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Arjan Singh was a beacon of military leadership

September 18, 2017 09:44 IST

He was awarded the distinguished Flying Cross in 1944. This honour is equivalent to today's Param Vir Chakra.
The Arjan Singh Trust for needy air force personnel was set up out of the proceeds of his farm house in Delhi being sold.
He was a charismatic leader of men and lived up to the fine traditions of soldiering, says Group Captain Murli Menon (retd).

Marshal of the Air Force Arjan Singh with Barack Obama 

 

The IAF has lost its only five star stalwart, the ram rod straight majestic personality of the Marshal of the India Air Force Arjan Singh, who passed on September 16 owing to a cardiac arrest at the Army Research and Referral Hospital in New Delhi Cantonment.

MIAF Arjan Singh was an officer and a gentleman in the true sense. He retired as the IAF's first Air Chief Marshal in 1970 when just 50 years of age, voluntarily, contributing an equivalent span of his life to public service as a diplomat and Delhi's lieutenant governor.

He was awarded the distinguished Flying Cross in 1944 during the Arakan campaign in Burma when he flew several valuable reconnaissance missions whilst commanding the illustrious No1 Squadron.

This award is equivalent to today's Param Vir Chakra.

He led the IAF to victory in the 1965 war against Pakistan, orchestrating his forces remarkably against a determined foe.

He chose to employ the flexibility of air power by pulling the fighter assets back to keep them out of PAF bombing range during night time, launching them against the enemy first thing in the morning again.

He was a charismatic leader of men, personally landing up at the field level to congratulate war heroes.

He believed in keeping his subordinates' morale high, on one occasion flying a 'beat up' sortie himself over a junior officer's wedding venue in Kerala!

Arjan Singh rose through the IAF ranks with credit, living up to the fine traditions of soldiering exhibited by his paternal ancestors in a glorious family from pre Partition Punjab.

His wife Teji was the epitome of charm herself, being instrumental in setting up the Arjan Trust for needy air force personnel, out of the proceeds of his farm house in Delhi being sold.

That showed his amazing large heartedness.

After his years in the blue uniform, he served as India's ambassador to Switzerland, the Vatican and as high commissioner to Kenya.

He was also a member of India's Minority Commission, showing the multifaceted nature of his contribution to society.

For people of my generation he will continue to be the shining beacon of military leadership and poise.

May his soul rest in peace.

IMAGE: Then US President Barack Obama greets Marshal of the Indian Air Force Arjan Singh at Rashtrapati Bhavan, January 26, 2015. Photograph: Pete Souza/The White House

Group Captain Murli Menon (retd)