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Thursday, January 27, 2022

Virat retires in style ! - patted by President and Prime Minister

Hanover is the capital and largest city of the German state of Lower Saxony.  The city lies at the confluence of the River Leine and its tributary the Ihme, in the south of the North German Plain  .. .. [searched for this place ! after RD parade]

India celebrated its 73rd Republic Day with gay and gaiety .. .. one of the biggest attraction of RD is ‘Republic Day Parade’ – the marchpast of armed forces, armaments and attractively decorated vehicles.  The hero of the occasion is the President of India.  After the Republic Day parade ended, President Shri Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi ji  and Defence minister Rajnath Singh walked up to the charger and tenderly petted him -- the gesture an unmistakable acknowledgement of Virat’s military service, especially his role in India’s biggest ceremonial event over the years. 

The name hits a raw nerve - India's most successful Test captain, Virat Kohli, recently dropped a bombshell by quitting the red-ball captaincy following the unexpected series defeat against South Africa. Kohli had earlier given up the T20I captaincy after the 2021 T20 World Cup, and was succeeded in ODIs by Rohit Sharma. The star batter, who was appointed Test captain back in 2014 when MS Dhoni stepped down in the middle of the series against Australia, led India in a record 68 Test matches, winning 40 and losing 17. Kohli took leadership by storm, creating a niche for himself and cementing himself as one of the best captains this world has ever seen. 

Kohli played his first Test as India captain in 2014 against Australia and his last game as skipper was the Cape Town Test in South Africa, which India lost by seven wickets. Kohli, who is responsible for India's lethal fast-bowling unit that can help the side take 20 wickets in any condition, will now be hoping to have a good run with the bat in all three formats of the game.  No Cricket post this ! 

Virat, a Hanoverian horse, was issued to PBG in 2003 by the army’s Remount Training School and Depot at Hempur in Uttarakhand.  A Hanoverian is a Warmblood horse breed originating in Germany, which is often seen in the Olympic Games and other competitive English riding styles, and has won gold medals in all three equestrian Olympic competitions. It is one of the oldest, most numerous, and most successful of the Warmblood breeds. Originally a cavalry horse, infusions of more Thoroughbred blood lightened it to make it more agile and useful for competition. The Hanoverian is known for a good temperament, athleticism, beauty, and grace. 

Virat, the subject-matter, the proud horse was barely four years old then. He was among the five horses that was chosen for PBG, by Honorary Captain Sajjan Kumar (retd), who brought the charger to Rashtrapati Bhawan.   Virat, is a Presidential horse.  Presidential horses have to be at least 157.5 cm tall -- Virat’s height is a little over 170 cm. A horse’s height is measured to the highest point of the withers on its back. PBG horses have to be tall to complement the men from the regiment who have to have a minimum height of six feet. 

Virat was honoured with the army chief’s commendation card for outstanding service on Army Day (January 15). The President's Bodyguard (PBG) is an elite household cavalry regiment of the Indian Army. It is senior-most regiment in the order of precedence of the units of the Indian Army. The primary role of the President's Bodyguard is to escort and protect the President of India and the  regiment is based in the Rashtrapati Bhavan.  It is equipped as a mounted unit, with horses for ceremonies at the presidential palace and BTR-80 vehicles for use in combat. The personnel of the regiment are also trained as paratroopers and nominally are expected to lead in airborne assaults in the role of pathfinders. The regiment is the successor of the Governor General's Bodyguard of the British Raj. 

The first bodyguard to be raised in India was in 1773 when European troops, already recruited into the East India Company's service as infantry, were earmarked for the role. Since the army of the East India Company had no cavalry of any kind at that point of time, two troops of dragoons and one troop of hussars were raised - the latter becoming the personal bodyguard of the Governor-General. These were however disbanded in the reorganisation of the army by Robert Clive after his return to India.  The PBG first saw action in 1773–74, when it was deployed against Sanyasis – a band that ravaged the countryside in the guise of mendicants. Its next campaign was against Rohillas in April 1774 in the battle of St. George where the Rohillas were defeated completely. The Bodyguard was also present during the 3rd Mysore War (1790–92) against Tipu Sultan. During this campaign, it successfully thwarted an assassination attempt on the life of Governor General Lord Cornwallis. In 1801, a detachment consisting of one Native Officer and 26 other ranks went to Egypt to provide riders for an experimental unit of horse artillery. It marched for 120 miles in the desert in the height of summer. All their horses died and they had to place the guns on camels. The Bodyguard detachment never saw action in Egypt, as Alexandria had capitulated by the time that they arrived there. 

Virat', an elite member of President Ram Nath Kovind's Bodyguard, and a veteran who has been a part of over 13 Republic Day parades, retired from the service on Republic Day. Virat, had recently been,  on the eve of Army Day on January 15,  awarded the Chief of Army Staff Commendation for his exceptional service and abilities. Notably, Virat was the first charger horse of the President`s Bodyguard (PBG) to receive such a commendation card.  On Wednesday, during the Republic Day celebrations at the majestic Rajpath, President  Sri Kovind and Prime Minister Shri  Narendra Modi bid farewell to the elite horse. PM Shri Modiji  was seen on camera patting and showing his love for the esteemed member of the PBG.  

These magnificent horses of the elite PBG are bred by Remount Veterinary corps and presently looked after by 44 Military Veterinary Hospital. Virat’s retirement has turned the spotlight on animals in military service in India. The army has at least 5,000 mules, 1,500 horses and 1,000 dogs.  

Chennai has the famous ‘Mounted battalion’ on good looking horses – and it is a treat to watch the small group canter by. Every morning they are seen on the picturesque Marina beach and on holidays when huge crowds descend on the shore – their contribution is immense. There are some women too in the battalion.  The cantering horse with police cop on top commands respect from people and crowds heed to the warning of the mounted battalion to keep away from the waters.  It is stated that the use of horses by the Police in Madras dates at least to 1800 when Walter Grant was appointed the Superintendent of Police.    In the days when Police force had no motor power, Inspectors and Sergeants were provided horses.  In 1926 a Mounted branch of Madras City Police was formed with 15 horses exclusively patrolling the  city. 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
27th Jan 2020. 

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