Here is a story that has been authenticated from impeccable sources. I thank my friend Anil for sending me this very inspiring piece of our history.
After getting freedom, a meeting was organized to select the first General of the Indian Army. Jawahar Lal Nehru was heading 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 could 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 the 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.
Since the ibid mail was circulated, numerous veterans have pointed out to me that it was NOT Gen Nathu BUT Gen Rajendra Sinhji, who turned down the offer to be the first chief, ahead of Gen Cariappa. Well, it now turns out that it was BOTH.
What a tradition that the Indian armed forces can be genuinely proud of!