Monty and Jick

Major General A A ("Jick") Rudra served in both the World Wars, and in the British and Indian armies. He was the seniormost office of the Indian army in independent India and was largely responsible for setting it up in the first place...

In the serendipitious (and often bumbling) way in which SwB works, a request for the book Major General A A Rudra: His service in Three Armies and Two World Wars by Major General D K ("Monty") Palit, Vir Chakra brought this fascinating biography to our notice.

What a life! What a man, and what a family! Son of Principal Sudhir Rudra of St Stephen's college, Jick was in England as a student when WWI broke out. He saw action in France and Belgium... and that set the tone for much of his career, taking him to Waziristan, Baluchistan, the Arakan, Kashmir. The list is long.

The book captures the mood of colonial India from a very different perspective- the Indo-Anglian, as it were. And Kiplingesque too in its own way, though the times were those of the waning Raj. The Rudras had played a big role in bringing Mahatma Gandhi back to India, and there is a charming account of how Jick asked Gandhiji if he should take up a commission in the Indian Army. (Gandhi was noncommital, and Jick was petulant, but adamant!)

The book- and indeed the life- deserves to be better known. From Reliance Publishers, New Delhi, in our Biography section. Rs 350, 348 pages hardcover. ISBN: 8175100435.