The rank of Field Marshal stands as the pinnacle of achievement within the Indian Army, symbolizing exceptional leadership and dedication. This article delves into the historical significance of this prestigious rank, focusing on the two distinguished individuals who have been conferred with this honor. The rank of Field Marshal in the Indian Army encapsulates a legacy of unparalleled dedication and valor. Sam Manekshaw and Kodandera M. Cariappa, the vanguards of this esteemed rank, have left an indelible mark on the annals of Indian military history. Their contributions serve as a beacon for aspiring leaders within the armed forces, embodying the spirit of excellence and selfless service to the nation.
Historical Background of the Field Marshal Rank:
The rank of Field Marshal, equivalent to Admiral of the Fleet in the Indian Navy and Marshal of the Indian Air Force, has been a rare and esteemed distinction. It is conferred for ceremonial purposes or during times of war, signifying the highest level of military leadership.
Sam Manekshaw: A Trailblazer in Military Excellence:
Early Years and Military Career
- Sam Manekshaw, fondly known as “Sam Bahadur,” commenced his military journey in 1935 within the British Indian Army.
- His illustrious career spanned four decades, marked by distinguished service in World War II and various conflicts.
Leadership in the 1971 Indo-Pakistani War:
- Appointed as the 8th Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) in 1969, Manekshaw played a pivotal role in the 1971 Indo-Pakistani War.
- The war culminated in a decisive victory for India, establishing Manekshaw’s legacy as a military strategist par excellence.
Field Marshal Conferment and Subsequent Controversies:
- In 1973, recognizing his outstanding leadership, Manekshaw was promoted to the rank of Field Marshal, a historic first for the Indian Army.
- Controversies surrounded the complete entitlements for the rank, eventually resolved with President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam ensuring Manekshaw received his long-overdue allowances.
Kodandera M. Cariappa: Architect of Military Eminence:
Early Military Service and Achievements:
- Kodandera M. Cariappa, the first Indian Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army, commenced his military service in 1920.
- He demonstrated exemplary leadership during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947 and played a pivotal role in post-Partition military restructuring.
Post-Retirement Recognition as a Field Marshal:
- Following his retirement in 1953, Cariappa continued to serve the nation as the high commissioner to Australia and New Zealand.
- In 1986, the Government of India conferred upon him the rare honor of the Field Marshal rank, acknowledging his outstanding contributions.