On 26th January 2021, the Takshashila Institution hosted Lt. Gen Satish Dua for a discussion on his new book, India’s Bravehearts: Untold stories from the Indian Army. He is a retired General Officer of the Indian Army. He also served as Chief of Integrated Defence Staff to the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee of the Indian Armed Forces.
The event was hosted by Lt. Gen (Dr) Prakash Menon, director of Strategic Studies Programme at the Takshashila Institution. General Menon started off the discussion by introducing General Dua and his book as well as two key themes to keep in mind while listening to the stories of Indian soldiers mentioned in the book – relationships and reactions.
General Dua went on to say that his book is “essentially, a tribute to soldiers and soldiering”. He also said that the book is a first-hand account and not a work of research. It included stories of infantrymen and humans in conflict and strife.
General Menon then led the conversation by asking several insightful questions on the book and more importantly, the career and life of General Dua and his experiences during service.
General Dua went on to talk about his command and reflected on the time he was commissioned in 1979 into the Indian Army as well as his experiences in the 8th battalion of the J&K Light Infantry. He described it as the “Bravest of brave”. He also described in detail the many operational opportunities he received.
General Menon steered the discussion towards the importance of junior leadership. To this, General Dua responded by saying ‘’Youngsters are driving revolutions’’. He emphasised on the fact that young soldiers make the greatest sacrifices.
General Menon then went on to ask about the role of a Commanding officer. General Dua explained that Commanding officers are akin to father figures, who one looks up to for advice and counsel. He characterised them as ‘Demi-gods’ and ‘Warrior kings’.
Finally, General Menon asked a rather important question regarding the URI attacks and the reaction to it. General Dua concluded by narrating the deep sadness he felt when the strikes occurred on 18th September 2016. He reflected on the great satisfaction he felt after conversing with then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on seeking approval for something to be done.
General Dua ended the session by reiterating that his book was about first-hand experiences only within his command/quarter.
A recording of the session can be found here.