When PM Modi hosted farewell dinner for the outgoing chief of the Indian Army General Bipin Rawat, the Prime Minister himself told him that he would be taking over as the first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) of India. A Gorkha Rifles soldier, his military career is based on an equilibrium of three principles –soldiering, compassion and connect with the civil society.
Born on March 16th 1958, to Lieutenant General Laxman Singh, in a family that has been serving the Indian Army since generations, General Bipin Rawat has an extraordinary military career with vast high altitude warfare and counter-insurgency operations experience. He has remained to be illustrious throughout his service.
An alumnus of St. Edward School, Shimla and the National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla, Gen Rawat following footsteps of his father was commissioned in the Gorkha Rifles in 1978. He received the ‘Sword of Honour’ while he was in the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun.
The academically inclined General is credited with an M. Phil degree in Defence Studies from Madras University and a Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD) from Chaudhary Charan Singh University, Meerut. He also holds two Diplomas in Management and Computer Studies respectively. General Rawat is also known for authoring a number of articles on issues such as ‘National Security’ and ‘Leadership’.
In the much talked about 1987 Sino-Indian skirmish, General Rawat (then major) led to the humiliating defeat of the PLA in one of the sectors of the Sumdorong Chu valley. Later, when he was promoted to the rank of Brigadier, he was deployed as the commanding officer of the Multinational Brigade in the Democratic Republic of the Congo mandated by the UN.
While leading North Kivu Brigade — the largest Indian Army deployment in foreign land till now, his battalion faced a series of major offensives in Congo. His extraordinary leadership and military skills resulted in turning around the tables in the turmoil hit nation. Initially, the peacekeepers who were facing public dissent soon became a ray of hope for the localities.
General Rawat is also credit for the surgical strikes that India conducted crossing the international boundary deep into the Myanmar territory in 2015. Under his leadership, the 21st battalion of the Parachute Regiment took revenge of the death of 18 soldiers killed by militants belonging to the United Liberation Front of Western South East Asia (UNLFW).
While many experts credit him for his extraordinary leadership skills, some criticise him for his straightforward and alleged ‘political’ comments. Amidst all the criticism by some sections of the society, the government made General Rawat the first CDS of India with the mandate of integrating, modernising and synergising the three armed forces of the country.