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Rakesh Thiyyan @ByRakeshSimha

Author: Rakesh Thiyyan
Publication: Threadreaderapp.com
Date: October 3, 2021
URL:      https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1444533494126764033.html?s=03

1. After taking oath as PM, Jawaharlal Nehru visited the military wing of the Cabinet Secretariat. Seeing military officers wearing air force, naval and army uniforms, he began shouting at the Secretary and demanding to know what military officers were doing in there.

2. Nehru calmed down when General Hastings Ismay explained the role of the military wing and why military officers were needed. India's PM had no concept of the higher defence system. The senior military officers were later told they would always wear civilian clothes at work.

3. During the early days of the 1948 India Pakistan War, Nehru visited the Srinagar airfield and was being briefed by IAF pilots. He was told they were using 500 lb bombs. He at once said this was an excessive use of force and the less powerful 250 lb bomb should be used.

4. He was told the target area was criss-crossed with nullahs and deep valleys and less powerful bombs would be ineffective. Nehru protested that this was a violation of the principle of 'minimum force'.

5. He was tactfully told this was not an aid to a civil power operation but a full-fledged war against aggressors. The principle of minimum force was not relevant in this instance. It was essential for the air force and army to use adequate force while dealing with this enemy.

6. It is significant that the senior military officers who accompanied Nehru seemed to be overawed by the prime minister and kept quiet.

7. Once, Nehru and his entourage were waiting at Palam air force station for a VIP to arrive. The PM turned to the air chief and pointing to an air force plane parked nearby, asked, "Why are your planes marked Indian Air Force? Surely no foreign planes could be parked here."

8. The air chief mumbled that he would look into the matter. A young air force officer standing nearby intervened and said, "All air forces follow the practice of using national names. Thus we have Royal Canadian Air Force, French Air Force, Royal Australian Air Force and so on."
9. Nehru seemed taken aback at this response, turned to the air chief and said, "Do look into this." Later, after the VIPs had departed, the air chief scolded the young officer, telling him he should guard against talking about policy matters that were above his head.

10. In the 1950s India was negotiating with Britain to buy guided missiles for the IAF. Nehru was shown a brief film which ended with a loud bang as a missile shot down an 'enemy' plane in a cloud of flame. Nehru got up in a rage.

11. Nehru shouted "I will have nothing to do with these sort of weapons" and stormed out of the room. The British director who witnessed this scene was bewildered. He turned to the Indian military attaché and said, "Extraordinary fellow."

12. During a conference in South Block, Nehru was very impressed by the performance of a young police inspector. He turned to Sardar Patel and muttered, "Why can't we have men like that to lead our army, rather than employing highly paid majors and colonels?"

13. The prime minister of India seemed blissfully unaware that police officers and military officers have different roles. This remark to the home minister was overheard by several military officers who were present and did nothing to enhance the morale of the officer corps.

14. It is not unusual for elected PMs to be ignorant of military matters. They offset this handicap by seeking guidance of reliable advisers. Unfortunately, Nehru chose as his defence minister Krishna Menon, a man who was even more prejudiced and ignorant about military matters.

 15. Mountbatten wrote, "Before the Chinese invasion on the North-East frontier, I urged Nehru to appoint General Thimayya to the Chief of Defence Staff post right away as I could see trouble brewing up. I warned him that if a war came the Indian Army would suffer a quick defeat."

16. "Nehru said there was no question of there being a war as India wished to be at peace with everybody. To this I replied that it took two sides to decide whether there would be a war or not and if either China or Pakistan were to invade, there would be a war on your hands."

17. Mountbatten: "This CDS system however he was unwilling to do as Krishna Menon was against it." It was left to the Chinese to rid the Indian government of Krishna Menon, and leave Nehru a shattered man.


Lt General (R) Eric Vas in Rediff
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