It was post Independence days, when our constitution was being written, when our country had own Government and India was planning to lay out defence strategy for the country.  Many of the government members and Army wanted to select the best Indian commander and most experienced person as the Army Chief.

But Nehru had different plans, immediately after India got independence, Nehru without consulting anyone appointed General Rob Lockhart, a British man as the Chief in commander of the Indian Army. Most people were shocked to know that Nehru selected a British Man after fighting for independence for over 200 years! Major General A A ‘Jick’ Rudra of the Indian Army was completely upset with the decision.

One day Maj. Lockhart met Nehru with a strategic plan and proposed many government directive defence policies for the country. He placed it on the table and explained the point to PM Nehru. After a while Maj. Lockhart walked out of the room and met A A Jick Rudra, Maj. Lockhart looked shell shocked and stunned. When asked what happened…..

He said ‘The PM took one look at my paper and blew his top. Rubbish! Total rubbish! We don’t need a defence plan. Our policy is ahimsa (non-violence). We foresee no military threats. Scrap the army!

Nehru wanted to scrap the Indian Army…What an Irony!

One year after the incident the Kashmir crisis had increased and Gen Lockhart used to exchange ideas with the Gen Douglas Gracie who was commander in chief of Pakistan Army! There were many infiltrations along the border which Lockhart knew and took no action. But Maj. Cariappa had infact save the Indian army and Kashmir with his bold decisions. This information was later raised in the government with many people questioning the integrity of Gen Lockhart. Nehru finding no excuses had to question his pet chief, he asked Lockhart whether he knew about the crisis in Kashmir and what measures were taken….

For which Lockhart replied “Aghast, Mr Prime minister if you have to ask me that question, I have no business being the commander-in-chief of your forces. I know that there is a boat leaving Bombay in a few days, carrying British officers and their families to England. I shall be on leaving India soon!!!”

lockhart_rob_mcgregor_macdonaldGen.Lockhart

The next day emergency meeting was called to select the new Army Chief. Prime Minister Nehru chaired the meeting which was attended by the then Defence Minister Baldev Singh (YES MAN of Nehru), Maj Gen Nathu Singh Rathore, Maj Gen Cariappa and few defence expert. Every one knew that Gen Cariappa was the most deserving and wanted him to lead the army.

nehru-with-carriappaPic: On the day of meeting Nehru with Gen Nathu Singh Rathore and Gen Cariappa

In the meeting Nehru started, “we should appoint a new Army Chie, as Gen. Lockhart had resigned from the post. I consider that it is better to appoint a British Man as the Army Chief since we do not have a capable and experienced Army man in our Country.”

Everybody in the meeting were silent. The army officers felt very humiliated and insulted by Nehru’s words. Def. Minister Baldev Singh immediately endorsed Nehru suggestion saying “Yes we do not have any capable Army man!”

But there was one man who stood and said “Sir, I have a point….You see Sir, we don’t have a man with enough experience to lead a nation too, so shouldn’t we appoint someone from Britain as the first PM of India?”…It was none other than Maj Gen Nathu Singh Rathore!!!

Suddenly there was pin drop silence in the room! This was a SLAP in the FACE OF NEHRU!!!

Annoyed Nehru interrupted and said “Are you saying that you are ready to be the first General of the Indian Army?”

Even though the officer got a golden opportunity he replied, Sir, why me?? we have a very capable army officer, my senior Lt. Gen. Cariappa, who is the most deserving among us, do we need a better person than Gen Cariappa to guard our Country?, How could you say that our country do not have capable leaders?!!!

The entire room stood and applauded the suggestion made by Lt Gen Nathu Singh Rathore. India should thank Gen Rathore for giving us the first Gen and the best leader Field Marshall Cariappa as our Army General.

Nehru who could not recognise our own people, our own country’s potential wanted a British man as the Army General, there could not have been a bigger blunder than giving the country’s security in the hands of a foreigner!!!

Source: Defence News and Patriot Form!


Aishwarya S**

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