Friday 29 January 2021



           When a few like-minded Veterans assemble and bond together on a National Day, the euphoria created by them is bound to be priceless. It happened, despite the Pandemic, on the 72nd Republic Day on 26th Jan 2021 at SFIMAR. Cdr Gurbachan Singh arranged Republic Day function at the Mira Road War Memorial…Cdr Angsuman Ojha launched his well thought off initiative ‘Viraat Calls’…Cdr KK Sharma ran a half marathon 'One Nation Run'....A befitting ceremony was organised by Veteran Capt Rakesh Agrawala staying in Wadala for the residents of Bhakti Park. Our Committee member from Thane, Cdr Abhishek Kankan addressed the students of Millennium School, NOIDA online.  Our NFMC member Cdr Bhushan Dewan, an eminent philosopher with a double Doctorate, effectively brought out the essence of Republic Day and our way forward for the residents of Megh, Malhar and Raag Societies, Goregaon. LtCdr Rajeshwari Kori (DCCD) proudly executed the Republic Day honours at her Directorate of Civil Defence, Govt of Mah. Cdr Bhaskar Bhandarkar was the Chief Guest for the auspicious function at his Society in Belapur. In the evening after paying homage to the ‘Amar Jawan’, the monument  resurrected by Lt Shreekant Bhende at Borivali, a few Veterans and Veer Naris converged onto his Divine Bungalow for a relishing  Pot-luck dinner.


       It was indeed a matter and moment of colossal Pride and euphoria for Meena and I to have been invited on 25th Jan by Dr Henry, the Director of SFIMAR (St Francis Institute of Management at Research) Borivali West for their Republic Day celebrations the next day. Col Venkat Raman staying in Thane had referred me. It was indeed a brotherly interaction with Col Raman, who is a Veteran from Madras Sappers and had been a part of the Management institute’s faculty. Ms Namrata and Mr Abhishek from the institute firmed up our program.

     No sooner as Meena got a whiff of the invite, our bedroom resembled a garment shop;  all her designer attire from the wardrobe were flung out onto the beds and sofa. The lady of the house was in a dilemma as to “What to wear” …. She tried 10 different dresses with matching dupattas, querying the kids and me, finally zeroing down to one that was affirmed by all. I was in no such quandary, with my ever ready standard NFMC Blazer with medals and Veterans cap.

    Early morning on the R Day we were wheeling down the Flyover separating Borivali East from West. Meena was looking elegant in her Green and Red dress and I in my NFMC Blazer was behind the wheel. We reached the Institute 0745 hrs and were escorted warmly by Mr Abhishek to the Director’s room where we were pleasantly greeted by the Dr Henry and Prof Ramesh. Soon we were joined by Prof Namrata and Prof Sangeeta Varma. The Principal, revered Br Alphonse’s smile was equally infectious. We mentioned of our earlier interaction with Br Wilfred, the Principal of the adjoining St Francis School, 2 years ago during the School’s investiture ceremony.

    The Principal escorted us out to the lawns of the institute where the staff had gathered. Even as we exchanged smiles and greeted, the Principal formally welcomed us with a Bouquet. The Master of Ceremony Sangeeta spoke on the significance of the Republic Day before the Flag ceremony, after which she introduced me and requested me to say a few words.

      In my address I applauded the School staff who were all present in full strength, narrated to them the story of my joining the Indian navy, Concept of Veterans Day that we had just celebrated on 14th Jan, its genesis and the contribution of Veterans to our Society. Paid homage to our Freedom fighters and martyrs with customary 3 Jai’s.

       The group photo session was followed by refreshments in Principal’s conference hall, where we interacted at leisure about the excellence of the various courses run by the institute and placements offered to the students by various corporates. It was a magnificent morning to have connect with the bright and beaming faculty staff of SFIMAR. Subsequent to the fruitful discussions, the Principal and staff escorted us out and presented us with a memento, Institute’s magazines and Calendar. As we exchanged smiles and bid them farewell, wheeled out and set course, we carried with us a lot of sweet memories captured in our camera for recapitulating in footprints of times later.  


     LtCdr Rajeshwari Kori, Our proud NFMC member who has been running a taut Civil Defence Organisation of Maharashtra, unfurled the tricolour at her Headquarters, addresses her staff on the occasion and gave away prizes. She has been leading her staff expeditiously  in handling the disasters that happened in the past, viz the Floods in central Maharashtra, Cyclone Nisarg that lashed us mid last year and the current ongoing Pandemic. Good show Raju, Proud of you.  


         Our NFMC Committee member from Wadala was invited as the Chief Guest for the Republic Day ceremony for the Bhakti Park Society Wadala. He says, “I was privileged to Unfurl  flag at Mt. Everest and Alps Society  ,also at the Municipal Garden for whole Bhakti  Park. This time I have started a new tradition...3 Girls from 10th or 12th Standard will co host  with me for Flag unfurling  on 26th January  Republic Day....similarly  15th August  Independence  Day flag Hoisting  3 Boys from 10th or 12th standard  will co host with me. They will also give a speech after I introduce  them to audience. Every one has liked this proposal and seen a great enthusiasm  in the young boys and girls”


    Cdr Gurbachan Singh, NFMC member from Mira Road, who had been instrumental in erecting of the War Memorial at Mira Road 2 yrs ago, gathered the Armed Forces Veterans in the Area and conducted the wreath laying at the memorial followed by the unfurling of the tricolour amidst playing of the National Anthem.  He says,Srishti Sector 3, Federation Ltd, Mira Road East, is a complex of 22 Buildings/Societies. The Complex has a boundary wall with 3 gates. There are 6 gardens (one for 3 adjoining buildings), having sports/playing facilities for children, one Ganpati hall and one play ground. We are 22 Veterans in the complex. The Amar Jawan Memorial facing the play ground was inaugurated on 15 Jan 2019, by Cmde Biman Mistry. We celebrate all National/Veteran related functions at this Memorial. For last 3 years we have been celebrating Republic Day followed by sports for 2 days. But this year due to COVID norms the Republic Day was celebrated on low key without sports. The celebration began with patriotic songs by Mr Ashvin and Ms Janhavi. Then the wreath was laid by me and ChEAP Dilbag Singh followed by playing last post bugle on the music system. Thereafter the National Flag was unfurled by Dr Sehgal and Mr Dave both senior residents and ex Federation Chairmen, followed by playing National Anthem. Thus was the function celebrated. Despite the low key due pandemic we had a gathering of more than 100 people including 6 Veterans.”


        Cdr Angsuman Ojha, our NFMC member and founder of IESECCI (INDIAN EX SERVICE EMPLOYEES CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRIES) launched his initiative ‘Viraat Calls’ on this auspicious day, with the primary aim to raise awareness and influence the decision makers, and interested institutions/individuals/NGO's to join hands to save parts of Viraat "under scrap" in the interest of National Maritime Heritage and create a Memorial/theme park. He says, “The year 2021 is also the 75th year of "NAVAL UPRISING". So let us acknowledge the contribution of the Naval Veterans/Families, who contributed to our Nations freedom. We shall invite some of these Heroes and their family members to share their story / videos with us pertaining to these Brave hearts and invite them for an appropriate function once the Pandemic subsides.”


           Cdr Bhushan Dewan was the Chief Guest for the 72nd Republic Day celebrations at Megh, Malhar, Raag Towers complex in Yashodham, Filmcity Road, Goregaon east. Cdr Dewan says, “ The event with usual gusto and widespread participation by residents from about 200 flats of the three 22-storey towers was conducted with great pomp and show. After taking seats by the members of the Managing Committee at the dais and by children, ladies and gents in the arena, National Flag was unfurled to the tune of National Anthem. This was followed by Vande Mataram song sung by a lady from the organising group. Addresses by Managing Committee members followed symbolising the solemn occasion of India's proud history, heritage and progress. Commander Bhushan Dewan, who was invited by the Chair to deliver his address, dwelt on the historical significance of the occasion and emphasized that India has made a phenomenal progress in all spheres and it's time for all of us to brace ourselves to handle looming challenges on our borders while our Armed Forces are competent, determined and full of josh to deliver a befitting blow to the enemies & foil their evil designs. India has to find its rightful role in the comity of nations as a world leader in all spheres including economy, technology, military and while leveraging our rich cultural traditions of Vasudeva Kutumbakam be a beacon for ushering in a just & humane world order. The Republic day celebrations ended with tea and snacks.” (Pics and Vids shared below)


       Lt Srikant Bhende had promulgated in our WA group of an evening get together at the ‘Ámar Jawan’ monument in Borivali West, the monument that he had founded 4 yrs ago and has been nursing it as a child. Due to the Pandemic most Veterans politely declined, but the fortunate and daring 9 were there at 1830 on 26 Jan, like previous years to pay respects and Homage to the Freedom fighters and Martyrs at the War Memorial. Veer Nari Kasibai Kori laid the wreath on behalf of the President and all members of NFMC amidst playing of the Last Post.  

       After the homage to the 'Unknown Soldier' at Amar Jawan Borivali the Veterans (Cdr & Mrs KK Kutty, Cdr KK Sharma, Veer Naris Dr Shreelatha Banger & Kasibai Kori Ma'am, Lt and Mrs Bhende and Meena & Self) stepped into 4 Divine Bungalow at a stones throw from the memorial... The discussions ranged from familial bonding to Pandemic to Ramayana Kaands ....No sooner had I uploaded the War Memorial photos on NFMC WA group, I got a video call from Cdr Vadhera, President NFMC, who interacted with all Veterans and Veer Naris present and conveyed them Best wishes of the Republic Day.  The Potluck to follow was a sumptuous and delectable spread brought in by each one and supplemented by host Indira Ma'am. The Gajar ka Halwa was a relishing treat to top it all. All in all, an evening we shall remember and cherish till the next Republic Day meet, same time same place.... Three Cheers to Lt Srikant and Mrs Indira Bhende.... We should meet again in near future for a similar Pot-Luck treat....A sentiment that was echoed by the 26 Jan WhatsApp Group, created by Senior Veteran who's young at heart, Lt Shrikant Bhende.

Sam No Varuna.

Jai Hind !   




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