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Famously known as the 'Bomber of Karachi', Admiral S M Nanda returned as India's hero from the 1970s Indo - Pak war. With this biography, explore his life & childhood.

Admiral S M Nanda

Born On: October 10, 1915
Born In: Punjab, India
Died On: May 11, 2009
Career: Chief of Naval Staff of Indian Navy
Nationality: Indian

The name S M Nanda arouses mixed feelings in the minds of people in India and around the world. While on one hand Admiral S M Nanda had a lucrative career as the Chief of the Naval Staff in the Indian Navy, bringing home victory for his country at the end of the Indo - Pak war, the last few years of his life did not show the Admiral in a favorable light. Admiral S M Nanda, along with his family members have been at the helm of several high profile illegal activities which has only helped the Indian hero to draw flak from the Indian media and the nation in general. Nevertheless, Admiral S M Nanda had to his name a number of prestigious Indian national honors during his lifetime.

Early Life
Sardarilal Matharadas Nanda, popularly known as S M Nanda, was born on October 10 in the year 1915. Though he was born on the island of Manora near Karachi, his family shifted base to Perth in Western Australia, therefore it was essentially in Australia that S M Nanda spent his childhood years. It was in this suburban area of Perth that he grew up. Later, the family returned to India and took up a residence near Karachi (now in Pakistan) in pre-independent India. As a child, he spent hours watching the activities of the Royal Indian Navy closely at a time when he did not even know that he would rise to the high ranks of the Indian Navy.

Career In The Indian Navy
S M Nanda always had a keen interest to be a part of the Indian Navy ever since he spent some of his growing up years near the port of Karachi watching the operations of the naval forces. This keen interest soon turned into a passion and then his career; for not only did he go on to join the Indian Navy, he rose to the ranks of the Chief of Naval Staff, which is the highest post of the Indian Navy. In 1941, S M Nanda joined the Royal Indian Naval Volunteer Reserve, prior to which he had served with Port Trust, Karachi. Post independence, Nanda held a number of important appointments, both ashore and afloat that gave him varied experience.

Seven years later, in 1948, Nanda joined Navy's first cruiser INS DELHI in the UK as her First Lieutenant. Upon returning to India, he served as Director of Personnel Services at Naval HQ for two years from 1949 till 1951. Next, he commanded the destroyer INS RANJIT as also the Frigate Squadron. His career graph took a major turn when he was posted back to Naval Headquarter, as he became the Chief of Personnel and was promoted to the position of the Commodore. In the year 1957, Nanda commissioned the cruiser INS Mysore in the UK. Subsequently, he was appointed Director General, Naval Dockyard Expansion Scheme, at Bombay.

For his immaculate and dedicated service, S M Nanda was awarded with the Ati Vishishta Seva Medal in 1961. Thereafter, he underwent a course at the Imperial Defence College, London, returning to Naval Headquarter to assume the appointment of Chief of Material in the Rank of Commodore. In the May of 1962, Nanda was appointed as the Deputy Chief of the Naval Staff in the rank of Rear Admiral. Two years later, he became the Managing Director of Mazagon Dock, Ltd. Bombay, and served there for 18 months. During this period, the re-organization scheme of the Mazagon Dock and Leander class frigates project were simultaneously taken up and he was responsible for giving both a good start.

Nanda was awarded with the Param Vishisht Seva Medal for his distinguished service in 1966. On February 28, 1970, he succeeded Admiral AK Chatterji, and took over the office of the Chief of the Naval Staff. He remained in office as the Chief of Naval Staff for three years until February 28, 1973. During his term, Admiral S M Nanda went on to create history with his operations in Karachi. It was under his leadership that the Indian Navy successfully completed its operations in the Indo-Pak war, which subsequently led to the formation of the separate state of Bangladesh. It was his involvement in the Indo-Pak war that won Admiral S M Nanda the title of 'the man who bombed Karachi'. Admiral S M Nanda was awarded with a Padma Vibhushan award in 1972.

1971 War
The 1971 war, one of the shortest in world history, was a conflict between two neighboring countries India and Pakistan. During the 13 days of war, Indian and Pakistani forces, the Army, the Navy and the Air Force, clashed in the eastern and western coastal regions of the borders leading to a perpetual destruction of the coastal city of Karachi. The war effectively came to an end after the Eastern Command of the Pakistani Armed Forces signed the Instrument of Surrender, the first and perhaps the only public surrender to date, on December 16, 1971 following which East Pakistan was seceded as the independent state of Bangladesh.

Career Milestones
Controversies & Scandals
Not all was good in the life of Admiral S M Nanda after his retirement from the post of the Chief of Naval Staff in the Indian Navy. Passing years saw the national hero getting involved in a number of incidents that made for scandalous media reports and high profile controversies. Admiral S M Nanda joined hands with his son Suresh Nanda and became an arms dealer with the Crown Corporation, an organization founded by Suresh Nanda, which dealt with the trading of weapons across countries. As part of his operations with the Crown Corporation, Admiral S M Nanda paid huge amounts as bribe to government officials around India to facilitate the easy flow of import and export of weapons across borders.

Listed as 'Operation West End' by the media, this sting operation was the idea of Tehelka. The report that was published in the year 2001 said that Admiral S M Nanda had bribed several politicians within the Defence Ministry of India, to allow for the easy passage of illegal weapons across different countries of the world. The Tehelka report cited the name of the then Defence Minister of India as a prime culprit in Operation West End. The other bribed officials were politicians from the Samata Party. As if this were any less, Nanda family yet again came to the limelight for all the wrong reasons when Admiral S M Nanda's grandson, Sanjeev Nanda was involved in rash driving led to a hit and run case which resulted in the death of six people, three of whom were police officials.

Admiral S M Nanda passed away on May 11, 2009 after complaints of breathlessness and high temperatures. He was aged 93 during the time of death. Though his life was shrouded with controversy during his last years, his death brought about sadness to the entire Indian Navy family. Admiral S M Nanda's funeral service which was completed at the Brar Square Crematorium in New Delhi was attended by some of the most honored officials of the Indian military. Even today India remembers Admiral S M Nanda as the hero of the Indo-Pak war, or as 'the man who bombed Karachi'.

1915: S M Nanda was born on October 10 in Punjab.
1941: Joined the Royal Indian Naval Volunteer Reserve
1948: Joined Navy's first cruiser INS DELHI in the UK as her First Lieutenant
1949: Served as Director of Personnel Services at Naval HQ
1957: Commissioned the cruiser INS Mysore in the UK
1961: Honored with the Ati Vishishta Seva Medal
1962: Appointed as the Deputy Chief of the Naval Staff as Rear Admiral
1964: Became the Managing Director of Mazagon Dock, Ltd. Bombay
1966: Awarded with the Param Vishisht Seva Medal
1970: Took oath as the Chief of Naval Staff of the Indian Navy.
1972: Awarded with the Padma Vibhushan for his contribution in the 1971 Indo - Pak war.
1973: Admiral S M Nanda retired from services of the Indian Navy.
2009: Left for the heavenly abode on May 11.