Saturday, October 18, 2008

My Dear Tom Uncle


Being an army spouse gave me an opportunity to interact with various legends of Bhartiya Sena. One of them is Tom Uncle (as he has strictly told me to call him). My first meeting with the legendary, Brigadier Kailash Prasad Pande, popularly known as ‘Tom Pande’ was nothing short of a humbling experience. The moment we met I felt incredibly protective towards them, something unusual, something you feel only for your parents. Born on 4th July 1925 Tom hails from a reputed Army family of Madhya Pradesh. Now, it is their fourth generation in the services.

During our conversation Tom revealed that he has fought as many as 18 battles since World War II, losing none. Tom’s most commendable performance was during the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971 where he commanded a brigade with distinction which later came to be known internationally as the Phantom Force of Indian Army. For his gallant and skillful command of his force with complete disregard for his personal safety and even minimum comforts resulting in heavy attrition on the enemy, Tom was awarded the coveted Maha Vir Chakra by the President of India. I could notice the moist eyes of the most courageous, determined and inspiring leader of his times as he told me the heartrending tales of the 1971 Indo-Pak War. He lost most of his men at Dhalai where one of the toughest battles of 1971 Indo-Pak was fought. Oh! I just love these faujis.

A nostalgic Tom told about his life and times as an army officer. When I asked him how he judges the present Indian Army, the defensive soldier replied, “I’m very proud of it. Indian Army is one of the best in the world and I admire the professionalism that is seen amongst our troops today.”Following the gas tragedy in Bhopal in 1984 he was invited by the state Governor to be the chairman of the state Red Cross in which capacity he was able to bring solace to thousands of sick and the needy and created clinics and medical facilities to treat over one third of the severally affected population of Bhopal.
So what’s next? I ask. Very shyly, I am told there is a movie being made on him by director Siddarth Kothari and a book being written on the MVCs of the Indian Army by Maj Gen Ian Cardozo, VSM, SM. Long Live the Legend! And I am lucky to have met one.

4 comments:

Pcop said...

Nice article....
My fiance is in the Police and I feel that we respect and revere the military soldiers who, despite potentially perilous job hazards, join the service to protect complete strangers but do nothing for the police officers who are working night and day to protect them. And though police officers share core values and duties with military soldiers, we stigmatize cops with negative nicknames and a general loathing.
All this because they have a passion for justice, a genuine desire to help people they might or might not know !!!From pursuing dangerous criminals to breaking up terrorist groups, cops deal with the darker side of humanity to make a better society.
Of course some police officers are bad, but so are some teachers and doctors and grocery store people. Stupid people work in every profession. We shouldn't ostracize all police officers just beacuse of few bad people.
Do appreciate a police officer whether you smile, wave or stop to thank them for their service, give 'em some love. They, like our soldiers, deserve thanks for their willingness to risk their lives for the sake of ours.
I only wish some more people like you would come forward and write about police officers too.

mini said...

Pcop.
Do you know what a raw deal army gets all the time, interms of salaries, packages, incentives, perks and promotion. if police is sweating it out thay get rich rewards where as army men dont........... Just follow the sixth pay commision

Marlee said...

To Our Soldier
A Friend
Our Brother, Our Sister
A Mother, A Father
A Husband, A Wife
In All These Men And Women Stands A Soldier
Over The Skies
Among The Sea's
Crossing The Land
No Matter The Times
No Matter The Place
There Stands A Soldier
Our Soldier
Only To Remeber the Many Who Were There
We Shall Not Forget

Soldier

This Is For My Friend And To The Many More Still There!!

marlee alreo

Ajay said...

Mini and Pcop
First of all, let’s not evaluate anybody’s worth through the lens of government policies. If Mini says that Sixth Pay Commission has been biased against military services, then how can one have grudges against police services just for that??? What Pcop has asked is, that there should be a sense of respect and gratitude towards the police personnel also who fight for the cause of society. No doubt she is talking about those who come true to the literal definition of policing. She is also justified in saying that there are bad people in every sphere and at every stratum of society. But she forgets that the number of honest and good people in police department is far less than that in military services. Though the reason may be that police services have more to do with common man and hence the chances of getting corrupted get enhanced, but still the fact remains the same that selfless service of good cops gets un-noticed and un-rewarded because of bad image (and deeds!!!) of the larger chunk of their own fraternity.