S M Nanda
|Born||10 October 1915|
Punjab, British India
|Died||11 May 2009 (aged 93)|
New Delhi, India
|Allegiance|| British India (1941–1947) |
|Service/|| Royal Indian Navy (1941–1947) |
Indian Navy (1947–1973)
|Years of service||1941–1973|
Param Vishisht Seva Medal
Ati Vishisht Seva Medal
|Other work||Chairman and Managing Director Shipping Corporation of India|
Member of the Board of Directors, Crown Corporation
Admiral Sardarilal Mathradas 'Charles' Nanda (Punjabi: transl. ਸਰਦਾਰੀਲਾਲ ਮਾਥਰਾਦਾਸ ਨੰਦਾ), PVSM, AVSM (10 October 1915 – 11 May 2009) was an Indian Navy admiral who served as the 7th Chief of the Naval Staff from 1 March 1970 until 28 February 1973. He led the Indian Navy during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 and successfully executed a naval blockade of both West and East Pakistan, helping India achieve an overwhelming victory during the war. For his important role played in the war, Government of India awarded him with Padma Vibhushan, India's second highest civilian award. He is one of the most notable commanders in the history of the Indian Navy.
Born in Manora, Karachi, Nanda joined the Royal Indian Naval Volunteer Reserve in 1941. During World War II, he served onboard HMIS Travancore and as an instructor at the signals school in HMIS Talwar. After the war, he served on board HMIS Narbada (U40) which was based out of Japan as part of the British occupation forces. He subsequently served as the communication officer of HMIS Cauvery (U10).
Following the Independence of India, he was appointed executive officer of Cauvery, and in 1948, was appointed first lieutenant of the flagship HMIS Delhi (C74). In 1949, he was appointed director of personnel services at NHQ and in 1950 took command of the R-class destroyer, INS Ranjit (1949), which represented India at the coronation review of the fleet. Nanda subsequently commanded the Black Swan-class sloop INS Jamuna (U21) and the 16th frigate squadron. In 1954, he was appointed Chief of Personnel and constituted commodore 2nd class in September 1956. Appointed the commissioning commanding officer of the new flagship of the Navy, the Crown Colony-class cruiser INS Mysore (C60), he commissioned the ship in August 1957 at Birkenhead. In 1958, he took over as the Director General Naval Dockyard Expansion Scheme. After attending the Imperial Defence College in 1962, he returned to India and was appointed Chief of Materiel at NHQ.
Promoted to flag rank in May 1962, Nanda was appointed the Deputy Chief of the Naval Staff. As DCNS, he played an important role in the development of Goa as a naval base. In 1964, he took over as the managing director of Mazagon Dock Limited. In 1966, he was appointed Flag Officer Commanding Indian Fleet and then Flag Officer Bombay in 1968. The Bombay command was upgraded and Nanda took over as the first Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief Western Naval Command in the rank of vice admiral. On 1 March 1970, he took command as the seventh Chief of the Naval Staff. Under his command, the Navy attacked Karachi with missile boats and bombarded ports in East Pakistan with aircraft of INS Vikrant (R11), apart from successfully enforcing naval blockades on two fronts. He was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian award, and awards for distinguished service – the Param Vishisht Seva Medal and the Ati Vishisht Seva Medal.
Nanda was born on 10 October 1915 to Mathra Das, an office superintendent at the workshop of the Port Trust in Manora, and Pooran Devi. His parents were from villages near Gujranwala in the Punjab Province. He was born in a Punjabi Hindu Khatri family. He was raised on Manora Island at the entrance to the Port of Karachi. He was the eldest of seven children – three boys and four girls. He attended a primary school on the island and then the N J High School in Karachi. He worked for the Port and Pilotage department at Manora after finishing his schooling.
After the outbreak of World War II, he applied for a commission in the Royal Indian Naval Volunteer Reserve (RINVR). He appeared before a selection board in Bombay in September 1941. Successful in the written test and the interview, he was commissioned in the RINVR on 11 October 1941 as an acting sub-lieutenant in the Executive Branch.
Nanda retired from the Indian Navy on 30 August 1973. He was appointed chairman and managing director (CMD) of the largest shipping company in India, the Shipping Corporation of India (SCI) in May 1974.
At the age of 21, Nanda was married to Sumitra, a lady chosen by his parents. The marriage was harmonious and lasted all their lives, during which they were fated to suffer many vicissitudes together, ranging from the partition of India which uprooted them from their native land, to the heights of honour when Nanda became chief of the Indian Navy. The couple were the parents of several children, including a son, Suresh Nanda (ex-naval officer and businessman) and Beena Mehra, wife of Major Pradeep Kumar Mehra, founder of Usha Stud Farm on the outskirts of Delhi.
Nanda suffered a personal tragedy when his daughter Beena died in a helicopter crash. She was married to Major Pradeep Kumar Mehra, an army officer and polo enthusiast who founded and ran Usha Stud Farm on the outskirts of Delhi. The couple were the parents of three grown-up daughters. On 2 January 2002, Beena Mehra, her husband and their daughter Radhika were all killed in a helicopter crash while flying from Mussourie to Dehradun Airport after attending a New Year's Day party. Their other two daughters, Ameeta and Devika, survived since they was not on the helicopter; Ameeta Mehra now runs Usha Stud Farm.
Following his retirement, Nanda took an executive role with Crown Corporation, an arms trading firm headed by his son Suresh Nanda, which specialized in supply of imported weapons to the Indian Armed Forces. The organization was surrounded by a controversy when Operation West End a sting-operation which aimed to expose corruption between India's defence ministry and Crown Corporation. The allegation on Admiral Nanda's son, Suresh Nanda, was closed by CBI when no evidence was found.
Another incident that caused turmoil in the family was the 1999 Delhi hit-and-run case, which involved Admiral Nanda's grandson Sanjeev Nanda. Sanjeev Nanda was found guilty by the Supreme Court of India. The accident and the trial attracted a lot of media attention and became one of the cases that exemplified middle class India's frustration with rich and powerful people being able to circumvent the law.
In the later years of his life, Nanda wrote his autobiography titled The Man Who Bombed Karachi: A Memoir. The book provides an insider's account and the reminisces how India adapted an inventive strategy to defeat Pakistan, and the 32 years of his naval career. Nanda participated in interviews on Indian War Heroes, a popular one being the interview by Sushil Sharma in 1997. His tactics in India's victory is still being discussed by channels on YouTube and Indian websites.
Admiral Nanda died in New Delhi on 11 May 2009 at the age of 93. He was survived by his wife Sumitra Nanda (died Feb 2011), son Suresh Nanda and grandchildren. His funeral was marked with full military honours at Brar Square Crematorium in New Delhi and was attended by top brass of Armed Forces. The Telegraph however wrote that it was not as well attended as his naval career mandated.
|Padma Vibhushan||Param Vishisht Seva Medal||Ati Vishisht Seva Medal||General Service Medal 1947||Samar Seva Star|
|Poorvi Star||Paschimi Star||Raksha Medal||Sangram Medal||Indian Independence Medal|
|25th Independence Anniversary Medal||30 Years Long Service Medal||20 Years Long Service Medal||9 Years Long Service Medal|
|1939–45 Star||Burma Star||War Medal 1939–1945||India Service Medal|
|Naval General Service Medal (1915)||Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal|
|Insignia||Rank||Component||Date of rank|
|Sub-lieutenant||Royal Indian Navy||11 October 1941 (acting)|
|Lieutenant||Royal Indian Navy||11 October 1942 (acting)|
19 October 1946 (substantive)
|Lieutenant commander||Royal Indian Navy||1948 (acting)|
30 June 1949 (substantive)
|Commander||Royal Indian Navy||30 June 1949 (acting)|
|Commander||Indian Navy||26 January 1950 (recommissioning and change in insignia)|
31 December 1950 (substantive)
|Captain||Indian Navy||15 February 1954 (acting)|
31 December 1954
|Commodore||Indian Navy||September 1956 (2nd class)|
February 1962 (substantive)
|Rear admiral||Indian Navy||14 May 1962 (acting)|
16 June 1964 (substantive)
|Vice admiral||Indian Navy||1 March 1968|
|Admiral||Indian Navy||1 March 1970|
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