January 6, 2020 2:14:57 pm
“Soldiers of the Sikh Light Infantry regiment possess a fighting spirit and unconditional loyalty for their officers and fellow soldiers, which is why the regiment has always brought glory to the country and produced fine officers,” says General V P Malik, former Indian Army Chief from the regiment, who now resides in Panchkula.
The Sikh Light Infantry made history when General M M Naravane was appointed the Chief of Army Staff, making it the only regiment with three chiefs to its credit. Few people know that the two former Army Chiefs from the regiment live in the Tricity. While General Malik lives in Panchkula, General Bikram Singh, who retired as the Army Chief in 2014, resides in Mohali.
“The Tricity has always been a magnet for many retired military officers, even a former Navy Chief and an Air Force Chief live here,” says Malik. Panchkula, he said, is a hub of retired officers because of its proximity to Chandimandir Cantt. “There are at least 90 retired Lt Generals living in Panchkula alone, and many more in the rest of the Tricity,” Gen Malik says.
On the appointment of the new Army Chief from his regiment, Malik says he is proud of his accomplishment and is sure that Naravane is well- suited for the mammoth task ahead of him. “I have known him personally. He is an honest and straightforward man, replete with soldier-like qualities. Now I only wish him great success for the future and good luck, for it is not an easy task to be Chief,” Malik adds.
Gen Bikram Singh, the second officer from this regiment to have become the Army Chief, claims all regiments of the Indian Army share the same dutiful ethos, but the Sikh Light Infantry units are especially sought-after by senior commanders in both peace and war. “The regiment’s culture accords topmost priority to developing leaders and men who are creative, innovative, adaptive and also those who uphold values of loyalty, integrity, courage and honour,” Singh says. “Further, these leaders owe unflinching loyalty to the well-being of their soldiers and work diligently to create well-knit teams for whom failure is not an option.”
Gen Malik believes this unflinching loyalty to the soldiers is rewarded doubly by the soldiers themselves, who are unconditionally loyal and supportive of their officers. In an anecdote, Malik highlights how when he was a young officer, he was shocked by the dedication of his soldiers to the welfare of their officers. “We were on an exercise and we were to cross a river. Everyone began taking off their shoes to cross the river, but as soon as I followed suit, a soldier asked me to keep my shoes on, stating in Punjabi that they don’t let their officers’ feet get wet, and that they will carry me across,” Ma
lik says. “Of course, I didn’t allow them to do that, but their readiness to do so left a mark on me.”
It is this generosity of spirit and commitment of its troops that has made the regiment quite popular amongst cadets in the Indian Military Academy as well. “Most of these aspiring officers wish to join Sikh Light Infantry because they have heard of the regiment and its glorious ethos as well as its achievements in many significant military operations,” Malik says. “We have a long and proud history of having achieved success in so many wars. Beyond that, we are committed to taking care of each other.”
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