Though Dharmendar and I underwent training together at the National Defence Academy (NDA) and Indian Military Academy (IMA) and having being commissioned together as Second Lieutenants to Regiment of Artillery in December 1982, we hardly ever interacted. Rather we hardly ever met during our Academy days or during our initial regimental service.
We got acquainted only during our Long Gunnery Staff Course (LGSC) in 1989-90 at School of Artillery, Devlali, Maharashtra. Veteran Brigadier GM Shankar was my desk-mate, but he was a bachelor then, staying in the Officers’ Mess. Dharmendar and I were living in Married Officers’ Accommodation close by.
Dharmendar and his wife Babita were the most friendly couple in the neighbourhood. They were better known as parents of Honey, their chubby chirpy little daughter. Honey was an adorable kid and every officer in the course knew who she was. Marina and I being newly married looked forward for their company.
Dharmendar was a honest and hardworking student and he did put in his best efforts during the entire course. He always admonished me for taking the course ‘cool.’ He often reminded me “You are very intelligent and will top the course if you put in little effort. Why are you holding yourself back?”
After LGSC, I met him while travelling to India from Canada on vacation in 2015. I had a stopover at Mumbai and whom will I call up – it was surely Major General DS Gill, then Additional Director General (ADG) National Cadets Corps (NCC), Maharashtra. That evening he organised a get-together of all our course-mates stationed at Mumbai. We had a grand dinner that evening.
It is pertinent to mention here that under the premiership of General Gill as ADG, the Maharashtra Contingent of the NCC struck gold in 2015 – the contingent has created history by winning the prestigious Prime Minister’s Banner for the sixth consecutive year at the Republic Day Camp held in New Delhi. Maharashtra NCC was also adjudged the Champion Directorate from out of 17 NCC directorates in the country. In 2017, the Directorate bagged the Runners-up Trophy.
Maharashtra NCC also has the unique distinction of winning the Prime Minister’s Banner and the Champion Directorate Trophy 17 times since its inception. The achievement is particularly remarkable since as many as 17 NCC directorates and 2070 Cadets from across the country participate in Republic Day Camp every year.
I am sure General Gill made a difference to many young cadets while serving with NCC. They stand proof to his dedication and selfless service to NCC. Performance of the Directorate when he was at the helm is commendable.
Soldiers like General Gill helped many soldiers and officers to be groomed to be thoroughbred gentlemen and soldiers. When a soldier as wonderful as General Gill finally hangs his boots, it makes many a heart melt, especially those who benefited under his guidance. I am sure General Gill will continue to do well or may be even better post retirement.
General Gill , please think about it, now you never have to ask for a day off ever again. You may presume that you are your own boss, but wait! You now left your old boss and start a life with your new boss, your wife. You are now a ‘Go Getter’ – your wife will now order you to go get something and like an obedient husband, you will go and get it for her – which you never did in your life.
Now that you’re retired you can do all the things you enjoy; all of the wonderful things in your bucket list – including a visit to Canada. In reality after retirement only the body grows older, but the heart grows fonder and the mind becomes younger. You in fact realise that all these years you were trying to be mature, but now is the time when you can get back to being a child.
Happy retirement General Gill! Retirement is when you stop living at work and start working at living. Please also make sure you work just as hard at relaxing as you worked hard soldiering.
You’ll be missed but never forgotten!