Gonikoppa: Army Chief General Bipin Rawat on Saturday pitched for conferring the country's highest civilian honour Bharat Ratna on independent India's first army chief, Field Marshal K.M. Cariappa. “The time has also come to recommend Field Marshal Cariappa for the award of Bharat Ratna. If others can get it, I see no reason why he should not, a deserving personality for the same. We will shortly address the issue on priority” he said. Gen Rawat's comments came in response to a request by Col K.C. Subbayya from The Field Marshal Cariappa General Thimayya (FMCGT) forum about recommending the Bharat Ratna to Cariappa, who hails from Kodagu district in Karnataka. Gen Rawat unveiled the statues of FM Cariappa and Gen K.S. Thimayya, also a former Army chief who hailed from Kodagu, at a function at Cauvery College at Gonikoppa in South Kodagu.
Terming Kodagu (formerly Coorg) as a 'land of warriors', Gen Rawat said he is proud, privileged and humbled for having got the opportunity to unveil the statues of FM Cariappa and Gen Thimayya. Kodagu continues to serve the nation with a large number of officers and men serving the Army, he said and voiced hope that "there will be more chiefs in the future who will rise from this great land". FM Cariappa was the first Indian Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army and was conferred the rank of Field Marshal on April 28, 1986. He was also a recipient of the prestigious order of the British Empire (OBE) for his role in the Burma campaign against the Japanese during the Second World War. FM Cariappa also led the Indian forces on the Western Front during the Indo-Pak War of 1947. He held the five-star rank of field marshal, the highest honour in the Indian Army, which Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw is the only other officer to have held. FM Cariappa, whose military career spanned over three decades, retired from the Army in 1953 and later served as the High Commissioner to Australia and New Zealand till 1956.