Field Marshal Kodandera Madappa Cariappa, hailing from Kodagu district of Karnataka, is best known as the first Commander-In-Chief of the army of independent India. He has often been described as ‘The Father of the Indian Army’. He was born on the 28th of January 1899.
His Early Years
Cariappa was one among the six children of Kodandera Madappa, who was an official in the revenue department. He completed his schooling from Central High School at Madikeri in Kodagu. He later studied at Presidency College, Chennai.
Even at a young age, he was always up for challenges and he displayed tremendous determination in achieving whatever he put his mind to. As a student, he is known to have taken an active interest in academics, sports and debates.
Cariappa’s Military Exploits
At the age of 20, Cariappa was selected to be among the first batch of boys to be trained for commissioning in the British Indian Army. After a stint at Daly College, Indore, he was commissioned as an officer and posted to the second battalion of the 88th Carnatic Infantry in Bombay, to serve as a Second Lieutenant.
There was no looking back after that. He steadily rose among the ranks, and even had stints in places like Iraq, Iran and Syria.
During the period of Partition in 1947, Cariappa oversaw the division of the Indian army. During the Indo-Pak war of 1947-48, he led the Indian forces on the western front. Later in 1949, he became Commander-in-Chief of the Indian army.
Incidentally, it is a well-known fact that Cariappa had been nick-named ‘Kipper’ by his colleagues in the army. After serving in the Indian army for almost three decades, Cariappa went on to serve as High Commissioner to Australia and New Zealand.
Honors and Recognition
In 1949, Cariappa was conferred the Order of the Chief Commander of the Legion of Merit by Harry Truman who was the President of the United States at the time.
In 1986, the government of India conferred him with the honorary rank of Field Marshal in recognition of the exemplary services rendered by him to the Indian army.
Personality Traits and Information
Cariappa was a tall man with a commanding personality, besides being a good conversationalist. He was admired for his dedication to his work, his courage and unwavering integrity and his strong sense of patriotism.
However, he was also a strict disciplinarian and had a quick temper.
His Final Years
Towards the end of his life, Cariappa spent much of his time in his estate Roshanara located in his native town of Coorg. He was involved in spreading awareness about pollution and environmental conservation.
He died in Bangalore in 1993, and he was 94 years old.