Talking to Colonel Inder Singh Rawat and listening to History

Budox 24 Min Read
  1. 1.     Life in the village. Village school, Stories heard in childhood/at those times.

During 1920, when I was 5 years old, the only lower primary school at Kokali was upgraded to upper primary school. It was the only school within a radius of 30-40 Kms from my village. My grandfather put me in Kakoli school and I had to walk about 3 Kms with other boys to Kakoli school. We sat on the floor and did not even have mats. It is sad that even after five generations the situation is almost same in government primary schools expect that there are now mats for the students to sit upon.  We had a wooden slate called patti and we shined it with the bottom of a broken glass bottle. For writing, a lime water solution called Kamedi was used and carried in a small recycled tin container called Bolkha. To rule the slate a piece of thread was draped in the lime solution and a small bamboo/Ringal twig was used with one end made like a pen nib and dipped in the lime solution for writing. I am told this continued till almost 1970s, and later stone slate and chalk was used for writing and only in 1990s that the primary school children are using notebooks and pencils.

The upper Primary school was at Pipali, about 50 KM from our village and my uncle Sarop singh and Bhawani Singh Tripathi of Dungari village were the administrators of that school. In those days my father use to carry ration for his brother from home. Later both these men joined the army and retired as Subedar and Honorary captain respectively. After completing my primary school my grand father sent me to a middle school at Khirsu, which is about 50 KM from my village. Khirsu boarding school was one of the 6 Hindi medium middle school in the whole of British Garhwal. There was no water at Khirsu school and we had to trek 1 KM downhill for bathing and washing and regularly go up and  down to fetch water. This school is immortalized in the historically famous Garhwali folk song, “Kirshu Boarding Lagucha Nirpani kaa Danda”. Meaning that the Kirshu Boarding School is established in area without having water and situated in the high mountains. The hygiene conditions at Khirsu were horrible and suffered with a fungal infection for two years. Most of the boarding schools in those times had no recreation, except study and football. The standard of Hindi medium schools in those days was quite high, particularly in Hindi Literature and also Mathematics. Later when I was in standard 8 at English School at chopta-Pauri, I use to help senior students in mathematics.

  1. 2.     Experiences of a Young trainee soldier at Lansdowne. Incidents and stories.

As I was overage (more then 17 years), I could not get admission in an Engineering college. Not having much option left, I got enlisted in the Garhwal Regimental Centre at Lansdowne, as recruit on 4 August 1934. As a recruit we had to undergo 10 months of rigorous training. I was good in athletics and got grade first in running, long and high jump, except in Shot put-16 pounds, where I got grade third. Although I was already given the best batch cap on being the best all-round recruit, I still wanted to do better in shot put. So one day I decided to get at least grade 2 in shot put and used all my strength but the shot put that day did not even reach grade 3 level and in the process I strained my muscles and my back and soon had a severe back pain and had to return to barracks to rest with the permission of the Subeder in charge of the games. Next morning at 5.30 am, being still in pain, I reported to my platoon commander that I need to see the doctor. He abused me for faking my pain and for avoiding the daily work/task. Actually 7 other recruits who had passed the recruits test were avoiding working giving reasons of pain and fatigue. We 8 were marched to the Company commander, an Englishman for indiscipline. 7 of them were given 2 weeks punishment and when my turn came I was let off without punishment. May be the Englishman saw that mine was a genuine case of pain and may have seen my overall performance. My back pain remained for almost a month and my colleagues had to help me sit and get up for meals on the floor as in those times there were no table chair in the dinning hall or dinning area. Anyway the concept of dining hall with table and chair came much later in post independent India for the army Soldiers. I still attended parade with back pain for more than a month.

  1. 3.     The Peshwar Episode:

Peshawar episode had taken political turn so it was not discussed at any level. Peshawar episode occurred in 1930 and I was enlisted in 1934, so by that time the story subsided.

  1. 4.     Types and opinion on British officers and soldiers- Initial years, war period and post war period.

I served under and with British officers from 1934 to 1947 and found that they were very loyal to their king in UK and the troops they commanded in India. The British officers in general liked Garhwali soldiers and people, that a few of them would have settled in Garhwal. They would know very hard working professionally sound Garhwali soldier/JCOs and would surely award him. They never interfered or created obstacles in the religious customs or faith of Garhwalis. They were not selfish or opportunists and were far-sighted and planned for the people, re-employment of soldiers, rehabilitation of   soldiers in great numbers retiring on demobilization after the war. One example is the creation of Post war reconstruction fund for Garhwali and Kumoani soldiers’ to a tune of 2 crores rupees by General Curtis, the then UP Area commander.

  1. 5.     Britisher’s comments and opinion on the Peshwar Event. Any changing opinion on the Garhwali soldier.

Britishers would never comment nor did they have any adverse affect on the Garhwali soldier. Soldier is expected to keep away from politics.

  1. 6.     Factors influencing soldier’s moral, courage.

Good administration and welfare of the soldiers by his senior commander affects their morale.

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By Budox
Social researcher, Traveller, and Writer played diverse roles in the development sector, with a strong dedication for preservation of cultural heritage. Sharing my experince and insights on this website.
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