Topic outline

    • The Last Stand at Chushul (By – Sutapa Basu)

      About the passage

      A.  Read to understand

      Answer the following questions.

      1. Who was given the task of guarding Chushul? What was their strategy to counter Chinese intrusions?

      Ans. The 114 Infantry Brigade had been given the task of defending this area. They were to make sure that the Chinese did not get through to Chushul. It was decided that the brigade should occupy positions carved into the heights of the snow-covered mountains around Chushul and its airport. In this way, they could dominate the region. Any intrusions could be countered immediately, and the enemy could not take the cover of stealth.


      2. How did the army guard the vastness of Chushul?

      Ans. In order to guard the vastness of Chushul, the brigade was separated into smaller companies that were quite isolated from each other. Most significantly, the brigade’s only artillery battery with heavy guns was broken up among the companies.


      3. Who was set the task of defending Rezang La? Why was this post of special importance?

      Ans. The responsibility to hold it was given to a company of the 13 Kumaon Battalion commanded by Major Shaitan Singh. Rezang La post was important because this rocky region was literally the door to Chushul. This post of Rezang La had to be taken before any attacker could proceed towards Chushul. Situated at a height of over 17,000 feet, Rezang La was an equally powerful feature for the defender to hold.


      4. What was the opinion of the senior officers concerning Major Shaitan Singh and his men?

      Ans. The brigade commander and his commanding officer were convinced that Major Shaitan Singh was the best man for the job. The Kumaonis didn’t have the clothes or shoes to combat the freezing temperatures; but despite this, all the senior officers of the brigade were confident that it would be a tough, if not an impossible, task to dislodge Major Singh and his men from Rezang La.


      5. What was Major Singh’s attitude towards the men he commanded? How did he inspire them during combat?

      Ans. Major Singh was a somber, sincere, upright officer. His faith in God was as strong as his paternal feeling for his men. He took interest in their welfare and training. The men under his command reciprocated his confidence in them.

      As his men fought, Major Singh kept moving among his men, lending a hand wherever the situation was getting out of hand. The constant presence of their leader among them motivated the men to continue fighting against all odds.


      6. List five ways in which Major Singh and his men were at a disadvantage as they faced the Chinese attack.

      Ans. Disadvantage

      i. The Kumaonis didn’t have the clothes or shoes to combat the freezing temperatures.

      ii. The weapons held by Major Singh’s men were outdated.

      iii. Their ammunition was limited.

      iv. There was hardly any artillery support.

      v. As the ground was frozen hard, no bunkers had been dug to protect them from the heavy gunfire.


      B.  Read to infer

      1. What was ‘significant’ about the breaking up of the 114 Infantry Brigade’s artillery battery among its various companies?

      Ans. Chushul was a vast area; so the brigade had to be separated into smaller companies that were quite isolated from each other. Most significantly, the brigade’s only artillery battery with heavy guns was broken up among the companies.


      2. Why do you think Major Shaitan Singh ordered the three men to leave him behind?

      Ans. When all had been lost, three badly wounded men who had survived decided it was time to evacuate their grievously injured and disabled leader. They half carried and half dragged him for some distance, but the task was impossible for the already injured men. The loss of blood had made them too weak. Eventually, Major Singh ordered his men to leave him behind and find their way to the battalion headquarters.


      3. Were the Kumaonis successful in carrying out the task entrusted to them? Justify your answer.

      Ans. The Chinese also suffered heavy losses at Rezang La and had been effectively halted by the gallant stand taken by Major Shaitan Singh and his brave Kumaoni soldiers. They no longer attempted to enter the Chushul plain. Hence, it is clear that Kumaonis were successful in carrying out the task entrusted to them.


      C.  Discuss

      Major Shaitan Singh was a good leader. What do you think were the qualities that made him so? Brainstorm in groups of four, and list the features that you think are necessary in a good leader.

      Features of a good leader are

      1. Honesty- A good leader will be able to establish an honest connection with his or her peers. A relationship based on trust and reliability makes the team knows that their leader is always there for them, which in turn inspires them to be there for their leader.

      2. Ability to delegate - Each person in a group will be able to bring something different to the table, and a good leader will work with each member’s strengths and weaknesses in order to make sure that the best is being done.

      3. Ability to communicate - By clearly describing his or her idea to their team, the leader will be able to create a sense of ease and understanding with his peers. When every member of the team is striving towards a common goal, then there is nothing that cannot be accomplished.

      4. Confidence - A good leader will show confidence in the face of challenges, and will inspire confidence in his team by reminding them that obstacles are just there to be overcome. The confident leader will keep his eye on the goal and will not allow anything deter him or her, or their team, from success.

      5. Commitment - Some leaders may drive their teams to work hard, while others will constantly be at their sides, giving every task their one hundred percent. The latter is the type of leader that can expect to achieve more. Teams work better when they see that the one that they answer to is right by their side, sharing their struggles and triumphs.

      6. Positive attitude - Motivation is the key to success, and it can be hard to stay motivated in a negative environment. By keeping team’s spirits up, he will be able to motivate them to achieve more, and not let them be bothered by minor setbacks.

      7. Ability to inspire - A capable leader will be able to demonstrate his ability to lead and inspire by motivating his team to share his vision.