the blinding rain of the monsoons in 1943, the Supreme Allied Commander’s plane landed at Maugdow where the All-India Brigade of which his regiment was a part was headquartered.

Mountbatten was accompanied by his Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Browning, who had been my father’s Adjutant at the Royal Military College in Sandhurst. He and the two other Indian Commanders, Thimayya and Sen, were introduced to Mountbatten who made casual but searching enquiries regarding their war experience.

Thereafter he was closeted in the conference tent with the senior commanders for a long time. As they came out he turned to Reggie Hutton, the Brigade commander and said, “All right Reggie let your All-Indian Brigade do it. But, by God, it is going to be tough”.

Then turning to the three of them he said, “Gentlemen, the Japanese are pulling out of upper Burma. You have been selected to intercept their withdrawal from there into the South. You will concentrate at Akyab, proceed to Myebon by sea, capture Kangaw, penetrate the Japanese-held territory and convert the Japanese retreat into a rout. Is that clear?”

It was.

My Japanese friend, who had been listening intently leaned forward and asked, “Did you say your father was in the All India Brigade?”

“Yes”, I replied.

Our conversation paused for a while as the waiter served coffee and croissants.

Later, picking up the threads he persisted “Was he a junior officer at the time?”

“Not really” I replied. “He was a Battalion Commander”.

He digested the information and said “Which regiment?”

“The Punjab Regiment”, I replied.

His face turned colour.

Maybe it was a play of light and shade or maybe it was just my imagination but I thought he was going to be ill.

“Are you okay?” I queried. He nodded. “Please carry on”.

After marching through hostile territory, the Brigade finally landed at Myebon. Their dis-embarkation was not opposed. They proceeded to Kangaw little knowing that forty-eight hours later they would be locked in a battle which was to last for a fortnight and claim the lives of three thousand men.

Mountbatten had been right.

The withdrawal route of the Japanese was dominated by Hill Feature 170 Melrose. It was firmly held by the Japanese and gave them the enormous advantage of having the commanding heights.

Worse, intelligence reported that they had two brigades.

The Indians had one.

Brigadier Hutton realised that if the withdrawal had to be cut, the hills would have to be captured irrespective of the numerical disadvantage.

He took the call.

The first attack by the Hyderabadis under Thimayya mauled the enemy but did not achieve the objective.

The second by the Baluchis under Sen met a similar fate.

It was then that Reggie asked the Punjabis to make a final effort. Artillery and Air Support was coordinated. The zero hour for the attack was set at 0700 hours on 29 January 1944.

At dawn, as the leading companies moved forward, the Japanese opened machine gunfire. The Artillery provided cover and laid out a smokescreen. The Punjabis began to climb the hill. Safe from amongst well-dug bunkers the Japanese rained fire on them.

The Indian casualties mounted, as men began to drop. The Air Cover which was a key part of the plan failed to materialise – bad weather and bad luck. Taking a calculated risk, the Commander pushed on. They were hardly a hundred yards from the top when the Japanese threw everything they had at them. In the face of such unrestrained fierceness, the advance faltered hovering uncertainly on the edge of stopping.

For the Commander, it was the moment of truth, to fight or flee?

As he saw his men being mowed down by machine-gun fire a rage erupted within him.

Throwing caution to the winds he ran forward to be with them. The scales tipped. The troops rallied, fixed bayonets and charged into the Japanese with obscenities and primaeval war cries. A fierce hand to hand combat ensued. Neither side took or gave a quarter.

The Japanese fought like tigers at bay. The conflict went on unabated through the night.

The Japanese counterattacked in wave after wave but the Indian line held firm.

Then the last bullet was fired and there was silence.

Many years later Mountbatten would describe what took place as The bloodiest battle of the Arakan and correctly so.

The price of victory was two thousand Japanese and eight hundred Indians dead in the course of a single encounter.

Fifty officers and men would win awards for gallantry. The Battalion Commander would be decorated with the DSO for ‘unflinching devotion to duty and personal bravery’.

But all that was to happen in the future.

At that particular moment on the field of battle, the Commander was looking at the Japanese soldiers who had been taken prisoners of war.

They had assembled as soldiers do, neatly and in order.

On seeing the Indian Colonel, their commander called his men to attention, stepped forward, saluted, unbuckled his sword, held it in both hands and bowed.

The Indian was surprised to see that his face was streaked with tears.

He understood the pain of defeat but why the tears?

After all, this was war.

One or the other side had to lose.

How could the Japanese explain to the Indian that the tears were not of grief but of shame?

How could he make him understand what it meant to be a Samurai?

Given a choice he himself would have preferred the nobler course of Hara Keri than surrender. But fate had willed otherwise. The ancestral sword in his hands had been carried with pride by his forefathers.

Now he was shaming them by handing it over.

All this was unknown, unknowable to the Indian Commander. He came from a different culture and had no knowledge of what was going on in the mind of his adversary.

Yet there was something in the manner and bearing of the officer in front of him which touched him deeply.

He found himself moved.

Without being told he somehow intuited that the moment on hand was not merely solemn but personal and deeply sacred.

He accepted the sword and then inexplicably, impelled by an emotion which perhaps only a soldier can feel for a worthy opponent, bent forward and said clearly and loudly in the hearing of all “Colonel, I accept the surrender but I receive your sword not as a token of defeat but as a gift from one soldier to another”.

The Japanese least expecting this response looked up startled. The light bouncing from the tears on his cheeks reflected unspoken gratitude for the Indian’s remark.

Coming as it did from the heart, it had touched his men and redeemed their and his own honour.

The Punjabis, Hindus and Muslims, who had gathered around also nodded in appreciation.

Battle was battle.

When it was on, they had fought each other with all their strength. And now that it was over there was no personal or national animosity.

Maybe the Gods who look after soldiers are different from those who look after other mortals for they bind them in strange webs of understanding and common codes of honour no matter which flags they fly.

The moment passed.

He looked at the Signal Officer and nodded. The success signal was fired. Far away in the jungles below, Brigadier Reggie Hutton looked at the three red lights in the sky and smiled.
His faith in his Commanders had been vindicated.

He would later explain that at stake that night was not only the battle objective but the larger issue as to whether Indians ‘had it in them’ to lead men in war.

There had been sceptics who felt that his faith was misplaced. He looked at Melrose and smiled. Its capture had vindicated his faith.

I looked out of the window lost in my thoughts. Suddenly I heard a sob to find that my Japanese friend had broken down. He swayed from side to side. His eyes were closed and it was clear that he was in the grip of an emotion more powerful than himself.

He kept saying ‘karma, karma’ and talking to himself in his own language.

After a while, he looked up with eyes full of tears and holding both my hands said in a voice choked with emotion, “It was my father who gave battle to yours on Melrose. It was he who surrendered. Had your father not understood the depth of his feelings, he would have come back and died of shame. But in accepting our ancestral sword in the manner that he did, he restored honour to our family and my father to me. That makes us brothers, you and I.

The train pulled into Geneva station. We got down. What had to be said had already been spoken. He bowed.

Goodbye, I said.

Keep in touch.

Incidentally, would you like me to restore the sword back to your family? He smiled, looked at me and said “Certainly not. The sword already rests in the house of a Samurai”.

That was the last I saw of him.

Usha tells me that the probability of our meeting defies statistics. She should know. She studied economics and statistics. There was a World War going on.

Good. My father was in the Indian Army; his father was in the Japanese Army; perfectly okay.

They fought in the same theatre of war, Burma; understandable.

They fought in the same battle; difficult but believable.

The war finished, they went back to their families; plausible.

But that their sons grew up in two different lands, happened to go to Berne at the same time, board the same train, get into the same compartment, share coffee and cigarettes, have a conversation on something that had happened four decades ago, discover their fathers had fought on opposite sides in the same battle that bloody undoubtedly is insane.

Personally, I do not believe that there are outcomes in life which are necessarily bound to happen?

Yet, sometimes I am not so sure. You can never connect events by looking into the future; you can only connect them by looking at the past.

Maybe it is comforting to believe that because the dots connect backward, they will connect forward also. I don’t know. Perhaps, in the end, you have to trust in something.

The sword has a pride of place in our home. Whenever I see it, my mind goes back to the jungles of Arakan where, in the midst of the madness of war, two soldiers were able to touch each other and their compatriots with lasting humanity

~ Dr Yashwant Thorat, son of Lt Gen SPP Thorat, KC, DSO.

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Anaconda Train

In the din of COVID 19 and the competition of मैं भी expert in the TV Channels, important news of Anaconda train run by the Indian Railways was never heard nor was it ever seen in the TV. But when I read it in digital format, I thought it was worth sharing. So here I am. (Link below)

Proud to be an Indian. मेरा भारत महान !  

https://m.timesofindia.com/videos/news/anaconda-this-goods-train-is-2-km-long/videoshow/75141681.cms

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Grey Mule – A War Veteran of 1st WW

A true story of a war veteran mule

Animal transport was an integral part of the Sapper warfare. The story of the ‘Grey Mule’, revered as the most travelled mule in the world, enjoys a legendary status in the lore of the Madras Sappers.

The Grey Mule joined the Madras Sappers in 1891 and served for 31 years, during which it took part in expeditions to Chitral, Tirah, Malakand and Tibet among others. Having served in Egypt and Palestine during World War I, the old mule was about to be sold off along with thousands of other mules to Egyptians in 1921, when the Expeditionary Force was due to return to India. But Colonel Basset, who was commanding 10 Field Company interceded and obtained a special permission from the Force Commander, Sir Philip Chetwode, to take it back home.

On arrival at Bangalore it was pensioned off and given the complete freedom of the lines. Fed and cared for by whichever unit was stationed there, where this honoured war veteran lived a quiet life for more than a decade, wandering at will but never leaving the neighbourhood of the lines.

At the 150th Anniversary Reunion in 1930, the Grey Mule headed the march past of the pensioners, accompanied by the same Sapper Driver who, as a young man had led him up the Malakand Pass, 33 years earlier. The Grey Mule wore his campaign ribbons on his brow band. When the column passed the spectator stand, everyone stood up to pay tribute to the gentle animal. That was his last parade.

Madras Engineer GroupThe Grey Mule passed away in 1933, at the ripe age of forty-seven. Four ink stands made of the hooves of the grey mule are preserved, one each at the MEG (Madras Engineers Group) Officers’ Mess and the ‘Monkey House’ (the Headquarter building of the Madras Engineer Centre, so named jovially for the numerous monkeys that occupied the premises at the time of its commissioning), and one each in 4 Engineer Regiment and the Officers’ Mess, Royal School of Military Engineers, Chatham (UK).

The Grey Mule lies buried in the unit lines of the Regimental Centre at Bangalore.

Credit: The author of the above write-up is not known. It was received in my email and thought of sharing.

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We Will Miss You Yoda


(06 June 2005 – 08 April 2020)

The below poem is dedicated to you, YODA, from the RANAS

Rudyard Kipling’s Poem – A Dog for Jesus

A Dog for Jesus
(Where dogs go when they die)**

I wish someone had given Jesus a dog.
As loyal and loving as mine.
To sleep by His manger and gaze in His eyes
And adore Him for being divine.

As our Lord grew to manhood His faithful dog,
Would have followed Him all through the day.
While He preached to the crowds and made the sick well
And knelt in the garden to pray.
It is sad to remember that Christ went away.
To face death alone and apart.
With no tender dog following close behind,
To comfort its Master’s Heart.
And when Jesus rose on Easter mourn,
How happy He would have been,
As His dog kissed His hand and barked it’s delight,
For The One who died for all men.

Well, the Lord has a dog now, I just sent Him mine.
The old pal so dear to me.
And I smile through my tears on this first day alone,
Knowing they’re in eternity.
Day after day, the whole day through,
Wherever my road inclined,
Four feet said, “Wait, I’m coming with you!”
And trotted along behind.

Rudyard Kipling

Poem Source: http://prayersforpets.org/poems1.htm

** He went to heaven. He left us around 05.45 PM.

We consigned him in the electric crematorium, “Paws to Heaven”, at Bund Road, Gadaipur (Near Chhatarpur area), New Delhi. Mob # 98100 36254.

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This Too Shall Pass (COVID 19)

A post written by an Army wife – Nancy Singh. I thought I should share (copy-paste).

I contemplated a couple of times before actually jotting it down.
I know probably few will still not agree to me and try to bash me left right and centre but I don’t care until this post of mine brings positivity to even one in the group.

Many know I am a military spouse and have lived in Kashmir.

We shifted to Kashmir when it was going through one of the roughest phase – the death of Burhaan Wani – resulting in burning of Kashmir to another level.

We shifted to Kashmir when it was going through one of the roughest phase – the death of Burhaan Wani – resulting in burning of Kashmir to another level.

We shifted there just a couple of weeks after Burhaan Wani’s death and was locked inside the home My husband went on duty and I was inside the Cantt with no internet, no connection to him or family whatsoever. We would desperately wait for internet connectivity
I managed everything alone cooking, cleaning ( had a male househelp but if there is curfew he wouldn’t be allowed to come inside ) I had 3 dogs back then and took care of all of them alone ️.

We didn’t have access to any online shopping (no food delivery, no amazon, no Myntra).

A vegetable van would come once in a week and we would stand in the queue get vegetable and necessary stock for a week, made great friends in the community (because all we longed was support and everyone displayed impeccable community spirit), would call parents whenever we would get network and life went on. My dogs learnt to pee and poo inside the washroom because the situations were such and also when it used snow we couldn’t step out often There were threats issued at times and the whole area was under lockdown, At times there will be complete lights off and people would keep their kids inside, would have minimal lights, would pray that we just survive another day, pray for their husbands who were away for duty When there was relaxation and we went out – we would hear slogans like – Army go back, Indians go back, dogs go back. It was the toughest time of my life but I Survived, I survived my days of pathetic pregnancy there where we used to go in a military van with full bulletproof jacket and gear to get an advance checkup to the main cantt (that was some 15kms away from the cantt I lived in). I flew, in my 8th month of my pregnancy, all alone with a medical certificate as there was a curfew and nobody knew how the situation will be if there is a total lockdown
You know what kinds of entertainment we had – HOW TO SURVIVE IF THERE IS AIR RAID? how to survive if there is bombing? How to survive if there are terrorist attacks inside? How to survive if there is infiltration?

But I SURVIVED

And then the times changed and there was a bit of understanding, and we could see the real Kashmir – the warmth of Kashmiris, the beauty of Kashmir. We have seen the good, the bad and the ugly

Why am I sharing all of this? Because I am deeply pained seeing all the cribbing going on for everything locked down, less of grocery available, maids not coming home, kids can’t go out blah blah

Just Imagine if it was not a lock-down due to a virus but an actual WAR
Would you still like to send your kids downstairs?
Would you still go for a walk?
Would you still crib if you had limited grocery?

Then why crib now?

Did I do anything heroic? NO
I just did whatever was necessary for a very basic human instinct- SURVIVAL
I had made a choice of getting married to a Fauji and I embraced it

We have the same choice now, Embrace the situation for yourself, for your kids, for your future generation.

You can be your own Hero ️ You are a soldier now, Please abide by your Duties
You can fight this situation and would have this story of bravery you can tell to your future grandchildren.

Can we please rise above all our political inclination once ??? Can we please rise above individualism ??
This isn’t about politics anymore, your child won’t even remember which political party was ruling then but he/ she would definitely remember how their parents reacted in the time of panic

Now is the time to show solidarity, after all social distancing doesn’t cost anything. Afterall, staying at home doesn’t need a budget allocation, isn’t it?

Teach your kids RESILIENCE
Teach your kids ART OF SURVIVAL
Teach your kids LIFE SKILLS
Teach your kids PATIENCE
Teach your kid To COUNT THEIR BLESSINGS

Please do not teach cribbing, blame games and chalta hai attitude

In case you are still frustrated with the current government, write a post, talk to your friends on phone and vent out but do not venture out and put your life and lives of others at risk
I know working from home with managing a household is difficult but nothing will be more painful than seeing your loved ones on death bed Would you be ok living life with the burden of killing people, just because you can’t stay at home ???

This Too Shall Pass, trust me

But please let’s spread positivity and see the greater good of our nation.

P.s. Please respect my emotions and don’t drag me in any political debate, I am literally in tears and shivering while I pen it down excuse my grammatical errors, I tend to make many.

Love And Peace.
Nancy Singh

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