Tuesday 24 September 2019


“Indian Navy is my Dharma and being a Marine Engineer is my Karma”, says the ever-smiling Octogenarian Cmde SK Bhalla,  AVSM,  NM(G) who has devoted his heart and Soul to our fine Indian Navy.

                 Cmde SK Bhalla (40044-H) (L-818), an Octogenarian who has always been dedicated to our fine Indian Navy, rang up Cdr Vijay Vadhera, President NFMC on 19 Sep to congratulate him for winning the recent NFMC elections held on 15 Sep at IMSC. During the course of his talk, he mentioned that he is living all alone in his Andheri west flat and if a Veteran could look him up occasionally. Cdr Vadhera has requested Capt Abhimanyu Mehrotra (01601-N) (L-292), staying in Andheri West to keep in touch with Cmde Bhalla. He also requested me to pay a visit to the humble Octogenarian.

       It was a rainy morning next day on 20 Sep at our Borivali home, when I rang up our Veteran Octogenarian Cmde SK Bhalla and asked the Cmde time convenient to call on him after introducing myself. Excitedly he said, “Abhi aa Jao”, then after a pause he continued, “Raj, Iam going to Juhu Canteen at 11 and shall be back by 1’ o clock.”.  I said, “Roger Sir, I shall be at your place after 1 and I shall be getting Meena along, the lady who clicked your photo while you were chatting with friends, over a glass of Beer during the NFMC Presidential Elections on 15 Sep.” He seemed excited, “Wow, that’ll be great, we’ll have beer together and go out for lunch.See you at 1”….Meanwhile,  Meena shouted from her Galley,”I am making Lunch, we’ll carry it and have it with Cmde Bhalla, instead of going to a restaurant”. I asked her what’s on Menu and she narrated ‘Gobi-Allu, Baingan Bharta, Pakode wali Kadi and Lauki chana Dal to go with plenty of Roti and Rice.’  We were sure Cmde would love homemade Punjabi food.   
       We had just set course from our home, when Meena’s Sarita Mehta Masi (One of the members of the Veterans Tri-nation Tour to Singapore –Malaysia-Thailand) made an emergency call that her Husband Mr Rajesh Mehta has had a Road accident at Gokul Concorde building at Kandivali and is unable to get up and walk. We headed for the accident site. Meanwhile their Son Rahul had also arrived in his car to take him to the Borivali West Mandapeshwar Hospital. I rang up to inform Cmde Bhalla of the delay and he said,”You attend to your Uncle but try and make it soon as I am feeling hungry”. We told Masi of looking up Uncle Rajesh on our way back. Enroute to Andheri the traffic was at a snail's pace amidst heavy rain. When we rang the  4th Floor Bell of the Andheri Flat, it was 2 pm. Cmde Bhalla was smiling beamingly as he opened the door to usher us in. We warmly shook hands, as Meena put the Lunch basket on the dining table. Cmde was so delighted to inhale the aroma of the surprise Lunch and even elated when told about the homemade Punjabi dishes. He mentioned that his maid is on leave for a couple of days, but the Almighty has been gracious to arrange a feast for next two days. He kept the food in the fridge to relish it later and said we’d go out for Lunch. He had kept two bottles of chilled Beer for us, but we chose to relish the fruit juice. I requested Cmde’s permission for an interview. His smile broadened, ”Come, both of you follow me” He took us to his bedroom, to show us his bluish-grey blazer adorned with service awards & badges, including a miniature golden lapel for maximum ships served (more than 6) ; a record in that era. Meena quickly captured it in her camera. Cmde took out a bulky File containing the nostalgia of his tenure in the Navy and escorted us back to the dining table.  Then commenced the recount of old alluring tales, for the next four hours. The time warp made us turn a blind eye to hunger. We were satiated with Cmde Bhalla’s amazing Life and times in the incipient Navy. Its indeed due to the whole-hearted dedication of officers as Cmde Bhalla that we can boast of a fine Indian Navy today.   

         Little Satish was born on 14Jul 1933 in Dera Ismail Khan, a city in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province of present-day Pakistan. His Father  Maj Kanwar Lal Bhalla from the Engineers Regm in the Indian Army got posted to Calcutta just prior partition. In Jan 1949 he joined the 01-JSW(Joint Services Wing) in Dehra Dun. They were the 01 NDA course comprising 25 cadets. Cmde Bhalla recalls the first cadet enrolled was DK Ghosh (0001), while he (Cmde Bhalla) was PNo-0014. Other prominent cadets were Adm L Ramdas (later CNS) and VAdm JN Sukul. After 2 yrs trg at JSW, the Naval cadets went for further training to Dartmouth. He accomplished Watchkeeping in INS Delhi before being deputed to Liverpool for the NBCDO Course. In 1955 he was deputed as commissioning crew of INS Mysore. They cruised for 18 months from UK to the Indian Ocean to Calcutta to Vizag to Madras. Next year before the Ship was to proceed on a cruise to China, he received his transfer letter to INS Godavari as Snr Engr.  In 1957 as a young offr he was transferred to NCE, INS Shivaji as Div O. Cmde Bhalla is blessed with 2 lovely daughters Payal and Nandita both happily married and settled in New Jersey. Both of them had been the Vice President of Students Council of their respective batches of Maharani Gayatri Devi Girls' High School Jaipur during their times and have acquired Leadership qualities from their Dynamic Father. The elder is blessed with 2 daughters and the younger with a son and a daughter. The Cmde has the unique distinction of serving in  maximum number of Ships - Delhi, Mysore, Godavari, Ganga, Rana and Rajput. He accomplished fruitful tenures in Naval  Dockyard Bombay earlier as PPMC and later as DGMPR. In 1975 as a Commander he was instrumental in firefighting onboard Scindia Cargo ship ‘Jaladhari’ in trying conditions at Bombay anchorage, for which he was awarded NM (G). Honouring the Gallantry,  Govt of Maharashtra gifted him a Flat in Florida estate Andheri west, post-retirement; his present abode.

       On the extracurricular front, he was the Golf Capt in US Club and was instrumental in designing a few changes and organising major top-class tournaments like the Charminar challenge. As WPS he was instrumental in expediting the launch of the indigenous INS Godavari along with her designer Capt Mohan Ram. Cmde Bhalla’s performance had been outstanding during his NDC course in 1978 and the US Chief of Naval Operations rewarded him next year with Hon Life membership of United States Naval Institute, Annapolis. What an honour bestowed on an Officer of our fine IN by the US Navy!

       Such was the love of Cmde Bhalla with INS Mysore, that he joined IN with its commissioning in the UK (1953) and retired with its decommissioning in 1987. Post-retirement Cmde Bhalla was staying in Panchsheel Park, New Delhi. In 1992, when he was alone in the house, 8 thieves barged in and stabbed him all over, tied him up and ran away with the loot. One of the items stolen was the Silver salver presented by Navy during retirement. While he was being treated in the Army Base Hospital, Adm RL Ramdas (his coursemate) offered to replace it, but Cmde Bhalla retorted, “I'm fed up of polishing and maintaining this Trophy”. The matter was left at that.  Three years ago(2015), the love for the Silver Salver rekindled and he wrote a DO to CNS for a replica of the same. Not only was his request complied with, but he was also awarded CNS’s commendation for his services rendered to the Indian Navy.

           By the time Cmde Bhalla’s nostalgia ended, it was 6pm. We had already given a pass to our Lunch, so it was time for Tea. We relished Tea and light snacks, before taking leave. I presented Cmde Bhalla with a Naval Veteran's Sea Cap and we both got snapped together.  Cmde Bhalla came down to the parking lot to see us off. His handshake was firm even as I bowed. Smilingly he requested us for a revisit soon.

  Next morning the Cmde called up and apologised for the Lunch snafu, with a promise to take us out next week.  
   For the deep intense Love for the Indian Navy that Cmde SK Bhalla epitomises…….Shano Varuna !…..Jai Hind  !!






DO TO CNS (2015)







Monday 16 September 2019


     “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.” --- HENRY FORD

         “Somehow I can’t believe that there are any heights that can’t be scaled by a man who knows the secrets of making dreams come true. This special secret, it seems to me, can be summarized in four Cs. They are curiosity, confidence, courage, and constancy, and the greatest of all is confidence. When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way, implicitly and unquestionable.”-    WALT  DISNEY

              The above quotes personify Cdr Vijay Vadhera. ‘Vijay’ means Victory, indeed was reflective in the NFMC Presidential elections on 15 Sep 2019 at IMSC. 

            Consequent to RAdm RM Bhatia, President NFMC relocating to Gurugram, nominations for the post had been called for about 3 months ago and the ‘D’ Day - 08 Sep had been initially promulgated, but with some changes creeping in for the conduct of elections the date was shifted to 15 Sep. Both nominated candidates Cmde Medioma (Mike) Bhada and Cdr Vijay Vadhera had been stalwarts of their times during their tenure in the Navy and post-retirement in their second innings.


     Cmde Bhada had been a fully Operational SeaHawk Pilot and operated from INS Vikrant during the 1971 War. A Qualified Flying Instructor who had done a tenure with the IAF. Later he commanded an Air Squadron and two Naval Air Stns. He was the Director of Naval Air Staff before taking over as the Provost Marshal and Commanding Officer of INS Kunjali. He commanded two major warships and had been appointed as FOO, COS and NOIC Mumbai and Hon Trustee MbPT.

      In his second innings post-retirement Cmde Bhada took over as Executive Director of a Private Air operator. Later a CEO of a few companies. Post-retirement he remained closely associated with the Navy and was instrumental in building a small but elegant Vikrant Memorial opp Lion’s Gate. He was vociferous in clearing the adverse publicity caused to the Navy by a Cabinet minister, by calling in a press conference. Presently he is the President of WIGA.


          Cdr Vijay Vadhera, Secy Navy Foundation Mumbai Chapter (NFMC) has had a distinguished career in the Indian Navy as a Submariner and was the first skipper of INSV Samudra to sail across the world for which he was awarded Nau-Sena Medal (Gallantry) by the President of India. Post-retirement he not only was the Master Pilot of Mumbai Port Trust but has been handling the affairs of Naval Veterans in an exemplary manner since 2008. He is extremely meticulous in planning and execution of tasks that he undertakes for the benediction of the Foundation, whether it's conducting the various activities for the Veterans Day (14 Jan 2019) that the Foundation committee members undertook under his guidance or the two foreign trips in successive yrs in 2018 and 2019 to SE Asia (Tri-nation Tour) and the Tour to Europe recently, both tours comprising 40 plus Veterans. 

         He has also been organising the Navy Day events for Veterans and Soman Memorial Lectures and AGMs for the past 11 yrs in an exemplary manner. He has groomed a motivated young Veterans team that represents  South Bombay, New Mumbai, Powai, Thane, and Western Suburbs. Besides all Veer Naris of this Chapter have mentors nominated who are in touch with Veer naris for any assistance any time. It's due to his Leadership that NFMC Is the premier Chapter of Navy Foundation that has been setting high standards.  


    About a month in advance RAdm RM Bhatia appointed Cdr Raj Mohindra as the Election Officer with Capt Ashok Batra as Asst Election Officer. Early this month he appointed Lt Cdr Farokh Tarapore as the Offg Hon Secy to ensure an even playing field for both candidates. Cdr Raj Mohindra, Capt Ashok Batra & LtCdr Farokh Tarapore planned out the conduct of Elections by a secret Ballot and instructions were issued to the Committee members for the smooth conduct of fair and just elections. Email was sent to all NFMC members regarding the NFMC Presidential Poll, highlighting the registration of voters from 1100-1155 hrs on 15 Sep at IMSC and election process from 1200 hrs thereafter in the Sea Lounge. A separate provision was made to ensure the spouses remain comfortable in the 'Drona hard' during the period.

               Cmde Sanjay Tiwari, Capt Rakesh Agrawala, LtCdr Vineet Wason, Cdr SK Patnaik, Cdr Raj Dutta and Mrs Kanta Mukherjee (for Veer Naris) monitored the Polling registration counters to have an exact headcount of Veteran Voters at 1200 hrs. Cdr GC Rai and Cdr Kamal Singh were detailed to distribute the Ballot papers and pens, one row at a time. Cmde S Tiwari and Cdr SK Patnaik manned the Ballot boxes. The vote casting was executed expeditiously, in a fair and just manner successfully. While the votes were being counted it was time for interaction of the Veterans over a glass of beer followed by sumptuous delectable Biryani Lunch and mouth-watering Gulab Jamuns.

              On completion of the counting of Votes all Veterans, Veer naris and Ladies were ushered in for declaration of results. Cdr Raj Mohindra humorously declared the Runners up :  Cmde Mike Bhada 62 votes and in contrast 199 Votes to Cdr Vijay Vadhera, amidst a huge round of applause. The huge difference possibly was due to huge Fan following of Cdr Vijay, which was due to the appreciable service rendered by him to the Veterans foundation for the past 11 yrs. The Popularity quotient was evident from the fact that Veterans had come from Ahmedabad and Pune to cast their Votes. It was heartening to register an Octogenarian Cdr Verma, who had been escorted on a wheelchair to cast his vote. There were a couple of very senior veterans who were 90 yrs old. The Veteran Admirals who  graced the occasion to cast their votes were VAdm RF Contractor (Former DGCG), VAdm IC Rao, VAdm SKK Krishnan, VAdm Girish Luthra (Former FOCINC WEST), VAdm AR Karve (Former FOCINC SOUTH), RAdm GC Thadani, RAdm NN Anand, RAdm Auditto, RAdm DN Thukral and RAdm Pradeep Joshi.

       After the declaration of results, VAdm IC Rao spoke in honour of the outgoing President NFMC and recounted his contribution to the foundation for the past 3 yrs. RAdm RM Bhatia thanked the Foundation for the support he received from the Foundation members in the execution of the NFMC tasks. He thanked Capt Raj Mohindra, Capt Ashok Batra & the Electoral officials in smooth conduct of the secret Polls and congratulated Cdr Vadhera for winning the election and taking over as the President of the Foundation. He wished the Foundation to grow from strength to strength. Cdr Vijay Vadhera thanked the Veterans young and old who had come from near and far to support him. He thanked the Committee members and spelt out two options for the post of Hon Secy that fell vacant. One to hold an election at a subsequent date after asking for nominations; Two, by approval of the General Body, he could nominate one Veteran and regularise his appointment in next year’s AGM. On no objection from the GB, he announced the name of Cdr Rajinder Dutta to come forward, amidst overwhelming support from Veterans. After the inspiring speech by Cdr Vadhera, the new President NFMC, Capt SS Sethi proposed the vote of thanks. The SBM was then declared closed by the Offg Hon Secy LtCdr Farokh Tarapore.


Dear Friends,

The overwhelming support and encouragement that I have received during *my 11 years in service  as Secy Navy Foundation* , has today, culminated in my being entrusted with even greater responsibility of *President, NFMC* I humbly acknowledge this with gratitude and a sense of humility. Being conscious of the age and stature  of a large number of our members, *my predecessors and mentors* places an even greater level of responsibility for me to emulate.

While accepting this assignment, it is difficult to imagine what would be different in my day to day contribution to the Foundation. In this, I would be guided by the requirements that our large Foundation generates as also seek advice, when necessary, of my predecessors namely 'Capt Raj Mohindra' (President for 9 years) 'RAdm. MP Taneja'(President for 2 years, 'RAdm Arun Auditto'(President for 6 years) and 'RAdm RM Bhatia'(President for 3 years) 

Hopefully, with the contribution of members and particularly my 'young and energetic team of Office Bearers' we will sustain the high standards of service to the community that we have set for ourselves over the years.

With fond Respect and Regards,

Cdr. Vijay Vadhera (01235-F)     
(Retired but not yet Tired) 
President NFMC
15 Sep 2019

"Individual commitment to a group effort--that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work." --Vince Lombardi

"Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships." --Michael Jordan

SHANO  VARUNA  ....  JAI  HIND    !!!