The Indian Army is the World’s 3rd largest Standing Army with over 1.2 million Men ready to defend our Country and its Citizens from all odds. From Natural Disasters to Tackling Terrorits. Army has our back 24×7.
However, Many Citizens are not aware that Indian Army celebrates “Army Day“on January 15 every Year.
Do you wonder Why Army Day is celebrated on 15 January ?
January 15 is the day on which 15th Lieutenant General K M Cariappa became the first Indian Commander-in-Chief in 1948.
Since then It is celebrated every year at all the Army Command headquarters and national capital by organizing army parades including many other military shows.
It is observed to pay homage to and salute the brave jawans and officers who sacrificed their lives for protecting the country.
Indian Army General Kodandera Madappa Cariappa succeeded the British Indian Army General Roy Butcher and became the first Commander-in-Chief of armed forces in independent India.
About K M Cariappa:
After gaining Independence a meeting was organized to select the first General of the Indian Army. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru chaired that meeting.
Leaders and Army officers were discussing to whom this responsibility should be given.
In between the discussion Nehru said, “I think we should appoint a British officer as a General of Indian Army
as we don’t have enough experience to lead the same.”
Everybody supported Nehru because if the PM was suggesting something, how can they not agree?
But one of the army officers abruptly said, “I have a point, sir.”
Nehru said, “Yes, gentleman. You are free to speak.”
He said, “You see, sir, we don’t have enough experience to lead a nation too, so shouldn’t we appoint a British person as first PM of India?”
The meeting hall suddenly went quiet.
Then, Nehru said, “Are you ready to be the first General of Indian Army?”
He got a golden chance to accept the offer but he refused the same and said, “Sir, we have a very talented army officer, my senior, Lt Gen Cariappa, who is the most deserving among us.”
The army officer who raised his voice against the PM was Lt General Nathu Singh Rathore, the 1st Lt General of the Indian Army.
On being appointed as the first Commander-in-Chief of an independent Indian Army on 15 January 1949, Gen. Cariappa was instrumental in the integration of troops and turning an imperial army into a national army.
During the 1965 and 1971 wars, he visited the front lines to talk to the troops and keep their morale up.
Apart from being a military man, Cariappa had insight about the status of the country.
He is quoted as saying, “In modern warfare, a large army is not sufficient, it needs industrial potential behind it.
If the army is the first line of defense, the industry is the second.” Cariappa had even said that “soldiers know the facility of wars to solve the internal problems.
We ought to be ashamed that today they had more peace in war than peace in peace.”
Such insight has placed him above many in this field. “Army is there to serve the Government of the day, and we should make sure that it does not get mixed up with party politics.
A soldier is above politics and should not believe in caste or creed,” was another insight of this soldier.
He lived and remained, as he said, “an Indian and to the last breath would remain an Indian. To me there is only two Stans – Hindustan (India) and Foujistan (the Army).”
During the 1965 war, when his son, an Indian Air Force pilot, flew an aircraft. The plane was shot down by Pakistan.
He was captured and imprisoned as a Prisoner of War (POW).
When Ayub Khan learned about this, he informed Cariappa he would not be kept in a POW Camp like other Indian POWs, since they had worked together before independence.
But Cariappa politely declined the offer, saying every soldier in the Indian Army was his son, so he could not request special privileges for only one.
Field Marshall K M Cariappa was popularly known as ‘kipper’ among his colleagues.
As a token of gratitude of the nation for the exemplary service rendered by him, the Government of India conferred Cariappa with the rank of Field Marshal in 1983;
Till date there are only two appointments that is made by the government of India to the rank of Field Marshal and Kipper was one among them.
Field marshal(5 stars) is the highest military rank in Army. Field marshal would be the senior most officer in the army and is permitted to wear the uniform till death.
On 15th May 1993, Field Marshal K M Cariappa died in Bangalore, when he was 94.
There is also a book on Him Too: