It is very hard to encompass a man’s whole life on a small piece of paper. His official Record of Service in a booklet smaller than a ration card, does so. Date of birth, 14 Jan 1934, born in Nagpur. Lt Gen, Infantry, of the Assam Regiment. Joint Services Wing as a cadet. Commissioned from the Indian Military Academy (IMA) on June 2, 1955 into 3 Assam Regiment. Retired from service on 4 December 1991. Medical category, SHAPE1. The official appointments and the courses that he attended ,are equally tersely stated, but a pattern emerges of instructional appointments after the various levels of combat training were over. As a Captain he was an Instructor at the IMA, after which he attended the course at the Staff College in Wellington. After that he went to Army HQ as GSO-2 in the Military Training Directorate. Returning to 3 Assam in 1968, he was later posted to 1 Assam, as the CO, in 1970. After that, he had a high altitude tenure and returned to the IMA, becoming in due course, GSO 1, responsible for the training of cadets. This was followed by a period at the College of Combat in Mhow, in the Faculty of Studies where he also attended the Senior Command course as a student himself. A return to Delhi followed, with a posting to the Military Secretary Branch dealing with the appointments of officers. On being promoted to Brigadier he was posted as a Brigade Commander in an active area. In 1981, to our great surprise, he was posted to Moscow as a Military Attache to the Soviet Union and Mongolia, returning to Delhi in 1985. The appointment this time was as the Additional Director General, Military Training. In Delhi for only a few months, after which he assumed command of a Division. At this time he was asked to be the Colonel of the Assam Regiment, an honour he took very much to heart. In 1987 he was again posted to Mhow as the Commander of the recently established Higher Command Course for the training of the senior most officers. A newly structured course, without grading, and an opportunity for ideas from the participants to be discussed, was something that interested him greatly. A senior officer from the British army, who later became the COAS of the British Army came to see the course, as they had not started such a course in the UK. When the post of Deputy Chief of Army Staff (DCOAS) was divided into two, he was recalled to Delhi to become one of the two DCOAS, with a very hard working team, for restructuring of the officers cadre. The next posting was as a Corps Commander. In his final months of Service he returned to Delhi to become the Director General of Infantry.
He chose to join the Assam Regiment on passing out from the IMA because he had a fascination for tribal people. Raised in 1941 at Shillong, the Regiment was new and everything about it was challenging – languages, life styles and new traditions to be evolved, unlike in the older regiments left behind after Partition, which had set ways. His father had many unusual friends. One of them was Verrier Edwin who brought his Gond wife to their house, and a love for the outdoors, the forests and with a house full of books were all traits inherited by the children. So Sushil felt at home with the jawans of this new Regiment. As a Captain, Sushil, with other young officers, and his Alsation dog, walked on a familiarisation trip, to remote villages from which future jawans would join the Regiment.
In the years to come I saw that he still had so many questions to ask the fresh recruits when we spent a few months in Shillong while he was writing the second volume of the Regimental history. After his retirement he walked again in the areas that he had visited in his youth. This time his trek had been sponsored by the Ministry of Human Resource and Development where the choice of the subject had been entirely his own. In a period of two years he wrote about the changes he had seen after many years. Written in a personal form, the two monographs are full of meticulous research, but with warmth. He was delighted to meet old friends and also learned much about their culture, history, and their aspirations for the future. He took his own photographs with a simple but excellent Canon camera.
Sushil not only wrote well, he had a fine photographer’s eye. An exhibition of the photographs that he took in Mizoram was later held at the India International Centre in Delhi. In his younger days in service, he had been a good cartoonist and a fine draughtsman, and throughout his life, fastidiously chose his pens or handmade paper. After retiring to Kerala he wrote about Padmanabhan Palace, photographing the buildings in both black and white as well as in colour. These photographs were exhibited in the Kannakunna Palace, courtesy of Alliance Francaise.
He left us to cherish many of his memories and achievements.