It all began in the year 2017, when the Welham Boys' School took it upon itself to introduce students to the hitherto ignored subject of Military History, many an eyebrow were raised. There were of course sceptics questioning both the relevance of this subject as well as its acceptance by students. They have all been proved wrong not only in view of the interest generated in the subject by the manner in which the speakers have been able to explain the subject to the students as also due to the ongoing issues in Eastern Ladakh, but mainly by the feedback of the students and the quality of their questions.
In the inaugural session of the first ever Military History Seminar, when the Chairman of the school, Mr. Darshan Singh spelt out the emerging threat from China, many thought he was being unduly alarmist. However, his remarks and subsequent monthly sessions conducted by the highly respected writer and filmmaker, Mr. Shiv Kunal Verma, further expanded on the rationale of geo- politics, which encouraged critical thinking among the young minds.
Hopefully, some wisdom would have rubbed off on many, thereby making them aware of the developments around them. With close to forty schools sending delegations every year, the seeds that were sown by Welham Boys', have taken root across the country.
Welham Boys' School hosted the fourth edition of the prestigious Military History Seminar, virtually, on November 24 and 25, 2020. This edition, like all previous ones, was very engaging and educative and saw participation of close to thirty schools across the country.
This year, under the stewardship of Ms. Sangeeta Kain, the fourth edition of the MHS was held online. Six sessions were planned over two days. The two bookends - the Opening and Closing sessions - were presided over by the former Army Chief, General Ved Prakash Malik and the former Naval Chief, Admiral Sunil Lanba.
The four other sessions were moderated by Air Marshal Anil Chopra and Major General Jagatbir Singh. The second session on November 24, Dragon at the Door I (Army) featured three highly respected and very decorated officers; Lieutenant General KJ Singh, Lieutenant General PJS Pannu and Lieutenant General Balbir Sandhu.
"Hopefully, some wisdom would have rubbed off on many, thereby making them aware of the developments around them."
Major General Jagatbir Singh, an alumnus of The Doon School, drew upon the collective experience of the panelists who opined on the current situation from the perspective of the Army. Lt. General Balbir Sandhu, an ASC officer, brought to the table the logistical angle as well. In 1962, the refusal of the then government to use the IAF resulted in the PLA having things much their own way.
The third session on day one - Dragon at the Door II (Air Force) - was moderated by Air Marshal Anil Chopra, a former Mirage 2000 pilot who commanded the famous No. 1 Squadron better known as the TIGERS. He was joined by Air Vice Marshal Bahadur Manmohan and Air Marshal Ramesh Rai, who enlightened the audience about the various nuances of air power especially in the context of taking on and deterring any Chinese misadventure.
On day two, November 25, the first two sessions were moderated by Major General Jagatbir Singh. Session IV dealt with the fighting in J&K in 1947-48, focusing on certain new perspectives that have emerged, thanks to publishers and writers that include Colonel Ajay K Raina, Brigadier Rajendra Singh and Mr. Pankaj Singh of the Browser, who has co-authored a book on Brig Pritam Singh, the man who literally saved Poonch from the marauding Pakistan- sponsored tribal lashkars.
Session V (second session day two) had Commodore Srikant Kesnur and Ms. Kajari Kamal who talked about the post-US election scenario with the emerging equation in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Ms. Kajari Kamal, an alumna of the Welham Girls' School, is now based in Hyderabad. Her overview of the geo-political scene along with Commodore Srikant Kesnur focussed on the Naval outlook and was moderated by Major General Jagatbir Singh.
The final session (closing ceremony) was moderated by Mr. Shiv Kunal Verma in conversation with Mr. Darshan Singh and Admiral Lanba. The former Naval Chief, apart from sharing his views, also interacted and encouraged questions from students. Finally, the Principal, Ms. Sangeeta Kain delivered the vote of thanks on behalf of Team Welham.