Wednesday 6 January 2021



Man in his present, either dreams of a bright future or dwells in his glorious past. Even as we enter the *Veterans Day Week* commencing today, lets backtrack in foot prints of time to recapitulate the events of NFMC’s last two years when we gave a fillip to the Veterans Day concept in our own unique way.  

Having conducted the Veterans Day events in a marvelous fashion, NFMC had planned similar events for 2021 in a more glorious way, but the current ongoing Pandemic has forced us to shelve the fanfare. But it hasn't dampened our passion to celebrate the Veterans Day on-line. On 14th evening NFMC has organised the 18th Soman Memorial lecture on MS Team. Do login at 1845 hrs as Cmde Srikant Kesnur escorts you to traverse into the footprints of your times in the Navy with his topic, *Memory & Remembrance-Ties that bind Veterans with Navy and Nation* 


1.      The concept of the Veterans Day (originally known as Armistice Day), dates back to 11 Nov 1919 when U.S. President Woodrow Wilson issued a message to his countrymen on the first Armistice Day, in which he expressed what he felt the day meant to the Americans and honored the Military Veterans of  WW-I. Great Britain, France, Australia and Canada also have been celebrating the day on their prominent dates since long, but the concept in India is just taking roots.
2.      A need was felt to dedicate a Day to our Veterans for two primary reasons : One to honor the Martyrs who laid their life for their Nation ; Two – to show cause to the general public the contributions made by the Veterans to uplift the Society and also motivate the students to join the Armed Forces.. So in 2017 , It was decided by three Services to observe 14 Jan every year as “ Armed Forces Veterans Day” as on this day  India's first Army Commander-in-Chief  Field Marshal K M Cariappa, OBE hung  his uniform.
3.  A three pronged approach was devised by NFMC to make our citizens aware of the importance of Veterans Day. One- to Advertise through Print and Broadcast media. Two- to put up huge Banners at prominent places in the city like Petrol-pumps, Railway-stations and Road-Junctions all over Mumbai Three-  to impart motivational lectures by Veterans during the week preceding V Day in 10 prominent schools of Mumbai, highlighting the capability and performance of our Armed forces and the Veterans’  contribution to our Society.
4. Cdrs Abhishek  Kankan ,NM(G) and Arjuna Awardee LtCdr Farokh Tarapore, VSM were interviewed on  Door Darshan & Cdrs Shailender Sharma and Raj Dutta were aired on Rainbow FM on Veterans Day with a repeat broadcast in the evening. Large Banners were designed by Core Committee members of NFMC, manufactured by MDL and put up with the help of HQWNC at prominent spots in Mumbai for a week preceding the V Day. A few Veterans  contributed articles to ‘Fauji India’ Magazine for Jan 2019, that was a Veterans’  special issue.
5.  The festivities of the Veterans Day commenced with Wreath Laying
Ceremony at “ Shaheed Samarak War Memorial in Colaba and  attended by a substantial number of serving and retired personnel, including Adm VS Shekhawat, former CNS and other Senior Officers of all three services. Thereafter all  Veterans and  Serving personnel of the three services assembled at Sailors institute SAGAR and interacted with each other  over  tea and light  refreshments. The CinC personally met and discussed issues with veteran sailors and Jawans over a cup of tea.  


6.       This year Cdr Vijay Vadhera, President NFMC had planned to celebrate it on a grander scale. Since its a fairly new concept, it was paramount to create awareness amongst Mumbaikars about the Veterans Day.  To meet this objective the 35 banners were manufactured by MDL and with the  assistance of Vajrabahu team , all the banners were displayed at various prominent locations of the City like Rly stns, Petrol pumps, Road Junctions for a week from 07-14 Jan 2020.  Capt Rakesh Agrawala and Cdr Raj Dutta ,Hon. Secy NFMC were interviewed on AIR FM Rainbow Radio that was broadcast for an hour at 11 am on the Veterans day, 14 Jan.  Further C-in-C XI v/s President NFMC XI Cricket  T-12 tournament was held on 05 Jan, which was won by Veterans by 7 Wkts.  Besides a J-24 boat Yachting race between Veterans and Serving officers of WNC was also conducted on 08 Jan 2020,  which was won by the Serving Officers Team . (For both these Championships Rolling trophies had been instituted by NFMC). Veterans Officers had also imparted motivational lectures in the Schools of Mumbai in Early Jan. The ‘Fauji India’ magazine had dedicated the Jan 2020 issue to the ‘Veterans’ and has published articles by them. 


 7.     In mid Dec 2019, Cdr Vijay Vadhera, President NFMC ,while watching the ANZAC Day Parade on YOU TUBE , hit upon a novel idea for  conducting “ Veterans Day Parade”  in Mumbai also. He immediately took consensus of the Naval Fraternity both Serving and Veterans and the result was a resounding affirmation, although there were some apprehensions from some quarters, due paucity of time for planning and organizing such a big event at short notice. The NFMC Committee members ,however, decided ,  to go ahead with  the Parade on Marine Drive  from NCPA to Princess Street flyover and chose 12 Jan 2020 ,being Sunday. Cdr Vijay Vadhera sought the approval of the HQWNC, met the Mumbai Police Commissioner, Mr Sanjay Barve, who not only  readily agreed to provide full security and a  platoon of Police commandos and Police Band, but stood up and saluted Cdr Vadhera in respect and reverence. Cdr Vadhera then approached . Hon Capt (IN) (SCC) Rabi Ahuja at TS Jawahar, who was most forthcoming and detailed 150 cadets and a 36 member band to accompany the Parade. He then met Dir NCC, Cmde Sunil Balakrishnan, who detailed 50 cadets from 1 NU NCC and willingly  provided all other logistics arrangements., AVM Rajiv Hora, AOC MAO, provided his Jeep for President NFMC for the Parade . WNC provided 2 Buses to convey the Veterans back from the Finish Point to NCPA (Start point of the Parade). Asvini provided an Ambulance with a Cardiac Surgeon for the duration of the Parade. Cdr Vadhera had been to his 37th course Golden Jubilee Re-union  at NDA on 12/13 Dec 2019 where he intimated his course-mate  Lt Gen Baljit Jaswal ( former Northern army Cdr) about the proposed “ Veterans Day Parade “ on 12 Jan 2020.The General told his friend  , to cover LIVE the Parade, at Marine drive . Mr Arnab Goswami, who has great regards for the Armed Force readily consented and covered the Parade live on Republic TV. A press release was also made in trilingual (English, Hindi and Marathi) and handed out to the journalists who covered the Parade. The Defence and Navy PRO also advertised the event in media for extensive visibility. A detailed message to all Veteran  forums was also promulgated for commencement of Parade at NCPA at 0830 followed by closing ceremony with Breakfast for all participants as well as spectators.
8.              There was great Bonhomie at the Nariman point from 7 O’clock on the morning of Sunday 12 Jan 2020. Hon. Capt (IN) (SCC)  Rabi Ahuja was himself present with his smart contingent of 150 SCC Boys and Girls. Veterans started flocking proudly putting in their Ceremonial Blazers with Medals along with their Good ladies in best attire for the event that had been unprecedented. The most sort after Event conceptualized by Cdr Vijay Vadhera, President NFMC, the Veterans day Parade was going to be executed for the Nation to  applaud and take note of.
9.               The contingents were formed up behind the SCC/ NCC cadets. At sharp 0830 LtCdr Farokh Tarapore, VSM, Hon Treasurer NFMC, on  loud hailer ,ordered  the start of Parade, amidst loud cheers by the onlookers, who had gathered in large numbers. In front were two long columns of 150 SCC and 50 Naval NCC cadets on the flanks. They were followed by the 36 well attired cadets forming the SCC band. The Parade was led by President of NFMC Cdr Vijay Vadhera, NM(G) along with Octogenarians RAdm Arun Auditto,AVSM,NM(G) and Capt Raj Mohindra on Wheel Chairs( Both former Presidents of NFMC ). The first  contingent behind them comprised of Gallantry awardees of all three Services followed by NFMC Committee Members and then NFMC Veteran officers contingent. Behind them were the Veterans Officers of the Army& Air force and  Veteran Sailors of Indian Navy, Jawans of Army and Airforce . An entire 1/90 batch of  Chilka engineering mechanics had also joined the parade.. The contingent of 50 masked Police commandos carrying their arms marched behind the Veterans. Republic TV interviewed Cdr Vadhera while the Parade was moving on. As the entire Parade briskly walked smilingly amidst the martial music being played by NCC Cadets’ band, one could see the Josh amongst the spectators moving along with the parade shouting ‘Bharat mata ki Jai’ ‘Armed Forces ki Jai’….There was emotive revelry in the Air over the Queens Necklace. Never in the History of time such an event had occurred in India. Two drones  filmed the maiden Parade of Veterans, from low altitude.

10.         After about 40 minutes of proud march by the Veterans, Cadets and Commandos, the Parade reached the Princess Street Flyover, where the Police Band played some wonderful sonorous melodious numbers and patriotic songs. Breakfast packets were distributed to all. RAdm Rajesh Pendharkar, AVSM,VSM , FOMA was the Chief Guest for the occasion (representing Patron ,NFMC) who came and congratulated the Veterans and the participants. Cdr Vijay Vadhera addressed the gathering and brought out the relevance of this Parade and thanked all agencies instrumental in the grand success of this grandoise event. He mentioned that the ultimate aim of  Veterans Day Parade 2020 is to make this auspicious event popular amongst all the various Veterans foundations nationally to create awareness  amongst  our  countrymen about the role of Veterans in the Service of Country and Society.

VETERANS  DAY- 14 JAN 2020 WREATH LAYING - COLABA WAR MEMORIAL10.         The festivities and gaiety of the Veterans Day commenced with Wreath Laying Ceremony at Saheed Samarak War Memorial in Colaba,  which was attended by a substantial number of serving and retired personnel, including VAdm IC Rao(Former COM ) VAdm AR Karve (Former C-in-C South), RAdm Arun Auditto (Former president NFMC ) and other senior officers of all three services. The War Memorial was exquisitely decorated with colorful Lilies, roses, hyacinth and carnations. Veterans started arriving at the War Memorial commencing 0830 hrs. The Wreaths were laid by Veteran foundations of all three services, Cdr Vijay Vadhera, President NFMC, AVM Rajeev Hora, AOC MAO,  Lt Gen SK Parashar, GOC(M&G) Area, VAdm Ajit Kumar P, FOCinC (West) and Shri Shripad Yesso Naik, RRM. The Last post was played by the service Buglers as the Tri-services Guard carried out the Shokshashtra drill immaculately with perfect synchro and precision during wreath laying.

11.         The next  function was organised  at Air Force Officers’ Mess close by, where all the Veterans and  Serving personnel of the three services assembled and interacted with each other  over  tea and light  refreshments. Shri Shripad Yesso Naik, RRM met and discussed issues with Veterans of all three services over a cup of tea. AVM Rajiv Hora was most forthcoming to host the gathering after the Wreath Laying at the War memorial. 

 17th ADMIRAL SOMAN MEMORIAL LECTURE12.         Although the Veterans Day Parade was a recent brain-wave conceived and executed by Cdr Vadhera, President NFMC, the conduct of 17thSoman Memorial Lecture for the 14 Jan was planned over 2 months in advance and invitation sent to Mr Nitin A Gokhale, a renowned strategic affairs Analyst for a talk on the burning Topic, ‘The new great game in the Indo-Pacific’ with special reference to IOR (Indian Ocean Region) and SCS(South China Sea). The venue planned was the Asvini Auditorium for the Lecture and the Open Air hall outside for Beer and Lunch for the Veterans and invitees after the Lecture.13.         All Veterans after the Wreath laying at the War Memorial and the get together at Air Force mess arrived at the Asvini Auditorium by 1100 hrs. Mr Nitin Gokhale, a KV Alumnus of 1978 and Wadia graduate of 1983 with 32 yrs experience in mass media, warmly interacted with veterans prior to the arrival of the Chief Guest VAdm RB Pandit, Chief of Staff WNC  . The C-in-C was programmed to be the Chief Guest but due to RRM’s visit it was rescheduled.14.         Cdr Raj Dutta, Secy NFMC at the outset welcomed all the Veterans and ran through the presentation signifying the importance of organizing the Adm Soman Memorial lecture every year. He then introduced the Speaker Mr Nitin Anant Gokhale before welcoming him on stage. For next about 45 mtsMrGokhle engaged the Audience in elaborating on the Chinese designs in the Indian Ocean, that’s turned into a playground and India’s response and future course of action. The Q-A session was so gripping and fascinating as Mr Gokhale’s remarkable  allocution. It was indicative of the interest and impact created by the Speaker. Cdr Raj Dutta then invited Cdr Vijay Vadhera, President NFMC to deliver the ‘Vote of Thanks’. The President NFMC brought out that success of the Veterans Day functions would not have been feasible without the active support of various units of WNC (Vajrabahu, Kunjali, Angre, MDL etc. He was appreciative of INHS Asvini, that was forthcoming in holding the Adm Soman Lecture every year and offering all support for the same and looking after the Veterans with kindness and care.15.         In the presentation ceremony VAdm RB Pandit presented the WNC crest and memento to Mr Nitin Gokhale on behalf of the C-in-C. Cdr Vadhera presented him with a beautiful NFMC memento of the Golden Sailboat. He then presented Mrs Priya Pandit with a book on Naturopathy authored by our Veteran friend Cdr Ashok Shinde. Mr DP Sharma, GM BOI, part sponsor of the Event, then presentated a cheque of Rs 50,000/ to Cdr Vadhera President NFMC. Cdr Vadhera felicitated him with NFMC memento of the Golden Sailboat. All the Committee members, who were instrumental in the organizing the various events during the Veterans fortnight, were requested to come on stage for a group photograph.16.         The ‘meet and greet’ session at the open Air hall over a glass of Beer and Lunch exhibited close bonhomie and congeniality. The bliss of interacting with like minded Veterans is Priceless and was evident during this buoyant  gathering. The Pics below convey much more than words can express. 

     The efficacious culmination 17thSoman Memorial Lecture, was curtains  to a fruitful and rewarding Veterans Day 2020.





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