Arvind Mahajan burned the candle at both ends…

No one knows the late Col Arvind Mahajan better than Lt Gen SN Mehta, Commandant MCEME, Secunderabad. They were together in the Engineering College, during 1971-75, and after that they both got into the Radar stream in the Corps of EME. Given below is an obituary written by him:


I have been closely associated with Arvind since college days and thereafter in our service career. As I remember he hailed from Shimla, (Himachal). We knew him as a handsome and tall genius who joined Punjab Engineering College, Chandigarh with a scholarship, having scored more than 80% marks, a record of sorts, in those times. What set him apart from the rest was his gift of the gab and all round performance, be it sports, dramatics or fraternizing with senior students. Arvind joined army as a technical graduate in 1978(Seniority1976). He was one of our brightest soldiers and a very good human being at heart. He had an illustrious career spanning more than three decades in the army. He excelled in every course in the army with distinction and held various key appointments. He led a simple, honest and brave life and battled many an odds during his service career. He lost his eldest daughter, who looked like an angel, at the young age of 13. She was suffering from leukemia since childhood.


 While serving as Col, he himself battled with a serious ailment and thereafter retired from service and joined HBL at Noida. As per latest info, he got admitted in R&R hospital last month and was on DI list for some time. He passed away on 16 Oct 12 morning due to multiple organ failure. His permanent residence is, AWHO, Gurjinder Vihar, phase 2, Greater Noida. He is survived by his wife and two children. His son Maj Abhimanyu Mahajan is serving in EME and presently posted at 33AR.  His daughter is studying in a boarding school at Dehradun.

May his soul rest in peace and I pray to God to give strength to his family to bear this irreparable loss.

Email Id of Major Abhimanyu Mahajan, the son of Colonel Arvind Mahajan is

Brig  Surinder Singh, has taught Radar Systems to more officers than anyone else in the Corps of EME. He is universally considered to be one of the finest instructors. Surinder has this to say,

Arvind Mahajan was unusually quick on the uptake. Despite the pressure of studies, he found time for Bridge and Cricket. As a staff officer in Delhi, he was my colleague. I could depend on him for incisive analysis of cases. Having done a course on “Flycatcher Radars” in the Netherlands, he was the last word on his subject. I have not come across any one else who could match his speed of grasping complex problems.

I myself have had the good fortune of having him as a colleague in the Radar Department during 1988-89. I would like to describe him with a picture and a verse borrowed from  Edna Millay :

My candle burns at both the ends

It will not last the night;

But oh my foes; and ah my friends,

It gives a lovely light! 

Arvind Mahajan lived a short and intense life. But, within the short period allotted to him, he has left a lasting effect on those whom he met. He was brilliant and I suspect, he knew that. He could not suffer mediocres, especially those who tried to ‘boss’ over him. Unfortunately, the Army failed to recognise and reward his genius adequately.

For those who may have forgotten, Arvind Mahajan was the editor of the EME Journal. The photograph on the top has come to me from the current editor.




  1. Maj Shreshth Shekhar says:

    I have know Col Arvind Mahajan through Abhimanyu Mahajan, his son. I feel extremely sad at his untimely demise from this world. I salute you dear Sir, for being what you are and i myself served in the Corps Of EME and heard a lot about you. Dear Abhimanyu, you know that you are my best buddy and i can’t even imagine what you have gone through. All i can say is that i am extremely sorry friend at this loss of yours. As i write this, tears are flowing from my eyes. I am sorry…

  2. Veena Singh says:

    Col Mahajan’s sad & untimely demise has left us in a great shock. He was one the finest parents I have come across. On behalf of Management, Staff, Students & parent community I, convey my deep condolence to Mrs. Mahajan, Abhimanu & Abbha. May God give you all the courage to bear this lose.

    Veena Singh,
    Unison World School, Dehradun.

  3. Col (Retd) Pradipta Jena says:

    Why good people leave early? World needs good people also

  4. Thinakaran Natarajan says:

    I am privileged to have known Arvind Mahajan for a very long time through a pious relationship. Guru & Shisya.. Starting from ORrE till OALE (R), I just watched him hours and days in my classes. I also grabbed biggest portion of OALE classes,,, right from Maths, Computers, Radar Systems… He topped in all of the exams.. On the other side… I saw him holding his daughter in his arms with so much of love… and the lady wife very homely and noble. He did share his pain with me. He was a perfect example of how an Army officer should be.. Intelligent, Tough, Resolute and Principled… Arvind you left a vacuum in this world… An unnoticed hero…

  5. Col(R) J P Sahu says:

    I had the honour of association with Col Mahajan when I was in HQTG and he was in EME Dte (EME L)
    I have seen very few officers of his calibre and determination .
    I pray god for peace of his soul.

  6. Col Anil Kumar says:

    Arvind was my soul mate. We have been together althrough. Posted in Jalandhar in early 80s. He was on staff in MCEME in late 80s when I did Adv Radar and then OACT (staying in same block). I still have our phot in front of Flycatcher in RC Dept as young Capts. We were together in EME Dte(L) under another exceptionally brilliant superior Brig Surinder Singh as our Dir. like that we had shred life along. We retired same day on 31 Aug 2008 and move to same AWHO society — staying in adjoing blocks till now.

    I feel his super intelligence, all round outstanding persona and straight talks took personal toll on him. Despite loosing daughter during Adv Course, he was at his brilliant best with a smile till he died. He started suffering in 2007 onwards. When I met him in AH RR on 14 Oct – his condition was critical noon onwards — he still smiled to me in his brilliant style — in the morning on that day I recd a joke through SMS while driving to AH RR — It is indeed extremely difficult for me and my family to understand and accept this sudden loss.

    Can anybody understand my plight, I lost my soul mate in the morning and my grandson born same day in Hongkong in the evening?

    Arvind was an exceptional brain and excellent human being. Like most who have said that Army did not give him his due to make the org better at higher appointments and that Good souls depart early.
    I salute my dear friend Arvind for his long association. Our prayer to the Almighty to rest the noble soul in peace and heartfelt condolences to the family- we are always with u.

  7. Col NN Pasupathy says:

    It is indeed very shocking to here the demise of my closest friends in the Army. We stayed as neighbours in ECO’s quarters in MCEME long ago when his daughter was diagnosed with leukemia. Though all of us were shattered by the news Arvind took the news most stoically and displayed enormous fortitude. My wife was so very fond of his family. He displayed that rare brilliance in any job that he undertook. He had the courage of conviction to put across his views without fear or favour. When we were in the process of editing the book on the history of the Corps, he as editor of EME Journal made available to us old issues aand at times he himself picking up some rare items of interest. He was one of the few officers in the Corps of EME, who understood and appreciated the enormous task that was being done in the automation of EME records in those primitive days of IT. I, my wife Ranjana and my son Lt.Col. Vivek pray for the peace of the departed soul and may God give strength to Mrs. Mahajan and Abhimanyau.

  8. Prof Col Dr K Prabhakar Rao ( retired) says:

    Usually upright officers are ignored in army and that is the order of the day.Less said is better about this aspect about service as many skeletons in cupborad get disturbed. He was no doubt a nice guy. I knew him less, but I found him to be a good person. It is sad that he passed away.

    Blessed are those who are taken away soon
    And they would rest with lord in peace
    This world is a place of rat race with many Brutuses
    This game of good and evil will never cease

  9. Col. Dr. GB Sethi says:

    Col Arvind an officer & a gentleman, a true representative of the cadre, with whom I had the opportunity of interacting on official & social platforms when I was in the Centre & he in MCEME. An officer of a golden heart & apt actions, helpful to one & all for the right cause. It is a very sad news to hear.
    May God bless the departed soul & grant courage to all the family members to bear this irreparable loss.


  10. Col JK Bajaj says:

    A very courageous & adventurous officer of the Corps of EME, died on 16th Oct 2012

    I came to know Arvind when he was just starting out in the field of adventure sports, namely mountaineering. I discovered his enthusiasm for mountaineering when I saw his heart soar at the very sight of high mountains during the EME Expedition to Kamet (25 447 ft) and Abi Gamin (24 130 ft) for the first twin ascent way back in 1980.

    Kamet is the second highest summit in India towering 7756 m. Arvind did not have much experience of climbs in the high mountains back then, but I could feel him pulse with unbelievable enthusiasm for extreme adventures and I had picked him up after very special recommendations from my very dear friend Col Ashutosh Mathur which I never regretted

    One of my most memorable moments with Arvind was during this expedition. I recall, summit parties, one for each peak were already in Camp-5 at 24 200 ft and at Camp-4, the ridge Camp, at 22 000 ft to attempt the summits. It was on this day, when a message was received by me at Camp-3, which was the forward base, a strong support base at 19 050 ft. The message was from Lt. Kala Koti, clear and precise that attempts could not go through because there was very little juice left at these camps!

    Fluids available at Camp-4 were low and there was nothing at the Meade’s Col, Camp-5, which was established above the ice fall for a brief rest & relief while summit parties were battling the strong winds above the windy Col with temperatures dipping below – 30 C. In any case, it was a really long way to the peaks & back to Camp-4, consumption of fluids at such heights would be most unpredictable

    Having announced earlier that the attempt would go through as per plan and on schedule, juice or no juice; and given that the weather was good, I was afraid that the new orders on such heights may jeopardize the very success and demoralize the summit parties, so I decided to move up to camp-4 with Ang-Shring one of my high altitude porters. I did not know at this point that Arvind had heard me while I was on the radio set with Camp-4. I quickly briefed my Deputy Leader to man the forward base at Camp-3 and keep the boys limbered up till he heard more from me once I got to Camp-4. We would need a very strong support party in good fitness state and full strength to answer emergency calls, if any.

    It was mid day. The weather was turning adverse (as is usual in the afternoon on the high mountains). I could only set course with one HAP by 3 p.m. with juice loads on our backs to be carried over a 1000 m fixed rope. It was a hard and extremely dangerous patch of climb for this mountain with a few avalanche prone areas as well. While we were struggling on the fixed rope over the vertical treacherous rock faces between Camp-3 & Camp-4, to my surprise I saw, some distance below, a lonesome figure coming up almost an hour behind our position. We decided not wait and worry, assuming that it must be some one from the forward base practicing fixed rope climbing techniques! In any case, it was difficult to see clearly, one, because of the crooked rock faces and, two, the poor visibility toped up with deteriorating

    weather conditions. It was only at 6 PM, upon on arrival at the ridge Camp that I discovered that the lone figure behind us had been Arvind! He had convinced the Deputy leader of the Exp. at Camp-3 that the juice taken by the me & Ang-shring would not be enough and to avoid taking chances he should be permitted to follow the leader.

    Young Joginder Singh a hot rod Para-EME JCO had also volunteered to accompany Arvind in those adverse weather conditions to attempt the fixed rope climb. So by late in the evening we had four more packs of fluid kind curtsey and great bold action of young Arvind Mahajan. The next morning at 2 am both the summit parties were fully charged & committed to go for their goals – the respective Peaks.

    Arvind’s bold decisions, courage under fire and his sincere commitment to his team mates does not end there. It goes on…….

    I again recall, we were returning from the respective summits after a successful attempt, tired to the bones, especially young Lt Kala Koti and Nk Jyanti Lal of the Kamet summit party who were not keeping well on descent. We could see them rolling down from the Kamet summit across the Meads Col from our summit Abhi-Gamin.
    It was once again dear Arvind Mahajan who came forward with his vigor, outstanding courage and self motivation, fully determined to extended the help and strength to these thoroughly exhausted summit parties who were on the climb since 2 & 4 am. In fact, if I remember correctly the Kamet party got back to Meads Col around 6 pm after a 14 hour to the peak and back.

    I was sure that Kala Koti and Jayanti had caught frost bite on their fingers and toes and would need a supporting hand and need to be evacuated as soon as possible. Unfortunately, the helicopter on call ex Bareli could only come the next day because it was too late and would not possible for the chopper to land at camp-4 at such a height and on a ridge at 22 000 ft.

    We made it to the summits by 1.15 pm and there after continued descent from Camp-5 through the ice walls to Camp-4 till late in the evening. We were left with zero energy and could not even light a stove to heat up a mug of soup to re coupe! Dear Arvind with his team mates took charge and ensured that all members at camp-4 picked up strength over the night to battle their way back to the lower camps in the very early hours of the morning. He stayed awake the whole night in a small two-men tent. He knew that Kala Koti & Jayanti were heading for more severe frost bite and needed very special care. It is again at this point Arvind displayed his mental strength as a strong team member and with four other climbers got ready to evacuate these dangerously sick climbers from 20 000 ft all the way down through to camps 3 to 2 and there after to Camp-1 to the advance base camp at 16 500 ft from where they could be evacuated safely.

    Arvind Mahajan was an outstanding team mate. He contributed beyond the call of duty in the hours of darkness and need. He was good to one and all including the Sherpas and sherpani’. His single minded courage speaks volumes. Unfortunately, that was an era when seniors/generally the Generals in the Army were shy of giving medals lest their officers get spoilt with a sense of bravado or what ever.

    But it would suffice to say that for me and the rest of our team, Arvind was a great asset. He deserved the highest admiration as a good team player, a good human being and an outstanding young officer full of ideas / suggestions and an action packed big boy loaded with smiles.
    It is rare to have such team players as your friends and colleagues. For me it was treat to know him.

    We will miss him, my wife even more because this EME Expedition team planned and prepared for the expedition
    form my in laws home at 22-A CC Colony New Delhi given the Army’s usual constraints of accommodation in the capital.
    May God bless his soul and give courage to the family members in these hours of a great loss.
    Col. JK Bajaj, SM,VSM,FRGS

  11. Col(Retd) PP Kumar says:

    I have been very closely associated with Arvind since Punjab Engg College Days and thereafter we joined EME in 46 Tech together – alongwith another 04 officers, we were known as DIRTY HALF DOZEN. A very handsome, intelligent to CORE, straight forward officer and a very good human being at heart who could teach concepts to his own instructors. He was one of the brightest officer EME has lost. As an instructor, his students remember him as exceptional since he used to follow un-orthodox methods to clear the concepts. His young officers used to remember him as a senior officer who will always back them at any critical stage. Despite his personal setbacks, he could smile & make others smile. He had an exceptional aura wherein he will be always centre of attraction in any gathering.

    May his soul rest in peace and I pray to God to give strength to his family to bear this irreparable loss.

  12. Brig(Retd) V K Janakiraman says:

    Indeed shocking to hear the news. Arvind was a gem for the corps of EME. Had thoroughly professional and personally satisfying association with him in MCEME and EME Directorate. A nononsense officer he fitted my bill so well that I was always amazed at his professionalism and forthrightness. May god bless his soul. It is a void that would remain forever.

  13. Col (Retd) G. Ravi Kumar says:

    I am indeed saddened to hear the news. We had a great association since 1995. Used to travel together by the Army Welfare Transport Bus from Army HQ to Noida and then subsequently remained in close association.

    A brilliant officer and a wonderful personality who is quiet friendly in nature. It is indeed very sad that such a brilliant officer’s career was cut short, which infact was a great loss to the Corps.

    We earnestly pray to the God Almighty to bestow his choicest blessings on the departed soul and give courage and strength to his family to withstand the irrepairable loss.

  14. Lt Col David Banerji(Retd) says:

    First met Arvind in 1988 when I was posted in FEL. He was also my neighbour in Thimmayya Quarters. I remember his professional competence, extremely peasant manner, eversmiling face and cheerful disposition. Met him again a few years ago when he was Editor EME Journal, a post I had held earlier. By then I had retired and used to meet him occasionally at MCEME functions where he always greeted me with his smiling face and pleasant words.

    What a loss!!!!!! I cannot believe that he is gone. I hope his family can reconcile to the loss. My prayers for his soul to rest at peace.

    Lt Col David Banerji(Retd)

  15. Srikanth Joshi says:

    Its sad to know about his untimely demise. He was my role model…….. May his soul rest in peace.

  16. Lt Gen R K mehta says:

    Arvind and me served together at the MCEME during the period 2001-03. An upright officer, Arvind was never apprehensive of expressing his views and aways stood by his principles. He brought about a qualitative change in his Department at the MCEME which compelled others to emulate the changes that he brought about, both in the quality of training imparted and the infrastructure of his Faculty. A total team man, Arvind was perhaps the most proffessional officer from the Radar stream that the Corps had at that time.
    We last met at Bangalore when he came to look us up at 512 officers mess, soon after my retirement.
    Arvind indeed was the true epitome of an officer and a gentleman, and we were proud to be associated with him and his family.
    May God bless his soul and give courage to his family to bear this irepairable loss.

  17. Lt Col (Retd) Abraham Jacob says:

    May God Almighty grant the Family and Friends, the courage to bear the Loss. May his name be made immortal by practicing what he has taught us through his life.
    I also feel that the following words narrated by Some One Anonymous befit the Officer……”If it be found of me that I have left behind a record of love of my fellow men and love of my country and walked in the guidance of my conscience, let it be said of me, “He hath done his duty by his God!”.

  18. Arvind was a lovable person..i happened to meet him when he was in HQ UP Area Bareilly,May his soul rest in peace.

  19. Maj Gen A K Sharma says:

    In more than four decades in the EME one has good fortune of comming across some brilliant officers ,many of them better and more gifted than yourself. I consider Arvind as one of those jewels who radiated brillance. For some reason, whenever and where possible he found time to meet me and every time I met him it was a shear joy to interact with him-especially as ADG ESM at the Directorate. Though many years senior to him, I always learnt from him(even when he was serving as my junior colleague) because professionally he was very very good. Because of his calibre he would brooke no nonsense from junior and seniors alike. Occassionally he would seek advise when in trouble-but he would always follow the right and correct path for which he paid a heavy price in terms of progression to higher ranks.
    It is extremly sad to loose him at a comparatively young age but the fragrance of his infectious qualities will always keep his memory alive.
    Some times I do feel God is rather unfair in taking away brilliant young fellows prematurely while leaving some of us longer than desired to be a burden on this earth-but as lesser mortals we can remember people like Arvind by emulating some of their good qualities in the hope that the departed soul will rest in peace with satisfaction of the short life well spent!

  20. vaibhavi says:

    He always used to bank upon me for accn what great personality!

  21. ''COLLS'' says:

    If I recall ,during my brief visit to MCEME in 1986 ,I had the good opportunity of meeting him .He was an exceptionally smart and very handsome, good looking officer. May the Almighty bless the departed soul and give the requisite strength to those he leaves behind ,to brave this irreparable loss .The ways of the unknown entity we all call God, are intensely unique,.

  22. Lt.Col (Retd) PGC Nair says:

    It is a shocking news to me, I was in touch with him through Mob and e mail. I was posted as a captain, when he was commanding 950 AD wksp (Flycatcher) as Major at Chandimandir. He had very good technical knowledge on Radar Flycatcher and had the courage to speak to CO of the regiment about the welfare of troops as well as technical advice on Radar & other equipments. This may be one of the reason he retired as a col.
    We pray to God Almighty to give strength and support to Mrs. Mahajan and Children.

  23. Col Anand says:

    Col Anand, BSc, B Com, LLB

    Forwarded to Artillery Officers’ association

    Managing Director,

    Arumana Hospital,

    Airport Road


    Trivandrum 695008

  24. Maj Gen Vijay Krishna says:

    Dear Gen Surjit .
    Very sad to get this news , I met him when he was in 509 . Smart , pleasant & gifted . God Bless his soul .
    Love ,

  25. Col SS Malik says:

    It is sad indeed.I played billiards in A mess, MCEME. Never knew him before 1986 on my OAME-29. A genuine offr to be with.

    TWO THINGS struck me





  26. Brig ( Retd) S K Ahuja says:

    Col Arvind Mahajan was an outstanding officer. Brilliant & Professionally really outstanding.
    I had very close inter action with him since he commanded EME Bn where I was DDEME and was Head of the department RC group MCEME where I was Dean FEL.
    We are shocked to learn about his demise and pray to GOD to give peace to the departed Soul and courage to the family members to bear this irrepairable loss.

  27. Have known Arvind for a long time. A uniquely smart personality, endowed with excellent communication skills and a cheerful demeanour. Anybody who met him even once can’t forget him.The news of his premature departure has come as a rude shock. Our heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family.

  28. Brig (Retd) Rajan Minocha says:

    An intelligent, straight forward and no nonsense officer. I will always miss him for his forth right views.

  29. Col (retd) KK Sharma says:

    We are at a loss as to how to react to this shocking news. I am from 19 AD Regt, where Col Mahajan was a workshop officer in Madhopur and we served together. Later met him at a number of occasion in life, including in MCEME in 2005. His association with Army AD units was historical and he brought in many innovative thoughts and energy in the units.

    We pray to God to give Mrs Mahajan and both the children, the strength to bear this untimely loss. For us, it a loss of a very good friend. RIP Arvind.

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