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Dear Members of the Corps of Signals fratenity,
With grief we are posting details of our colleagues who leave for their heavenly abode. We request members to forward their "shradhanjali". Kindly share with us the photographs, fond memories and association.
We await tributes from associates/ course mates for publication.
Blog Team

RMS Tributes
  • Amar Jawan: Roll of Honour of the Indian Armed Forces
  • The Kargil Memorial
  • Wednesday, February 17, 2010

    LT GEN Krishnaswami Balaram PVSM

    From: Arun Saigal
    Sent: 16 February 2010 19:26
    Dear Kamboj Sir,
    It was with a lump in my throat that I read out the sad news of Lt Gen Balaram's passing away to my wife this morning. Another stalwart has gone...
    I would like to share a memory with you.

    Maj Gen Balaram succeeded Maj Gen Mohinder Singh as Commandant Defence Services Staff College (DSSC) Wellington in 1982 soon after we reported for the staff course. Maj Gen Mohinder Singh used to run DSSC with a firm hand. For mid career young officers it was a great achievement to be selected for the course and a feather in one's cap to be graded DS (Directing Staff) material. Gen Mohinder Singh's legacy was that officers must be taught to obey rules and regulations scrupulously and any deviation or slackness would invite adverse comment / negative marking. The introductory talk by the BGS to us was overawing. It was the jewel which crowned the very surgically precise joining instructions which we had received earlier. Constantly improved over years of feedback and experience, the DSSC joining instructions are a role-model of outstanding staff work and minor SDs. Everything in them is well thought out. Detailed instructions & guidelines are articulated in well formed centre headings, group and para headings, using words & language which leaves no room for doubt.

    The list of Donts spelt out by the BGS in his welcoming speech was exhaustive. It made us white uniform walllahs sit up and re-think whether we were really going to enjoy a year's sabbatical from the navy. We had all dreamt of a welcome break from the tough navy life and a year of regular family life in the exotic surroundings of a beautiful, quaint old hill station in the Nilgiris where time is reported to stand still.

    Soon we began to reminisce about our initial days at NDA and about taut army discipline once again You see, the naval service is quite informal in many respects. One does not have to stand to attention all the time while speaking to senior officers; passing salutes are generally exchanged only upto noon and when they are, it is not necessary that you have a cap on your head, and so on. The coastal climate does not encourage one to invest in three-piece suits or many silk Saree's for the spouse....We felt a wee bit stifled at regimented routine and the lack of creative freedom.

    But our fears were short-lived. Maj Gen Balaram came on to the scene without a swagger and swatch. A quiet unassuming, studious looking senior officer, he quietly observed the daily life for a couple of days and then made an unforgettable speech which showed how humane and perceptive he was. We took our seats in the main auditorium well before the appointed time, decked in our Sunday best, dreading what was to come. Though young in service, we were well-aware that traditionally a new hand at the helm always meant an across-the board tightening-up in any service. There was an unusual silence as we awaited the customary pep talk and a pronouncement of a fresh list of do's & don'ts by the new commandant.

    But what he said that evening remains forever etched in my memory. He spoke in fatherly terms and advised us to make use of the opportunity to spend a year with our family in that wonderful place to renew bonds with family and make new friends. He advised us to study hard, think creatively, question the 'greens' (the staff solutions) and come up with better ones. In our spare times we should play hard and utilise the recreational facilities of the institution to the fullest. He told us that our Directing Staff were mature senior officers who knew how to recognise the potential in us and that we should not be too-conscious of our gradings by them. We should consider them our gurud who were there to guide us to develop skills and abilities to become assets as future staff officers in higher formations.

    He informed us that recognising that we were all fairly senior and mature officers, he had issued a specific directive to his staff earlier in the day. The staff were there to assist and guide us to develop our full potential. Henceforth, they were required to minimise the burden and routine chores of 'personal adm' from our shoulders so that we could devote our energies to the primary task of studying. He streamlined the requistioning of transport to ferry the sick and the womenfolk from far off residential areas like Gorkha Hills and ensured easy access to medical facilities for the families so that we did not have to absent from class for these purposes. The doorstep supply of service rations and daily necessities from the market (Needs, near MRC) etc etc also became well organised and left the men-folk with more time and energy to think and turn in better solutions.

    Above all (and this was a stunner) he said he had issued instructions that no one in the college had the power to say 'No' to the mature and responsible officers undergoing staff course. The buck for turning down a request for a sudden trip to Coimbatore to receive a family member, to take a couple of days leave to see an ailing parent, to requisition transport etc etc stopped at the Commandant's desk. If you got a No, it meant that it was his considered decision as head of our family and must be obeyed. All other officers of the DSSC had the power only to say YES and with that was implied their responsibility to ensure that students never faced problems - personal or professional.

    It was a great thought. We worked hard and we played hard. Personally, I felt that the overall quality of our professional output notched up many times. I practiced his philosophy about the power to say no in subsequent life and always had good results. It was a facet of leadership that he had passed on to us. In the evening of his life sometimes I met Gen Balaram in a seminar or in the lawns of the Delhi Gymkhana Club. It was always an honour to re-introduce myself every time and to thank him for that unforgettable year in DSSC. Ever the courteous and caring senior officer, he never forgot to enquire about my well-being and about my family as if he knew them. Though in failing health himself, he always said that although he was not sure what he could do for me, I should feel free to call on my former commandant for a helping hand.

    If memory serves me right, once after his retirement he was hand-picked by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to personally assess the ground truth and give her a factual account of what had happened in Orissa- I seem to recall that it was a case of starvation deaths or atrocities on dalits and that the administration was trying to cover it up. She probably trusted the General's sense of fair play and his integrity to put in a true report of the reality as he saw it.

    As a naval officer I salute my old commandant. I am fortunate that I got a chance to meet him. May his soul rest in peace and may his spirit guide us to develop our faculties for original and creative thinking. Perhaps I may yet invent a follow-on to the famous Balaram aerial!!!
    Best regards,
    (Cdr Arun Saigal)