Srinivas Kumar Sinha

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S K Sinha

Vice Chief of the Army Staff (India)
In office
1 January 1983 – 1 June 1983
Preceded byA M Sethna
Succeeded byG S Rawat
Governor of Assam
In office
Preceded byLokanath Misra
Succeeded byArvind Dave
Governor of Jammu and Kashmir
In office
Preceded byGirish Chandra Saxena
Succeeded byNarinder Nath Vohra
Personal details
Born(1926-01-07)7 January 1926
Patna, Bihar
Died17 November 2016(2016-11-17) (aged 90)
AwardsParam Vishisht Seva Medal ribbon.svg Param Vishisht Seva Medal
Military service
AllegianceBritish Raj Red Ensign.svg British Indian Empire
Branch/serviceBritish Raj Red Ensign.svg British Indian Army
 Indian Army
Years of service1944 – 1983
RankLieutenant General of the Indian Army.svg Lieutenant General
Unit3/5 Gorkha Rifles
CommandsIA Western Command.jpg Western Army
I Corps
10 Infantry Division
23 Mountain Division
71 Mountain Brigade
3/5 Gorkha Rifles
Battles/warsIndo-Pakistani War of 1971

Lieutenant General Srinivas Kumar Sinha, PVSM (1926–2016) was an Indian Army General who served as the Vice Chief of Army Staff. After his retirement, he served as Governor of the states of Jammu and Kashmir and Assam.[2]

Early life[edit]

Srinivas Kumar Sinha was born 7 January 1926 in Patna,[3] Bihar, the son of Mithilesh Kumar Sinha, IP, the first Indian Inspector-general of police of the state of Bihar.[4]. He was the grandson of the first Indian Inspector General of India in the British Raj, Alakh Kumar Sinha. He graduated with Honours from Patna University in 1943 at the age of 17, and joined the Indian Army soon thereafter, passing out as the Best Cadet from the Officers' Training School, Belgaum, the war time equivalent of the Sword of Honour and was commissioned into 5 Gorkha Rifles (Frontier Force) . He saw combat service during the Second World War in Burma and Indonesia and, after India became independent, in Kashmir. He served two tenures in Nagaland and Manipur taking part in counter insurgency operations.

Sinha had four children: Meena, Yashvardhan, Mrinalini, and Manisha. Both Mrinalini and Manisha are historians. Mrinalini Sinha is Alice Freeman Palmer Professor in the Department of History at the University of Michigan [5]. Manisha Sinha is Draper Chair in American History at the University of Connecticut.[6].

Army career[edit]

Promoted to captain on 10 September 1951,[7] in 1953, Sinha secured the top position at the Defence Services Staff College in India and in 1962 again, at the Joint Services Staff College in the United Kingdom. He held all levels of active command in the Army from a platoon to a field army. He was promoted lieutenant-colonel on 9 June 1965.[8] He commanded a battalion in Ladakh, a brigade in Manipur, a mountain division in Assam, an infantry division in Jammu, a corps in the Punjab and the Western Army. He held key staff and instructional appointments. He served as Director, Military Intelligence, Adjutant General and Vice Chief of Army Staff at Army Headquarters. He also served as an instructor at Mhow and Staff College, Wellington. During his Army career he was associated with Jammu and Kashmir from Day One that is, 27 October 1947. He was involved as a junior staff officer in organizing the massive airlift from Delhi to Srinagar in October 1947, in the wake of the attack from across the border in Pakistan, which was critical to the Indian efforts to beat back the raiders. In 1949, he was appointed Secretary of the Indian delegation on delineation of the Cease Fire Line in Kashmir at a meeting convened by the United Nations. He led the Indian delegation to Italy in 1972 for a conference on application of human rights to warfare. He was awarded the Param Vishisht Seva Medal in 1973, and was promoted to major-general on 28 December.[9] He was made Honorary ADC to the President of India. He also served as the President of the Gorkha Brigade.

In a publication in the US by the noted South Asian expert, Stephen F. Cohen, he has been referred to as one of India's most outstanding post-independence Generals.[10]

On 1 August 1978, Sinha was promoted to lieutenant-general.[11] He sought premature retirement from the Army in 1983 on being denied the appointment of Army Chief. His surprise supersession and resignation became a national controversy. His dignified statement at the time of his supersession added to his stature. He stated that he did not question the decision of the Government but accepted it and had chosen to fade away from the Army. All newspapers and magazines wrote very favourably about him. Former Prime Minister, former Defence Minister and many senior political leaders issued a joint statement in his favour and also raised the issue in the Parliament. The officer chosen to be the Chief was his friend and a competent General.

It was a surprise when he was superseded and Gen A S Vaidya, then Eastern Army Commander was appointed as the Chief of Army Staff. Vaidya was in-charge when Operation Blue Star (the June 1984 storming of the Golden Temple) took place. Sinha remained in national focus after quitting the Army through his lectures on academic subjects in Universities and numerous edit page articles in national newspapers.[12]

Ambassador to Nepal[edit]

In 1990 Sinha was appointed India’s Ambassador to Nepal, when autocratic rule prevailed in that country and bilateral relations with India had hit their nadir in the wake of the trade and transit impasse of 1989. During his tenure in Nepal, democracy was restored in Nepal and India-Nepal relations were raised to a high level of cordiality. The Prime Minister of India stated that Sinha had played a major role in this happy development. The Prime Minister of Nepal wrote, "General Sinha was as much India's Ambassador to Nepal as Nepal's Ambassador to India".[12]

Governor of Assam[edit]

In 1997, Gen Sinha was appointed Governor of Assam at a time when insurgency in that State was at its peak. He crafted a three prong strategy of unified command, economic development and psychological initiatives. Heavy attrition was inflicted on the militants through co-ordinated and intensified military operations breaking the back of the militants. He was instrumental in installing one lakh shallow tube wells in Brahmaputra valley turning Assam from a rice deficit State to a rice surplus State.[13] His psychological initiatives had a large emotional content.[14] Such an approach was tried out for the first time and it yielded rich dividends.[15] His 42-page printed report to the President on illegal migration from Bangladesh addressed the root cause of insurgency in the State. This report was serialised and published in full in all newspapers of the State. His recommendation on scrapping the Illegal Migration Detection By Tribunal (IMDT) Act, which facilitated illegal migration and applied only to Assam and not to other states, took the people of Assam by storm. Although controversial in some circles at the time, the Supreme Court struck down the IMDT ACT quoting extensively from his report. He started being referred to as "our man in Raj Bhavan". His attempts to make the people of Assam proud of their past and the rest of India proud of Assam, touched the emotional chords of the people. He projected the three icons of Assam, Saint Shankardev, General Lachit Borphukan and the great statesman Gopinath Bordoloi as national heroes. Documentaries on their lives were prepared and shown on Doordarshan. At the initiative of Assam's top heritage scholar, pioneer economist and litterateur Principal Bhabananda Deka and columnist, storywriter, novelist Arnab Jan Deka, Indian Army's chief General V P Malik declared about the institution of an Lachit Barphukan Award and installation of a statue of Lachit at National Defence Academy, Pune at an all-India level national seminar and lecture programme held in New Delhi by Guwahati-based research organisation Assam Foundation-India founded by Principal Deka and his associates on 24 April 1999 in presence of India's vice president Krishna Kant. After that formal announcement, at the said Delhi programme by General Malik with endorsement from VP Krishna Kant, wherein Assam chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta and governor Sinha publicly thanked General Malik for deciding to institute the award in memory of the Assam army general, within a year a gold medal had been instituted in his name for cadet with best officer-like qualities. India's leading dailies like Hindustan Times, The Assam Tribune, The Hindu extensively reported about this Delhi event on the next day's editions on 25 April 1999.[16][17][18] A detailed report quoting newspapers like Hindustan Times, The Hindu and The Assam Tribune about General Malik's announcement about institution of Lachit Barphukan Award and statue at National Defence Academy on 24 April 1999 has also been published by top Assamese literary journal 'Prantik' in its issue dated 1 September 2016.[19] Guwahati airport was renamed Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport and a posthumous Bharat Ratna was obtained for him fifty years after his death. His 11-foot (3.4 m) bronze statue was installed in the Lok Sabha at Delhi. These and other such measures were successful in winning the hearts and minds of the people and bringing them back into the national mainstream, completely isolating the militants. Senior journalist, Shri D N Bezboruah, former Editor of The Sentinel and President of The Editors' Guild of India, wrote about him, "a Governor who far outshone all his predecessors in not being just a titular Head of State, but a Governor who served the State brilliantly with deep commitment to its people for six glorious and eventful years. He sought to rebuild the psychological alienation that crept in between Assam and the Indian heartland." When he departed from Assam in 2003 insurgency was virtually over in the State and he was popularly referred to as "a true son of the soil of Assam."

Governor of Jammu and Kashmir[edit]

On 4 June 2003, General Sinha became Governor of Jammu and Kashmir.His movement after a very successful tenure from Assam to Jammu and Kashmir received much publicity in the media. In 2003, when he took over as Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, insurgency continued to be at its peak in the State. On an average ten people were being killed every day and the annual arrival of tourists in the Valley was a mere 28,000. Tourism is the mainstay of the economy of the Valley. On taking over as Governor, he had announced that he would attempt to promote the spirit of amity amongst all communities in the State and cordial feelings towards the rest of the country that he hadseen in October 1947 when he had come to Kashmir for the first time. At a time when the entire subcontinent was in the throes of Partition Holocaust, complete amity amongst the people had reigned in Srinagar. He recalled the slogan he had heard at that time, ‘Hamalewar Hoshiyar, Hum Kashmiri Hindu, Muslim, Sikh Taiyar’, as also Mahatma Gandhi’s acknowledgement of the solace the Valley provided at a time when communal frenzy had taken over much of India. He realised that the three-prong strategy of unity of command, economic development and psychological initiatives that had worked so well in Assam, could also succeed in Jammu and Kashmir with suitable modifications. The Army had a large presence in the state and they were naturally very cooperative with them. All the senior Commanders had known him and had worked with him while he was in the Army. This was a great asset to him in getting things done even when the civil administration was initially not very co-operative.The improvements in the security situation brought down the daily rate of killing from ten to one. With improved security situation, tourist arrivals to the Valley increased from 28,000 a year to 6 lakhs by 2008, when he relinquished the appointment of Governor.The second prong of economic development was taken care of by a massive aid package from the Government of India. Like the one lakh shallow tube wells project in Assam, he was instrumental in starting a 1000 micro hydel projects on the mountains in the state. The idea was to place a turbine on a water mill and generate 3 to 5 KW of electricity providing about 30 light points in a village. The third prong was psychological initiatives. The Army was already involved in Operation Sadhbahvna, a massive and innovative civic action programme; he stepped up such initiatives with efforts to revive Kashmir’s liberal Islamic traditions. He inaugurated seminars and conferences on Kashmiriyat at Srinagar, with scholars from Pakistan and several Central Asian states. The highlight of these initiatives was Sufi Music Programme on the banks of the Dal lake in 2008 with the popular “Junoon” band from Pakistan. Although separatists had requested Pakistan not to send the band, and called for a boycott of the performance, the show was very well attended. The leader of the band, Salman Ali, in his opening remarks said that he had come from Pakistan to launch a music jihad for peace. The leading English daily of Pakistan, Dawn, reported aptly on the concert in its 28 May 2008 issue under the title “Breaking Barriers.” “Music knew no boundaries,” it wrote, “The People of Kashmir expressed their anger against religious militants and their violence.” These successes did not go down well with separatists. Just before his departure from Kashmir on 25 June 2008, the separatists succeeded in spreading false information about the State Government’s decision to lease land to the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board, of which the Governor is the Chairman, for putting up temporary facilities for pilgrims. After his departure, the Kashmir Valley became embroiled in a massive agitation based largely on rumors and false propaganda, which was followed by counter-agitations in Jammu. The psychological initiatives to win over the Kashmiri people by promoting their old and valued traditions of Kashmiriyat was derailed by an uncalled communal frenzy on all sides.


General Sinha has been a prolific writer having contributed nearly 300 edit page articles in national newspapers. He is the author of nine books including one on Jammu and Kashmir Operation of 1947–48 and his autobiography, A Soldier Recalls.[20] His other books are Of Matters Military, Pataliputra, Veer Kuer Singh, A Governor's Musings, Reminiscences and Reflections and Changing India, Guarding India's Integrity: A Pro-Active Governor Speaks. The latter covers at length, his tenures as Governor of Assam and of Jammu and Kashmir, and has a foreword by Dr A P J Kalam.


  1. ^ "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 11 March 1967. p. 178.
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 30 December 2014. Retrieved 14 November 2012.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ [2]
  7. ^ "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 11 July 1953. p. 156.
  8. ^ "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 11 March 1967. p. 178.
  9. ^ "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 4 May 1974. p. 528.
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 2 June 1979. p. 501.
  12. ^ a b I. Ramamohan Rao (27 June 2008). "Where did General S.K. Sinha go wrong?". Cheers Magazine. Retrieved 9 July 2011.
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ Reporter, Staff (25 April 1999). "Heroic deeds of Barphukan recalled". The Hindu.
  17. ^ India, Press Trust of (25 April 1999). "Lachit Barphukan a national hero, says Krishan Kant". Hindustan Times.
  18. ^ Correspondent, Staff (25 April 1999). "Heroic feats of Lachit recalled". The Assam Tribune.
  19. ^ Deka, Arnab Jan (1 September 2016). "Background history about institution of Lachit statue and gold medal at Pune's National Defence Academy". Prantik. 35 (19): 21–22.
  20. ^ Bridging gaps
Military offices
Preceded by
A M Sethna
Vice Chief of Army Staff
January 1983 – June 1983
Succeeded by
G S Rawat
Preceded by
K. V. Krishna Rao
General Officer Commanding-in-Chief Western Command
June 1981 - December 1982
Succeeded by
Krishnaswamy Sundarji
Government offices
Preceded by
Lokanath Misra
Governor of Assam
Succeeded by
Arvind Dave
Preceded by
Mata Prasad
Governor of Arunachal Pradesh
17 MAY 1999 – 1 AUG 1999
Succeeded by
Arvind Dave
Preceded by
Girish Chandra Saxena
Governor of Jammu and Kashmir
Succeeded by
Narinder Nath Vohra