Indian military’s much famed and recently retired ex-Chief of the Army Staff, General Dalbir Singh Suhag, visited Australia and New Zealand in the first week of November. 

The General was here to take part in the Haryana Day event in Melbourne as a keynote speaker, and in-between was in New Zealand, first in Queenstown and then in Auckland.

General Suhag gained much popularity, for it was under his tenure as the commander in chief that the Indian Army launched two cross-border strikes, first in Myanmar (2015) and then in Pakistan (2016) – a major deviation from India’s traditional strategic behaviour.

Although the Indian government had not officially divulged much detail of the surgical strikes, there has been huge public appetite back in India and overseas to know more about it, and the General’s recent retirement and relative freedom to speak more freely about it has catapulted his popularity all around the world.

Earlier it was noted that a group of over-enthusiastic people had advertised about hosting the General in a public event, which eventually did not materialise, as they lacked proper approvals from the General himself, thereby causing some unwarranted confusion amongst the Indian diaspora.

However, the General visited Auckland and several high profile members of the Indian community came together to pay a visit and listen to him about the heroics of the Indian military.

Reflecting the sentiments and public anticipation around the General’s visit to New Zealand Hon. Consul of India, Bhav Dhillon said, “I am not surprised at all with the excitement around General Singh’s visit to New Zealand.

“He is indeed a significant source of inspiration for our Indian communities, and I welcome his visit and hope he again repeats his visit to New Zealand.

“However, we need to show respect and take into account his explicit approval and comfort-level before announcing public events, given the strategic importance of the missions he had led when leading the Indian army,” Mr Dhillon said.

A case in point is the General’s official public talk event in Melbourne Safeguarding India in 21st Century after returning from New Zealand on November 9, where it is reported widely on social media that he was a free-wheeling spirit discussing in detail and with enthusiasm about the surgical strikes.

Earlier this year in September, when the Indian government celebrated the second anniversary of the surgical strikes, speaking at a public event, General Suhag had said, “We had been preparing for the 2016 surgical strikes since June 2015, and our troops were told that failure was not an option.”