Field Marshal K.M. Cariappa’s son has written an insightful book on his father
This is a son’s tribute to an extraordinary father. Titled Field Marshal K.M. Cariappa, it is a biography of this illustrious Army Chief written by his son Air Marshal (retd.) K.C. Cariappa and published by Niyogi Books.
Released recently, the biography is forthright. That’s probably why the reader connects so easily to it.
In this thick volume complete with many pictures, not a single detail seems to have been bypassed, neither personal nor professional, of his illustrious career in the Army spanning over three decades (1918-1953 ). After all, Field Marshal K.M. Cariappa was the first Indian officer to enter the Staff College, Quetta. He was also among the first Indians to enter the Imperial Defence College in the U.K. and was the first Indian Major-General in 1947. The first Indian Commander-in-Chief, he is hailed as Father of the Indian Army.
Field Marshal Cariappa, however, suffered a major setback on his personal front. His son mentions his parents’ divorce in this biography, in a matter-of-fact, no-fuss manner. “His tenure in Bannu was short lived as he had been detailed to form part of the Army’s Reorganisation Committee. It was about this time too that his personal life was in turmoil. Nalini was born on 24 February, 1943, and soon thereafter, mother joined him in Dehra Dun with the two of us. Though he was posted in Dehra Dun, he was on the move, to and from Delhi, and elsewhere. He had to perforce leave his lovely young wife from time to time, and their two children, on her own. She was lonely, very young, very beautiful and very, very vulnerable. This was the beginning of the end of their marriage. Their divorce was announced in 1946…Mother did come to visit us in Delhi once and only very briefly. We never saw her again because she was killed in a car accident in Madikeri in 1954…”
In fact, in the epilogue, Field Marshal Cariappa’s daughter Nalini is even more candid.
“I sit on my balcony collecting my thoughts and memories. Before I write I look around at the beautiful trees in the forest that surround my home in Roshanara and I am filled anew with immense love and gratitude for the man who was my father. The legacy he left me is priceless... My parents were divorced when I was very young. As a result, I have no recollection of my mother… Papa tried to the best of his ability to be both father and mother to me. Bringing up two young children virtually single-handedly must have been a trying task. He was then Commander-in-Chief of the Army, a most demanding job, more so as it was soon after Partition and Independence. Yet he made time for us. When he was not touring, our morning ritual was to go to his room and say ‘Good Morning Daddy, I brushed my teeth last night’.” In between the finer details of his personal life, the book is infused with details about the Field Marshal’s military prowess — the places and locales he was posted at, the awards he was bestowed with, his views, his interactions with the political leaders of that era, including Mahatma Gandhi.It is an important book for it contains the late Field Marshal’s rather candid and firm views vis-À-vis not just the neighbouring countries but also that of Kashmir and the North East.
The far sighted man that he was, Field Marshal Cariappa was often misunderstood. Perhaps this book will settle some creases.HUMRA QURAISHI