SECOND INDIAN VETERANS DAY PARADE - 2023
THE WILLINGNESS WITH WHICH OUR YOUNG PEOPLE ARE LIKELY TO SERVE IN ANY WAR, NO MATTER HOW JUSTIFIED, SHALL BE DIRECTLY PROPORTIONAL AS TO HOW THEY PERCEIVE THE VETERANS OF EARLIER WARS WERE TREATED AND APPRECIATED BY THEIR NATION – GENERAL GEORGE WASHINGTON
History is replete with examples of an event happening for the first time at any place and time, going into the annals of history, creating sweet memories for the Gen next. One such hisoric event that shall be cherished by our country for times to come, was held on 12 Jan 2020 on the promanade of Marine Drive, Mumbai – The first ever Veterans Day Parade in India. An event worthy of emulation by not only the other Navy Foundation Chapters, but also the foundations of Army and Air Force pan India. (Blog link on First Veterans Day Parade at the bottom) For the next two years Covid Pandemic gripped the world in its tentacles and the planned Veteran Day Parades for 2021 and 2022 had to be shelved. But that didn’t deter the Navy Foundation Mumbai Chapter. In every drawback we seek an opportunity however challenging it may seem. When we did perform the second Veterans Day Parade 3 years later, on 08 Jan 2023, with Governer Shri Bhagat Singh Koshiyari not only flagging off the Parade, but marching in steps with the Veterans, Mumbai and the Nation looked up. The News like a Flash travelled Pan India. The Success that was phenomenal and unprecedented can be gauged by the fact that hordes of Mumbaikars had flanked the sides of the Parade, shouted slogans and loudly sang Patriotic songs in unision, that could be heard miles away.
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 the day meant to the Americans and honoured the Military Veterans of WW-I. Every year on November 11th at exactly 1100 hrs local time, every train in America and Canada comes to a standstill to observe a minute’s silence, followed by One Long Whistle, in memory of those who served in their military. Similarly, every year on 25 Apr since 1942, Australia & New Zealand have been celebrating the ANZAC day as their National day of reverence. The ANZAC DAY Parade is held every year in Australia in honour of the martyrs and Veterans of Austrlia, New Zealand and british India who landed in Gallipoli on 25 Apr 1942. In UK it’s called ‘Remembrance Day’ and held on 11th Nov every year. In Germany , it is known as ‘Volistrauertag Day’ and held on closest Sunday to 16th Nov every year. In Netherlands , it is called ‘Dodenherdenking Day’ and held on 04th May every year. These countries have been celebrating the Veterans day on their prominent dates since long, but the concept in India is just taking roots.
A need was felt to dedicate a Day for our Veterans due to two primary reasons : One - to honour them; Two – to resolve the problems faced by them after retirement. Seven years ago, It was decided by the Army Headquarters and instructions were issued to all Sainik Welfare departments in the country to observe 14 Jan as the Veterans Day, the day when the first Commander-in-Chief of Indian Army, Field Marshal KM Cariappa,OBE, who led the Indian forces to Victory in 1947 War, hung his uniform in 1953.
SECOND VETERANS DAY PARADE
Immense planning and preparation by President NFMC, Cdr Vijay Vadhera, resulted in the phenomenal Success of the 2nd Veterans Day Parade. In the past two years his ideas were manifested working into the nitty-gritties of the Veterans Parade in a gigantic way, leaving nil scope for errors. He always kept Plan B ready, as would unfold later. He got Mr Ashwin Gidwani, MD/Producer AGP World and Internationally acclaimed Film Actor, Director and Producer Mr Ananth Narayan Mahadevan on board with us, for making the Docu Film ‘Veterans of War’, for which the teams of these two greats travelled to various cities of India to film about 20 Gallantry Awardees of all the 3 Defence Services. Mr Ananth has burnt his midnight oil for the past over a year for the filming of interviews, editing and working on rare clips from Films Division. He desired to film the Veterans Parade Live in his massive Cameras, along with 2 Drone Cameras that filmed the Parade from various altitudes for a Plan view. This Parade shoot would be an icing on the Cake, for the ‘Veterans of War’. Mr Ashwin Gidwani, (the extremely talented Son of Surg Cdr Daulat Gidwani who was a War Veteran and served on Vikrant in 1971), is a think tank and blessed with plethora of ideas. He promised and executed sponsorships for this noble cause. Hats off to these two gentlemen, for working relentlessly towards the cause of Veterans.
The earnest preparation for the 2nd Veterans Day Parade began about six months ago. President NFMC planned to call-on CM to Flag off the Parade on 08 Jan 2023, (ie a Sunday prior to 14 Jan.) The Call-0n of 09 Dec was successful. Shri Eknath Shinde agreed to flag off. Our Chief of Staff VAdm Krishna Swaminathan has good liaison with NCPA Chairman and Cdr Vadheras meeting was firmed up. He called on the NCPA GM, Ms Irani and the NCPA Chairman, Mr Khushroo N Santook and presented him QD-22 and discussed the post Parade arrangements and the felicitation function. The call on with Chief Minister was a great success in company of Veteran Capt Sanjay Karve, Chief Pilot of Mah Govt. Cdr Vadhera briefed the CM for 20 mins and brought out the essence of the Veterans Day Parade by showing him the Drone Video of our First Parade. CM had agreed to flag-off the race and even walk a short distance with Veterans. The felicitation function at NCPA was planned be graced by Dep CM. Cdr Vadhera discussed other nitty gritties of the Parade including the format of Parade formation, flagging off, marching order by Farokh, an Ambulance with a Doc accompanying the Parade, conveying of SCC cadets to the Venue and back, making the detailment of Committee members for the smooth conduct of Parade and later the felicitation function in NCPA. Cdr Vadhera also called on GOC MG&G Area, Lt Gen HS Kahlon, SM (Son of our senior NFMC Veteran LtCdr Gopal Singh, 92 yrs) and discussed the Veterans Day Parade with Gen, who has great regards for Veterans. LtGen Kahlon promised full support of not only the Army Band but also sponsored 1000 breakfast for the Tri-Services Veterans and Veer Naris. A similar meeting was firmed up with AVM Rajat Mohan, AOC MAO, who agreed to provide 20 NCC Cadets, A 3 Tonner and 1000 waterbottles for the Parade. Cmde (SCC) Rabi Ahuja, akin to first Parade, was very gracious to extend the 50 cadets Band to lead the Veterans Parade.
When all arrangement were in place, comes a setback just 3 days prior to the Parade, i.e. on 05 Jan 2023. The Chief minister and Dep CM are indisposed due to sudden outstation official commitment. That’s when President NFMC remained unmuffled and activated his Plan-B. He spoke to ADC to Governor, his Chalie squadron mate from 130 NDA course (94 courses younger) and firmed up an appointment with Shri Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, the Governor of Maharashtra, who after many interactions, was on a friendly wicket to Cdr Vadhera. He was gracious enough to not only agree to flag off the Parade, but walk an extra mile in step with the Veterans.
THE D DAY - 08 JAN 2023
There was great fanfare at the broad roads opposite NCPA commencing 7 am. Veterans had started arriving and chatting in great bonhomie.a Even as the media was setting up their Cameras, Cdr Rajinder Dutta went Facebook live and started interviewing the Gallantry awardees on wheel chair, Capt Raj Mohindra, Cmde Satish Bhalla, AVSM, NM(G), WgCdr Jaggi , MVC Bar, Cmde Ahluwalia, Cmde Vimal Kumar, Capt RS Dahiya and other awardees. He also interviewed Mr Ananth Mahadevan, Internationally acclaimed Film Actor, Producer and Director involved in todays film shoot, besides our CinC and other Flag Officers on arrival (Videos below). Cmde Oddakal had his Youtube team standby to film all proceedings commencing 8 am, prior to Governor’s arrival at 0815 hrs. Cdr Vadhera was seen directing this team in a cool manner. Albeit his dream was materializing this day, in a momentous way.
The Parade was set up at the start point on Marine drive at about 0800 hrs. Leading the Parade was smartly turned out platoon of SCC band playing melodious beats in unison. Behind them were the War Veterans on 3 Wheel Chairs, followed by Gallantry Awardees, Naval Veterans platoon, Army Veterans platoon and the AirForce Veterans platoon. It was heartning to see all Flag Officers had formed up in their sparkling whites and star studded rank badges and the entire Parade had been flanked by hoards of Mumbaikars shouting Patriotic slogans. Governor arrived at sharp 0815 hrs received by President NFMC and CinC. Governor smilingly met the Veterans and Flag Officers of all three Services. He flagged off the Parade waving Flag-November for quite some time. LtCdr Farokh climbed the Marine Drive cemented Promenade and Commanded “Parade Savdhan, Parade Tez Chal”. Ananth directed his Camera Team in front of the Parade as the Governor and the Veterans marched forward. After a few hundred yards ADC reminded Governor of his 10 'O clock appointment. Governor before departing told Cdr Vadhera “I wold have loved to continue with you all, lekin yeh log mujhe Sunday ko bhi aaram nahi karne dete”.
The Parade continued for about 2 kms along Marine Drive, with civil crowd continuously cheering up the Veterans with Patriotic songs (Videos below) Ananth Mahadevan’s team went back and forth for wider coverage of the Parade. Meena Dutta was running around snapping unique photos for this Blog. Cmde Oddakal’s Youtube team kept interviewing Veterans and a few from public. After 2 Kms march the Parade wheeled back around a tree to return to the start point where it culminated with great fanfare. The general public was very enthusiastic, encouraging, kept cheering the Veterans. All Veterans and Veer Naris then moved inside The NCPA Auditorium for the felicitation ceremony.
NCPA FELICITATION CEREMONY
The NCPA auditorium was almost house-full with about 700 participants of the Veterans Day Parade. Seated on stage on white elegant Sofas were Veer Nari Smt Dhanno Dahiya W/O Late Major Hoshiar Singh, PVC, Wing Cdr Jaggi Nath,MVC & Bar, Cmde Satish Bhalla, AVSM,NM(G), Capt Raj Mohindra, (NFMC founder Secy and later President NFMC for 9 years), and Padam Shree awardee Cmde (SCC) Rabi Ahuja.
Cdr Vijay Vadhera took to stage and welcomed all present to the Veterans Day felicitation ceremony. He brought out the genesis of Veterans Day that is being observed the World over since 1919 as a respect to Martyrs of WW-I, in the form of Remembrance Day and ANZAC Day. How he conceptualized Veterans Day Parade taking a cue from ANZEC Day, when he was in Australia in 2019. That year he planned the big event and eventually organized and conducted the First ever Veterans Day Parade on 12 Jan 2020 at the Marine Drive (Blog below). For the next 2 years the Parade had been planned, but cancelled due to the Pandemic. Todays Parade had been a great Success with involvement from two greats Mr Ashwin Gidwani and Mr Ananth Mahadevan. Albeit NFMC’s ultimate Aim is to Make the Veterans Day Parade Pan India, in various cities on a Sunday morning prior 14 Jan simultaneously being beamed live on various TV channels. Hopefully it may materialize in 2024. He then felicitated the following Veterans and select personnel who were instrumental in the event’s grand success. The felicitations drew a huge round of Applause for all Awardees, Mr Aswin Gidwani and Ananth Mahadevan in particular.
Felicitation inside NCPA, by Cdr Vijay Vadhera,NM(G), President NFMC with a lovely NFMC memento of Golden Sail boat :-
1) Veer Nari Smt Dhanno Dahiya (82 yrs) W/O Late Major Hoshiar Singh, PVC
2) Wing Cdr Jaggi Nath, MVC & Bar, 92 yrs
3) Cmde Satish Bhalla, AVSM,NM(G), 89 yrs
5) Padam Shree Cmde (SCC) Rabi Ahuja, 89 yrs
6) Rtn Sandeep Agarwala
7) Mr Shyam Srinivasan
Mr Ramesh Ramakrishnan
9) Mr Abhey Salunkhe
10) Mr Ashvin Gidwani
11) Mr Ananth Narain Mahadevan
12) Master Chief ERA 1st Class Shashi Kant Mishra
Felicitation of Veterans by Ms Farrahnaz Irani, GM NCPA on behalf of Chairman NCPA to following with a huge Bouquet of flowers and NCPA memento:-
1) Smt Dhanno Dahiya
2) Wing Cdr Jaggi Nath
3) Cmde Satish Bhalla
4) Capt Raj Mohindra
5) Capt (Dr) Kanta Mukherjee
6) Arjuna Awardee LCdr Farokh Tarapore
After the felicitations all stood up as the National Anthem was played on screen, culminating with war cries, “Bharat Mata ki Jay and Hows the Josh, High Sir” Cdr Vadhera requested all present to move to the Foyer for a well earned double Breakfast.
It was the Second Tri-Services Veterans Day Parade conducted by NFMC, assisted by various agencies and the Nation to look up to.
Concluding lines: *Outstanding events are an outcome of the outstanding efforts of an outstanding person leading his team in an innovative way....NFMC is blessed by Cdr Vijay Vadhera, NM(G) at the helm ....Respects and Regards....Cdr Raj Dutta, Hon Secy NFMC.*🙏🏼
Sam No Varunah,
(PS - Double the Videos below and zoom those for enlarged view)
Link to First Veterans Day Parade
LINK FOR VETERANS FELICITATION AT NCPA
LINK- Triservices Veterans Day Parade brings cheer
ANANTH MAHADEVAN MEETS WGCDR JAGGI NATH, MVC & BAR
Congratulations to all the Organizers. A wonderful moment indeed and an excellent initiative. Watched the March from home, it was a proud moment for all of us. You all created a patriotic fervor. Coming together is strength, love , peace and unity. Veterans are inspirers. You are ones who inspired or influence the youths.ReplyDelete
Happy to know some of the veterans. The magnanimous efforts taken by you all needs a huge round of applause once again. You all inspire us. I think every state Veterans must organize such an event.
I saw live on my mobile but still felt the spirit. Excellent write up.
Truly remarkable !!
Dear Uday, that's such a humbling remark....Grateful to you🙏🌷Delete