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August 1, 2000
Lt Gen Sundararajan Padmanabhan to be next army chief
Josy Joseph in New Delhi
Lieutenant General Sundararajan Padmanabhan, PVSM, AVSM, VSM, honorary aide-de-camp to the President of India, is to be the next chief of army staff.
The general officer commanding-in-chief, Southern Command, will succeed General Ved Prakash Malik who retires on September 30. Gen Padmanabhan will take charge on October 1.
The announcement from Army Headquarters finally puts to rest all speculation about the next army chief. Gen Malik and a section of the Bharatiya Janata Party were believed to have been in favour of Lieutenant General Chandra Shekhar, the present vice-chief of army staff.
Gen Padmanabhan, an artillery officer, was born on December 5, 1940, in Trivandrum, Kerala. He is an alumnus of the prestigious Rashtriya Indian Military College, Dehradun. Thereafter, like many other chiefs before him, he joined the National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla, in 1956 as a cadet.
Gen Padmanabhan was commissioned into the Indian Army in the Regiment of Artillery from the Indian Military Academy on December 13, 1959.
In his 41-year career, Gen Padmanabhan has held several prestigious command, staff and instructional postings, besides participating in numerous operations.
A graduate of the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, and National Defence College, New Delhi, his first command was that of the Gazala Mountain Regiment, one of the oldest artillery regiments of the Indian Army that has participated in several wars.
Between July 1985 and February 1991, Gen Padmanabhan set a record in the Indian Army by commanding an artillery brigade and two infantry brigades in vastly different terrain.
After his promotion to major general, Padmanabhan took over a frontline infantry division in the western sector. As lieutenant general he was commander of 15 Corps in the Kashmir valley.
It was during Padmanabhan's tenure as 15 Corps commander and, later, as GOC of the Udhampur-based Northern Command that the army made big gains over the militants in Kashmir and could even scale down its operations. He took over as GOC-in-C, Northern Command, on September 1, 1996. But just a few months before the Kargil conflict, he was moved to the Southern Command, headquartered at Pune. He took over his new posting on January 3, 1999.
The general has been a Brigade Major of an infantry brigade on its raising, colonel general staff of a mountain division and instructor in gunnery at the School of Artillery. He has also spent two tenures as instructor at the Indian Military Academy. He was chief of staff of a corps in the eastern sector, and director general of military intelligence at Army HQ.
He is married to Roopalakshmi and has two children.
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