“I don’t know whether leaders are born or leaders are made. Give me a man with common sense and decency and I can make a leader out of it.” Quoted by one of the best military heroes and the one who was first to attain the rank of Field Marshal, ‘Sam Manekshaw’. He believed that a leader is within, we just need to find and nurture it. His life is an example of leadership, courage, discipline and dedication. Every year on December 16 the nation celebrates “Vijay Diwas”, in the memory of victory achieved under Manekshaw’s leadership in 1971 Bangladesh liberation war between India and Pakistan.
Here, we will discuss:
- Early life of Sam Manekshaw
- His Military Career
- How He Achieved the Rank of Field Marshal
- Lessons of Leadership and Discipline from Sam Manekshaw
- Message to Youth
His Early Life
- On 3rd April 1914, Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw was born to a Parsi family in Amritsar, Punjab.
- From his childhood, he had an ambition to become a doctor like his father, Hormusji Mankeshaw.
- He wanted to study medicine from London, but due to his young age his father insisted him to study in India. During that period, Indian Military College Committee has established the Indian Military Academy (IMA). Sam applied for a place and was selected in 1932.
- In 1937, Sam met Siloo Bode at a gathering in Lahore and they got married in the year 1939. They had two daughters, Sherry and Maja.
Military Career of Sam Maneskshaw
Sam Manekshaw completely dedicated his life towards Indian Army and served for 4 decades. He witnessed 5 wars, during his military journey. Let’s know more about the wars that he witnessed:
World War II:
- In 1942, he was appointed as the captain and he was recognized for his bravery.
- During a counter offensive against the Japanese army on the Sittong River in Burma, he was badly injured. His military and doctors had given up for his survival due to heavy wounds. But he was a true fighter, he survived and rejoined the war as he recovered to fight.
India Pakistan War (Partition decision: 1947)
- During the India – Pakistan war in 1947, Sam Manekshaw was reassigned to the 8th Gorkha Rifles. He was appointed as colonel in charge of operations.
- He had demonstrated shrewdness for planning and administration. Due to that Kashmir, the territory claimed by both the nation, was prevented to be captured.
Sino – India War (1962)
- In 1962, after defeating a conspiracy against him, Manekshaw was promoted to Lieutenant General and GOC (General Officer Commanding – in chief) of IV corps, during the Sino – India war.
- He said to his battalion, “There will be no withdrawal, without written orders and these orders shall never be issued.”
India Pakistan War (1965) & (1971)
- Though he was the senior army commander, he was not appointed as GOC – C during India – Pakistan war in 1965. He became 8th Chief of Indian Army in 1969.
- In 1971, under Manekshaw’s leadership, India achieved victory against Pakistan. With 90,000 Pakistani soldiers imprisoned, the war ended. After the Pakistan’s eastern half surrendered it gave birth to the new country called ‘Bangladesh’.
As the Army Chief, Sam Manekshaw made history by leading India to victory in the Bangladesh Liberation War and also by resisting the political pressure to arbitrate at an infelicitous time, going even to the extent of offering to resign. He was forthright with his personal dealing and known for his blunt and outspoken characteristics. He has been named as ‘Sam Bahdur’ for his alertness and ready to fight spirit for the sake of nation.
Achieved the rank as Field Marshal
- After the huge victory during India-Pakistan war in 1971, Indira Gandhi decided to promote Sam Manekshaw to the rank of Field Marshal and the Chief of the Defense Staff (CDS).
- Lt.Gen. J.F.R. Jacob writes, “He did more than any other chief to maintain the dignity of the army”, and always stood up against the administration and ministries when necessary.
- In January 1973, a few months prior to his retirement, Sam Manekshaw was appointed as Field Marshal — a largely dignified rank.
- He was also awarded with Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan.
His Speech on Leadership and Discipline:
- Once he was invited to take a lecture on Leadership and Discipline at an army college, where he gave motivating lecture considering the Youth is the power of the nation.
- He believed that leaders are made with professional knowledge and professional competence. Leadership is the ability train your mind to make a decision and accept full responsibility for that decision, this statement is known as Manekshawism.
- He explained that ‘Act of Omission is much worse than an act of commission.’ He emphasized more on leadership, addressing the youth to make them aware about their duties towards society. He also remarked that leadership is a mixture of Honesty, Fairness, Justice, Courage, Loyalty and Discipline.
“A ‘yes man’ is a dangerous man. He may rise very high, he might even become the Managing Director of a company. He may do anything but he can never make a leader because he will be used by his superiors, disliked by his colleagues and despised by his subordinates.” By these words he elaborated moral courage, that should be present in a good leader.
According to him, Discipline can be defined as conduct and behavior for living decently with one another in society.
Message to Youth
Today our country requires true leaders for its growth and development. We need to follow leaders rather than worshiping them. Reading Sam Manekshaw’s you will learn how to handle duties and responsibilities, his contribution in the World War II is a great example of love for nation and his duties. He is an example of bravely, his contribution and actions during the India Pakistan war in 1971 will give you goosebumps.
Sam Manekshaw was the braveheart, even during the last moments of his life, he always said “I am OK”, these were his words two days before 27 June 2008, the day when he died.
Bollywood has also announced a film on Sam Manekshaw’s life, which has been trending on social media. In the film, bollywood actor Vicky Kaushal will will portray this real life ‘hero’.