Rustom K. S. Ghandhi
|Rustom K. S. Ghandhi|
1 July 1924|
|Died||23 December 2014
Ghandhi was the son of Khushro Shapoorjee Ghandhi and Dina Dhunjishah Amroliwalla. He was born in 1924 in Jabalpur, India. He graduated from St. Joseph's College, Nainital, India, with an Intermediate Science degree in 1941. After a year of advanced studies at Allahabad University, he subsequently joined the Royal Navy with a permanent commission as an officer cadet on 1 January 1943.
He was married to Khorshed "Bubbles" Kharegat (deceased 2011), daughter of Sir Pheroze and Lady Kharegat, née Dadabhoy, on 1 January 1949, and had three children, Sandy, Yasmine and Delna. He was the oldest of five brothers, the others being Dhun, Sorab, Burzoe and Jamshed.
Rustom Ghandhi served with Lord Louis Mountbatten from 1947-1948, and was his Aide-de-camp when Mountbatten was the last Viceroy of India. Ghandhi was present with Mountbatten at Viceroy's House on 15 August 1947 when India's independence was declared.
His Navy career included:
1957: Commanding Officer of the INS Cauvery
1961: Commanding Officer of the INS Betwa
1963: Assignment to the American Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island
1965: Commanding Officer of the INS Khukri
1968: Director of Naval Operations
1969: Commanding Officer of the INS Mysore
1972: Naval Advisor to the India High Commission in London, U.K.
1974: Fleet Commander, Eastern Fleet
1975: Fleet Commander, Western Fleet
1977: Commander-in-Chief, Western Naval Command
1979: Retired with the rank of Vice Admiral of the Indian Navy
He remains the only officer to have commanded ships in all naval wars fought by India:
- the 1961 war to annex Goa as Commander of the INS Betwa;
- the 1965 war with Pakistan as Commander of the 14th frigate squadron and Captain of the INS Khukri; and
- the 1971 war with Pakistan to create Bangladesh when he commanded the INS Mysore, the flagship of the Western Naval Fleet.
Vice Admiral Ghandhi played a decisive role in "Operation Vijay", the 1961 annexation of Goa which ended 451 years of Portuguese rule. Ghandhi commanded the senior ship INS Betwa during the naval battle at Mormugão Harbour. His Portuguese adversary, Captain António da Cunha Aragão, was in command of the destroyer NRP Afonso de Albuquerque, which was anchored off Mormugão Harbour.
In the ensuing battle, the Afonso took a direct hit to its control tower, injuring its weapons officer, killing its radio officer and severely injuring its captain. Subsequently, the order was given to abandon ship, and the rest of the crew, along with their injured captain, disembarked directly onto the beach after setting fire to their ship. Following this, the captain was moved by car to the hospital at Panaji. The destroyer's crew surrendered formally along with the remaining Portuguese forces on 19 December 1961.
As a gesture of goodwill, the commanders of the INS Betwa and the INS Beas later visited Captain Aragao as he lay recuperating in bed at Panjim, and presented him with a gift of brandy, chocolates, and dried fruit, since it was just before Christmas. In return, Captain Aragão gave Commander Ghandhi the keys to his cabin as a token of surrender. Commander Ghandhi also sent messages via England to inform Portugal that Captain Aragão was well.
Vice Admiral Ghandhi was awarded the Vir Chakra for conspicuous gallantry for his role in the 1971 war with Pakistan.
Upon retirement from the Indian Navy, Vice Admiral Ghandhi enjoyed a short stint as technical consultant for the motion picture The Sea Wolves, and played a cameo role as the Governor of Goa in it. He was appointed Chairman of the Shipping Corporation of India in 1981 and served in that capacity until 1986.
From April 1986 to February 1990, while Rajiv Gandhi was Premier of India, Vice Admiral Ghandhi served as Governor of the State of Himachal Pradesh, residing with Mrs. Ghandhi at Raj Bhavan in Shimla. During this period, Vice Admiral Ghandhi was awarded the Param Visishti Seva Medal PVSM for meritorious service of the highest order. In addition to governmental duties, Vice Admiral and Mrs. Ghandhi made many improvements to Raj Bhavan, including a complete restoration of the billiard room and the Durbar Hall, as well as the construction of a gazebo on the premises. Following his governorship, Vice Admiral Ghandhi served as a Member of the National Commission for Minorities from 1993 to 1996.
- Personal Communication, provided by Commodore Satish Ghormade, Director of Naval Personnel, Naval Headquarters, New Delhi., at the request of Adm. Vishnu Bhagwat, Former Chief of Naval Staff (2012).
- "Jawaharlal Nehru: A Biography", Sankar Ghose. Allied, Mumbai (1993).