Few military leaders in the enchanted frontiers have reached the pinnacle of glory as the pioneering three-star general of the region, Lt Gen. K. Himalay Singh. General Singh’s memoir Making of a General is a unique testimony to a young boy’s journey from a remote hamlet in the borderlands of India to rise to become an Indian Army Corps Commander in Kashmir and later the Commandant of the Infantry School in Mhow.
The rites of passage from Sainik School, Goalpara, the National Defence Academy, Khadakvasla and thence to command his battalion during the Kargil War and in the Siachen Glacier is demonstrative of Konsam Himalay’s generalship qualities. It is little wonder, therefore, that the National Security Adviser (NSA) of India, Ajit Doval should hail his book as one that is replete with sage wisdom and tales of grit. Echoing the NSA’s words, the Chief of Defence Staff, General. Bipin Rawat phrases General Singh as a Gentleman General with the ferocity of a ‘Tiger’.
The highpoints of Making of a General are the narratives that mark Gen Singh’s chapters Our Attack on Point 5770 during the Kargil War and the Siachen Soldier. A particularly poignant paragraph from Siachen Soldier reveals his love for India, Manipur and the North East that he has returned to after decades of tour of duty with Indian Army that he so ably served. It is very moving and, therefore, needs replication in this unique space for the readers. The General writes:
Most posts in Siachen were constantly under enemy mortar and artillery attacks for the most part of the day. We reciprocated these with more devastating firepower. Troops had to spend most of their time in ice caves from the artillery shells and other types of missiles. During my visits to these post, I also started enjoying sleeping inside the ice cave...
Elsewhere in Manipur, even as Konsam Himalay Singh was commanding his troops and guarding the frontiers of the country in the highest battlefield of the world, his house in Manipur was being searched by the Assam Rifles. He writes in the same chapter Siachen Soldier:
I learnt much later that my house in the village was subjected to searches by the local Assam Rifles troops during combing operations in my village for insurgents. My aged father and two-year-old niece were taken out of their beds in the middle of the night. I pacified my family that the soldiers were (only) doing their duty...
The journey of the General has indeed been a Herculean one and, therefore, one abounding with lessons, the most important being when he says in his passing shot Aim for the Mountains.
Related links : https://youtu.be/IkG5iSb6rsA
Jaideep Saikia is a terrorism and conflict analyst and author and editor of several books including ‘Terrorism sans Frontiers: Islamist Militancy in North East India’, ‘Frontier in Flames: North East India in Turmoil’, ‘Terrorism: Patterns of Internationalisation’, and ‘Mind over Matter: Effortless conversation about the Demanding’. He also served the government of India as an Expert on North East India in the National Security Secretariat and government of Assam in security advisorial capacities. Saikia is also a reputed poet.