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Book review – The man who bombed Karachi

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Suditi Prasad

Book title – The Man Who Bombed Karachi: A Memoir

Author – Book by Sardarilal Mathradas Nanda

Format – Hardcover

Admiral S.M. Nanda achieved distinction and honour for the remarkable and vital role he played in the 1971 war for the liberation of Bangladesh. He and his team of professionals formulated pragmatic strategies and devised tactics to neutralize the Pakistani Navy. The main target was the Karachi port, where the bulk of the Pakistani fleet was stationed. In this volume, the author focuses on this significant event, providing a detailed account of how exactly the Indian Navy carried out the operations. Apart from this crowning glory, this autobiography throws new light on the various activities and functions of the Indian Navy. Beginning with his childhood years, spent near Karachi in the pre-independence era, the author describes how he entered the Royal Indian Navy and how his career gradually developed thereafter, propelling him to the pinnacle as the chief of naval staff of India.

Admiral S.M. Nanda started his career with the Royal Indian Navy. The post-Independence days posed a challenge for the nation and its defence forces and, as a young officer, he witnessed the fledgling navy grow from strength to strength. The crowning glory of his career, which spanned thirty-two years, came when he was appointed Chief of Naval Staff at a time when tensions with Pakistan were at their peak and the government was looking for arm hand at the helm. He achieved distinction and honour for the remarkable role he played in the 1971 war for the liberation of Bangladesh, devising tactics to neutralize the Pakistan navy. The main target was the Karachi port, where the bulk of the Pakistan fleet was stationed. In his memoir, Admiral S.M. Nanda focuses on this significant event, providing a detailed account of how the Indian Navy carried out the operation. The Man Who Bombed Karachi is the inspiring story of how a childhood fascination for the sea led an outstanding officer to rise to the pinnacle of India s armed forces. It gives a glimpse into life in the Royal Indian Navy, with a dramatic rebellion by Indian sailors against their British superiors, and traces its evolution into an organization that is today a force to reckon with globally. Most of all, it is an insider s authentic account of the inventive naval strategies that led to one of India s biggest victories in war to date.

Admiral S.M. Nanda’s book is a gallant seafarer’s detached story about his life and times and serves as an important source of information about events of which there is no authoritative record. Nanda recounts life on Manora, an island off the coast of Karachi, where he spent an unspoilt childhood and developed an affection for the sea. His first brush with politics, in the days when it was unavoidable even for soldiers and sailors, was during the naval uprising in 1946. Nanda’s ambitions for a bigger role for the Indian Navy were belittled by some colleagues. But in the true tradition of a soldier, he passed the baton to some of those who mocked his efforts, not letting it vitiate his judgement.

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