When an Aussie doctor was bowled over by a gravely-wounded Manekshaw's humour

When an Aussie doctor was bowled over by a gravely-wounded Manekshaw's humour

New Delhi, Nov 22 (PTI) The legendary Sam Manekshaw is the quintessential Indian soldier with exemplary courage who believed in leading by example, and in a battle with the Japanese during World War II, despite being badly hit with bullets in his belly and lungs, he was able to make the Australian doctor treating him break into a hearty laugh with his humour, says a new book.

In 'The Winning Culture: Lessons from the Indian Army to Transform Your Business', Indian Army veteran turned executive performance coach Major Gen (retd) Neeraj Bali provides tips for leaders poised to revolutionise organisational culture and lead their teams to guaranteed wins.

Writing about a few incidents involving India's first field marshal Manekshaw, the author says in 1942, the former's troops were among the force guarding a bridge over the Sittaung river in then Burma.

'In a battle with the Japanese, Manekshaw was hit nine times with bullets in his belly and lungs. Such was his courage - and the imminence of his death - that the British military commander pinned a military cross on a semi-conscious Manekshaw. But the latter did not fade away, and finally made it on a stretcher to a hospital after 36 hours,' the book, published by Pan Macmillan India, says.

There was confusion in the ad hoc facility and, after some effort, Manekshaw's orderly Sher Singh managed to summon an Australian doctor and pointed out the multiple bullet wounds to him.

Eager to keep Manekshaw conscious by engaging in small talk, the doctor asked him what had happened to him.

He replied, 'A bloody mule kicked me.' The doctor broke into a hearty laugh and said, 'I see you have a sense of humour. You might be worth saving!' There is another incident when a soldier wanted to kill Manekshaw over not being promoted.

During World War II, Manekshaw served with a battalion of Sikh troops - 4th Battalion of the 12 Frontier Force (formerly 54th Sikh), in Burma.

'During a conference, the name of one of his company soldiers - the burly, six-foot-four-inch-tall Sohan Singh - came up for promotion. But Manekshaw refused to recommend his name. The reason? Sohan Singh had been promoted several times earlier and had to be demoted each time due to indiscipline,' the book says.

Later that day, Manekshaw was told that Sohan Singh was arrested that evening after he openly announced that he would shoot and kill Manekshaw that night.

'So Manekshaw ordered that Sohan Singh be formally marched up to him. Singh's official weapon, a pistol, had been taken away from him as a precaution. A charge was read out. Manekshaw asked Singh if he had committed an offence. A shamefaced Sohan pleaded that he had made a mistake. Manekshaw then proceeded to load a pistol and handed it over to Sohan. 'Are you brave enough to shoot me? If you are, go ahead,' Manekshaw said.

'A sheepish Sohan repeated that his utterance had been a momentary lapse of reason. Sam gave him a playful slap and asked him to be on his way,' Bali writes.

But that was not the end of the story. Sohan was heard telling several soldiers that he was determined to carry out his mission.

Manekshaw asked for Sohan Singh to be brought back. And to everyone's surprise he ordered Sohan Singh to be his sentry outside his hut and bring him a mug of hot tea and another mug of hot water to shave the next morning.

'At dawn, right on time, Sohan brought him the two mugs of hot water. And, to use Manekshaw's own words, followed him 'like a lamb for the rest of the war',' Bali says.

'When Manekshaw would recount this story, he would say with his usual candour, 'Ladies and gentlemen, if you think I wasn't frightened, you are mistaken. I was terrified. But if I hadn't done that and instead put Sohan Singh behind bars, everybody would have said - see, our leader is scared. Everyone is frightened. It is one thing to be frightened and quite another to show fear.

'… If once you show fear in front of the men you command, it doesn't matter whether they are soldiers or clerks or labour or students - you should quit.' You can replace the word 'frightened' with any synonym, and the wisdom will still ring true,' he adds.

Drawing from his vast military experience as well as interviews with members of the Army fraternity, Bali offers practical insights and an easy-to-use culture-building toolkit for those at the helm of teams big and small.

'The objective of this book is to demonstrate the distinctiveness of the Indian Army's culture that makes daily victories possible. By recounting my experiences in the Army, I try to show how greatly a robust culture contributes to a community or organisation's ability to survive and thrive in any situation,' he writes.

However, the lessons and learnings, though meant to be universal, are offered primarily for the business world. PTI ZMN RDS RDS

Disclaimer: This story is auto-generated feed.

PSU Watch