Saturday, November 29, 2008
Friday, November 28, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
This was my first page 1 in Mail Today, which completes a year on November 26, 2008. The chopper deal which was cancelled four days after this story appeared, was re-issued again this year, for a larger number of choppers.
My first page 1 anniversary!
‘Chindits’ , originating from ‘Chinthe’, a mythical winged lion, statues of which guarded Buddhist temples in Burma, was a special force of the British-Indian Army, comprising mainly the Gorkhas from India, besides others and troops from other British colonies as well.
Brainchild of Major General Orde Charles Wingate, the General with an offensive outlook and known for modernizing Guerrilla Warfare, who was hand-picked by General Wavell to take his Chindit columns behind Japanese lines to defeat them in Burma during World War-II.
The first Chindit Operation was launched in February 1943 as ‘Op Longcloth , through the Wingate’s Long Range Penetration Groups comprising the 77 Infantry Brigade and later the 3rd Div, and the second Chindit Operation was conducted in February 1944, known as ‘Op Thursday’, in the difficult mountainous and jungle terrain of Burma.
Presently there are three Gorkha Rifle battalions in the Indian Army which are still called Chindit units and they have the honour of wearing a red lanyard on their right (this is a rare honour meant only for royal units). One such unit is 5th/5th GR.
The Gentlemen Cadets (GCs) of the Indian Military Academy (IMA) become eligible to take the final step towards officership and the oath and piping formalities , after they have successfully completed the seven-day Chindit camp meant only for IMA third-termers.
I’ve had the privilege of being embedded in this tough camp, during my IMA days, and actually manning a couple of Check Posts (though not alone) like the Black Route and Red Route (Kaluwala Pass and Shakumbhri Devi Pass).
It’s the toughest camp ever (not comparing NDA’s Rovers, as the age groups are different), meant for cadets and is aid to make men out of boys. Held approximately a month and half before the POP drill, after the successful completion of the camp, the Ustads of the academy start treating the GCs as officers already.
The Camp culminates with a 50 kilometer run-back after the survival (seven days with minimum food, water and other necessities without any sleep, on nullahs, through villages, mountains and rivers, navigating on their own), the GCs race back to the academy along with their Company (earlier there were 12, now there are 15), and are given a rousing welcome by their juniors and in the evening a campfire is lit by the Commandant, attended by all officers (and their ladies), and the GCs, in their combat fatigues.
The Camp is very close to my heart, hence the name Chindits, as I’ve been part of it and learnt true survival, in the jungle called South Block, where the Check Posts are the offices of the PROs, ADPIO and DPR, and the mythical winged-lion , who is present on the first floor of South Block but is seldom visible, is none other than honourable Raksha Mantri A K Antony. I also had a GC in IMA named Chindit from the North-east, who was punished the maximum by me.