General who lets his dog disobey - Yes, Juno is the only one allowed to have his way

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  • Published 1.08.14

New Delhi, July 31: General Dalbir Singh took over as India’s 26th chief of army staff today after a tenuous term as vice-chief during which Union minister V.K. Singh opposed his selection for the office.

But the selection of General Dalbir Singh — he has said he does not use the “Suhag” surname any longer — was staunchly supported by both defence minister Arun Jaitley and his predecessor A.K. Antony.

On his appointment, the defence ministry released what is probably the most detailed profile of an army chief that lists, apart from his decorations, the family dog, a Golden Retriever named Juno, as his biggest stress buster.

In “Ascent of a General: A profile of India’s 26th army chief”, the general is painted as an exceptional officer from a humble background who excelled in sports and academics alike. He tolerates only the disobedience of a pup.

“Surrounded by faithful guards and soldiers, it is unfathomable even to assume that some can ever disobey a General. In the Suhag household, however, there is someone who is allowed to have his way. Not just by the General’s volition but in his own right and playful way. Yes, ‘Juno’ is his name and he is a four-year-old Golden Retriever bought home as a gift to the family by daughter, Pallavi,” the specially commissioned profile reports.

“He helps me unwind completely,” says the general as he fondly pats Juno, who is forever ready to obey his commands. “I would much rather have him disobey me when everyone else around only obey my orders,” goes the report. The profile says that he was “Born to be a warrior”.

A rather less colourful profile released by the army states that General Dalbir Singh, an alumnus of Sainik School, Chittorgarh, was commissioned into the 4/5 Gorkha Rifles (formerly the Frontier Force) in June 1974. He was a company commander in Operation Pawan — the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka in the 1980s — and eastern army commander based in Fort William, Calcutta, before being appointed the vice-chief. Earlier, he commanded the 3 Corps based in Rangapahar (Nagaland).

V.K. Singh, now a minister, was also an eastern army commander before taking over as chief. He raised a stink over General Dalbir Singh’s appointment because he suspected foul play under his command during a botched intelligence operation in Assam by a unit of the 3 Corps.

General Dalbir Singh was also inspector-general of the Special Frontier Force under the cabinet secretariat.

Born in Bishan village in Haryana’s Jhajjar district, General Dalbir Singh’s father was a non commissioned officer in the army. His immediate and extended families have or had almost every male member in the armed forces. His younger brother is a colonel in the army. His wife is the daughter of a naval officer and they were introduced by an officer who was Dalbir Singh’s senior.