Former vice chief of army staff Lt Gen Bipin Rawat on Saturday took charge as the next Army Chief. Rawat has replaced General Dalbir Singh.
Lt Gen Rawat, an infantry soldier, superseded senior most army commander Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi, who headed the Eastern Command and was next in line to be the army chief, besides Southern Command Chief P M Hariz.
He has handled various operational responsibilities in many areas, including along the LoC with Pakistan, the LAC with China and in the North-East.
He is known for his balanced approach towards soldiering, compassion, and connect with civil society.
His experience as GOC-in-C Southern Army Command in Mechanised Warfare has been focused towards the western borders, in coordination with the other two services, sources said.
Supersesion in the army is not new though there has not been any such instances in the recent past. In 1983, the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had appointed Lt Gen AS Vaidya as army chief superseding Lt Gen S K Sinha, who resigned in protest.
Earlier in 1972, the Gandhi government side-stepped the very popular Lt General P S Bhagat, one of the handful of Indian Victoria Cross awardees from World War II, who was in line to succeed General (later Field Marshal) Sam Manekshaw. This was done by giving his junior, General G G Bewoor a year’s extension, during which time Bhagat retired. Bewoor, thus, succeeded Manekshaw.
About Bipin Rawat
Bipin Rawat has held important command and staff appointments. He was commissioned into 5th battalion of the 11 Gorkha Rifles.
He commanded 5/11 GR, commanded an Infantry division in J&K, commanded 4 Corps at Tezpur in Eastern Command and was the Army Commander of the Southern Command (Pune) before taking over as Vice Chief in army headquarters
Interestingly, Lt Gen Bipin Rawat's father Lt Gen Laxman Rawat also retired as the vice chief of Indian Army. Lt Gen Rawat was 'Sword of Honour' in Indian Military Academy as he topped the IC list of December, 1978 at the academy.