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Indian Army honours Manekshaw with military tattoo
His brisk pace has slackened with age and he has developed a slight stoop, but Field Marshal S.H.F.J Manekshaw not surprisingly outshone everyone else at a military tattoo held in his honour here Saturday.

The man credited with creating history - and a nation - by defeating the Pakistani Army in what was then East Pakistan and leading to the creation of Bangladesh in 1971 - recounted his myriad experiences while speaking to reporters at the end of the tattoo.

It brought the curtain down on the two-day conclave of former army chiefs held here. The conclave, held for the first time, was meant to enable the Indian Army benefit from the experience of its former chiefs.

"I am 90 years, six months and 30 days old, probably the oldest and senior-most field marshal in the world... but I still think that I would have made a better doctor, a really good gynaecologist," said Manekshaw, India's first and only living field marshal who has also been honoured with the Padma Vibhushan and the Padma Bhushan civilian awards.

He was dressed in his ceremonial army uniform, with his brightly shining medals emblazoning his left chest.

Asked what his suggestions were to improve the operational readiness of army, Manekshaw retorted:
"None of us had the affront to give any advice when none of us have any responsibilities. When I was the army chief, I never used to take advice from anyone."

The tattoo, in which 250 mounted riders participated, was organised by the Indian Army's 61 Cavalry, the only horse-mounted cavalry regime in the world.

During the one hour-show, the riders and their mounts cantered, trotted and galloped in synch to music played by a military band, weaving a magical spell for the spectators.

And, as dusk descended, seven paragliders swooped down in tri-coloured parachutes from Chetak helicopters that hovered about 4,500 feet above the ground.

The helicopters then staged a flypast, trooping the red-gold colours of 61 Cavalry.

Said Manekshaw: "I am delighted with how the army is performing. I never realised that things could actually be much better now than in mine.

"(Army chief General N.C.) Vij took me to my old house, but I couldn't recognise it. He took me to Army Headquarters and that too has changed so much. All the changes have been for the better," Manekshaw added

Also present at the tattoo were Vij, seven other army chiefs who attended the conclave, and senior military and civilian officers.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 8:50 AM


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