Sino-Indian War of 1962: the game changer in my life

Author: 
Sunil Choudhury

Born in a village in what is now Jharkhand, Sunil Kumar Choudhury did his graduation and post-graduation from Ranchi University. He joined the Indian Army in 1964 and was commissioned with the Rajput Regiment. He was assigned to 15 Rajput in 1965. He also qualified as a Commando from Infantry School, Mhow. After being released from the army in 1970, he served in the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in West Bengal.

Sunil joined the Indian Revenue Service in 1971. He married his batch mate, Komala Raghavan, in 1975. After retirement on superannuation in 2002, he along with his wife Komala settled down in Bengaluru. Komala passed away in January 2018.

It indeed is strange how at times things turn out in life. So different from what I could have charted out myself. My life story is no different.

I was born in a village in what is now part of Jharkhand. I did my matriculation from the local school. Later, I graduated from Ranchi University.

During my growing-up years I never ever dreamt that I would ever don the olive green uniform of a Commissioned Officer in the Indian Army.

Sunil Choudhury in army uniform.

Sunil Choudhury in army uniform.

But the traumatic events of the Sino–Indian conflict of 1962 that ‘scarred the national pride’ changed my life. In fact the ‘negligent and credulous’ national leadership changed the entire national perspective. The loss of men, material and territory was indeed a ‘national shame’.

Like many other politically-conscious young students I also could not remain impervious to such deep and bitter national humiliation. I too felt that perhaps the nation suffered the defeat at the hands of the Chinese due to India being part of the hallowed Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) group of nations. I strongly felt that the Sino-Indian conflict would awaken the national political leadership to move on to newer alignments. As usual, there was never any consensus on this.

Ironically, it was this ‘national shame’ that proved to be the ‘watershed’ moment in my life. In ways more than one. Had this event not taken place, I would have neither possibly been an Army Officer nor I would have found myself later on being one of the 1971 batch of Probationers for the Indian Customs & Central Excise Service, Class-I.

While pursuing my M.A. (Part-II) , I joined Indian Army as an Emergency Commissioned Officer in 1964. I was commissioned with the Rajput Regiment and assigned to 15 Rajput in 1965. I completed my M.A. in 1966 while still in the army.

 
Sunil Choudhury as a young army officer.

Sunil Choudhury as a young army officer.

 

I also qualified as a Commando from Infantry School, Mhow in Madhya Pradesh. I served in both peace and field areas, including the leading Long Range Patrolling (LRP) team on the heights of snowy Himalayas close to the un-demarcated border with China in NEFA (presently Arunachal Pradesh). I was also posted on Indo-Pak border in Punjab.

After being released from the army in July 1970, I served as a Company Commander in the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in the state of West Bengal, then the epicentre of Naxal movement.

1st November 1971 became a landmark day in my life. I reported for duty at the K 15 Hauz Khas based Training Institute for Probationers of Customs and Central Excise Service. About 20 of us joined that day.

 
Sunil Choudhury as a trainee probationer at the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration in 1971.

Sunil Choudhury as a trainee probationer at the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration in 1971. Seen here with with Sridharan, Noorjahan (Postal), Komala Raghavan, S K Pali, and Subhash Mathur.

 

Amongst them was one lady Probationer from distant Chennai — Komala Raghavan — all reticence and grace. The ‘hello’ meeting with her proved to be a tumultuous event in my life. I had not only met my fellow Probationer but also my soul mate as for me she was the ‘one’ with whom I wanted to live the rest of my life.

Komala had her reservations initially but eventually said ‘yes’. I was over the moon. We got married in a simple ceremony at Chennai in 1975. From Komala, the lady had morphed herself into ‘My Indu’.

The Sino-Indian war of '62 thus proved to be cataclysmic in my life. It first led me to joining the Army, then a wonderful journey over the next 30 years with the Indian Revenue Service. And to top it all, my marriage with ‘My Fair Lady’.

After retirement on superannuation in January 2002, Komala and I settled down in Bengaluru.

 
Sunil Choudhury with wife Komala.

Sunil Choudhury with wife Komala.

 

Komala passed away in January 2018. Our married son works for a reputed home loan finance company in Chennai.

Were these events pre-ordained? I don’t know. But what I do know is that this and much more happened.

Comments

I am so glad that you wrote it. It's not only your journey through life but also the journey of India. When we were young, would we have imagined that there would be an India in which out children would work in a home loan finance company? And, all that talk of South India vs North India - what happened to it?

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