While there have been many incidents of Sam Manekshaw giving a punch of humour for Indian politicians. If you have ever read, you will know how Sam Manekshaw gave a right answer with his humour to any politician.
One of his quote is very famous, “I wonder whether those of our political masters who have been put in charge of the defence of the country can distinguish a mortar from a motor; a gun from a howitzer; a guerrilla from a gorilla, although a great many resemble the latter.”
Soon after India was independent in 1947, Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru earlier decided to make a british officer as the chief of Indian Army without consulting anyone. Nehru chose Major Lockhart to be the first chief of independent India. Most of the people were shocked to hear that our first chief will be British. Major General Ajit Anil Jik Rudra of the Indian army was angry and upset on hearing this. No one fought against British for 200 years for to have a British Army chief.
It was also believed that Nehru told Major Lockhart that India does not need a defence plan because we believe in Ahimsa. Major Lockhart stormed out of the room on hearing this.
Nearly six months after this incident, India’s defence strategy was not even clear and Kashmir crisis were rapidly growing. This was the time when Nehru called an urgent meeting of all army officers. Meeting was also attended by various senior officers of Indian army, including Major General K M Cariappa who later became the Indian army chief in 1949. The meeting was also chaired by then Defence Minister Baldev Singh. Every one knew that Major General Cariappa was the most experienced and deserving to be the army chief.
In the meeting, Nehru stated that we have to appoint a new chief as General Lockhart has resigned. I consider it better to appoint a British man as the army chief since we do not have a capable and experienced army man in our country
All the Indian army sitting in the meeting felt very humiliated and insulted. Defence Minister Baldev agreed with Nehru’s point instantly and said that we don’t have a capable Indian army men to run the army.
One Indian army officer asked to speak. Nehru was taken aback by a sudden repulse of the soldier and asked him to go forward.
The Indian army officer said, “You see, sir, we don’t have enough experience to lead a nation too, so shouldn’t we appoint a British person as the first Prime Minister of India?”
It was a pin drop silence for a long time and then Nehru got back his composure and asked, “Are you ready to be the first army chief of Indian army”? This soldier was Lt. Gen Nathu Singh Rathore.
Rathore declined the offer saying, “Sir, we have a very talented army officer, my senior, Gen. Cariappa, who is the most deserving among us. Do we need a better person to guard our country than Gen KM Cariappa. How could you say our country has no capable leaders?”
Later, everyone applauded Nathu Singh Rathore for speaking when it was much needed. Lt Gen Nathu Singh Rathore was again offered to be the Indian army chief as Defence Minister Baldev Singh did not wanted General KM Cariappa to be the chief of India. But he again politely declined the offer saying that Gen Cariappa was more deserving and experienced.
It shocks us how the Prime Minister can even give the go ahead for a british personnel to be army chief of India.