General Vijay Kumar Singh

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Controversy over date of birth

The Times of India, Jan 19, 2012

Gen Cariappa also had two dates of birth

Even as the Army chief of staff, Gen V K Singh, gets ready for battle with authorities over his date of birth, it's evident that India's first commander-in-chief, Gen K M Cariappa, too was in a date-of-birth situation though after he retired.

"My father's school and service records mentioned his date of birth as January 28, 1900. But he discovered well after his retirement that his father had recorded his date of birth in a diary as January 28, 1899," Air Marshal (Retd) K C Nanda Cariappa, the general's son said.

"My father became the first commander-in-chief in 1949 and retired in 1953. Many years later, when he was searching for some books in his house, he stumbled upon a diary with his father notes. He was a bit surprised and wondered about it. It never became an issue," Cariappa Jr told TOI.

Asked why it never became an issue, the air marshal surmised that India was then a young nation. "The Indian Army was very young. Those days you were drafted in early and retired early. My father became commander-in-chief at 49 and retired by 53. In fact, Air Marshal Arjun Singh became the air chief when he was just 35. In the past 15-20 years, things have changed. I suppose it's now critical because of succession issues - the Army and the government want to be sure of the chain of succession," he explained.

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