General Bipin Rawat CDS meets Headquarters
File pic: Gen Bipin Rawat after taking over as CDS
  • Nation mourns the 13 lives perished in the tragedy
  • Mrs. Madhulika Rawat wife of CDS and President DWWA also died in the crash
Gereral & Mrs. Bipin Rawat
Gereral & Mrs. Bipin Rawat (File pic)

New Delhi. 08 December 2021. The dreaded news is true. A worse tragedy cannot be imagined. The Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat died in a helicopter crash this morning , on his way to Wellington from Sulur in Tamil Nadu. He was on his way to deliver a lecture at the Defence Services Staff College in Wellington. Out of the 14 in the helicopter was also Mrs. Madhulika Rawat, wife of the CDS and President Defence Wives Welfare Association.

General Bipin Laxman Singh Rawat, born on 16 March 1958, is a four star general of the Indian Army. He is the first and current Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) of India. On 30 December 2019, he was appointed as the first CDS of India and assumed office from 1 January 2020. Prior to taking over as the CDS, he served as 57th and last Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee as well as 26th Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army.

CDS General Bipin Rawat at PANEX 2021 curtain raiser yesterday  in New Delhi
CDS General Bipin Rawat at PANEX 2021 curtain raiser yesterday in New Delhi

Rawat was commissioned into the 5th battalion of 11 Gorkha Rifles on 16 December 1978, the same unit as his father. He has much experience in high-altitude warfare and spent ten years conducting counter-insurgency operations.

He commanded a company in Uri, Jammu and Kashmir as a Major. As a Colonel, he commanded his battalion, the 5th battalion 11 Gorkha Rifles, in the Eastern sector along the Line of Actual Control at Kibithu. Promoted to the rank of Brigadier, he commanded 5 Sector of Rashtriya Rifles in Sopore. He then commanded a multinational Brigade in a Chapter VII mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) where he was twice awarded the Force Commander’s Commendation.

CDS in his office
File pic : CDS in his office

After promotion to Major General, Rawat took over as the General Officer Commanding 19th Infantry Division (Uri). As a Lieutenant General, he commanded III Corps, headquartered in Dimapur before taking over the Southern Army in Pune. He also held staff assignments which included an instructional tenure at the Indian Military Academy (Dehradun), General Staff Officer Grade 2 at the Military Operations Directorate, logistics staff officer of a Re-organised Army Plains Infantry Division (RAPID) in central India, Colonel Military Secretary and Deputy Military Secretary in the Military Secretary’s Branch and Senior Instructor in the Junior Command Wing. He also served as the Major General General Staff (MGGS) of the Eastern Command.

After being promoted to the Army Commander grade, Rawat assumed the post of General Officer Commanding-in-Chief (GOC-in-C) Southern Command on 1 January 2016. After a short stint, he assumed the post of Vice Chief of Army Staff on 1 September 2016.

CDS with the three chiefs
File pic : CDS with the three chiefs

On 17 December 2016, the Government of India appointed him as the 27th Chief of the Army Staff, superseding two more senior Lieutenant Generals, Praveen Bakshi and P. M. Hariz. He took office of Chief of Army Staff as the 27th COAS on 31 December 2016, after retirement of General Dalbir Singh Suhag.

He is the third officer from the Gorkha Brigade to become the Chief of the Army Staff, after Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw and General Dalbir Singh Suhag. On his visit to the United States in 2019, General Rawat was inducted to the United States Army Command and General Staff College International Hall of Fame.  He is also the honorary General of Nepalese Army. It has been a tradition between the Indian and Nepali armies to confer the honorary rank of General to each other’s chiefs to signify their close and special military ties.

Rawat was born in Pauri, Uttarakhand in a Hindu Garhwali family.The family had been serving in the Indian Army for multiple generations. His father Laxman Singh Rawat was from Sainj village of the Pauri Garhwal district and rose to the rank of Lieutenant General. His mother was from the Uttarkashi district and was the daughter of Kishan Singh Parmar, the ex-Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) from Uttarkashi.

General Bipin Rawat, COAS
General Bipin Rawat, COAS
(File pic)

Rawat attended Cambrian Hall School in Dehradun and the St. Edward’s School, Shimla He then joined the National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla and the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun, where he was awarded the ‘Sword of Honour’.

Rawat is also a graduate of the Defence Services Staff College (DSSC), Wellington and the Higher Command Course at the United States Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. From his tenure at the DSSC, he has a MPhil degree in Defence Studies as well as diplomas in Management and Computer Studies from University of Madras. In 2011, he was awarded a Doctorate of Philosophy by Chaudhary Charan Singh University, Meerut for his research on military-media strategic studies.

Timeline of the CDS’s journey on 8th December 2021

  • 9.00 AM the CDS left for Sulur from Delhi in an IAF aircraft
  • 11.35 AM reached Sulur
  • 11.45 AM left Sulur for Wellington in the ill fated Mi-17 V5 helicopter
  • 12.20 PM chopper crashes in Coonoor
Former Managing Editor Brig. VK Atray (Retd.) & Editor ADU Sangeeta Saxena  with Gen Bipin Rawat
File Pic : Former Managing Editor Brig. VK Atray (Retd.) & Editor ADU Sangeeta Saxena with Gen Bipin Rawat in an interview as Army Chief

This is a personal tragedy for Aviation & Defence Universe (ADU) which always got hassle free forthright interaction with General Bipin Rawat always. We mourn the loss and pray for eternal peace of all the 14 aboard the Mi-17V5 of the IAF which met with the tragedy. In an interview to us he stated , “We are looking for time bound promotion to the rank of Naik and Havildar after completion of 8 and 16 years of service across all arms and services. Due to the time bound promotion upto Havildar without restriction on the number of vacancies, about 90% of the personnel would be promoted upto Naik and about 85% of the personnel would get promoted to Havildar.” He was a soldiers’ General with the interest of his men supreme. ADU mourns this national tragedy.