The Book “A Talent for War – The Military Biography of Lt Gen Sagat Singh” authored by Maj Gen KS Randhir Sinh, UYSM, AVSM, SM (Retd), is being released by General Bikram Singh, PVSM, UYSM, AVSM, SM, VSM, ADC, Chief of the Army Staff, at USI

The Book “A Talent for War – The Military Biography of Lt Gen Sagat Singh” authored by Maj Gen KS Randhir Sinh, UYSM, AVSM, SM (Retd), is being released by General Bikram Singh, PVSM, UYSM, AVSM, SM, VSM, ADC, Chief of the Army Staff, at USI

Release of the Book “A Talent for War The Military Biography of Lieutenant General Sagat Singh”
by General Bikram Singh, PVSM, UYSM, AVSM, SM, VSM, ADC, Chief of the Army Staff at USI on 18 Oct 2013

General Bikram Singh, PVSM, UYSM, AVSM, SM, VSM, ADC, Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) released the book ‘A Talent for War The Military Biography of Lt Gen Sagat Singh’, authored by his former ADC, Maj Gen Randhir Sinh, UYSM, AVSM, SM (Retd) at the USI Auditorium on 18 Oct 2013. A large number of serving and retired officers from the Armed Forces and USI members attended the function filling up the Samir Sinha Auditorium at USI to its full capacity.

Lt Gen PK Singh, PVSM, AVSM (Retd), Director USI welcomed everyone to the book release function. He said that we were privileged that our Chief of the Army Staff, General Bikram Singh, inspite of his heavy commitments could find time to release the biography of a distinguished soldier, Lieutenant General Sagat Singh. He highlighted two things about General Sagat: firstly, that he was truly a great war time commander who revealed his true self in the combat environment and led from the front; secondly, most people today think that the war in the East (in 1971) was a ‘cake walk’ – this book dispels such doubt conclusively and brings out how a boy from a nondescript village of erstwhile Bikaner State rose to such great heights through sheer grit, determination and professional merit. The General’s soldierly qualities are revealed clearly in this book. Director USI, requested the COAS to consider making General Sagat’s biography a mandatory reading for young officers by its inclusion in the Promotion and Defence Services Staff College entrance examinations. He thanked Maj Gen Randhir Sinh for his well-researched book and invited him to speak about the book.

Maj Gen Randhir Sinh said that for him writing his Corps Commander’s biography was a labour of love. He volunteered to take this difficult assignment and received an overwhelming response from everyone who had the privilege and honour of serving with the General. Talking about General Sagat’s personal traits, he recounted that normally he was a quiet person but sometimes he opened up and spoke very freely and eloquently; he knew every company commander and knew their capabilities very well; he was not dogmatic and would change orders late at night; he was very fond of youngsters and liked the company of young captains amongst officers. He highlighted that General Sagat was an entirely different personality of his age and a genuine ‘War Leader’ in the post-Independence era of the Country.

Maj Gen LS Lehl, PVSM, AVSM, VrC (Retd), a legendary General of post-Independence era, recollected his association with Lt Gen Sagat Singh during liberation of Goa in 1961; counter-insurgency operations in Mizoram; breaking the myth of Chinese soldiers’ invincibility in the ‘big skirmish’ at Nathu La and his stellar role in gaining ‘Victory in the 1971 War’ with Pakistan in the East. He concluded his remarks by recounting his amazing personal qualities. He said that he was one of the best human beings and best commanders – we were lucky to have known and worked with. This biography will keep reminding us about his sterling personality and achievements.

Colonel Ranvijay Singh (Retd), son of late Lt Gen Sagat Singh, talked about his visit to Bangladesh, 40 years after their liberation. He shared his experiences and described how generous the Bangladesh President, Government and people were in recognising his father’s noteworthy achievements in winning the war expeditiously which gave birth to their Nation. He was surrounded and felicitated by many young officers and civilians, who were teenagers in 1971. They talked about his father reverently and conveyed their gratitude generously.

He was very pleased to learn that Maj Gen Randhir Sinh had undertaken to write his father’s biography and expressed his gratitude to the Director, USI and Vij Publications for publishing the book. He also thanked the COAS and everyone in the audience for honouring his father by their presence at the book release function.

General Bikram Singh, COAS, in his Special Address, described the book on Lt Gen Sagat Singh (written by his former ADC Maj Gen Randhir Sinh), as a ‘masterpiece’ and complimented the author for writing a beautiful book. He also expressed his pleasure in sharing the company of legendary war veteran Maj Gen LS Lehl and meeting Gen Sagat’s son Col Ranvijay. He conveyed his gratitude to the Director USI for giving him the proud privilege and honour of releasing the book and saluting the legendary figure General Sagat Singh. In the end, he complimented the Publisher, Brig PK Vij for doing a great job.

Vote of Thanks

Brigadier PK Vij, Publisher of the book, said that publisher always desires to get his book released by a distinguished dignitary. He expressed his great pleasure and thanked Gen Bikram Singh, COAS for releasing the book on Gen Sagat Singh. He also thanked the Director USI for making this function possible. Lastly, he thanked the distinguished audience for coming for the book release function so enthusiastically and invited everyone to tea laid out at the Pavilion and The Retreat.

 

Text of the Special Address by General Bikram Singh, PVSM, AVSM, SM, VSM, ADC, Chief of Army Staff
Special Address on the Occasion of Release of the Book
“A Talent for War
The Military Biography of Lt Gen Sagat Singh
at the USI Auditorium on 18 Oct 2013

 

Good Morning, ladies and gentlemen. It’s a proud privilege and indeed a great honour for me today to release this book. It’s a masterpiece, written by Maj Gen Randhir Sinh who was Aide De Camp to this very distinguished personality General Sagat Singh.

I think we have all grown up in the Army hearing his name. What appeals to me the most even today is that when you have discussions on television with regard to China, his name features very prominently. His name figures as one of the most audacious General Officer who faced heavy odds and excelled not only in this particular war against Pakistan in 1971. He did this right from the start of his humble beginning. I was fortunate to get a copy of the book from the Director USI, General PK Singh and have gone through it and found it totally engrossing. This book shows you how a rustic boy, a lad from rural background from the Rathore Rajput clan, who was born to be a leader joined initially as an NCO in the Bikaner State Forces and rose to be a Lieutenant General in the Indian Army. I think it’s a lesson for all of us. It is indeed a lesson for even the aspiring successive young generations of ours who join the Army Cadet Corps and various institutions for seeking an opportunity to join the Army. This book provides great lessons from that point of view.

While going through the book, I definitely took note of a large number of his traits which need to be emulated by all of us. One of course was his unflinching desire to strive for all round excellence. He was a man who came from a rural background, picked up English and became a great orator. He rose to be a great leader as well. He seized the opportunity during Bangladesh War; and as General PK Singh has brought out, it was not a cake walk – 4 Corps which came in from the East had a difficult task, (with Meghna River to be crossed, in its move to (capture) Dhaka.  He was one General who was seen right in the front. He hated being in the rear. He led from the front ‘to win a score’. The book very vividly brings out as to how, using helicopters most of the time, he was with the troops in front and encouraged them to deliver. I think it speaks volumes of the General officer.

I have a very well thought out script in front of me but after listening to all these distinguished personalities (on the podium), I thought I should touch on those issues that actually appeal to me. But one thing, in particular, I wish to share with you.  While being seated here and when I was listening to distinguished people like Generals Lehl and Randhir Sinh talk about General Sagat and seeing all those veteran Generals, Brigadiers and Colonels sitting in the audience, who have given their lives for this beautiful profession of ours and contributed in a very big way:  Why is it that we have to wait for them to pass away and then we decide to write on them? Can’t it be done now? Is it perhaps a fear of one’s own personality and one’s own competence being eclipsed by someone we are writing on? Is it that perhaps a trend that has come about? I think it needs to be thought of. Why can’t we today write about these distinguished generals, brigadiers and colonels who make up this august audience seated here? They have made some sterling contributions to this very beautiful profession of ours and why must we wait for them to pass away and then write of their traits, deeds and heroic exploits?

But that notwithstanding, let me compliment General Randhir Sinh for this stupendous effort. I think he has taken pains and has spent almost 3 years, meeting people; including soldiers, NCOs, JCOs, officers who served with the General Officer. I think as a result of that research what he has done is laudable. It is a great book and as brought out by the Director, USI, I think it needs to be taken to the units and to the officers for them to read. Whether it should become a part of the syllabus? We will look into it because we do not want to burden our Young Officers with too many books. We will see at what stage this can be brought in but yes definitely this book is a masterpiece. It highlights and encapsulates the sterling traits and the contribution of this General Officer right from the tactical to the official art in the strategic level as far as military war fighting is concerned.

Here is a General Officer who could envision the future, he could read the battlefield. He was a man with dexterity to apply his combat power to achieve the end state in a time frame much earlier than stipulated. It speaks volumes of this General Officer.

Few other things that I would like to touch upon are: he had definitely an eye for details– that has come out clearly. If you go through the book and read between the lines, here is a General who actually was a soldiers’ General – was with them throughout, understood their sensitivities, aspirations and led them from the front.

Once again, I would like to compliment the author, General Randhir Sinh for writing such a beautiful book; pleasure being here in the august company and sitting next to the legendary figure of Maj Gen LS Lehl who was also his Chief of Staff. I am grateful of course to Lt Gen PK Singh for inviting me and giving me this honour of releasing the book on this legendary figure; pleasure to meet Col Ranvijay, his son and also my compliments to the publisher, Brigadier PK Vij who has done a great job. With that I would like to salute this legendary figure who shall always remain embedded in our memories for what he has done for us and may his soul rest in peace and may we all continue to honour our great soldier. Thank you very much. Jai Hind!

 

Beginning of the Book Release Function
Mix of Veterans, Colonels and Scholars – the Distinguished Audience

 

House Full of Ladies, Veterans, Generals and Distinguished Members of USI.
Galaxy of Generals and Veterans – Reviving memories of their association  with Lt Gen Sagat Singh

 

Compiled by Lt Col BS Varma (Retd), Assistant Director, USI and Maj Sonali Gupta (Retd), Editorial Assistant, USI.

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