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Air Marshal Arup Raha to be IAF Chief

From ‘golden batch’ of Sainik School that includes a serving CM,high-profile seer

Written by Manu Pubby | New Delhi |
October 30, 2013 4:57:44 am

The government has cleared the appointment of Air Marshal Arup Raha,an ace fighter pilot who was commissioned in 1974,as the next Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) to replace N A K Browne who retires in December.

Raha,who is currently the Vice Chief of Air Staff,comes from the 1970 batch of the Purulia Sainik School that has till now produced a serving Chief Minister — Nagaland’s Neiphiu Rio — as well as a well-known seer,Shanka-racharya Swami Divyanand Teerthji of Dholka-Bhanpura Peeth.

Raha,who has a career spanning over 39 years and served as Air Attache in Ukr-aine,is the son of a doctor and belongs to Baidyabati in West Bengal. He has in the past commanded both the Central and the Western Air Commands. The officer will have a three-year tenure at the top position.

Defence spokesperson Group Captain T K Singha confirmed that the officer belonged to a batch that now has three students in eminent positions. “The Air Marshal is one of the most illustrious former student of the school till date and his batch included a Chief Minister and a seer,” he said.

While Sainik Schools,set up in the 1960s with the aim of churning out cadets for the armed forces,have produced thousands of officers,Raha is only the third one to be selected to lead an armed force. The first being former Army Chief Gen Deepak Kapoor who belonged to the Kunjpura school and former Air Chief Marshal P V Naik from Satara.

As news of Raha being selected to the top position reached his former school in Purulia,preparations began to give him a resounding welcome after he takes over as the chief. “While other schools dream of shaping the future of students,we dream of our students shaping the country. This news would immensely motivate the cadets at the school,” SSP Principal Col B S Ghorpade said. The school is planning a reunion in January where Raha would be invited as the chief guest.

Raha will take over charge of the Air Force at a specially challenging time with reduced budgets and cuts on spending throwing questions on the rapid modernisation drive that the air force had embarked on. Several critical projects that are in the pipeline,including the procurement of new generation fighter aircraft and modernisation of air fields along the China border,will fructify during his tenure.

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