A thorough professional who masterminded operations in the east across Myanmar, or coordinated the 2016 surgical strike and many more operations, Gen Bipin Laxman Singh Rawat, PVSM, UYSM, AVSM, YSM, SM, VSM, ADC, died in a helicopter crash on Wednesday (Dec 8, 2021).
“He comes from a family that had served in the Indian Army for multiple generations and his father Laxman Singh Rawat rose to the rank of Lieutenant General,” Maj Gen Neeraj Bali (Retd) tells Financial Express Online.
According to Gen Bali, “Gen Rawat attended Cambrian Hall School in Dehradun and St. Edward’s School, Shimla. He then joined the National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla and the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun, where he was awarded the ‘Sword of Honour’. General Rawat has held every prestigious appointment in the Army.”
Tributes pouring in – several officers share their thoughts with Financial Express Online
Condoling the death of CDS Gen Bipin Rawat, Lt Gen PR Shankar (Retd), former Director General of Artillery, said, “He was a very good and thorough professional. A great loss to the nation. He was instrumental in making the nation stand up to China resolutely first in Doklam and then in eastern Ladakh.”
“He also coordinated the 2016 surgical strikes from Army Headquarters. We did the staff course at Wellington and Higher Command course in Mhow together. He also masterminded the operation in the east across Myanmar border to strike at militant camps there,” former DG of Artillery adds.
Adding, “Remember he was the first guy who stood up to China conclusively since 1962.”
On a personal level, “I knew him and his family personally, we were good friends, and wives knew each other,” Gen Shankar says.
Course mate Maj Gen Neeraj Bali (Retd) says: “As I am listen to the distressing news of the crash of a Mi-17 helicopter near Coonoor in Tamil Nadu, I am praying for the safety of General Bipin Rawat and everyone else who was on board that ill-fated aircraft. He had previously miraculously survived a single engine helicopter crash in 2015, minutes after it took off from Nagaland.”
“My thoughts have gone back to 1978, when Bipin and I – we are course mates – were selected by the then Adjutant Major John Taylor as contingencies ‘stick orderlies’ for the passing out parade. The stick orderlies march in front of the guest of honour and are chosen for their deportment and excellence in drill. Every day, Bipin would ask me to come an hour before the parade assembled so that we could get warmed up and practice while it was still dark. That has been his dedication from the very first days.”
He is the first and current Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) of India, an appointment created in consonance with the dictates of the Kargil Committee Report.
“General Rawat has since played a pivotal role in creation of a tri-service culture. He has strategized the creation of Theatre Commands and ushered in several exponential changes in the arena of defence and security, especially modernisation and better processes for acquisition of equipment and weapons. He has remained a steadfast votary of Atam Nirbhar approach to development in this field,” Gen Bali shares.
According to Gen Bali, “Never one to hide his candor, he has sometimes been accused of speaking out on issues that appear to be outside the realm of military matters. But having known him closely for more than four decades, I know that those pronouncements came from a heart that is always in the right place. And that is how history should and will judge him.”
Message from Maj Gen Jagatbir Singh (Retd) “This is an immense tragedy, he is a second generation officer and his father retired as a Lieutenant General, was commissioned into 5/11 Gorkha Rifles a battalion he subsequently commanded. He was awarded the Sword of Honour in the Academy, held some of the most important and coveted assignments in the Army, commanded a Division in J&K 3 Corps in Dimapur where he was responsible for surgical operations. He was the Southern Army Commander and Vice Chief before taking over as COAS from Gen Dalbir Suhag and was thereafter appointed the first CDS. Known for his professionalism he was tasked with the transformation of the Armed Forces .We pray for his safety and well being. This crash is a shock beyond words.”
Indian Army Veteran, Lt Col Manoj K Channan, says, “Gen Rawat held important appointments both staff and command before he was promoted as the Chief of Army Staff and thereafter was appointed as the CDS, January 2020, for a duration of three years. As the CDS he was the single point of contact for the government for issues related to National Security and defence. He was mandated for force planning and changing the role of warfare- being more technology-oriented over rightsizing of manpower. He was also finalising the work towards operationalising Theatre Commands which integrate the operations of the Army, Air Force and Navy.”
“Major work had been carried out by Gen Rawat towards the Theatre Commands in which the Air Defence Command and the Maritime Command is expected to be operationalised by a timeline in 2022. This will be impacted with this loss and the break in momentum of operationalisation of the Theatre Commands, which is understandable, till the next incumbent is appointed,” opines Lt Col Channan.
Adding, “The General officer was a very humble, very approachable on all issues related to the serving and the veterans. I had the opportunity to interact with him twice on social occasions, at the Maneckshaw Center, wherein he hosted the Veterans wherein he is to be appreciated that he remembered not only my name as well as the unit I had served in,” Lt Col Channan adds.