the-south-asian Life & Times                       July-Sep 2011





Editor's Note



Team India Heads
 for Argentina


  Vijay Amritraj


 Indian Military
 Academy - A World
 Class Institution

 Lt Gen R S Sujlana -    A Conversation

  Royals in Uniform 
 - A Photo feature

Dinkar Kowshik

 Trisul 1951
 Modern Indian

 60 Years of Indian


 Golden Chariot's
 'Pride of the South'
 - 5-Star Time Travel
 Thru Karnataka













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Lt Gen Rajinder Singh Sujlana AVSM, VSM
Commandant IMA, and Colonel of the Sikh Regiment

Tempered by forty years in uniform, Lt Gen Sujlana, Commandant of the IMA, is a graduate of IMA. He will retire from the military on June 30, 2011 - a couple of months after this conversation took place in the historic and imposing Chetwode Hall – the sanctum sanctorum of IMA. An officer, a leader, a golfer, a philatelist, a numismatist, a bird-watcher, his interests are wide-ranging. His association with IMA goes back forty years when he arrived here as a GC. Subsequently he has also been an Instructor and Colonel General Staff at IMA – and is now the Commandant of his ‘Alma Mater’. It is a place he feels passionately for. He has recently brought out a book on ‘Birds of IMA’ and is working on another one – ‘Flowering Trees and Shrubs of IMA’. We spoke in mid-April 2011 on all things related to IMA.  Here are his views. - Editor

 What is the philosophy of IMA  - To produce the best possible leaders of character and competence for our Army.

Your time as a GC here. From then until now – what are the significant changes you have seen.

That’s going back forty years. There have been many overall changes but the biggest change has been in the field of training - from conventional and nuclear warfare to sub-conventional or non-conventional  dealing basically with insurgency, terrorism or certain international duties under the UN flag. One thing that hasn’t changed is the good old cycle. We’ve still got those old cycles here – and they keep everybody fit!

Your vision for IMA

Loyalty to the nation, integrity, morals and ethics – all are of paramount importance.  My vision is to ensure that with these parameters I train them to become good soldier warriors and leaders.

Your priorities: To develop the GCs into warrior leaders. To stress personal responsibility and accountability. Improve mental toughness.

 Is it difficult to integrate GCs from so many different parts of the country?

Not at all – there is no problem on that score. In fact there is a lot of camaraderie amongst them. Let me give you an example of their comradeship. We had an outstanding GC here, heading possibly for a major award at the academy. His father became suddenly unwell and he went home to see him. But sadly, he met with an accident and died. His course mates remembered that he talked of one sister whom he wanted to educate and make her an engineer. So they all collected Rs 10 lakhs, put it in a fixed deposit in his sister’s name – to honour their course-mate. There are no qualms about being from different states, caste, tribe or religion.

Even the foreign GCs who come here, integrate very well with the rest of them. The foreign cadets who come via NDA can speak Hindi – they form a part of the pipping ceremony – though they come as a separate group. They use Hindi words of command – savdhan, vishram etc. That’s the level of integration that takes place here.

What is the state-wise breakdown of GCs at IMA?

Haryana, UP, Uttarakhand, Maharashtra, and Bihar are the top five states where most of the GCs are from. The middle order states are Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Kerala, Punjab, and Madhya Pradesh. The poorly represented ones are Arunachal, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Sikkim, and Tripura There are no GCs from Andaman and Goa. If every state were to send cadets – it would address the shortage of officers in the army.

Does it help to have been an alumnus of IMA and then come here as the Commandant

Definitely.  In my case it has helped me because I am aware of the nuances of how things function at all levels. I understand the issues better – having been here not only as a cadet but also as an instructor.

Have you enjoyed your time at IMA?

I go around the campus every morning on a cycle – I  have enjoyed my time at IMA and I will retire a very happy person from the army. I am looking forward to my retirement, though I would love to continue working for the army. My last tenure has been a big step in my career – as the commandant of my alma mater. When I passed out of here forty years ago on 13th of June , I didn’t know I would be completing my career here and leaving on the 30th of June.

Your Interests

I enjoy reading and I have a strong interest in Sikh history. I collect stamps , first day covers – I have all the first day covers related to the armed forces -  all the 662 covers but for seven.  (He has a handy list of the covers he doesn’t have ). I also collect commemorative coins. I enjoy photography, bird-watching, angling, and have begun this exercise of cataloguing the number and species of trees in IMA. There is a book under production - ‘Flowering Trees and shrubs of IMA’.  I have already brought out a book ‘Birds of IMA’ .




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