Monday, December 01, 2014


Wing Commander KK (Jumbo) Majumdar was one of India's first decorated air warriors. 
After completing his training at the RAF's flying school at Cranwell (UK, 'Jumbo' was posted to the No. 1 Squadron, in the mid 30s.

While commanding No 1 squadron as Squadron Leader, Jumbo saw action in the Burma campaign. For his personal acts of bravery, Jumbo was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. During the Allied campaign in Europe, Jumbo volunteered to fly with the No. 268 Squadron in Europe. For his acts of valor in the European theatre, Jumbo was awarded a 'Bar' to his DFC.
Jumbo was the only Indian Air Force Pilot to have been awarded the DFC twice. 
In 1945, while flying a Hawker Hurricane in an air display, Jumbo's aircraft crashed and he was killed. If he had survived then, there is little doubt that Jumbo would have moved on to the very top position in the Indian Air Force.

The story is not so much about highlighting Jumbo's exploits in the 2nd World War. It's about how we as a Nation treat its brave soldiers.

Some personal property of Jumbo, particularly his medals and flying log books were put up for auction in England recently by Jumbo's son. It's a different matter that the medals failed to get a bid even for the reserve price of GBP 20,000 (Rs 20 lacs approximately). The point is - these medals should have been the property of the Indian Air Force who should have even gone all the way to spend this money to buy the medals.

The sad part is - the Air Force has cited some 'policy' related reason why it cannot bring these medals to its rightful owner - the Nation. It's  commendable that an ex Air Force officer - Air MArshal (Retd) Anil Chopra, also from the same No.1 squadron, has offered
to pay the required sum of money from his personal resources, to get the medals back. While this is commendable, it's also a sad commentary.

What does this exemplify ? This story is  another pointer towards the fact that we as a Nation not only don't have any respect our brave soldiers, but are simply apathetic to their contributions to the Nation, and the sacrifices they made while they were in uniform.

The present Air Force Chief should own this responsibility and present a case to the Government to spend this money - not a big sum, in the larger scheme of things, to get Jumbo's medals to the right place. The political leadership of India - be it the Defence Minister or even the Prime Minister should intervene to break all bureaucratic entangles created by the 'Babus' in the Defence Ministry and ensure what is correct is done - which is to bring back Jumbo's decorations to their rightful place - which is India. 

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