Field Marshal speaks in Hindi

General (later Field Marshal) KM Cariappa, while talking in Hindi had a tendency to translate English words too literally. He was visiting 50 Para Brigade at Naushera, whose Commander, Brigadier Usman was to be given an opportunity to recapture Jhangar. Addressing the troops, the General wanted to refer to India having become free and wanted to put the soldiers in the picture. Operations to capture Jhangar could be undertaken only after administrative arrangements could be completed.

He spoke :

O Para brigade ke afsaran, sardaron aur jawanon. Is waqt hum muft, aap muft, mulk muft, sab kuchh muft hai. Aap ka brigade commander saheb ne bola kih aap aage jana mangta magar ham pahile aapko tasveer ke andar dalna mangta. Aap abhi aage jana sakat nahin kionhki hamara bandobast ka dum bahut pichhe hai.

This roughly transliterates as -

Oh officers, Junior Commissioned Officers and men of the Para Brigade, today I cost nothing, you cost nothing and the country costs nothing, everything is free of cost. Your Brigade Commander told me that you wish to advance, but before that I wish to put you all of you inside the picture. You may not move forward because the tail of our arrangements has been left behind.

[Recounted by Major, later Lieutenant General (Retired), SK Sinha, who was the staff officer to the General during that period.]


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6 Responses to Field Marshal speaks in Hindi

  1. Mihir October 24, 2007 at 7:45 pm #

    LOL! Nice find!

  2. chandra October 24, 2007 at 9:37 pm #


  3. pankaj November 6, 2007 at 9:36 am #

    There is no other reference to this – it is highly unlikely that this is a genuine reference. More likely it is one of the anecdotes that subordinates make up to have a laugh at their superiors behind their back.

    Consider the choice of words -
    “aage jana mangta” is very brit kinda translation, the type that one sees in bollywood, of asrani kinda generals. Not of a South Indian gentleman.
    “…Aap abhi aage jana sakat nahin…” Again, a very parodized choice of words. Right out of bollywood.

    I’ll bet you anything that this is a cooked up or highly exaggerated report.

  4. Pragmatic November 7, 2007 at 11:09 am #

    It is in all the biographies of Cariappa. However, this is the full text that I could lay my hand on. And Gen Sinha recounted this tale in Cariappa Memorial Lecture in front of the Defence Minister, all three service chiefs and many other dignitaries.
    There are many other incidents about Cariappa and his ‘more British than British’ attitude, even post-retirement. So, this particular piece, the most famous one, doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone.

  5. pankaj November 8, 2007 at 10:34 am #

    Yes, I am inclined to agree with you, if he was that britified – most soldiers who rose towards the top management initially during the british years would naturally not have risen upwards if they had not shown an exemplary adoption of britishness. An army controlled by the brits would naturally reward any signs of britishness.

    And naturally, after independence, there would be a silent resentment of the britified officers by the non-britified officers.

    However, the words of the anecdote are too parodized – and thats what makes them completely suspect.
    Besides, it makes fun of him – and it comes from someone who served under him. Very typical.

  6. PS April 10, 2008 at 9:03 pm #

    C’s W II service record ?

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