Gopal Gurunath Bewoor

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

8th Chief of Army Staff (India)
In office
16 Jan 1973 – 31 May 1975
Preceded byField Marshal Sam Manekshaw
Succeeded byGeneral Tapishwar Narain Raina
Ambassador of India to Denmark
In office
Feb 1976 – Feb 1978
Personal details
Born(1916-08-11)11 August 1916
Seoni, British India
Died24 October 1989(1989-10-24) (aged 73)
SpouseRadhika Gokhale
Military career
Allegiance British India
Service/branch British Indian Army
 Indian Army
Years of service15 July 1937 - 31 May 1975
Rank General
Service numberIC-129[1]
UnitDogra Regiment

10th Baluch Regiment

Green Howards
Commands held Southern Army
27 Infantry Division
80 Infantry Brigade
Director General, NCC
Awards Param Vishisht Seva Medal
Padma Bhushan (1972)

General Gopal Gurunath Bewoor PVSM (11 August 1916 – 24 October 1989)[2] was a senior officer of the Indian Army who served as the 8th Chief of Army Staff, and later an Indian diplomat to Denmark.[3]

In a long service spanning four decades, Gen. Bewoor saw action during World War II and later was involved in Indian Army operations in Pakistan, including during the second war in 1965 as well as effectively commanding the southern command during the third war in 1971. He succeeded Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw as the army chief in January 1973 and following his retirement from the army, served as the Indian Ambassador to Denmark till 1979.

In 1972, he was honoured with Padma Bhushan the third highest Indian civilian award.[4]

Family and education[edit]

Born at Seoni on 11 August 1916 into [5] Kannada[6] Deshastha Madhva Brahmin family.[7] Gopal Gurunath Bewoor was the son of Sir Gurunath Venkatesh Bewoor ICS and Rukmini Bewoor. He was educated at Colonel Brown Cambridge School, Dehradun, Prince of Wales Royal Indian Military College (RIMC), Dehradun in 1928 and later the Indian Military Academy. A part of the Kitchener section, Gopal was appointed Cadet Captain in 1934. He also won Lord Rawlinson's trophy during this time.

Commissioned into the Indian Army[edit]

Bewoor was commissioned a second lieutenant on the Special List, Indian Land Forces on 15 July 1937. On 10 August 1937 he was attached to the 2nd Battalion, Green Howards, and saw action during operations in Waziristan. On 10 August 1938 he was admitted to the Indian Army and posted to 5th Battalion 10th Baluch Regiment (now 12 Baloch), with which he saw action in Burma. His seniority as a second lieutenant was antedated to 30 August 1936 and he was promoted lieutenant 30 November 1938. In July 1945, he was transferred from the 5th Baluch and went on to attend the Staff College course at Quetta, and then he was appointed as the Under Secretary (Military) to the Viceroy's Coordination Council. He was the only Indian officer to have achieved this feat.

At Independence in 1947, Bewoor was the Secretary of the Army Partition Committee in 1947, which determined the allotment of weapons, equipment and regiments that were to remain in India or to be allotted to Pakistan. Since his parent regiment - the Baluch - went to Pakistan, he was transferred to the Dogra Regiment and promoted to acting lieutenant colonel in December 1947. With a view to imparting basic military training to school and college students, he was appointed as the Director of the NCC (National Cadet Corps) in April 1948 with the acting rank of full colonel, and was promoted substantive major on 30 August 1949.[8]


He was promoted to the acting rank of Brigadier in 1951, later assuming command of the 80th Infantry Brigade in Jammu & Kashmir. He was appointed as the Director, Personnel Services at Army HQ in August 1953, and was promoted to substantive colonel on 30 August 1956.[9] The following year, on 4 June 1957, he was again promoted to acting brigadier and given command of an infantry brigade.[10]

On 27 February 1959 at the age of 42 years and 6 months he was promoted to acting Major General as the first Chief of Staff at the Western Command HQ in Shimla. He is believed to be the second youngest ever Major General in the Indian Army, (Gen JN Chaudhury being the youngest, when he was promoted to acting Major General at the age of 39 years and 8 months.) [11] Promoted to substantive brigadier on 30 August 1959,[12] he assumed the appointment of Colonel of the 11 Gorkha Rifles on 25 May 1960. He was then appointed as the GOC of the 27th Infantry Division on 17 February 1961 at Jalandhar.[13] Later he moved this division to Kalimpong (West Bengal) in the wake of the 1962 Sino-Indian War.

In June 1963, he was appointed as the Director of Military Training at Army HQ and remained there till November 1964. He was promoted as General Officer Commanding 33 Corps at Siliguri in November 1964 with the rank of lieutenant general. He moved to Army HQ in May 1967 as Deputy Chief of the Army Staff (DCOAS), to which he had been appointed on 27 April,[1] and held that appointment till June 1969. As DCOAS, he was awarded Param Vishist Seva Medal (PVSM) for his meritorious services. However, he has been later criticized for his role in changing the General Staff Qualitative Requirement (GSQR) for evaluation of anti-tank missiles which resulted in the purchase of the SS11B1 from France's Aerospatiale and the death of a competing indigenous DRDO Anti Tank Missile project.

In July 1969, he assumed the appointment of General Officer Commanding–in–Chief, Southern Command. During the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, the Indian military strategy was mainly defensive on the Western Front, while attacking in the Eastern Sector, culminating in the surrender of Dacca and the secession of East Pakistan into the newly formed Bangladesh. Bewoor's Southern Command was tasked with maintaining a front from Bikaner southwestwards to the Arabian Sea. This command was divided into four sectors: Bikaner, Jaisalmer, Barmer and Kutch. The first two sectors were manned by 12 Division with 11 Division holding Barmer and Kutch. In addition it was supported by an armoured regiment, two independent armoured squadrons, and one missile squadron. For his command of operations in the Rajasthan Sector, Bewoor was awarded the Padma Bhushan, India's third highest civilian honour.

As Chief of Army Staff[edit]

He succeeded the popular Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw, the liberator of Bangladesh, as Army Chief on 15 January 1973 and held that appointment for two years and four months till his retirement on 31 May 1975.

Soon after taking office Bewoor was told of one of the most significant developments in the history of Indian defence policy, of which the Indian Army and the Defence Ministry were previously in the dark, namely the Department of Atomic Energy's plans to detonate a nuclear device. The project codenamed Smiling Buddha had been underway from 1967 under the leadership of Raja Ramanna. The task of sinking the shaft for the test was assigned to the 61 Engineering Regiment stationed in Jodhpur. Ramanna first contacted the regiment commander, Lt. Col. Subherwal, in May 1973 to dig the shaft. In June 1973 Prime Minister Indira Gandhi took General Bewoor into confidence and ordered him to support the project. After an initial setback - the finding of water at the first drill site - the location of the test was shifted to the village of Malki near Pokhran, Rajasthan. Bewoor was personally present at the test site and witnessed the actual nuclear explosion of 18 May 1974. He was the first to inform the Prime Minister's Office via a telephone call to D.P. Dhar.[14] A. Parthasarthi however claims in 1974 he found a note written from the PM (without her characteristic green-ink initials) to Bewoor dated as early as 15 November 1972 asking for the Army's co-operation.[15] This must be viewed with some skepticism, since Bewoor was not the COAS on the purported date of this note.

After retirement[edit]

He served as the Honorary Colonel of the Dogra Regiment up to 11 August 1979. After retirement, he served as the Indian Ambassador to Denmark, from February 1976 to March 1978. He served as a member of the Senate of the University of Pune, for two years from August 1979 onwards. He was also on the Board of Directors of Kirloskar Oil Engines & Vickers Sperry of Pune. Besides, he was often invited to give talks on leadership and military matters by various educational societies. He died on 24 October 1989.

The street in Koregaon Park, Pune where the general lived after retirement is named General Bewoor Path after him.


General Bewoor was married to Radhika Gokhale on 12 March 1943. They had two sons and a daughter.

His son Group Captain Anant Bewoor (Retd), served in the Indian Air Force and saw action with the IPKF in Sri Lanka and during the Siachen operations, and was the Commanding Officer (CO) of the 44th Squadron, which flies the IL-76 heavy-lift military transport aircraft. His younger son, Keshav Bewoor, is also an Air Force officer, and retired from service in the rank of Air Vice Marshal.

Arun Bewoor, former Managing Director, International Flavors and Fragrances is the son of his late brother Madhav Gurunath Bewoor.[16]

Meenakshi Bakhle (wife of D.S. Bakhle, ICS) was General Bewoor's sister. She was a president of the Maharashtra State Women's Council.[17] For her (minor) role in the Samyukta Maharashtra controversy in 1956 she was famously referred to as कोमडी चोमडी मिनाक्षी ("Komdi Chomdi Meenakshi") by "Acharya" Prahlad Keshav Atre and satirized as a अति विशाल महिला ("Ati Vishaal Mahilaa") in the famous P.L. Deshpande 1957 play तुझे आहे तुजपाशी ("Tujhe Ahe Tujapashi").

Awards and decorations[edit]

Padma Bhushan Param Vishisht Seva Medal Samar Seva Star Paschimi Star
Raksha Medal Special Service Medal Sangram Medal Sainya Seva Medal
Indian Independence Medal 25th Anniversary of Independence Medal 20 Years Long Service Medal 9 Years Long Service Medal
1939–1945 Star Burma Star War Medal 1939–1945 India Service Medal

Dates of rank[edit]

Insignia Rank Component Date of rank
Second Lieutenant British Indian Army 15 July 1937[18]
Lieutenant British Indian Army 30 November 1938[18]
Captain British Indian Army 15 August 1940 (acting)
15 November 1940 (temporary)
16 August 1942 (war-substantive)
30 August 1944 (substantive)[18]
Major British Indian Army 15 November 1940 (acting)
16 August 1942 (temporary)[18]
Captain Indian Army 15 August 1947[note 1][19]
Lieutenant-Colonel Indian Army December 1947 (acting)[note 1][19]
Colonel Indian Army April 1948 (acting)[note 1][19]
Major Indian Army 30 August 1949[8][note 1][19]
Major Indian Army 26 January 1950 (recommissioning and change in insignia)[19][20]
Lieutenant-Colonel Indian Army August 1953[21]
Colonel Indian Army 30 August 1956[9]
Brigadier Indian Army 1951 (acting)
4 June 1957 (acting)[10]
30 August 1959 (substantive)[12]
Major General Indian Army 27 February 1959 (acting)[11]
1962 (substantive)[22]
Lieutenant-General Indian Army 7 November 1964 (acting)[23]
1965 (substantive)
Indian Army 15 January 1973[24]


  1. ^ a b c d Upon independence in 1947, India became a Dominion within the British Commonwealth of Nations. As a result, the rank insignia of the British Army, incorporating the Tudor Crown and four-pointed Bath Star ("pip"), was retained, as George VI remained Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Armed Forces. After 26 January 1950, when India became a republic, the President of India became Commander-in-Chief, and the Ashoka Lion replaced the crown, with a five-pointed star being substituted for the "pip."


  1. ^ a b "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 27 May 1967. p. 428.
  2. ^ "General Gopal Gurunath Bewoor, PVSM". Bharat Rakshak. 12 October 2006. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  3. ^ Singh, Bikram; Mishra, Sidharth (1997). Where Gallantry is Tradition : Saga of Rashtriya Indian Military College. New Delhi: Allied Publishers. p. 50. ISBN 9788170236498.
  4. ^ "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 October 2015. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  5. ^ Wilkinson 2015, p. 254.
  6. ^ Steven Wilkinson (2015). Army and Nation: The Military and Indian Democracy Since Independence. Harvard University Press. p. 109. Coorgi (Thimayya, 1957–1961), a Bengali (Chaudhuri, 1962– 1967), a Tamil (Kumaramangalam, 1967–1970), a Parsi (Manekshaw, 1969–1973), a Kannadiga (Bewoor, 1963–1975), and a Kashmiri (Raina, 1975–1978).
  7. ^ Pritish Nandy (1974). The Illustrated Weekly of India, Volume 95, Part 4. Bennett, Coleman & Company, Limited, at the Times of India Press. p. 30.
  8. ^ a b "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)" (PDF). The Gazette of India. 29 October 1949. p. 1520.
  9. ^ a b "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)" (PDF). The Gazette of India. 20 April 1957. p. 97.
  10. ^ a b "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)" (PDF). The Gazette of India. 10 August 1957. p. 194.
  11. ^ a b "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)" (PDF). The Gazette of India. 25 April 1959. p. 101.
  12. ^ a b "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)" (PDF). The Gazette of India. 31 October 1959. p. 266.
  13. ^ "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)" (PDF). The Gazette of India. 15 April 1961. p. 97.
  14. ^ "India's Nuclear Weapons Program: Smiling Buddha: 1974". Nuclear Weapon Archive. 8 November 2001. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  15. ^ Parthasarathi, A. (2007). Technology at the Core: Science & Technology with Indira Gandhi. Pearson Education India. p. 128. ISBN 978-81-317-0170-6.
  16. ^ Kamath, Vinay (4 February 2009). "Scent of a Man". The Hindu: Business Line. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  17. ^ The Maharashtra State Women's Council Archived 16 December 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ a b c d Indian Army List for October 1945 (Part I). Government of India Press. 1945. p. 224.
  19. ^ a b c d e "New Designs of Crests and Badges in the Services" (PDF). Press Information Bureau of India - Archive. Archived (PDF) from the original on 8 August 2017.
  20. ^ "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 11 February 1950. p. 227.
  21. ^ "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)" (PDF). The Gazette of India. 10 October 1953. p. 222.
  22. ^ "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 12 September 1964. p. 370.
  23. ^ "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)" (PDF). The Gazette of India. 19 December 1964. p. 509.
  24. ^ "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)" (PDF). The Gazette of India. 17 February 1973. p. 218.


External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by Chief of Army Staff
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Moti Sagar
General Officer Commanding-in-Chief Southern Command
Succeeded by
Sartaj Singh
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Not sure
Ambassador of India to the Denmark
Feb 1976–Feb 1978
Succeeded by
Not sure