A salute to Captain Harshan

Given the strength of Keralites serving in the Indian Air Force, it could be re-spelled as ‘India Nair Force’! Kerala has the second largest contingent of veterans, but since the state never directly bore the ravages of war, there was little appreciation of the sacrifices of the men-at-arms. Which forced a Malayali officer during the 1971 war to quip tongue in cheek that he wouldn’t mind his home bombed as long as that triggered regard among the Keralites for soldiering and the untold toll extracted by war. Continue reading

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A Friend in Need

Rajan Paul of SevanaIt was August 19, 1983. Rajan Paul’s head accidentally hit the shallow seabed off Doha while he was pursuing his pastime of diving. The impact cracked his cervical spine and paralysed his body, neck down. He returned to Kizhakkambalam, his village that lay east of Kochi, ambulant on a wheelchair.

A bosom pal realised there was life after quadriplegia for this ingenious engineer aged 40. So he designed a sophisticated wheelchair to enhance his chum’s comfort and mobility. The duo together went on to set up the Sevana Electrical Appliance at Kizhakkambalam in 1984, with a capital of Rs 4 lakh. But starting an industry in Kerala is fraught with nameless perils. Continue reading

No ifs and buts

Mig21 of No3 Sqn3 September 1987 – Somewhere near Pathankot

As Boss (Wing Commander D. Dayakar), Jita (Flight Lieutenant K.R. Ajit) and I set for Mikki’s (Flt Lt M.K. Behl) debriefing of the low-level strike sortie we flew, Sri (Flt Lt S. Srivastava) darted in and told Boss, ‘‘Sir, message from ATC: Bira (Flt Lt Ranbir Singh) has crashed.’’ Continue reading

Left out Lefties

The D Ring from an Aircraft Wreckage When the Air Force search and rescue team reached the crash site to fetch the flight cadet who had ejected from a trainer aircraft, to their horror, they found his lifeless body. The parachute was found unopened in its pack. On examination, the doctor found the flying overall about his right abdomen torn into shreds and incipient bloody crusts coating several deep lacerations therein. These discoveries flummoxed everyone. Continue reading