Monday 25 March 2019

23RD MAR 2019
(Imagine to be a part of a charged up evening that honours the Martyrs and felicitates their families and then getting regaled in the crescendos of Music dedicated to Sant Kabir….The result  is bound to be Euphoria at its Best.)

             Early this month I chanced upon a Post by our dear Friend LtCdr Rajeshwari Kori regarding the Martyr’s being honoured and presented the ‘Shaheed-e-Hind’ Awards by the Indian Ex-Defence Service Employees Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IESECCI) on 23rd Mar 2019. She also mentioned that they would be honouring select Gallantry Awardees with ‘Inspiring Indian’ Awards which shall be followed by a scintillating performance by India’s Rock Band ‘Kabir Café’.

          An enterprising Naval Officer Cdr Angsuman Ojha (R.O. INS Angre) after retiring in 2014 joined High Court Mumbai and AFT as an Advocate. It's heartening to know that he set up an NGO,  IESECCI for the welfare of the families of Ex-Defence employees. In his own words, the essence of all activities of this organisation is to match the considerable experience, expertise and work ethics of our retired service personnel to the requirements of the Public/ Private industry. The organisation bridges the gap between ex-Defence personnel and business for an enriching mutual role. IESECCI guides - the individuals' aspirations to the correct industry or vertical matched with relevant skills and certifications. The Chamber's consultants sort through talent to match most suitable candidates for specific tasks and requirements, for right placements, ensuring minimum load to the HR team. The Core Team of the IESECCI comprises: 
Cdr Ansuman Ojha, Cdr Pravin Chauhan, Cdr Inderjit Pakrasi, Cdr Abhishek Kankan and Mr Ashutosh Narendranath.

          The IESECCI has a commitment to society as a charitable organisation. The chamber is dedicated to bringing support for Ex-Servicemen as well as social issues in the society at large. To this end, it undertakes events and programmes. The following are a few indicative events:-

--Shaheed -E- Hind. Annual felicitation of the martyrs in a function where the public, for whom they laid their lives, can participate.
--Disability day Rally. Highlights equal opportunity and empowerment of the physically challenged.
-- Community-based events allowing new talents to emerge in sports not considered mainstream by today’s youth.

          This year the Organisation held the second edition of the ‘Shaeed-E-Hind’ event on 23rd Mar, the Martyrdom Day of our beloved freedom fighters Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev. It was decided to honour the Next of Kin of 4 Army Martyrs and 4 Police Martyrs belonging to Maharashtra. Besides the presentation of ‘Inspiring India’ awards to the Gallantry awardees from our three services and prominent civil personalities who have been dedicating their lives to our Nation.

      The core team put their heads together to identify the neglected Martyrs families from the hinterland of our state and personally invited them to the Rangsharda Auditorium of Bandra to honour them. The team worked overtime to Plan and Organise the Event. A Video film was shot for each Martyr for projection during their Awards Ceremony.

          LtCdr Rajeshwari Kori, (who is a Deputy Controller of Home Guards in-charge of Civil Defence Organisation of Maharashtra, having specialised from Germany), volunteered to invite and interact with the Next of Kin of Martyrs and look after them. Cdr Angsuman Ojha interacted with the Sponsors to make this event possible. He interacted with me on Rajeshwari’s request to include Veer Nari Urmila Bakshi, (Late LtCdr VP Bakshi, NM (Gal) for the “Inspiring India’ Award.

             When we reached the Rang-Sharda Auditorium LtCdr Rajeshwari Kori warmly greeted us with a smile as I introduced her to Mrs Urmila Bakshi and Meena. We also met other invitees for the Inspiring 'Indian Award' : Cdr Anoop Verma, VrC, and a dynamic personality Knight Mehernosh Shroff,*(C.E.O. at Seaworthy Shipping Services and CEO/Founder/Owner at Shroff Aviation Industries). As we entered the hall we met Cdr Ravi Chauhan and his good lady Veena, our old friends since the Kolkata days. The Chief Guest for the Event was Brig Vinod Adappa, SM(Gal) and Guest of Honour was Padma Shree Dr Sharad Kale. The Anchor for the Event with the most mesmerising Voice was the National Commentator of RD Parades, LtCol MK Sinha. It was an honour to meet, greet and interact with them and the Next of Kins of the Martyrs. The Rang Sharda Auditorium was house-full. It was heartening to see Ex Cadet Sachin Khedekar, Area in-charge Civil Defence had mustered up a large number of students from Chetna College and NCC Cadets in uniform to witness the Event. Brig Vinod Adappa and Dr Sharad Kale presented the Awards to the Kins of Martyrs and the Inspiring Indians after which Brig Adappa delivered a moving address laced with personal anecdotes of his service that drew a huge round of Applause. Dr Sharad Kale impressed upon the environmental issues for the well-being of our future generations. Cdr Angsuman Ojha thanked all the Sponsors to have helped in making the Event possible and to all spectators to have graced the occasion for encouraging the Martyrs’ families.

                   There was a short Tea break before the re-commencement of a scintillating performance by the Internationally renowned ‘Kabir Café’ Rock Band of our country. A Band which has performed in 12 countries worldwide and the entire length and breadth of our nation. A Band that was conceptualised by Neeraj Arya, Film editor who formed a band of 4 like-minded friends from all walks of life media, engineers, college drop-out etc. Raman Iyer is their conversationist and Mandolin player while Neeraj Arya, the lead star along with Britto and Mukund Ramaswami play the electric/bass guitars. Viren Solanki the skilled Drummer, is their youngest star. Together they have been churning out music to propagate the teachings of Sant Kabir worldwide….Hence the name ‘Kabir Café’…..By the time they built up the crescendo if rhythmic beats in 2 hours, the entire hall was up on their feet with hands flung up chanting to the hymns of Kabir….

           Cdr Angsuman Ojha thanked the Band and requested Veer Nari Urmila Bakshi to felicitate the members of the Band. It was great to interact with the young members of the Band after the show and during the sumptuous delicious Dinner arranged by the organisers…..

         Praise be to Cdr Ojha and his dedicated team for the awesome arrangements for the Event/ Show in honour of the Martyrs Kins, the ‘Inspiring Indian’ Awardees, and the spectators….Salutes to them all !!
SHAHEED-E-HIND AWARDS (For Heroes who sacrificed their Lives in the ‘Line of Fire’
1. Santosh Ghag (Police SI)
2. Sanjay Chougule (Police SI)
3. Ambadas Pawar (Police constable)
4. Bapurao Dhurgude (Police SI)
5. Prakash Shelke (Army, Sepoy 16 MLI)
6. Sunil Kachare (Army, Hav 2 Paras)
7. Ashok Babar (Army, Sepoy 44 RR)
8. Sunil Yadav (Army, Sepoy 17 Maratha)
1. Dr Sir Huzaifa Khorakiwala
2. Veer Nari Urmila Bakshi
3. Mrs Sujata Rao
4. Cdr Anoop Verma, VrC (Retd)
5. Sir Mehernosh Shroff
6. Inspector Sohail Buddha
7. Mr Naved Aslam
8. Col Dipanshu Sinha
9. LtCol MK Sinha, SM (Gal) (Retd)
10. Mr Akshay Bardapurkar
11. Mr Sharat Chandra Parsa


Tuesday 19 March 2019

           VAdm HP Mukherjee, PVSM, AVSM, VSM,  DGMS(Navy) born on 01 Oct 41 in Maluti vill, Santhal Parganas (WB), walked into Sunset of his life in the forenoon of Sun 17 Mar 2019 in INHS Asvini. As a child, he excelled in St John’s Ranchi before accomplishing his MBBS from Prince of Wales Medical College, Patna. He was blessed with a calligraphic hand and had mastery over both English and Hindi that were impeccable. Having joined the Indian Navy in Feb 1964, Surg LtCdr HP Mukherjee specialised in Aviation Medicine at IAM Bangalore in 1972. It was during this specialisation, he met a beautiful Army Dental Officer Capt Kanta Chaudhry at Command Hospital and they fell for each other and tied the knot. After specialisation, he was posted to Naval Airstations INS Hansa, INS Garuda and onboard ships as PMO. He progressively ascended his promotional career, during which they were blessed with a baby girl Sonali, who herself is a Dentist now and runs a clinic in Juhu-Versova. Sonali and Kunal are blessed with a child prodigy, Siddhant with highly developed cerebral acumen, just as the Admiral. He is a Maharashtra under 7 chess champion and selected for Nationals scheduled in Jun this year. His elder sister Aalika(14) is an exceptional artist on the footsteps of her Nanaji, who himself was a super Artist and played all musical instruments. Aalika has been selected as the Arts Prefect of her School.
          The greatest tribute that we could pay to the Admiral is by recalling the glorious moments of his Life. I met the Adm when he was PMO INS Garuda in 1981. We were 7 rookie AgSubLts freshly posted to INAS 550 after our initial flying training with the Air Force. The MI Room Garuda was right opposite to our Squadron hangar and Surg Cdr HP Mukherjee used to come over to our squadron for goofing as the aircrafts used to taxy out in the morning. ‘Goofing’ is the term for ‘watching aircraft flying’. One morning I got a call from him me to report to MI room for medical examination as my Med Docs had arrived from IAF Dindigul, wherein I was placed in Temp med cat due to DNS (Deflected Nasal Septum). He examined my nose with his instruments and boldly declared ‘No DNS, Go fly’ and made an endorsement in my med papers. The same year I and Gopa were posted to INS Hansa to fly the Connie and lost touch with the Adm as we were never in the same base, till I met the Admiral in Asvini last Nov.

     After Garuda Surg Cdr Mukherjee was posted to INS Ranjit as PMO for his sea-time. Cdr GC Rai who was on board those days mentioned to me an incident, wherein the PMO while at sea had diagnosed a faulty Gear Box by closely monitoring and analysing its audio frequencies with his stethoscope and reported to the Commanding Officer. Great ingenuity in  ‘Out of the Box’ solution.

     Surg Cdr Mukherjee was promoted to the rank of Surg Capt in 1988 and Surg Commodore in ’94. Three yrs later he became a Rear Admiral and was posted as Commanding Officer INHS Asvini. He played a pivotal role in Asvini’s modernisation project, starting from the blueprint stage (when he was a Capt) to the commissioning of the huge  New Building and the NIDC building when he attained the top position as Surg VAdm as the Director General  Military Services (Navy).

      VAdm HP Mukherjee hung his uniform in Aug 2002 and settled in Juhu Versova. He was hale and hearty till Oct 2018, when Pneumonia took its toll and he was in and out of Asvini for a couple of times until walking away into the Sunset of his Life on 17 Mar’19. Admiral had been keeping a keen eye till his last day on the proceedings of his grandson Siddhant’s State Chess Championship in Pune. Siddhant was to play his 10th  game on 17th Mar. When sobbing Sonali rang up Pune to inform her better half Mr Kunal Bharti of Admiral’s demise, she enquired of Siddhant’s 10th  match. Kunal’s reply set the goosebumps for both of them…that since Siddhant had won all 9/9 matches, he was the outright Champ and the 10th  match of 17th  was insignificant and ruled out for him. Was the Holy Soul of the Admiral waiting to ensure a 9/9 win for Siddhant, before leaving for the heavenly Abode !!!

      Mrs Kanta Mukherjee is a courageous lady, an active Social worker for Juhu-Versova and a Committee Member of NFMC (Navy Foundation Mumbai Chapter). Cdr Vijay Vadhera, Secy NFMC arranged for the Funeral process and he albeit with moist eyes consoled Mrs Mukherjee on the need to ‘Celebrate’ the Life of the Admiral. The wreath-laying on behalf of CNS, DGAFMS, DGMS(Navy), Cmdt AFMC, CO Asvini and President NFMC was performed with Military honours at INHS Asvini at 1130 hrs on 18th Mar prior to cremation at Chandanvadi. A large number of service and civilian personnel took part in the funeral procession to bid their Final Good-Bye to their beloved Admiral.

       Surg Cdr RC Verma has beautifully captured the Adm’s Eulogy in his wonderful Poem :

A man with a Hard exterior,
Never conversed in IF or BUT,
Had a very Soft interior,
Just Like a Coconut.

In a crowd he stood apart,
His words could mesmerize
Since his speech was a Work of Art,
He could cut anyone to his Size

Never seen him, Shirk,
Was hardworking n Sincere,
He used to toil at Work,
Sans any Favour or Fear

Full of Grit n Determination,
He rose to be our DGMS,
No doubt of his Promotion,
He served the Nation without a Fuss.

As He walks away into Sunset,
We Pray for his Soul to Rest in Peace,
For youngsters the Path he has Set,
His Phenomenal inspiration shall Never Cease.

Surg SLt     -10.08.1964
Surg LtCdr  -10.02.1970
Surg Cdr     -10.08.1980
Surg Capt   - 02.02.1988
Surg Cmde - 01.10.1994
Surg RAdm- 10.10.1997
Surg VAdm - 30.08.2000 - 29.08.02
PMO Garuda        1980 – 83
PMO Ranjit           1983 – 85
CO Sanjivani         1989 –92
JDMS, NHQ          1992-- 93
ExO Asvini            1994-- 97
CO Asvini             1997-- 2000
CMO  WNC           2000
DGMS(Navy)        2000 --2002  



Sunday 17 March 2019

Veer Nari Janki Bhandoola, a committee member of NFMC is not only a mentor for the Veer Naris in Mumbai, But She is also a motivator and counsellor of patients at Tata Memorial Hospital too. Besides, she often visits the Naval Veterans admitted in INHS Asvini and provides feedback to Secy NFMC for promulgation to members as reqd. She is blessed with tremendous zeal, energy and enthusiasm at her age. She is truly India’s Lady with the Lamp.
We celebrated Janki Madam’s 75th (Platinum Jubilee) Birthday on 15th Mar at Bay View (US Club) organised exceptionally well by her younger son Ajay. Her elder Son Dr Avinash is employed in NIH Bethesda Maryland and blessed with Andre (17) Raoul (14). Her daughter Anmol is settled in Texas and blessed with Ryan (21) and Hunter (16). Ajay's blessed with a beautiful daughter Ananya(11 yrs). Ajay had ensured that his Mom has the Best of Time for which he arranged multimedia projection so that she could watch her children and grandchildren wishing her from overseas. It was overwhelming to see Janki Ma’am getting emotional as she watched them speaking and wishing her. Among the guests, there were Adm and Mrs VS Shekhawat (former CNS), Adm Thukral, Veer Naris, Doctors and staff of Tata Memorial Hosp, members of NFMC Committee along with their spouses and a few close friends. Meena's sister Nishi Kumar and Cmde Ramesh Kumar were in US with Cmde and Mrs Bhandoola, during former's EW specialisation in 1989-90. Cdr R Ananth, (who was instrumental in arranging the engagement of Janki Ma’am and Late Cmde Bobby Bhandoola,) was a special invitee from Pune where he and his good lady Shaku had settled post-retirement. He narrated how the love-birds met and fell for each other.
Ajay exuberantly escorted his Mom to the centre table for slicing the huge Chocolate cake. It was here that Cdr Vijay Vadhera, Secy NFMC took the Mic to say a few sweet words for Janki Ma’am and sang the Birthday Song as everyone joined in. Ajay took the first piece and offered it to his Mom. Cdr Vadhera then requested Adm VS Shekhawat to present the NFMC Memento to the Birthday Girl as we all applauded. Mrs Kanta Mukherjee took time off from Asvini where VAdm HP Mukherjee was admitted in ICU, to come and wish Mrs Janki Bhandoola. Adm Shekhawat uncorked the Champagne for this glorious occasion and everyone applauded. The Champagne was then served with merriment even as scintillating music was tuned up to attract a few couples to the Dance floor. Janki Ma’am too took to the floor. Sumptuous delicious dinner was served topped up with flavoursome Kulfi and yummy cake.
Self and Meena were almost the last to depart. As I thanked Janki Ma’am and bid her goodbye, I wished her a Century. She rightly corrected me by saying that she’ll have to become an Octogenarian first….Meena quipped, “But we shall continue to celebrate every year…Looking fwd to your 76th Birthday” She kept smiling cheerfully.
The Platinum Jubilee Birthday celebration of Janki Ma’am was Grand, is evident by the steam of thankyou wishes that she received the next day from the Veer Naris and all the Guests, who graced the occasion. Let's savour some of those…
Thanks so much, Janki Madam and Mr Ajay. It was a wonderful Platinum celebration. Thoroughly enjoyed.
---Dr Jayita, Head of the Palliative Dept, Tata Memorial Hospital
Janki ji by inviting me yesterday my memories became fresh for Commodore, who always will live in my heart and your perfection to do things was clear in the party. wishing u happy healthy life so that u continue to spread happiness and joy to others
Adv KG Singhania. He and Bobbyji fought and won the court case on helipad coming up in Cuffe Parade by Ambanis.
Dear Mrs Janki Bhandoola Ma'am, You are blessed with a charming nature and sweet smile and infuse happiness into every Veteran recouping in Asvini...Wish you very many Happy returns of your very special day, today ........Keep spreading happiness to others, even as we converge to the US Club today evening for the Grand celebration .......May all your wishes be fulfilled by the Lord Almighty....Regards.... from Raj and Meena Dutta. (A bird has just chirruped that you share your Birthday with my Oi/c NAVAC Cmde Ranjit Rai, Yoyo Honey Singh and Alia Bhatt)
Thank you Janki ma'am. We all love u.
Thank you for the wonderful experience at your platinum birthday party!
This was the first time I attended someone's 75th !! (I couldn't be there for my grandma's 75th due to some reasons; just like Ur grandchildren)
It was a great event with great people across the globe and of course great wine and dine!
Also, thank you for inspiring us young ladies by setting a strong example like u before us..
Wish you many more golden years ..keep shining and smiling!!
I know this is a bit long.. but straight from the heart...
---from Dr Rucha Pati of Tata Memorial Hospital Palliative Dept