Tuesday, 28 May 2019


         Being a Military Veteran is an experience that’s second to none. A chance confab with a senior veteran who may have impacted our service career years ago conjures up an electric feeling as the palms grasp warmly and glitter reflects in our smiling eyes.  Genuine Bliss is writ large on our faces and the atmospheric caprice turns willfully buoyant. 

       Navy Foundation Pune Chapter affirmed to hold a Memorial lecture to honour late Adm JG Nadkarni, PVSM, AVSM, NM, VSM, ADC our former CNS,  who left for his heavenly abode on 02 Jul 2018. A great initiative by Pune foundation in the wake of Delhi and Mumbai Chapters who have been conducting memorial lectures since long. Cmde PK Malhotra informed Cdr Vijay Vadhera of the function scheduled for 26th May and the later instantly broadcasted the event details to all NFMC members. Cdr Madan Lal and I conceded to be a part of this gathering by driving down in our cars along with our good ladies after the US club Tombola. [Cdr Madan Lal, a young Octogenarian, blessed with colossal energy, considers it a child’s play to drive from Vasai to Colaba(70 km) and back  every  Sunday with his good Lady for the enigmatic  addiction ‘Tombola’.]

     Meena and I were greeted at the Central Park Hotel Lobby by Cmde PK Malhotra and Cdr Mohan Philip, President and Secy of NFPC and directed expeditiously to the Pavilion Banquet hall as the Chief-Guest was expected any moment. As we gingerly slid the Hall door, we witnessed about 100 senior Veterans in Savdhan pose in 7 rows of gift-wrapped white chairs. One could hear a pin drop, as all were awaiting the arrival of the Chief Guest. Even before we settled down in the rear row, Admiral  Arun Prakash our former CNS was escorted in. He was warmly welcomed by the MC, Cmde Ajay Chitnis in his grandiose baritone. After  a short  introductory brief on the maiden  memorial  lecture initiated by the Pune chapter, he invited RAdm RJ Nadkarni, COS SNC and the illustrious Son of  late Adm JG Nadkarni  for his presentation, that took us down memory lane on Admiral Nadkarni’s timeline. Cmde Chitnis then introduced Adm Arun Prakash and invited him to the stage.


       Admiral Arun Prakash, PVSM, AVSM, VRC, VSM, ADC has been India’s 20th Naval Chief and Chairman Chiefs of Staff in end-2006.  An aviator by specialisation, during his 40-year career, he commanded a carrier-borne fighter-squadron, Naval Air Station INS Hansa and four warships; including the aircraft carrier INS Viraat. He has logged over 2500 hours in various aircraft of IN & IAF. He is a Test Pilot and was awarded the Vir Chakra while flying with an IAF fighter squadron in Northern Sector during the ’71 war. He has served two terms as a member of the National Security Advisory Board and was Chairman of the National Maritime Foundation. The Admiral is an international writer of repute and an eloquent speaker on Military matters. Perfectly fit as a Veteran, he recently achieved a rare distinction of Piloting the Tejas LCA, with Cmde Maolankar, a Test Pilot with HAL. 

The Adm has tweeted,  “With 2 of India's best; Naval Tejas & Navy test pilot Cmde Maolankar! Agile LCA matches best gen-4 fighters & is a superb example of skills in design, flt testing & 'Make-in-India'. New Govt Must back LCA 100% & bring focus on a/c & engine design & production. We can match China.” 

    At the outset, the Admiral paid tributes to Adm JG Nadkarni, touching upon his contributions to the Navy in terms of its expansion during the mid-80s. Admiral Arun Prakash then spoke on a Topic that’s close to his Heart and all us Navymen, “India’s Response to Challenge of Traditional and Non-traditional  Maritime Threats”. He initiated the talk touching upon the division of IOR between US Naval Commands and then elaborated the nontraditional maritime security threats such as piracy, maritime terrorism, climate change, illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, illegal immigration, and smuggling of arms and drugs.  The traditional maritime security issues such as freedom of navigation, security of sea-lanes, maritime boundary and domain security was also analysed  before dwelling on the Chinese designs in the IOR and the Indian Ocean Great Game between the two emerging regional powers.  Admiral Arun Prakash’s speech was intensely engrossing and the Qs-Ans session was as gripping and fascinating as the Admiral’s elocution. One of the Veterans suggested the establishment of a unified entity on matters maritime for synergy of operations in the maritime domain. The Admiral mentioned that there were about 16 ministeries and agencies having stakes in IOR and the issue was complex. He, however, concurred the suggestion and exhorted the forum to raise the issue. Cdr Madan Lal, who was literally taken for a ride by GPS to locate the destination, entered the Hall midway through the lecture. He missed out on paying his tributes to Adm Nadkarni with whom he had served during Godavari’s salvage operation in male.   

       Cmde PK Malhotra delivered the Vote of Thanks and rewarded the Key personnel who had strived to colour the event in magnificent hues. It was then time for Happy Hours, time to mutually interact with each other. All veterans were delighted to engage with their former CNS. I was joyous to meet a few other members of NFMC from Mumbai; Cdr Guddu Sharma, Cmde Rakesh Anand and Cdr Tanwar. All aviators Cmde Ajay Chitnis, Cmde JJ Verma, Cmde PK Malhotra Cdr Guddu Sharma and self got together  for a group Photo session with  our idol Adm Arun Prakash. I was vivacious to meet VAdm JS Bedi with whom I had interacted in 1992 in connection with Flypast for the Passing out Parade when he was CO Mandovi. The Admiral too very warmly shook hands as we backtracked on the footprints of Time. It was a great feeling to meet VAdm DSP Verma, an aeronautical engineer and former DG- ATV with whom I had interacted as CAVO-II in Vizag in the mid-90s.

      The catering delicacies were sumptuous and the desserts luscious. Meena and I shared some great  moments with my coursemate Veteran from Aviation-Met  Capt Sanjiv Kapur and his good lady. We had been Valsurians together at the turn of the millennium. A blessed couple who have groomed both their children for our mighty Forces. Maj Sumit Kapur is posted to CME and their tall charming Daughter, LtCdr Shweta Kapur is presently posted to NDA. Even the spouces of both children are in the Army and Navy respectively. Truly a blessed the family !! How time slipped we couldn’t fathom as we dived deep into our memory lanes. We were the last to depart after conveying our heartfelt gratitude to Cmde PK Malhotra and Cdr Mohan Phillip for the Wownderful Event. We wished the NFPC more glory in the future.  

      Meena and I then escorted Cdr and Mrs MadanLal to our Lohegaon Bungalow for an overnight halt. Next morning we went around the Duplex house, as  Meena got the Breakfast ready. We insisted on them to stay for a few more days, but their grand daughter’s Birthday precluded it. Even as I bid them Goodbye and wished them a safe journey, I marvelled at Cdr Madanlal’s Colossal Josh, energy and stamina as he set course, providing voice instructions to his Car’s GPS…Hail Cdr Madan Lal, an Octogenarian with a difference….Jai Hind.    


  1. Wonderful blog. Very Lucid. Sad to see you sharing stage with the person who has destroyed the fabric of India Navy by implementing AVSC in 2004 and destroying 1000Cdr by introducing special conditions which are totally unlawful and not supportable by REGS IN. Would be a pleasure to have an open debate with our ex CNS who let his COP steer such a decision.

  2. Appreciate your comment....Gratitude Sir.

  3. Enjoyed reading. There are many things that one doesn't know..one of them is the above comment by the unknown.sad if it is true.