The Indian Air Force is planning to celebrate the legacy of the late IAF Marshal Arjan Singh to inspire the youth to emulate the qualities of the iconic aviator, a top officer has said. Singh, the only officer of the IAF to be promoted to five-star rank, equivalent to a Field Marshal in the Army, died last month aged 98. “He was an icon, widely admired, not just for his great professional achievements but also for his human qualities. He was a towering figure and his life will continue to inspire us all,” Vice Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal S B Deo said.
At the ’14th Subroto Mukherjee Seminar’ held at the IAF Auditorium here on Friday, a moment of silence was observed in honour of the hero of 1965 India-Pakistan war. “Yes, we are planning to celebrate his legacy. He was a hero and still remains so,” Deo told PTI on the sidelines of the event. However, he did not divulge details about the plans. When asked what qualities of Singh the youth should learn from, he said, “Fitness, that’s the first thing that comes to my mind. He was inching towards 100 but still remained a young man at heart forever.” “And, his courage and commitment are qualities that are worthy of emulation,” he added. The vice chief of air staff said, the IAF celebrated him while he was still alive, and the Air Force Station, Panagarh in West Bengal, was renamed as Air Force Station Arjan Singh in 2016.
Air Marshal (retd) Vinod Patney, Director General of the CAPS (Centre for Air Power Studies), which organised the seminar, in his opening remarks said, “We recently lost a hero (Singh) and he leaves behind an unfillable void.” “This auditorium is located in the area (Subroto Park) named after Air Marshal Subroto Mukerjee, another of our icons, who was the first Chief of Air Staff of the IAF. And, now late IAF Marshal Arjan Singh will join the league of extraordinary men, who have left us, but continue to inspire us,” he said.
A senior official of the IAF said plans were afoot to pay tribute to Singh on the Indian Air Force Day (October 8) in a befitting way. “We are planning to put up a huge image of him on a celebratory banner alongside the pictures of aircraft. His legacy is unmatchable,” he said Singh was entrusted with the responsibility of leading the IAF when he was only 44 years old, a task he carried out with elan. He was the chief of the IAF when it found itself at the forefront of the 1965 conflict. Born on April 15, 1919 in Lyallpur in Punjab in undivided India, he had flown more than 60 different types of aircraft, and had played a major role in transforming the IAF into one of the most potent air forces globally and the fourth biggest in the world.
A man of few words, he was not only a fearless fighter pilot but had profound knowledge about air power which he applied in a wide spectrum of air operations. He was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian honour, in 1965.