The Indian Army organised inaugural “General SF Rodrigues Memorial Lecture” in Manekshaw Centre today, in memory of Late General Sunith Francis Rodrigues, the former Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) and Governor of Punjab on the occasion of his 90th birthday. The lecture was attended by General Manoj Pande, the Chief of the Army Staff who delivered the keynote address and other senior serving & veteran officers of the Indian Army.
The forum started with Memoirs of the former COAS followed by a lecture on “Changing Character of War and Firepower” delivered by Lieutenant General Raj Shukla (Retired), former General Officer Commanding in Chief, Army Training Command (ARTRAC).
General SF Rodrigues was born in 1933 in Mumbai and did his schooling from St Xavier’s School. He joined the first course in Joint Services Wing in 1949 and was commissioned into the Regiment of Artillery (9 Field Regiment) on 28th December 1952. The General Officer served in various Field and Self-Propelled Artillery units, and subsequently became an Artillery Aviation Pilot in 1960, wherein he actively participated in 1962 and 1965 wars. He has tenanted the appointments of Vice Chief of the Army Staff, General Officer Commanding in Chief of Central and Western Commands before taking over as the COAS. He served as the COAS from 1st July 1990 till 30th June 1993.
Speaking on the occasion, the Army Chief reminded the audience of the major initiatives undertaken by Gen Rodrigues as the Army Chief. He highlighted that the induction of Women Officers in streams other than Medical Corps, commenced for the first time in 1992 when General Rodrigues was the COAS. “Today, the number of Women Officers in olive greens is more than 1700, with 740 granted Permanent Commission and 114 approved for command assignments. In other ranks, we have 100 plus in the regular cadre in the Corps of Military Police and 100 new entrants have joined as Agniveers”, the COAS mentioned.
General Manoj Pande also recalled how General Rodrigues gave impetus to the footprints of Indian Army in various assignments under the United Nations. It was a result of his efforts that the subscription of Indian Army personnel in United Nations missions increased from a mere eight personnel in 1991 to 1000 in 1992 and 6300 in 1993. “Today, Indian ‘Blue Helmets’ are almost 6000 strong, deployed across 11 missions”, he mentioned.
General Rodrigues was an exemplary military leader and a strategic thinker who practiced military ethics, ethos and values to the core. He also played a crucial role in fast-pacing the modernisation plan of the Indian Army. Today’s event was an apt tribute to commemorate the contributions made by General Rodrigues to the Indian Army and the Nation.