Field Marshal Kariappa, Who Was Even Saluted by Pakistani Soldiers

FM Kariappa
Image Courtesy: KC Nandu Kariappa

When it comes to providing leadership to the Indian Army, Kodandera
Madappa Kariappa’s name is recalled with immense respect.
He was the first Commander in Chief of the Indian Army. He is also known
as a ‘Keeper‘. It is said that when he was posted in Fatehgarh,
the wife of a British officer had a lot of difficulty in taking his name. So
they started calling him ‘Keeper‘.
In 1942, Kariappa became the first Indian officer to receive the rank of
lieutenant colonel. In 1944, he was promoted to the rank of brigadier and was
given the charge of the Bannu Frontier Brigade as commander.
Major General VK Singh, who wrote a biography of Field Marshal Kariappa,
says, “While passing through a village in those days, Kariappa saw some
Pathan women carrying large pots full of water on their heads.”
“After questioning, it was found out that they had to go daily to
fetch water from another village four miles away. Kariappa immediately ordered
a well to be dug in his village. Pathan was so happy that he started calling
him ‘Khalifa‘. 

An important role in making Leh a part of

In November 1947, Kariyappa was posted as chief of the Eastern Command
of the army and was posted to Ranchi.
But as soon as the condition deteriorated in Kashmir within two months,
he was made the GOC in Chief of Delhi and East Punjab in place of Lieutenant
General Dudley Russell. He named this command Western Command.
He immediately appointed General Thimmaiah as the head of Jammu and
Kashmir Force in place of Kalwant Singh.
The road to Leh could not be opened until the Indian Army occupied
Jozila, Dras and Kargil.
Defying the above orders, Kariyappa did the same. If they had not done
so, today Leh would not have become a part of India. As part of their plan, the
Indian Army first captured Naushera and Jhangar and then pushed back the
attackers from Jozila, Dras and Kargil as well.

FM Kariappa and his colleagues
Major General Rajendra Singhji, Commander in Chief General Sir Roy Butcher, Defense Minister Baldev Singh and Field Marshal Kariyappa (from left to right, seated)

Image Courtesy: KC Nandu Kariappa

Kariappa‘s jeep attacked by the Tribals

Kariappa visited Nowshera after assuming the post of Commander. Here 50
parachute brigades were in control at that time.
He told Brigadier Commander Usman that he would like a gift from him.
When Usman asked what he would like to take as a gift, Kariappa’s answer was
that he wanted him to take possession of the coat. Osman carried out this work
Later when the tribes attacked Nowshera, the control of Indian soldiers
on the coat played a very big role in the same defence.
At the same time, while travelling from Jeep to Srinagar, Brigadier Bogi
Sen advised Kariappa to remove the flags and star plates from the jeep so that
the enemy could not identify his jeep and fire the sniper.
Major General VK Singh explains that “Kariappa did it by accepting
the advice, saying that it would have a bad effect on the morale of his
soldiers when they would see that their commander had removed the flag from his
jeep out of fear.”
“Bogi Sen’s fear turned out to be right. His jeep came on fire but
fortunately, no one was hurt. His jeep was fired again while returning, causing
a tear in his tire but no effect on Kariappa.”
Kariappa got Mahavir Chakra to Meher

On another occasion during a visit to Tithwal, Kariappa, regardless of
his safety climbed a hill on which the tribesmen were watching.
Within a few minutes of their departure, a cannonball fell at the place
where they were standing.
Later Kariyappa laughed and said, “Enemy shells also respect the
During this campaign, Air Commodore Meher Singh was successful in
landing the Dakota aircraft with arms in the tail, that too at night. After
some time, he also landed in Leh on which General Thimmaiah was riding.
Kariyappa not only recommended giving Mahavir Chakra to Mehar Singh, but
also ensured that he gets this honour.
The strange thing was that the Air Force did not like to give Mahavir
Chakra to its own officer and after this he was not given any promotion.

First Indian Commander in Chief

In 1946, Baldev Singh, who was the Minister of Defense in the Interim The government offered to make Nathu Singh, then serving as Brigadier, the first
Commander-in-Chief of India.
Major General Bhuvan Chandra Khanduri, who wrote a biography of
Kariyappa in his book ‘Field Marshal KM Kariyappa His Life and Times’, writes,
“Nathu Singh did not accept the offer politely, because he believed that
being a senior was Kariyappa’s The claim on that post was made more. “
“After Nathu Singh, Rajendra Singhji was also offered the post but
he too did not accept that position in honour of Kariyappa. Then on 4 December
1948, Kariappa was made the first Indian Commander-in-Chief of the
At that time, Kariyappa was 49 years old. For the first time after 200
years of British rule, an Indian was given the reins of the Indian Army.
On 15 January 1949, Kariappa did this post. Since then, this day is
celebrated as ‘Army Day’.

Sam Maneksaw with Kariappa
With Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw

Image Courtesy: KC Nandu Kariappa

The Soldier of Discipline

The largest contribution Kariappa was that he kept away from politics to
the Indian Army.
Maybe that’s why he refused to take the Indian Army troops INA. He
believed that if he did this, the Indian Army would not be untouched by
Kariappa had no harm in following the discipline. This was the reason
that even his closest friends hesitated to take freedom from him.
Major General VK Singh writes in his book ‘Leadership in the Indian
Army’, “Once in Srinagar, General Thimmaiah, who had worked with him in
World War II and Kashmir, was sitting in the same car with him. Thimmaiah had
taken the first puff by burning cigarettes that Kariappa forbade him to
smoke in a military vehicle.
“A short time later, the habitual General Thimmaiah took out another
cigarette but then put it back in the packet, recalling Kariappa’s talk. Kariappa
noted this and ordered the driver to stop the car so that Thimmaiah could

Ruckus over private use of government

Air Marshal Nandu Kariappa, son of Field Marshal Kariappa, writes in
his father’s biography, “Once when I was studying at Naveen Bharat High
School in Delhi
, one day the army truck school could not come to pick us up. My
father’s ADC told me to send a staff car to withdraw from school. I was overjoyed.
“A few days later when my father was having breakfast, this
incident was mentioned. On hearing this my father became enraged and he laughed
at his ADC saying that the government car should not be used in any way.
Immediately got his bill made and asked the ADC to deduct it from his salary.

Ayub Khan rejected the offer

During the battle with Pakistan in 1965, the fighter plane of his son
Nandu Kariappa, a fighter pilot in the Air Force, was shot down in Pakistan. He
was taken prisoner of war.
Airmarkal Nandu Kariyappa told the BBC, “There was a lot of
friendship between the President of Pakistan, General Ayub Khan and my father
as Ayub had worked under him in the 40s. Radio Pakistan was specially announced
after I was caught. That I am safe and well. “
“Within an hour, the Pakistan High Commissioner in Delhi spoke to
my father over the telephone and said Ayub Khan sent a message to him that if
you wish, he can send your son back to India immediately. Then my father
replied , “All Indian prisoners of war are my sons. You leave my son with
them. “Not only this, while I was in Rawalpindi’s jail, Begum Ayub came to
meet me with a cart of state express cigarettes and a novel by PG

Gyani Zail singh with Kariappa
Field Marshal Kariappa with former President Gyani Zail Singh

Image Courtesy: KC Nandu Kariappa

Pakistani soldiers put down their weapons And saluted FM Kariappa

After the end of the India-Pakistan war, Kariappa went to the
Indo-Pakistan border to boost the morale of Indian soldiers.
During the time he crossed the border and entered ‘No Man Land’.
Nandu Kariappa writes in his father’s biography, “On seeing him,
the Pakistani commander ordered that he stop there, otherwise he would be shot.
Someone from the Indian border shouted that he is General Kariyappa. On hearing
this, the Pakistani soldiers Took down his weapon. “
“His officer came and saluted General Kariappa. Kariappa asked
the Pakistani soldiers about his well-being and also asked if he was getting
letters from his house?”
Difficulty In speaking Hindi
Kariappa had a little hand in speaking Hindustani, so people often
called him ‘brown Saab’s. Actually, he used to think in English.
Soon after independence, Kariappa was to address the troops near the
border. He was trying to tell them that now the country is free. Mango and we
are also free.
But Kariappa said, “Iss Waqt Aap Muft, Mulk Muft hai, Sab Kuch Muft Hai(You are free, free at the moment, everything is free).”
Kariappa was very much in favour of family planning. Once addressing the
wives of soldiers at the Family Welfare Center in Amritsar, he said,
“Mothers and sisters, we want you to have two children, one for yourself,
one for me.”
Perhaps Kariappa was saying that you should have two sons. One of
them stayed with the family and the other became part of the Indian Army.
Suit buff
Fieldmarshal Kariappa always wore nice clothes. At dinner, he
always appeared in a black suit or bandhgala.
He always changed clothes at dinner time, even if he was having dinner
alone in his house.
His daughter Nalini says, “Once he called an American diplomat at
dinner. The guest did not know the dress code of Kariappa. He arrived at
home wearing a plain shirt. My father used the excuse of the cold weather of
Madikeri. He was forced to wear his coat. Then he went and sat at the dinner
table. “
“Once more my fiancée came to a family luncheon wearing only a
coat, without a tie. My father told me to tell my future husband that his
son-in-law and as an army officer would dress him dressed at a food table Come
on. “
“He was so aware of his appearance that whenever he was entering a
city by car, he stopped the car and combed his hair and wiped the dust on his
car with his hands. . “

The Craze Of Field Marshal Kariappa 

Kariappa was famous for his craze, and that too not many, many.
For example, they did not tolerate someone turning their sleeves to
their shirt sleeves.
Nandu Kariappa says that ‘I don’t remember if I ever saw him in a half
sleeve shirt or a bush. Bashert was very hilariously called ‘Maternity Jacket’.
He always had a scarf tied around his neck while playing a game. Every person
who came to eat at our place was expected to wear a suit. Secondly, even if
someone has opened the buttons of his coat, he was considered bad.
I do not know why he was so irritated with the harmonium. Whenever there
was an item of music in army ceremonies, it was forbidden to play the harmonium.
For him, the transistor was the world’s biggest invention. He always kept it
with him. He was never interested in watching TV.

General Kariappa
Image Courtesy: KC Nandu Kariappa

Became Field Marshal At the Age of 87

On 15 January 1986, he came to Delhi for the Army Day parade.
After the parade, the then Chief of Army Staff General K Sundarji
announced that the government has decided to make General Kariappa a field
His son Airmarshal Nandu Kariappa says, “On the day this program
was to happen, there was a lot of pain in the little toe of his right foot. At
home, he used to wear a shoo-in his left leg and slippers on his right foot at

We all advised him He did not wear shoes at the function of the
Rashtrapati Bhavan but where was he going to listen to us. 

He wore his pointed
shoes as usual. And then and when he asked the President for his field He did
not even use a walking stick when he went to get the martial baton. “
“The President’s ADC offered him support but he did not accept it
“At that time, he was 87 years old. The whole ceremony lasted for
about 10 minutes. But during this period, Kariappa stood still, though he was
having severe pain in his leg.”