Trapped at the border of impulse and conscience

hat sort of a Pakistan was this that had entered their village like some maddened bull, trampling humanity under its hooves and turning everything upside down?” wonders an anguished man in Savage Harvest: Stories of Partition by Mohinder Singh Sarna (1923-2001), translated from Punjabi and introduced by his son and diplomat, Navtej Sarna. On both sides of the new western border between India and Pakistan, an orgy of violence had broken out in towns and villages. It was Hindus and Sikhs vs. Muslims, with both sides pillaging, raping, and killing, leaving a million dead, 12-18 million refugees, and a still-poisoned well of politics in the region.
Over the decades, Partition has produced many popular and critical narratives: its causes, villains, avoidable mistakes, its defining features and aftermath. While such narratives can never be immune from subjective perspective, much of it — despite notable work from scholars like Gurharpal Singh, Ian Talbot, Urvashi Butalia, Perry Anderson, Gyanendra Pandey, and Jan Breman — remains mired in crude nationalistic politics, taboos, and mythologies of India, Pakistan, and Great Britain.
In 2011 for instance, when Jaswant Singh, former defense minister of India and a senior member of BJP, wrote a book in which he blamed Nehru more than Jinnah for Partition and even praised many aspects of Jinnah’s personality, the BJP expelled him from the party and banned his book in Gujarat. This happened despite the fact that Singh was articulating an increasingly common view among scholars. Recent scholarship has also shown that a lot of Partition violence, such as that of Rawalpindi massacres, attacks on refugee trains and foot convoys, and ethnic cleansing of villages, was carefully planned and executed — with ample collusion of state agents — by extremist groups competing for political power. This is why the violence of Partition was so much more brutal and genocidal than the violence of “mere” communal riots. Such groups included Muslim para-militaries, Hindu volunteers of the RSS, and Sikh jathas and princely rulers. In other words, much of Partition violence in Punjab did not erupt “spontaneously” among mobs and hotheads, an idea that still rules the popular imagination.

“there is a chance my parents are still alive”

Poor kid. Fat chance of anything like that happening.

The net has now been cast wide from Kazakhstan to the north to the Southern Indian Ocean near Perth, Australia. The main suspect are now the two pilots (and other crew). The co-pilot is known to be a ladies man who has on an earlier occasion entertained passengers in the cockpit.  

The plane was confirmed to be flying for seven hours after contact with civilian radar was lost.
Malaysian police have begun searching the home of the pilot at the helm of
the missing Malaysia
Airlines flight MH370, after the country’s prime minister confirmed that
the Boeing 777’s communications were deliberately disabled by “someone on
the plane”. Police officers arrived at 53-year-old captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah’s home on
the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur shortly after the PM, Najib Razak, finished his
dramatic press conference,
during which he told reporters new satellite data
indicated that MH370 last made contact roughly seven hours after it vanished
from civilian radar one week ago.

While the raw satellite footage has helped investigators determine that the
plane was still flying long after it lost contact with air traffic control at
1.22am on Saturday 8 March with 239 people on board, it could not discern the
aircraft’s exact location, Najib said – putting it anywhere along two possible
flight corridors: a northern corridor stretching from Kazakhstan, in central
Asia, down to northern Thailand; and a southern corridor stretching from
Indonesia towards the southern Indian Ocean.

authorities had initially focused their investigation on the missing plane on
four possible explanations, including possible hijacking, sabotage, or the
personal or psychological problems of the crew or passengers,
the “new
information” that had come to light was forcing investigators to rethink
their strategy, Najib said. “In view of this latest development, the Malaysian authorities have
refocused their investigation into the crew and passengers on board,” he
told reporters on Saturday.

The satellite data indicates that the plane was flying far longer than had
been initially believed, and is likely to instigate what may be the biggest
hunt ever for a missing plane. Some 14 countries, 43 ships and 58 aircraft are
already involved in search and rescue efforts, but the two new flight corridors
will necessitate the assistance of the countries underneath those corridors –
including, possibly, Burma, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, China,
Nepal, Tajikistan and Afghanistan.

The hunt for the plane will therefore require military and diplomatic
co-operation as investigators attempt to piece together, through civilian,
military and satellite data, what the exact fate of the missing jet may be.
It is unclear if police had also begun searching the homes of the other 11
Malaysian crew on board, including co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid, 27, who is known to have entertained passengers on board a previous flight
in the cockpit during a Phuket-Kuala Lumpur flight in 2011.

Another report emerged on Saturday indicating that MH370 may have turned
south towards the Indian Ocean, where it is believed to have last been
identified some 1,000 miles west of Perth in Australia, according to satellite
“pings” that recorded the plane’s data, Bloomberg reported.

While it is not clear how much fuel the Boeing-777 was holding, there would
have been enough to fly it at cruising altitude to its scheduled destination,
Beijing, a nearly six-hour flight. It is believed, however, the missing jet may
have been flying at a higher altitude, which would have allowed it to carry on
for longer.

The news is likely to fuel further speculation over suspected terrorism
although no person or group has come forward to disclose why the plane may have
been hijacked, or if it even was. For some relatives of those missing, however, the news the plane was still
flying at 8.11am last Saturday is an indication that there may be hope for
their missing loved ones. “It means there’s still a chance my parents are alive,” Eric Chen
Zhi Yang, 15, told Malaysia’s New Straits Times. Both his mother and father
were on board MH370.


Betrayal in Telangana

Telangana (also Karnataka and Kerala) with 17 Lok Sabha seats was the great southern hope for  the Congress in order to avoid annihilation at the polls.
Now with the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) rejecting alliance with the Congress (both at the state and national level) there will be considerable heart-break.

Not only this is a disaster in the short term, but in the long term Congress will lose what was a few years ago its most loyal base (stayed with Mrs Gandhi even after the emergency horrors in 1977).

TRS is perhaps making a calculation that an alliance with the BJP may provide them with much needed Central bounty as the partition moves forward.

Not to worry, in the next election these fair weather friends will find a way to meet up again (in response to the demands of the people).  Another day in the wonder that is political India.

BTW this is a background map illustrating how the southern states (Karnataka shown with deep blue borders) were formed through reorganization of the British ruled and Native ruled states. The new Telangana state is in the North-East corner. The new Andhra state is shown in sky-blue.

In a severe setback to Congress in Telangana, TRS dashed its hopes of an
alliance for the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in the region.

“There will not be any electoral alliance with Congress. Let’s see from
tomorrow if TRS MLAs will join the Congress or the reverse will happen,”
Telangana Rashtra Samiti chief K Chandrasekhar Rao said addressing his
party workers at the Telangana Bhavan here. KCR’s remarks appear significant amidst indication that two former women
ministers were all set to quit the Congress and join the TRS in a day
or two.

Congress, which seeks credit for the role of the Congress-led UPA
government at the Centre in the carving out of the new state out of
Andhra Pradesh, has been seeking at least an alliance after TRS ruled
out a merger with it. There are 17 Lok Sabha seats in Telangana whose assembly strength is 117.

Referring to remarks made by AICC General Secretary Digvijaya Singh on
TRS’ refusal to merge with the Congress after the creation of
Telangana., Rao attacked the Congress, asking, “They say KCR betrayed
them but what was the betrayal.”

Rao said they had proposed merger of TRS with Congress to secure
statehood for the region and prevent suicides by hundreds of youth. “But now, people are against our merger and hence we are going by their wish,” he added.

He recalled that many of those who committed suicide for a separate state had named the Congress for their act. “Now the Congress started a drama saying it will give tickets to kin of those victims in the coming elections,” he said.


An advocate for “radical social transformation”

Saroj Giri is passionate about bringing back the blood-red (in a non-pejorative sense) left and is clear that the best way to fight communalism is through “radical social transformation.” .But he does not say where lies the magic wand that will drive the masses back into the fold of  the left.

It was a point of pride for the left in India that they are the true secularists as well as above dirty caste politics (the left will at best acknowledge that class is caste). The left was (as usual) mainly ruled by the super-castes – EMS Namboodiripad belonged to the cream of the cream (the Kedarnath shrine in the Himalayas can have only Namboodiri priests. But there were also powerful leaders from so-called backward backgrounds as well, including the formidable VS Achuthanandan, the prince of the Ezhavas.

Good governance in the rule-book of the left used to mean no communal riots and (in earlier times) no corruption. But then the left in India became part of the ruling class and became corrupted. This had been predicted by the left’s own theoreticians who preferred to usher in the red revolution. Unfortunately revolutions aka “radical social transformation” is hard work, you have to kill of millions of people, deport others to gulags, and re-educate all the peasants. And after all the hard work they may still dump you for the promise of a nice pair of jeans.Shameful ingratitude indeed.

As the masses have abandoned the left, all one can do now is to cry over split milk and sneer at the “low information” voters. This is the tragedy of the left in India and elsewhere.
game-changing equation is being suggested here: that even those who do not
explicitly endorse majoritarian Hindu sentiments will vote for Hindutva
thanks to the new agenda of opposing vote bank politics, fighting corruption,
what goes around in the name of say good governance.

Here we can do well to recall Praveen Togadia’s tweet that Hindutva followers should not
be too opposed to Modi ordering the arrest of Bajrang Dal activists (they were
arrested on August 20th, 2013, by Gujarat Police after they had vandalized an
art exhibition in Ahmedabad which included art exhibits from Pakistani
artists). The reason Togadia provided: ‘Let him add secular votes’.

The RSS functionary’s views assumes a particular understanding of the Indian
voter for whom fighting vote bank politics and pitching for good governance
becomes more important than fighting the dangers of Hindutva politics. This
points to one emerging affinity in Indian politics today: that the wider agenda
of good governance and anti-corruption is compatible with Hindutva,
that, for
example, fighting corruption is in sync with supporting Modi’s Hindutva. The
mainstream fight against corruption today might deliver itself at the feet of
Modi’s Hindutva.

How is this possible? How is it possible that Hindutva’s communal
polarisation often leading to communal riots and breakdown of the rule of law
becomes compatible with good governance?
We get some answers through a close
reading of the recent riots in Muzaffarnagar (Sep 2013) and in fact its (non-)
resonance in wider Indian politics.

Muzaffarnagar pointed towards a new kind of riots. The strategy there seems
to follow from the ‘lessons learned’ from what ‘went wrong’ in Gujarat 2002,
where the high number of Muslims killed (790) attracted enormous press and
civil society attention around the world, and created a political albatross
that dogs Modi to this day.  

Hence keep the number of actual killings low and
instead compensate for that by increasing those displaced and uprooted from
their land and homes
—clearly the pattern in Muzaffarnagar riots, where the
thrust was on displacing Muslims (50,000), shattering their economic base and
means of livelihood, rather than on killings per se (‘only’ 37 Muslims killed).

The trick: keep communal polarisation low profile or low intensity and keep
chanting the mantra of development and governance!

Now many, among them ardent secularists and leftists, welcome this new
agenda of politics while opposing Modi/BJP. They think of good governance as
rightly taking us away from divisive issues and communal or vote bank politics
and open the way towards a more enlightened, rational politics based on genuine
issues of development and governance. A Muslim as much as a Dalit or an upper
caste Hindu or a jhuggi dweller all want basic amenities like water,
electricity, good schools—they all want good governance, don’t they?

So if only we could stop Modi or the BJP from coming to power, this agenda
is in itself very positive! It is by dint of this logic that scores of
secularist or left-leaning activists and academics have joined AAP which in
many ways is spearheading the good governance crusade. And yet in terms of its
articulation, effects and ramifications, the new agenda seems already set in
its affinity with communal politics. This is reflected in, say, AAP’s coyness
when it comes to talking about communalism.
Their insistence that they are not
about vote banks so often seems to be a way to duck communal issues, a
hesitation to take on communalism—and definitely overlook its affinity with
good governance.

Here we notice a major structural shift in Indian politics. This means that
Indian politics’ umbilical cord with communal politics and riots is magically
rendered invisible by the cunning discourse of good governance, transparency
and anti-corruption. Only a politics of radical social transformation can
dislodge this bonhomie of good governance and communalism.


(un)fair weather friends

The definition of a true friend in Sanskrit:
Utsave Vyasane Chaiba (he is with me during festivals and good times)
Durbhikshye Rashtrabiplabe (….and during famines and mutiny)
Rajadware Shmashane Cha  (he gives me company in crisis and in death)
Jah Tisthati Sah Vandhavah  (the man who stands by me is a true friend)

It is near-death time for Congress (A), so it is up to the (B) team to deliver.

When Akhilesh Yadav (son of “mullah” Mulayam Yadav) came to power with a robust majority it was hoped that a new generation was rising and would bring with it the promise of good governance (with technology acting as disinfectant). That promise has not been kept, even the muslim vote-bank of the Samajwadi Party is disillusioned because of the many many riots (and more importantly the cavalier, callous govt response to the riot victims).  

The general attitude of secular parties is “there is no alternative for muslims.” However taking muslims for granted may not be possible any more. The “muslim faces” that have functioned as bridges with the community have lost their trust and will need serious effort to earn it back (if ever).

The way things are right now, it looks as if it will be tough going for the (B) team as well.

Doctors’ strike, riots, bad law & order and a scolding by your father…

Netaji (Mulayam Yadav) is both my leader and my father. If he says something, I have
to pay attention. Though sometimes I also get confused as to whether he
is talking to me as a leader or a father (smiles).

Azam Khan is a discredited figure and many believe you make a mistake in projecting him as the Muslim face of your party.

Azam Khan and Netaji go back to the Babri Masjid days when fir­ing
was ordered on the kar sevaks. They’ve seen and felt a lot together.

Now netaji wants to be PM.

This election is about choosing a PM. If Jayalalitha and Mamata
both want to increase their strength by saying they will be PM,
it is a good thing. Shows the pluralism of our country.

But most believe Modi is more likely to be the PM?

Whose voice is Modi’s voice? Crores of people of Uttar Pradesh and
Bihar are responsible for the prosperity of Gujarat that he talks of.
Thousands of cadres of the RSS are working for him.  

But secularism is in crisis and the kind of secular politics your party plays has also led to the growth of the BJP.

It is easy to be communal. Secular hona mushkil hai (it is
difficult to be secular).
UP is being circled by communal forces. What
happened in Muzaffarnagar was a great tragedy and we did what we could.
But we were not playing politics with that issue. The BJP and BSP did. 

Look how it has been done. One TV channel close to the BJP announces
that warm clothes for Muzaffarnagar refugees will be collected in the
Ambience Mall in Delhi three months after the riots. And look how the
VHP has been actively stoking trouble all over in Jhansi, Faizabad. And
every clash or incident is now described as communal.

You are not putting up candidates against Sonia and Rahul Gandhi.

When the Congress is in trouble, then we are its closest friends. There will be no SP candidates against the Big Two.

Do you support reservation for Jats?

I do not want to say anything about reservation as it is a sensitive issue and we have to take decisions as a party.


Mr AK-272 takes aim at media

If the messenger is outlawed only outlaws will have messengers.

It appears that the great hope of the (secular, liberal) middle class, Shri Arvind Kejriwal-ji aka AK-272 is the re-incarnation of Nehru (who himself was the great hope of secular, liberal folks).

Our first PM wanted to hang all corrupt businessman from lamp-posts. AK-272 will merely imprison all members of the media. And this is from a man who rose up from the ranks through the good-will of the media. Not a very good idea, to bite the hand that (for most of the time) feeds you laddus.

Kejriwal found himself embroiled in a raging controversy on Friday
after a surprising comment by him threatening to send media persons to
jail for allegedly promoting BJP leader Narendra Modi for monetary
considerations went viral. The controversy could well signal the end of
the Aam Admi Party’s already fraying honeymoon with the media.

video of Kejriwal’s diatribe against the media at a fund raising dinner
in Nagpur on Thursday saw him promise an inquiry against media persons
if AAP came to power. “If our government comes to power then we will set
an inquiry into this. And along with media people, all will be sent to
jail,” he said.

The video marked a shocking and sweeping attack
on the media for allegedly hyping up Modi while airing negative or
critical news about AAP and immediately sparked off a furious spat
between the party and its political opponents with BJP and Congress
leaders condemning Kejriwal’s comments as reflecting a dictatorial and
vengeful mindset.

Though Kejriwal denied the remarks saying, “I
didn’t say that. I didn’t say anything. How can I be upset with you
his senior party colleagues Dilip Pande, Ashutosh, Sanjay
Singh and Ashish Khetan stuck to charging TV and print media with
targeting AAP and promoting BJP.



The end of poverty (or specifically poor nations- only 10 will be left and they cant be helped).  

This prediction from the richest man in the world- the 76 Billion dollar man. The message- the world has never been a better place for me (of course) and you (???).  

The interesting thing is that his parents bought him an encyclopedia and his knowledge of the world proceeded in an alphabetical order (why?).

There is only one fly in  the ointment: “20
years from now, labor demand for lots of skill sets will be substantially
lower. I don’t think people have that in their mental model.” 

This is actually the problem, people are able to visualize this. We will all be replaced by robots that Microsoft may or may not be able to build.

“We’re on this rising tide that’s not recognized. It’s overwhelming how
prosperity is spread around the world,” the ex-Microsoft CEO who is the
world’s richest man said in a conversation at the American Enterprise

Here’s more on his prediction that there will be almost no poor countries by

Today 45 countries that are still in that low-income category. And what I’m
saying is that, by 2035, there should be less than 10,
and they’ll mostly be
either places like North Korea, where you have a political system that
basically creates poverty, or land-locked African countries where the
geography, the disease burden, the disparate ethnicities mean that they haven’t
been able to bring together a government that in terms of education,
infrastructure, health does even the most minimum things for them.

He says people tend to be irrationally pessimistic: The Steven Pinker example, one of my favorite books of all time, is that if you
ask people, “Is this one of the most violent eras in history?” they
will say yes.
Overwhelmingly, Americans say yes. Well, it’s overwhelmingly the
least violent era in history.
And so what it means is your disgust with
violence actually increases, and that’s partly why we take steps and why within
our own society and the world at large it’s come down so dramatically.

And here’s more on the world getting better in ways not captured by economic
data: You know, buying encyclopedias, you know, I bought it — my parents bought a
World Book. I read it. You know, I had to learn the world alphabetically.
weird way to learn things. You know, now, every kid who has Internet access has
Wikipedia. And so whether it’s in the area of technology or medicine or various
things, you’re — there’s a lot of a qualitative nature that’s not captured in
those things. So whether the gross number goes up or not, the rate of
improvement in livelihood, you know, I think will be very rapid in the future.


the 14th Ferozepur Sikh regiment…and some others

Continuing the tradition of posting Dr Hamid Hussain’s occasional emails about Indian military history (and very sad at having lost the previous posts that were in the old Brown Pundits):

Dear All;
A good friend from India asked questions about details of 14 Sikhs in WWI and role of Indian Medical Service (IMS); not much written about IMS.  There were some other questions about Sikh recruitment in British Indian army especially caste issue.  Following piece was consolidation of answers of these queries.  My digging of military archeology is only for those interested in history.  I personally have a lot of fun doing this though quite tiring.  
14th Ferozepore Sikhs
Hamid Hussain
14th Ferozepore Sikhs was raised in 1846 after First Anglo-Sikh War from demobilized soldiers of Sikh army.  It was raised by Captain G. Tebbs and recruits came mainly from cis-Sutlej area.  Regiment recruited local Sikhs and Punjabi Muslims.  Initially, Oudh Rajputs from other regiments were posted to the regiment.  In 1852, Tebbs died and Captain T. E. Colebrooke took command.  In 1857 Mutiny, regiment was in Mirzapur.  Few days before the uprising about four hundred men under the dynamic command of Lieutenant Jeremiah Brasyer were sent to Allahabad and few days later they were instrumental in saving the fort.  Brasyer was the founding father of the regiment.  He spoke Punjabi and in 1846, he toured cis-Sutlej area and was instrumental in encouraging Sikhs to join the new regiment.  He was an amazing character.  He was a gardener and enlisted in Bengal artillery.  Few years later he was appointed Sergeant Major of 26th Bengal Native Infantry.  He fought in First Anglo-Afghan War of 1842 and First Anglo-Sikh War of 1846.   He was given commission and appointed Ensign at the age of thirty-three and served as interpreter during the raising of 14th Ferozepore Sikhs.  The regiment was later known by his name as Brasyer’s Sikhs. 
During mutiny, with the breakdown of general order, soldiers of 14th Ferozepore Sikhs got hold of all the liquor from cantonment and city of Allahabad.  They periodically got drunk and discipline was seriously compromised.  British position was still precarious and they have to act tactfully.  They bought all the liquor from Sikhs at asking price and later transferred them from the fort to a nearby building.  During Mutiny, regiment joined Henry Havelock’s relief of Cawnpore and Lucknow. In the hot weather, soldiers discarded their regular uniform and donned red turbans.  British officers including their commander Brasyer also wore red turbans.  In honor of this service, regiment was allowed to wear red turbans and later the whole Sikh regiment adopted the red turban; a tradition still continued in Sikh regiment of Indian army. 

Regiment participated in many expeditions on North West Frontier.  In 1863 Ambela Expedition, regiment under the command of Major Ross and Subedar Major Sikandar Khan participated in some sanguine battles.  In 1877, regiment participated in Jowaki Expedition operating in Bori valley.  In 1878, regiment participated in Second Anglo-Afghan War under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Williams.  Regiment was decimated not by enemy fire but by an epidemic of typhoid fever killing 200 men.  In 1881, regiment participated in Waziristan operation.  In 1884, Lieutenant Colonel George Nicholas Channer V.C. took command of the regiment.  He was originally from 1st Gurkha Rifles.  Channer family had long association with Indian army and especially Sikhs.  His father Colonel George Girdwood Channer served with Bengal Artillery.  His brother Colonel Bernard Channer DSO served with 2nd Native Infantry and Rajput Light Infantry.  Bernard’s three sons served in Indian army.  Guy Channer DSO served with 14th Sikhs and commanded the battalion in 1918, Bernard Gordon with 54th Sikhs (later 4/12 Frontier Force Regiment and now 6 Frontier Force Regiment of Pakistan army) and Keith Francis with 30th Jacob’s Horse.  In 1888, regiment fought in Black Mountain expedition under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Ellis, Chitral expedition in 1895, Tochi Field Force in 1897 and went to China in 1900 during Boxer rebellion. 
In 1866, Punjabi Muslims were phased out and regiment became a single class regiment of Sikhs.  It is important to understand Sikh recruitment in British Indian army.  Sikh religious and social transformation in nineteenth century resulted in retreat of Khatri and rise of Jat Sikhs.  There is no caste system in Sikh religious doctrine and all are considered equal.  However, in reality there existed a clear class hierarchy in descending order of Jat, Khatri, Arora, Lobana, Ramgarhia and Ahluwalia.  Jats were sitting on the top of the pyramid and didn’t mingle with other classes.  British had to consider this during recruitment therefore only Jat Sikhs were recruited for single class regiments as well as class companies.  Other Sikh castes were recruited in separate regiments. 
Lobana Sikhs were recruited mainly in pioneer regiments (48th Pioneers) as well as some Punjab regiments.  British policy of insisting on strict adherence to Sikh religious code for its military recruits resulted in solidification of Sikh identity.  This also helped in significant conversion of Lobana Hindus to Sikhism with resultant marked reduction of Lobana Hindus in Punjab.  Twin benefits of military service and allotment of agricultural lands helped in upward social mobility of Lobanas.  Due to their first class performance in First World War, in 1922 reorganization, it was decided to have at least one company of Lobana Sikhs in each pioneer battalion.  In 1932, when pioneer regiments were disbanded, Lobana Sikhs were recruited in mountain batteries of artillery as well as constituting machine gun platoons of some infantry regiments.  Some Lobanas from disbanded pioneer regiments were transferred to Bengal and Bombay Sappers & Miners. 
Low caste Sikhs called Mazhabi and Ramdasia (M & R) Sikhs were at the bottom ring of the social ladder and they also looked towards army for upward social mobility.  They were mainly recruited in 23rd, 32nd and 34thPioneers.  A very small number served with Royal Bombay Sappers & Miners.  Pioneers were a specialized infantry that was extremely useful in frontier expeditions.  34th Pioneers earned the ‘Royal’ title for their stellar performance in First World War.  In 1932, when pioneer regiments were disbanded, only a very small number of M & R Sikhs remained in army.  About 320 M & R Sikhs were transferred to Bengal and Bombay Sappers & Miners.  Initially, all Sikhs were mixed in Sappers & Miners regiments but problems between high and low caste Sikhs especially the tricky issue of M & R Sikhs attending Jat Gurdwaras of the regiments resulted in segregation.  All Jat Sikhs went to Bengal Sappers & Miners while Lobana and M & R Sikhs to Bombay Sappers & Miners. 
In Second World War Mazhabi & Ramdasia (M & R) Regiment was re-raised from elements of earlier disbanded pioneer regiments.  Several old British officers of disbanded pioneer regiments were instrumental in raising M & R regiment.  1st M & R regiment was raised in Jullundur in October 1941 by Lieutenant Colonel C. H. Price.  Price was from 32nd Pioneers and after disbandment went to 2/12 Frontier Force Regiment.  Second in Command Major E. P. F. Pearse was from 34th Pioneers and had gone to 3/2 Punjab Regiment.  Subedar Major Jewan Singh was from 32nd Pioneers.  9/15 Punjab Regiment and 7/17 Dogra Regiment provided initial lot of native officers and other ranks for the raising of the regiment.  1st M & R fought in Burma theatre.  Later two more M & R battalions and some garrison companies were raised.  M & R Regiment was later re-named Sikh Light Infantry (SLI). 
In First World War, 14th Sikhs served in Gallipoli and Mesopotamian theatres where battalion suffered heavy casualties. In Gallipoli, 14th Sikhs was part of 29th Indian Brigade (other battalions were 69th and 89th Punjabis and 1/6th Gurkha Rifles).  Lieutenant Colonel Philip C. Palin was CO, Lieutenant Cremen Adjutant, Lieutenant Meade Quarter Master and Lieutenant Matthew Machine Gun Officer.  Indian officers included Subedar Major Jaswant Singh and Subedars Thakur Singh, Prem Singh and Kartar Singh.  Battalion’s Medical Officer was Cursetjee and sweeper Channi. Battalion suffered heavy casualties in the Third Battle of Krithia in June 1915 with over three hundred and seventy killed and wounded.  At one time, all officers were killed and wounded and only Second Lieutenant Reginald Arthur Savory remained unscathed and took temporary command of the battalion (he was wounded later and at Lt. Colonel rank commanded the battalion by then renamed 1/11 Sikhs and retired as Lieutenant General).  Battalion was reinforced with two double companies of Patiala Imperial Service Infantry, drafts from India and from other Punjabi regimens and Burma police battalions.  Battalion earned the distinction of winning 35 Indian Distinguished Service Medals (IDSMs) in Gallipoli campaign. 
In Mesopotamia, battalion guarded line of communications of I Corps and served with 51st Brigade. Commanding Officer was Lieutenant Colonel Earle and Subedar Major Sham Singh.  They were succeeded by Major Guy Channer and Subedar Major Narain Singh.  Battalion suffered 61 killed in action and 250 wounded.  Among the wounded was Captain George Francis Bunbury whose father Lieutenant Colonel W. E. Bunbury (originally from 28th Punjabis) had commanded the battalion from 1902-6.  Influenza epidemic decimated the battalion killing 300 men; a de ja vu of 1878 when Typhoid fever took more toll than enemy’s bullets.  Battalion has a unique distinction of having winners of gallantry awards even among its medical officers.  Battalion’s Medical Officer Captain Cursetjee won a DSO while Sub Assistant Surgeon Bhagwan Singh won Indian Order of Merit (IOM) in Mesopotemia.  Heerajee Jehangir Manockjee Cursetjee was awarded DSO in 1918 for gallantry and devotion to service when he attended to wounded soldiers despite being wounded himself.  He retired as Major General.
Indian Medical Service (IMS) was the first branch of Indian army that opened its doors to Indians as King Commissioned Officers.  One the eve of First World War, many Indian officers were serving with IMS.  In addition to Cursetjee, two other IMS officers; Captain (later Colonel) Phirozshah Byramji Bharucha and Captain (later Lieutenant Colonel) Nilkanth Shriram Jatar also won DSO in Great War.  Jatar is the most decorated IMS officer.  He won his first DSO in June 1917 in Mesopotamia when serving as medical officer of 16 Cavalry.  He won bar to DSO during Waziristan operation in 1920 when serving as medical officer of 2/76th Punjabis.  He was severely wounded at Kotkai (in 2008 Pakistan army fought battle at the same location.  In fact, Pakistan army and paramilitary scouts fought many battles with militants at almost all previous battlefields of frontier warfare a century ago) during the withdrawal and lost his leg.  IMS officers introduced their young children to military life and children of many of these pioneer officers of IMS joined Indian army.  Jatar’s three sons joined armed forces; Major General Sudhir Jatar, Brigadier Arvind Jatar (Central India Horse) and Air Vice Marshal Jairam Jatar. Children of another IMS officer Lieutenant Colonel Mohamed Abdur Rahman also opted for army after their education in England.  Atiq ur Rahman ‘Turk’ joined 4/12 Frontier Force Regiment, opted for Pakistan in 1947 and became Lieutenant General in Pakistan army.  Turk’s brother Attaur Rahman after serving with a Frontier Force Regiment battalion joined Indian Foreign Service.  He decided to stay in India and served as Indian ambassador to several countries.
 In 1922 reorganization, 14th Ferozepore Sikhs was designated Ist Battalion of 11th Sikh Regiment.  Ist, 2nd and 3rd battalions of 11th Sikh Regiment were single class Jat Sikh battalions while 4th, 5th and 10th battalions were composed of two Jat Sikh and two Punjabi Muslim companies.  In 1945, Naik Nand Singh of 1/11 Sikh Regiment won Victoria Cross (VC) in Burma.
In 1947, Indian army was divided between India and Pakistan.  Most battalions were composed of class companies or squadrons and they were exchanged between two countries.  Ist Battalion of Ist Punjab Regiment was assigned to Pakistan and it consisted of Sikh A Company, Hazarawal Muslims B company, Punjabi Muslims C Company and Rajput D Company.  Sikh and Rajput companies of the battalion went to India.  Sikh A company was assigned to 1/11 Sikh then stationed at Gurgaon.  In the terrible times of communal hatred when Muslims and Sikhs were killing each other, it is amazing to note that the regimental bond was still vibrant and solid as a rock.  Former Commanding Officer of 1/1 Punjab Colonel Sher Ali Khan Pataudi was in Delhi waiting to go to Pakistan to join Pakistan army.  Battalion’s former Subedar Major Feroz Khan was also in Delhi.  When they came to know that the Sikh company of 1/1 Punjab was in Gurgaon in the process of joining 1/11 Sikh, they decided to visit their former comrades.  While their fellow co-religionists were killing each other Pataudi and Feroz were entertained by Sikhs of 1/1 Punjab with the farewell dinner and karha parsad (a sweet offering to visitors as a sign of hospitality) and many wet eyes.
 1/11 Sikh played crucial role in securing Kashmir for India in 1947-48.  Pakistani tribesmen and some regular troops had captured the town of Baramula and were on the doorsteps of Srinagar.   On October 26, Indian leaders decided to send Indian troops to Kashmir.  1/11 Sikh was the first battalion air lifted to Kashmir.  Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Dewan Ranjit Rai was informed to bring his troops to Palam air filed in Delhi for air lift on early morning October 27.  Two companies of the battalion were on internal security duties.  Rai took C and D companies along with battalion headquarters with instructions that remaining two companies follow later.  Rai had no idea about the task and at the airfield he was given operational orders.  Ground situation was very fluid with very limited information and no one even knew the extent of Pakistani advance.  Rai was instructed to land at Srinagar airport and secure the airfield.  In case, there was no response from Srinagar tower or if it had already fallen, then he was to go to Jammu and grab any kind of transport and try to go as close to Srinagar by road. 
On landing at Srinagar, Rai sent C company under the command of Captain Karamjit Singh towards Baramula and it reached Mile 32.  D Company under Major Harwant Singh did a flag march in Srinagar and then sent reinforcement to C company.  Rai had no communication with his troops as the plane carrying battalion’s signal platoon developed a problem and had to divert to Jammu (signal platoon joined three days later).  Faced with this dilemma, Rai decided to join his forward troops.  At Mile 32, tribesmen failing to dislodge the Sikhs outflanked them and tried to cut off their rear.  Rai arranged for the extrication of his troops and was killed in action.  Major Harwant Singh took temporary command and later Colonel (later Lieutenant General) Harbkhash Singh (originally from 5/11 Sikhs) took command of the battalion.  Rai was a firs rate officer originally commissioned in 5/11 Sikhs.  He was from the Pakistani town of Gujranwala.  His grandson Shivjit Shergill and great grandson Fareed Shergill served in Indian armored corps (Central India Horse).
 In December 1947, battalion lost its Victoria Cross (VC) winner Jamadar Nand Singh in Kashmir.  His body was never found.  He was awarded Maha Vir Chakra (MVC) posthumously making him the most decorated soldier of Indian army.  1 Sikh was instrumental in saving Srinagar for India and rightfully earned 59 gallantry awards.  Their valor was acknowledged by declaring October 27 as ‘Infantry Day’ for Indian army.  In 1962 Indo-China war, 1 Sikh fought in Towang sector.  Battalion had over 170 casualties including 132 killed in action.  Among the dead included their Commanding Officer (CO) Lieutenant Colonel B. N. Mehta and Subedar Jogindar Singh.  In 1965 Indo-Pakistan war, 1 Sikh was in Titwal sector of Kashmir and involved in some minor operations. 
In 1979, Mechanized Infantry Regiment was raised and many old infantry battalions were converted to mechanized infantry and allotted new numbers.  1 Sikh became 4th Mechanized Infantry regiment.  Mechanized Infantry regiments are mixed class and 1 Sikh lost its all Sikh character on its re-incarnation as 4th Mechanized Infantry.  1 Sikh traded its red turban for black beret in transformation to 4th Mechanized Infantry regiment; however it is carrying on 170 years of traditions. 
–        The 14th, King George’s Own Sikhs : the 1st Battalion (K.G.O.) (Ferozepore Sikhs), the 11th Sikh Regiment, 1846-1933 by Colonel F.E.G. Talbot, 1937
–        1st King George V’s Own Battalion, the Sikh Regiment. The 14th King George’s Own Ferozepore Sikhs. 1846-1946 by Lieutenant-General P. G. Bamford, 1948
–        M & R: A Regimental History of the Sikh Light Infantry 1941-1947 by J. D. Hookway. 
–        The Sikh Regiment by D. S. Sandhu,
–        The Story of Soldiering and Politics in India and Pakistan by Major General Sher Ali Khan Pataudi, 1978
Hamid Hussain
February 28, 2014