Bawa Bhalla 1961



Our honourable veteran, Maj Gen Amar Jodha Ripu Daman Singh Bawa Bhalla, VSM, holds the unsurpassed record of having served in the Indian Army with the longest name. There were times, when he had to fill forms which did not have sufficient space to contain his complete name, but he did nothing to shorten or abbreviate the tag given to him by his father. He was my course-mate, and we even shared a room when there was a shortage of accommodation in CME, Dapodi (Pune) during 1965-66. The picture you see as above shows AJRSB Bhalla as he looked in 1961.

This unusually long name impelled him to elevate his professional performance to an equivalent level. He held some of the most prestigious appointments and in 1993; he was chosen to command the parade, held to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of the Corps of EME. The pageant has gone down in the annals of the Army as one of the most impressive spectacles which I have witnessed in my life. In the fitness of things, the Army chose his son, Brig SSB Bhalla to command the parade of the Army Aviation Corps held last year. Mrs Kanwal Bhalla has had the unique privilege of witnessing similar ceremonies, one as a wife and the other as a mother. Ms Bhalla is an accomplished writer. She has taught English in several prestigious institutions, and held a responsible position in the Amity University until she retired last year. At our behest, she has told us about these two events. In their house they have a collage of pictures which tell this privileged story.

Now, over to Mrs Kanwal Bhalla; the daughter of an Army officer; who married a soldier, and motivated her elder son to join the Armed Forces.



By Mrs Kanwal Bhalla

I have never worn the uniform, but never have I been far from it. Ever since I was born I have been loved by a uniformed gentleman!!  I have strong memories of being hugged by a uniformed dad, loved the feel of his jersey and the shining medals. Then came an army husband followed by a son who is still in uniform. I do wonder if the blood in my veins is fully red or has it turned olive green……
Capt AJRS Bawa Bhalla made me his bride when I was 19 and I accompanied him on the roller coaster ride in the army till we settled down to a peaceful retired life.
One of the unforgettable milestones of this ride was the Golden Jubilee of the Corps of EME in 1993 when Amar commanded the Ceremonial Parade. As Martin Luther king jr. said “we all have the drum major instinct. We all want to be important, surpass others to achieve distinction, to lead the parade…
Amar then Commandant EME Centre   made an impact with his towering presence, passionate devotion  so well known for his emotional connect to the men he led and commanded. I watched as he gave it his all…. the endless rehearsals, the strive for perfection and then the perfect performance.  
My heart filled with pride as the accolades poured in for his military bearing, administrative acumen, and a managerial skill of a very high order.
At that time our son Capt Sarabjeet was doing a pilot’s training course at   Helicopter Training School (AF) Hakimpet, Secunderabad. As his dad rehearsed the parade at the parade ground,  he was a spectator as he flew over the parade ground, and a lot of views, reviews were exchanged at the lunch table.
Time flies on restless pinions…. History repeats itself!!
30 years later, our son now Brig Sarabjeet commanded the Ceremonial Parade for the Colours Presentation to Army Aviation Corps while he was Commandant,    Combat Army Aviation Training School Nasik (CATS).

The same military bearing, the same gift of charismatic persona. The squads marched with group conformity to his booming words of command.  Precision and perfection was the name of the game.
There was Sarabjeet commanding the parade to a lightning storm of camera flashes with the Honourable President Shri Ram Nath  Kovind  taking the salute.
Amar and I sat in awe in the audience and watched this action replay.
Adept organisers alone, albeit a generation apart, can orchestrate the accomplishment of an aim or a purpose.  Father and son proved that. They say a parade is the best way to garner respect for the military from the populace, projecting the army at its best.
As a mother, as a wife, my life was complete as I revelled in their glory with complete gratitude to the lord above for making this possible. It was not a coincidence but masterminded by the lord himself. God does not play dice with the universe. Everything is interconnected.
The song has ended, but the melody lingers on…


Given below are the pictures that tell the tale better than words.

 bawa bhalla



I am tempted to quote an Urdu proverb to end the story.

पिता पर पूत; नस्ल पर घोड़ा 

बहुत नहीं ; तो थोड़ा थोड़ा !!


  1. Tremendous !
    Felicitations to father, son, wife & mother.
    Extremely well narrated.
    Promilla and I are extremely fortunate to know both the families, Gen Surjit’s and Gen Bhalla’s.
    (Did’nt know you were course mates!)
    Warm regards

    • Surjit Singh says:

      In addition to being ‘fortunate’ I think you are wise and sagacious. A man is known by the company he keeps, and the Chandele family is, known to have chosen the right friends!

      God bless you and Promilla.
      Surjit & Surinder

  2. Prabal Sen says:

    Father and son – both commanding two different ceremonial parades- with a gap of three decades in between.
    From the photographs it is dificult to differentiate between the father and the son.

    This must be unique !

    Thanks for sharing.

  3. Satish Kumar Bhandari says:

    satish kumar bhandari
    3:24 PM (2 hours ago)
    to me

    A beautiful story. Thanks and warm regards.


  4. Samresh Sinha says:

    Hearty congratulations to the father-son duo.


  5. Col OP Sikka says:

    O P Sikka
    Tue, Jan 26, 7:15 PM (3 days ago)
    to me


  6. Maj Gen RK Joshi says:

    AJRS Bawa Bhalla was with me in Sikkim during 1963-64. It was clear to us that he was a good leader of men. He has lived upto our expectations
    RK Joshi

    • Surjit Singh says:

      Dear Gen Joshi,
      Bawa Bhalla also remembers the days when both of you ‘suffered’ under an incompetent Officer Commanding.
      May the Lord bless his soul, and may he rest in peace.

  7. Brig Khushwant Saini says:

    Outstanding family.
    He has lived up to the great tradition of his parents and joined a honorable profession. May God Bless them all.

  8. Rashmi Oberoi says:

    What a beautiful piece Uncle.
    Loved reading it.
    Our best wishes to the Bhallas.

  9. Col ABS Sidhu says:

    ABS Sidhu
    2:13 PM (3 hours ago)
    to me

    Hi Surjit ,
    Thanks for sharing happy memories
    of proud wife and mother of achievements
    of the family .
    With warm regards and best wishes .
    ABS Sidhu

  10. Lt Gen RK Mehta says:

    Raj Mehta
    10:19 AM (6 hours ago)
    to me

    Amazing narrative. Both of us loved reading it.
    Thanks for sharing.

  11. Brig Satish Kukreja says:

    Got this wonderful tale from Gen Subhash Bindra, a course mate. Did it impress us?. Yes certainly and much more. Heartiest congratulations and blessings.

  12. Brig SL Vashisht says:

    sl vash
    Jan 26, 2021, 6:41 PM (23 hours ago)
    to me

    Surjit Sir,
    Thanks for sharing tale of two Ceremonial Parades.
    Please convey my fond regards to Mrs.Bhalla, proud wife and prouder mother of a distinguished Army Aviator.
    Also very best wishes to Brig Sarabjit S Bhalla, hoping to meet him sooner than later..
    Warm regards,
    Brig Surender Vashisht
    27 NDA
    Retd in 2000 as DDG Army Avn, having flown for almost 21 years commencing 71 Ops

  13. Zal Kabraji says:

    zal kabraji
    Jan 26, 2021, 6:52 PM (22 hours ago)
    to me

    My dear General,
    This was a very interesting read & brought back some nostalgic memories of my own father who commanded a Brigade strength Ceremonial Parade for the farewell of then GOC in C Eastern Command, the famous General Henderson Brooks, who was retiring from the army.
    The Parade was a huge affair conducted at the Calcutta Maidan & almost all of the Calcutta public turned out to witness it–it was talked about for a very long time after—I still remember the moist eyes of General Henderson Brooks when he congratulated & thanked my father, after the Parade was over—such memories never get erased !
    Thanks for sharing.
    Warm regards,

  14. Lt Gen Kulbir Suri says:

    kulbir suri
    12:02 AM (17 hours ago)
    to me

    Short and sweet, indeed. Thanks, Surjit,

    • Surjit Singh says:

      Dear General,
      Amar Bhalla is known for his ability to be brief. He knows that ‘brevity is the soul of wit’

  15. Maj Gen Samay Ram says:

    Samay Ram
    9:46 AM (7 hours ago)
    to me

    Thanks Surjit. With regards

  16. Maj Gen PN Monga says:

    p n monga
    10:42 AM (7 hours ago)
    to me

    Dear Sir,
    Thanks for sharing the story of two ceremonial parades…
    पिता पर पूत; नस्ल (Tukham) पर घोड़ा

    बहुत नहीं ; तो थोड़ा थोड़ा !!

  17. Paramjit Singh says:

    paramjit singh
    12:08 PM (5 hours ago)
    to me

    Respected Sir,
    The enclosed piece by Mrs Bhalla is excellent. Reminded me of the tireless effort by another Bhalla, Brig Sandeep Bhalla during the recent Corps reunion.
    Also, your line in Hindi, made me think that it is great if one can make someone smile!
    Warm regards

  18. Rajesh K says:

    rajesh k
    2:43 PM (2 hours ago)
    to J, Surinder, me

    Dear Gen Surjit Sir,
    Thanks again for a lovely article on the father son duo.
    Respectful Regards

  19. Gulu Hora says:

    Gulu Hora
    10:24 AM (7 hours ago)
    to me

    Thanks sir compliments to the Bawa Bhalla’s in every respect. On a lighter note when we joined IMA Captain Vijay Madan was announcing the names of the new arrivals. He then read out AYRDS BAWA BHALLA he then looked up and said how many of you are there. Reminded me of Govt. College Chandigarh where Yudh Yodha Ripu Daman Singh Bawa Bhalla was our class mate. The connection is obvious. Cheers. Gulu Hora.

  20. Col YV Tuli says:

    tuli yashvir
    5:32 AM (12 hours ago)
    to me

    Gen Surjit,
    Thank you for circulating “the family story” of Bhallas. It is a great one.
    Perhaps you are not aware that I am from 1947-48 entrée of the then IEME which was
    in its last phase of disintegrating because British Officers had been asked to pack and return
    to England. The Comdt of the Centre was Colonel Newton King then.
    The IEME Centre at Katni, and thereafter at Bangalore, had only 2 Indian Officers, Lt Col
    Rochlani (from IEME) and Major Hari Chand (Garh Rif). Rest all the 9 officers were British,
    including an Edn offr named Capt Smith. Even in other IEME Units, very few officers were from
    India. Major BT Nagrani was OC 119 Inf Wksp Coy at Jullundur, Major SK Jena as OC 121 Inf
    Wksp Coy in Srinagar and Major Gursharan Singh, in HQ CEME 4 Inf Div. And they were all EC
    or SSCOs for the duration of WW II only.
    2/Lt Y Nirula – one of the first Regular Commissioned Indian IEME Offr – was posted to
    121 Inf Wksp Coy during 1950. (Lt Gen) Sushil Kumar and others followed soon after.
    I retired on 1st Aug 1987 and unfortunately never came across the three Bhallas. Even
    when I last went to Triumulgherry, invited by Lt Gen RK Mehta, on his taking over as Comdt of
    MCEME, I did not find any of them there. My bad luck. Nevertheless, I shall be grateful if you
    could kindly convey my congratulations to them and the Madam.
    Colonel Y V Tuli.

  21. Maj Gen Aditya Jaini says:

    Aditya Jaini
    12:31 AM (17 hours ago)
    to me

    What Confidence & Trust of a Soldier reposed so faithfully in his Commander.
    Unfortunately, Sir, we NO longer produce such Ldr in our Army today — saying so Sadly

    With Regards
    Gen Jaini

  22. PK Sengupta says:

    Probir Sengupta
    Jan 26, 2021, 10:14 PM (19 hours ago)
    to me

    Maj. Gen Surjit Singh,

    I received your mail about Maj Gen AJRSB Bhalla and his son Sarabjit. While I was very pleased to read about them, I received this mail in error. I did not serve in the Armed Forces.
    My late brother J K Sengupta was in the Armoured Corp. He was of the 22nd NDA course, senior to your batch I expect.
    Please extend my greetings and regards to the Bhalla family


    P K Sengupta

  23. Lt Gen Syed Ata Hasnain says:

    Lt Gen Syed Ata Hasnain
    Jan 26, 2021, 7:52 PM (21 hours ago)
    to me


    Happy Republic Day.

    Read the blog through. Wonderful memories. As a second generation General Offr from the same Regt I can perhaps appreciate the sentiment a bit more than others

    Warm regards


  24. R K Kalra says:

    ravneet kaur kalra
    Jan 26, 2021, 7:13 PM (22 hours ago)
    to me

    SSA uncle

    I was curious to know , what so the sentiment in the army about the farmers protest . Heart goes out to the protesting farmers braving cold winters to make their voices heard. But given yesterday’s movement I have dpi at that Govt might use force to end the protest . Govt is very shrude and wanted this from day one . What is your opinion ?

    Thank you
    Best ,

  25. Lt Gen Paramjit Singh says:

    Parminder Singh
    Jan 26, 2021, 6:49 PM (22 hours ago)
    to me

    Vow.Very creditable.Thanks for sharing.

  26. Brig Jaisheel Oberoi says:

    Jai Oberoi
    Jan 26, 2021, 5:41 PM (23 hours ago)
    to me

    What a father – son duo.
    And what a wife / mother / gracious lady raconteur !

    • Surjit Singh says:

      Your parents brought up her three sons and a daughter to emerge as ‘stars’ Why don’t you write about them?

  27. Brig VHM Prasad says:
    Jan 26, 2021, 5:38 PM (23 hours ago)
    to Harbhajan, surjit

    An excellent piece scripted by Mrs Kanwal Bhalla .

    Only Gen Surjit, being a superlative expressionist himself , can educate us all with such events described equally brilliantly .


  28. S Dutt says:

    Subimal Dutt
    Jan 26, 2021, 5:09 PM (1 day ago)
    to me

    Wonderful, General.

    Subimal Dutt

  29. Lt Gen N Chatterjee says:

    narayan chatterjee
    Jan 26, 2021, 4:34 PM (1 day ago)
    to me

    Thank you very much Sir. are you doing. .thank you for remembering me.

    Sarabjeet Bhalla has been my favourite offier in the Army Aviation Corps. I attended the Army Aviation Colour Presentation on 10 October 2019. It was the most spectacular Ceremonial event I had seen in my service career. All credit to the outstanding leadership of Sarabjeet. I am very fond of the whole family and we are great friends. Now he is posted in Jaipur.

    My reply to him appended below.

    Best regards Sir!

    Narayan Chatterjee
    Lt General (V)

    Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android

    On Tue, 26 Jan 2021 at 16:21, narayan chatterjee





    Narayan Chatterjee

  30. JN Amrolia says:

    Amrolia J.N
    Jan 26, 2021, 4:01 PM (1 day ago)
    to me

    Dear General
    Trust all is well at home.
    Thank you for sharing this lovely vignette.
    Regards and Best Wishes to you all for good health and Happiness in the years to come.

  31. Col Satish Bhandari says:

    satish bhandari
    Jan 26, 2021, 3:04 PM (1 day ago)
    to me

    Very beautiful and interesting article.

  32. Col Amar Bindra says:

    Amar Bindra
    Jan 26, 2021, 3:01 PM (1 day ago)
    to me

    Dear Gen Surjit Sir,
    Greetings on Republic Day!
    Thank you for sharing this masterpiece.

    Best Regards

    Col Amar Bindra
    Performance Enablers
    818, Sector-2 Panchkula
    M- 9814636818

  33. Lt Gen C Sundara Rao says:

    sundara rao
    Jan 26, 2021, 1:55 PM (1 day ago)
    to me


  34. Col Ranjit Maini says:

    Ranjit Maini
    Tue, Jan 26, 11:48 PM (17 hours ago)
    to me

    Thank you sir for sharing. Really enjoyed reading it.

  35. Gurdeep Singh says:

    I was mesmerised to see both sets of the photographs and they seem identical. It took me some time to identify the two sets of photographs, in spite of being an aviator and having know Brig Sarabjeet Bhalla. I am wondering about the feelings from the writer’s point of view, having had seen the husband command a parade in 1993 and witnessing the history repeat itself in 2019. It couldn’t have been without almighty’s blessings as the colour presentation to Army Aviation was itself a unique occasion and Brig SS Bhalla, being the Commandant at the same time was a great coincidence.

  36. Dave Sood says:

    This is what Army is made of. Traditions, Parades and glory. Father to son tradition is well maintained in the Services. A big Salute to the family for having achieved this distinction and to Mrs Bhalla for recording t so crisply.

    Good to know his full name. Did not know it for sa many years.

  37. A glorious tradition captured in mesmerizing style and recorded . Congratulations to the blessed family. I have known the senior Bhalla while in service . Wish them well to continue the pursuit of great accomplishments in future as well

  38. P Mohandas says:

    So well written Ma’am. Great to see the 1993 photographs of the colour presentation. Even better to see Brig Sarabjit commanding the Aviators parade.
    Thank you Gen Surjit Sir for giving us an opportunity to read this.

  39. Kul Prakash Deswal says:

    We in the uniform feel so proud to see a son following the footsteps of his father. A very good write up by Mrs Bhalla.

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