col ss sibia ed

The Sibia I Knew by Brig Surinder Singh

Editor’s Note

Col Saravjit S Sibia (XXIV Course, Kilo Squadron) was commissioned in the EME in Feb 1964. At the Academy some cadets are good at studies; and some are good in sports. Sibia was one of the few who excelled in both. He made a mark in Athletics and was an accomplished boxer. During service, he did well in all the courses of instruction. To cap it all, he obtained the Master of Technology degree from the elite IIT, Kharagpur.  He specialized in Quality Assurance. After he retired from service in 1995, he helped a number of institutions in obtaining ISO certification. And then, he joined ‘Gian Jyoti’ where he taught for several years. On 18 Jan 2014, he suffered his first ever heart attack, which proved fatal, despite the best possible medical assistance. Brig Surinder Singh who was his colleague in Gian Jyoti has sent us the following text in the memory of the departed soldier-engineer.


The Sibia I knew….

Three decades of service in EME did not bring us together. I knew very little of him till the year 2006 when I found him nicely entrenched as a faculty member in PTU’s Gian Jyoti School of TQM & Entrepreneurship, Mohali. It was as a colleague that I got to know him much better. We were both appointed as Senior Faculty with very similar terms of engagement and shared the same office.

The two of us did our work quite diligently, but simultaneously we found plenty of time for gossip. It was mainly centred around our days in the Corps of EME. Fondly we remembered illustrious officers like Gen. Banga, Jhaldiyal, Rishi,Dutta and several others.

We were the only two military officers in the School and our office in one corner of the building came to be known as the “Cantonment”. It was here that I found that Sibia had acquired a remarkable grasp over subjects related to “Quality” thanks to his tenure in DGQA and his M.Tech in Industrial Engineering. and Management at IIT Kharagpur. He was very helpful in making me settle down smoothly in my new environment. Of course we were well past the age when people have professional rivalry.

In a very short time we had told each other our stories several times over. We drifted away to different offices and the “Cantonment” got disbanded. Only in the tea break we met and shared our jokes with a couple of other colleagues. Our basic style of working was somewhat different and he was quick to bring out my shortcomings but he was a highly trustworthy man with plenty of scruples. A true friend indeed!

Sibia was a man with a pious heart. Once I presented him the biography of my Grandfather, “Amolak Hira”. He had read it in 2 days flat and assimilated more than I had.

He was physically very fit and mentally alert with a soldierly sense of humour. His sudden death came as a shock to all staff members of the School who had only recently given him a very affectionate farewell party when he decided to quit his job. Little did we know that he would depart altogether so soon.

Farewell to the forthright man known as SS Sibia….I salute my friend and my sincere critic. Life in Gian Jyoti will never be the same for me!


gyan jyoti ed

Inputs Received from the Family.

Saravjit’s elder brother, Brig Amarjit Sibia was our course mate, the XIX NDA. By cosmic design, the two brothers were assigned to the same Squadron, old Fox, re-named Kilo, in July 1960. They spent one term together. I have received two pictures showing the brothers in the same dress, as first termers. Here they are:

XIX Course F Sqn

Amarjit Sibia is with Chest Number 3017

sibia 3981

Here, Saravjit is sporting Chest number 3981

And here is a picture of Saravjit in a training exercise. Notice the enthusiasm on his face.

ss sibia bottom row right

Saravjit is at the bottom right

When Death Knocked at his Door…

On the fateful evening of 18 Jan 2014, the family had assembled at Ludhiana for the last rites of their mother who had passed away a week before at the ripe old age of 98. The four brothers were busy tying up the details of the ‘bhog’ ceremony due on the next morning. When they dispersed after their meeting, Saravjit retired to his room, but he complained of some discomfort. His wife, Pushpinder went to the kitchen to warm some water for him. But by the time she returned, he had collapsed and fallen down on the floor. Saravjit’s youngest brother is a renowned doctor who runs the Sibia Hospital with his wife in Ludhiana. He did all that is possible within the realm of medical practice, but it seems that the Lord had chosen to summon him. Saravjit was known to be averse to being a burden on any one for even a moment. He always gave more to life than what he took from it. And he died the way he had lived…cheerful and lively up to the last breath. I was reminded of the words of Gurudev Tagore, as delivered to us in verse number 90, of ‘Gitanjali’


“GITANJALI” by Gurudev Tagore 

ON THE DAY when death will knock at thy door what wilt thou offer to him? 

Oh, I will set before my guest the full vessel of my life-I will never let him go with empty hands.

All the sweet vintage of all my autumn days and summer nights, all the earnings and gleanings of my busy life will I place before him at the close of my days when death will knock at my door.


The Tailpiece

This little piece must end with two pictures : one of Brig Surinder Singh who has told me so much of Saravjit Sibia, and the other, an informal picture of Saravjit .


Brig Surinder Singh

sibia ed

 Saravjit Singh Sibia (1943-2014)










  1. Anureet Sibia Dhillon says:

    Thanks for your condolences and kind words about my dear father.
    “Whatever you do in this life, its not legendary unless your friends are there to see it – Barney Stinson”

  2. Vinod Bhardwaj says:

    Very truthful and straight forward with a goldeh heart. He had mettalic voice. Could be compared with a coconut fruit, very hard from outside but very tender inside. He was very systematic and knew his job welll and was never a yes man.
    I remember him telling our boss in my presence that I was not capable of delevering sessions on six sigma but supported me well in my very first lecture which went first class. Infact I worked hard to prepare the session because of his positive critism. I still can not believethat

  3. JS Cheema says:

    I am Lt. Commander Jasbir Singh Cheema, Retired pre-maturely in 1982. I was an ND 146 in E/ H Squadron in No. 3 Battalion, facing the Mess.
    Here too we had a retired Commander, absolutely OK in the morning gurudwara, had Langar with me and passed away at 2200 hrs on the same day.

    I can’t imagine how a person lives properly for 30000 or 50000 days and nights and then suddenly pops off quietly.

    We had another freak case of a retired sailor’s wife. She was sitting opposite the TV at about 1800 hrs. cutting vegetables for the family in the hall; with her daughter-in-law playing with her child on the carpet. At about 1830 hrs she stopped cutting the vegetables and started watching her favourate TV programme. After some time she slowly slid to her right side and lay down on the sofa. When the half hour programme finished, her daughter-in-law called her; but there was no response. The old lady was dead peacefully. She was from the hilly regions of Himachal Pradesh.

    Life is really cute. What sort of cute? No saying, how.

    We are all on our last legs. Some of us may live another 10 or 15 years also.

  4. Jasbir says:

    Hello Surjit,
    The background of all your pictures sent has the same sea, fueling pipeline and securing rope. It reminds me of the astern passing of the fuel from my tanker to the shore tanks in Mukalla, S.Yemen.

    I was the Chief Engineer Officer of this Yemeni Tanker in 1985 and our job was to distribute marine fuel oil and mo gas(petrol) to the ports around in north/ south Yemen and Ethiopia.

    It does remind of old memories and wonderful times spent there.

    Love and regards.

  5. Nitish Goel says:


    Very sad to hear about the departed soul. May his soul Rest in Peace!


  6. Ravi Raj Oberoi says:

    Please convey our condolence to the bereaved family.
    The obituary is an appropriate tribute to the departed soul.

  7. GPS Dhillon says:

    Dear sir
    Thankyou for your kind words and appraisal of the noble deeds of my late father in law.His soul and life is an embodiment of his life spent cheerfully.The family is suffering the pangs of his untimely demise and we thank you all for the comments.god bless all…sarbat da bhala

  8. Prabal Sen says:

    Dear Sirs,

    I was in HQ Tech Group as a Major ( TSO 2) serving under Maj Gen Passi during 1994 who then, was the DCLE as a Colonel). Col Sibia was the Colonel (Tech Coord) and his office was next to that of the CPE (Maj Gen Surjit Singh). It was big cavernous building with a corrugated asbestos roof, painted green.

    Among his other duties, Col Sibia was instrumental in compiling and publishing a technical handbook. I was detailed to give all LE wing related inputs to him. For about six months I worked with him and remember him as a thoroughly professional officer with keen eye for detail. He would quietly progress the work and follow up with equipment wings for inputs. The contents were closely scrutinised by him and I often had to re work on our inputs. Ultimately, the handbook was published. To the best of my recollection, Col Sibia had left TG when the book was released by the then DGEME, Lt Gen V K Kapoor. Gen Kapoor flipped through the pages of the handbook and suitably impressed, said ‘only an institution like TG can produce such a book’.

    It came as a shock to read about his sudden demise. may his soul rest in peace.

  9. Amar Bindra says:

    Dear Friends,

    It is indeed a very noble soul we have lost!

    We had never met Col Sibia before this station.

    however we found a strong well wisher in him—

    the way he encouraged Neera and me in our work–

    simply amazing.

    We have lost a very strong support and bond!

    May God rest his soul in peace and be with the family

    at this tough loss of a great & loving father, husband and brother.

    God bless.

    Amar Bindra

    The Performance Enablers
    “Empowering through Enabling”,
    #818, Sector-2,
    Panchkula-134109, Haryana, India
    Landline; 91172-2577988
    Cell; 919814636818

  10. Rajinder Dhaliwal says:

    Dear sirs,
    Old memories come rushing on hearing, the sad & untimely demise of a gentleman officer, col ss sibia.

    We passed out on feb 8 ,1964.Did our yo’s together-EME School, Baroda. Served as young officers in 622 EME Bn.

    We lost a wonderfull person. Our sympathies to the family & prayers for the departed soul. GOD BLESS.

    Capt. R S Dhaliwal & Raj Dhaliwal

  11. Kuldeep Negi says:

    Dear Sirs,

    Its very shocking news about the sad demise of Col SS Sibia. We never got any indication about his bad health ever. I served with him as his Adjutant in 603 EME Bn.

    A few other EME Officers who were there with him are in Chandigarh like Col Ravi Bedi, Col Bali, Col Sandhu.

    May his soul Rest In Peace and God give his family the courage to bear this huge loss.

    Col KS Nagi

  12. Sanjay Dawar says:

    Dear Sirs,

    On behalf of MG EME and serving EME fraternity, I extend deep condolences on the sad demise of Col SS Sibia. May God bless the soul !


  13. VJS Gill says:

    A very sad news he was so lively in our get to gathers and made sure to interact with one and all.

    The end was so sudden that even his brother and brother’s children all docs could not revive him.

    May God almighty grant peace to the departed soul and give courage to family members to bear his untimely loss.

    VJS Gill

  14. Harmeet Dhot says:

    Sad news. Col SS Sibia left for his heavenly abode on 18th Jan night due to a massive Heart Attack. He was 70.Cremation at Ludhiana on 21stJan at 1PM near Dayanand Medical College&Hospital.May the noble soul Rest in Peace,

    Little did we know that while we were observing silence on 19th jan during the EME get together for the mother of Col Sibia that he himself was no more with us.

    “Why God picks up Good people in this way”

    Col Sibia’s Residence is in Civil Lines area near Fountain Chowk in Ludhiana. It is called Sibia Clinic and is prominently known in the area. The cremation ground is walking distance from the residence.

    Col Harmeet Dhot

    Mob: 9878649118

  15. K K Khanna says:

    Dear Sir,

    Thanks for informing us….


  16. G N Bhaskar says:

    Thank you for sharing a veteran’s great and exemplary life. May it motivate many to those great standards.

    Wg Cdr G N BHASKAR (Retd)

    16th – 17th NDA – Hunter Squadron, 2nd Battalion – Cdt No. 2572.

  17. Surindar Singh says:

    Dear Surjit
    Very unfortunate
    Most of us hope that we knew a doctor who could attend on us in time of emergency

    Here SS Sibia had his own son and daughter in law both running a clinic . When time comes nothing can save

    How is A S Sibia We were very close friends in Ludhiana and NDA Unfortunately we hardly met during service Even after retirement he is not seen at various course get togethers and Golden Jublie

    Give my love to him


    • Surjit Singh says:

      There are limits to what the doctors can do. Beyond that, there is destiny. The Cosmic order takes over.
      Our scripture tells us to accept the Will of the Lord with a gratitude. It makes more sense to me now, when I am getting old!

  18. Colls Kohli says:

    The inevitable

    I have often wondered

    why normally

    they give BHARAT RATANS


    bigger awards, after one is no more.


    Also I wonder why

    they all praise in obituaries

    when one cannot read

    But then the Nobel prize

    is given to one if alive

    Also they gave FM ManeckShaw a crore,

    before he did go


    at that extreme time,

    at that ripe age his question was

    how much Income tax,

    he’d have to pay?

    They said none


    then soon enough he was no more.

    Birth has the permanent attachment of death


    when one will open the attachment

    is just an unknown catch.

    So each morning

    I see my papers for my


    none has so far thought of me!

    Happy that does make me

    but temporarily

    You remind us of the ultimate day

    we all come in a Queue

    but sad to say

    many of us just jump our way

    unknowingly we may that say.

    God Bless those who have passed away

    most stand by near a road less traveled,

    so may I this say

    You at least remember

    all those who have passed away.

    Also remember me some,

    one day!

    Some day!


  19. Jetinder Mayor says:

    Dear Surjit,

    I was very sad to hear about the passing away s Saravjit. He worked with him in Amritsar when I was CEME 15 div. He was one of the best officers who ever served with me. Sadly I did not meet him again. But i have thought of him a number of times. He came across one who was ever ready to learn, first to accept if he ever made a mistake. Always humble and helpful.

    May God rest his soul in peace. Please convey our condolences to the family.


  20. Hariprasad PPS says:

    General :

    Kindly convey my condolences to Col Saravjit Sibia’s family. May his soul rest in peace.


  21. Navnit Mandloi says:

    Deeply Grieved to learn of the sudden passing away of a dear friend and comrade. Our condolence to the bereaved family.

    In Grief.

    Navnit Mandloi

  22. Ghansham Ahluwalia says:

    I am really sorry to know about the sudden demise of Col Sarvjit Sibia.I might have met him as I am also a resident of Sector 44-A,but not sure.In any case he was a very good person as written by you and a devoted soul. May God give peace to the departed soul.

    I am at present with my children in Dallas USA and will be back in April, hope to see you then.

    With regards

    Ghansham Singh Ahluwalia

  23. Amit Banga says:

    RIP Col. Sibia !!! May his soul rest in peace.


  24. Dave Sood says:

    Wonderful man. Well remembered.

    Our condolences to the Sibia family,

  25. I shared my first name with my very dear friend Col SS Sibia.
    We were together in Gyan Jyoti School of TQM in Mohali for four years and worked out of the same office. I remember the very many intense and satisfying discussions we had covering our favourite Quality topics.
    I especially enjoyed our joint collaboration in writing two technical courses for Gyan Jyoti .
    What struck me most was his extreme honesty, very high level of expertize of technical subjects and sincere devotion to work. I have not met anyone ever like him.

    I will always miss my very dear friend Colonel SS Sibia.

  26. Major General Vipan Passi says:

    I, as a Lt Col, served with then Col SS Sibia, sitting in the same office room in HQ Tech Gp EME, in 1991-92. He was my boss. I always respected him for being a very honest and fair person. He was apparently always in good health. Sad to hear about his demise at such an early age.

  27. J Thomas says:

    Our deepest condolences to the Sibia family.

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