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India is about 1/3 the size of the United States, India is the seventh largest country in the world, the second most populous country in the world. ● ● India is the largest democracy in the world. ● ● The Kumbh Mela (or Grand Pitcher Festival) is a huge Hindu religious festival that takes place in India every 12 years. In 2001, 60 million people attended, breaking the record for the world’s biggest gathering. The mass of people was photographed from space by a satellite. ● ● To avoid polluting the elements (fire, earth, water, air), followers of Zoroastrianism in India don’t bury their dead, but instead leave bodies in buildings called “Towers of Silence” for the vultures to pick clean. ● ● India has one of the world’s highest rates of abortion. ● ● Most Indians live on less than two dollars a day. ● ● Cows are considered one of humankind’s seven mothers because they offer milk as does one’s natural mother. ● ● Dancing is one of India’s most highly developed arts and was an integral part of worship in the inner shrines of every temple. It is notable for its expressive hand movements. ● ● Many Indian wives will never say their husband’s name aloud, as it is a sign of disrespect. When addressing him, the wife will use several indirect references, such as “ji” or “look here” or “hello,” or even refer to him as the father of her child. ● ● The Indian flag has three horizontal bands of color: saffron for courage and sacrifice, white for truth and peace, and green for faith, fertility, and chivalry. An emblem of a wheel spinning used to be in the center of the white band, but when India gained independence, a Buddhist dharma chakra, or wheel of life, replaced the spinning wheel. ● ● ● ● ● The temples of Khajuraho are famous for their erotic sculptures and are one of the most popular tourist attractions in India. Scholars still debate the purpose of such explicit portrayals of sexual intercourse, which sometimes involve animals. ● ● The earliest cotton in the world was spun and woven in India. ● ● The Himalayas—from the Sanskrit hima, meaning “snow,” and alaya, meaning “abode”—are found in the north of India. They extend 1,500 miles and are slowly growing taller, by almost an inch (2.5 cm) a year. Several ancient Indian monasteries are found nestled in the grandeur of these mountains. ● ● With 150,000 post offices, India has the largest postal network in the world. ● ● The Bengal tiger is India’s national animal. ● ● Alexander the Great of Macedon (356-323 B.C.) was one of the first important figures to bring India into contact with the West. After his death, a link between Europe and the East would not be restored until Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama (1460-1524) landed in Calicut, India, in 1498. ● ● The British Raj, or British rule, lasted from 1858 to 1947 (although they had a strong presence in India since the 1700s). British influence is still seen in Indian architecture, education system, transportation, and politics. ● ● Every major world religion is represented in India. Additionally, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism all originated in India. ● ● India has the world’s largest movie industry, based in the city of Mumbai (known as the “City of Dreams”). The B in “Bollywood” comes from Bombay, the former name for Mumbai. Almost all Bollywood movies are musicals. ● ● Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1948) is known around the world as Mahatma, which is an honorific title meaning “Great Soul” in the ancient Indian language of Sanskrit. ● ● ● ● ● The lotus is sacred to both Hindus and Buddhists. ● The Bahá'í house of worship in Delhi, known as the “Lotus Temple,” is shaped like a lotus flower with 27 gigantic “petals” that are covered in marble. ● ● The banyan, or Indian fig tree, is considered a symbol of immortality and is mentioned in many Indian myths and legends. This self-renewing plant is India’s national tree. ● ● Marigold flowers are used as decoration for Hindu marriages and are a symbol of good fortune and happiness. ● ● The name “India” derives from the River Indus, which most likely is derived from the Sanskrit sindhu, meaning “river.” The official Sanskrit name of India is Bharat, after the legendary king in the epicMahabharata. ● ● Indians made significant contributions to calculus, trigonometry, and algebra. The decimal system was invented in India in 100 B.C. The concept of zero as a number is also attributed to India. ● ● The national fruit of India is the mango. The national bird is the peacock, which was initially bred for food. ● ● Hindi and English are the official languages of India. The government also recognizes 17 other languages (Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Nepali, Manipuri, Konkani, Kannada, Kashmiri, Malayalam, Marathi, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, and Urdu). Apart from these languages, about 1,652 dialects are spoken in the country. ● ● India has the world’s third largest road network at 1.9 million miles. It also has the world’s second largest rail network, which is the world’s largest civilian employer. ● ● Bathing in the Ganges in particular is thought to take away a person’s sins. It is not unusual to spread a loved one’s ashes in the Ganges. ● ● Most Indians rinse their hands, legs, and face before eating a meal. ● ● It is traditional to wear white, not black, to a funeral in India. Widows will often wear white in contrast to the colorful clothes of married or single women. ● ● India is the world’s largest tea producer, and tea (chai) is its most popular beverage. ● ● The Taj Mahal (“crown palace”) was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan (1592-1666) for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal (1593-1631). Made of marble it has intricate workmanship. It took 22,000 workmen 22 years to complete it. ● ● The first and greatest civilization in ancient India developed around the valley of the Indus River (now Pakistan) around 3000 B.C. Called the Indus Valley civilization, this early empire was larger than any other empire, including Egypt and Mesopotamia. ● ● After the great Indus Civilization collapsed in 2000 B.C., groups of Indo-Europeans called Aryans (“noble ones”) traveled to northwest India and reigned during what is called the Vedic age. The mingling of ideas from the Aryan and Indus Valley religions formed the basis of Hinduism, and the gods Shiva, Kali, and Brahma all have their roots in Aryan civilization. The Aryans also recorded the Vedas, the first Hindu scriptures, and introduced a caste system based on ethnicity and occupation. ● ● Chandragupta Maurya (340-290 B.C.), a leader in India who established the Mauryan Empire (321-185 B.C.), was guarded by a band of women on horseback. ● Sanskrit is the mother of all the European ● languages. Sanskrit is the most suitable language for computer software reported in Forbes magazine, ● July 1987. ● Ayurveda is the earliest school of medicine known to humans.Charaka, the father of medicine consolidated Ayurveda 2500 years ago. ● India never invaded any country in her last 10,000 years of history. ● India invented the Number System. Zero was invented by Aryabhatta. ● India never invaded any country in her last 10,000 years of history. ● India invented the Number System. Zero was invented by Aryabhatta. ● ● India never invaded any country in her last 10,000 years of history. ● India invented the Number System. Zero was invented by Aryabhatta. ● ●
Indian Air Force

The Indian Air Force was officially established on 8 October 1932.Its first ac flight came into being on 01 Apr 1933.  It possessed a strength of six RAF-trained officers and 19 Havai Sepoys (literally, air soldiers).   The aircraft inventory comprised of four Westland Wapiti IIA army co-operation biplanes at Drigh Road as the "A" Flight nucleus of the planned No.1 (Army Co- operation) Squadron.

On 1 February, No.1 Squadron arrived in Burma with its Lysanders, flying tactical recce missions from Toungoo before transferring to Mingaladon with a flight deployed at Lashio. I A F personnel were soon hanging pairs of 250-lb. bombs on each of their Lysanders and with these, flew low-level unescorted missions against the principal Japanese air bases at Mae-Haungsaun, Cheingmai and Chiangrai in Thailand. However, the Japanese advance was relentless and with the final evacuation of Burma, No.1 Squadron personnel were flown to India, where at Risalpur in June 1942, the unit began conversion to the Hurricane IIB fighter. No.2 Squadron had also equipped with Lysanders by the end of 1941, being confined to anti-invasion exercises until, in September 1942, it emulated the IAF's premier unit by converting to Hurricanes. The third IAF unit to operate the Lysander was No.4 Squadron, formed with four aircraft on 16 February 1942. This squadron was to continue to operate the Westland aircraft until it, too was re-equipped with the Hurricane in June 1943. Six months earlier, No.6 Squadron was raised with personnel from Nos 1 and 2 flights, being Hurricane-equipped from the outset. Between March and December 1942, 10 aircrew schools were opened in India, and the first Harvard Is and IIs were delivered to No. 1 Flying Training School at Ambala, this school having been established to provide basic and advanced training for IAF pilots over a four-and-half month course. By the end of that year, however,or a decade after the IAF's creation and three years into World War II, the Service could muster just five squadrons. The coastal defence flights had now been disbanded and most personnel of Nos.3 and 6 Flights were combined with regular IAF personnel to form No. 7 Squadron which was equipped with the U:S. - built Vengeance 1 dive bomber in mid-February 1943. No. 8 Squadron was raised meanwhile, on 1 December 1942, absorbing the remaining coastal defence flight personnel, and also issued with the Vengeance, to achieve operational status on 25June 1943.

During the war years, the steady expansion of the IAF had placed all emphasis on army co-operation and tactical reconnaissance; it had continued to fly ageing equipment such as the Hurricane when such aircraft as the Thunderbolt and Mosquito were being inducted in large numbers by other Allied forces in the theatre and it had, in consequence, suffered a sense of equipment inferiority.

The RIAF had lost many permanent bases and other establishments as a result of the division of the country, but was to have virtually no breathing space in which to recover from the surgery that had accompanied partition before the Service was to find itself once more firing its guns in earnest. On 27 October 1947, No.12 Sqn was to initiate the remarkable feat of air-lifting the Ist Sikhs from Palam onto the rough and dusty Srinagar airstrip without planning or reconnaissance as the initial Indian response to the sizeable insurgent forces that were pouring across the border into Jammu and Kashmir. On 30 October, the first Spitfires from the Advanced Flying School at Ambala reached Srinagar and were soon engaged in strafing the raiders beyond Pattan. Within a week, the Tempests of No. 7 Squadron were playing a decisive role in the battle of Shelatang which halted the forward momentum of the insurgents.

The fighting was to continue for 15 months, with heavy RIAF involvement throughout, a ceasefire eventually coming into force on 1 January 1949, but despite being continuously on an operational footing throughout this period, the reorganisation and modernisation of the Service continued unabated. The Combined Services Headquarters had meanwhile been separated for command purposes and Air Headquarters established in New Delhi. This included the Operational and Training Commands, No. 1 Operational Group having been formed to supervise all RIAF units and their support elements engaged in the campaign in Jammu and Kashmir.

In January 1950, India became a Republic within the British Commonwealth and the Indian Air Force dropped its "Royal" prefix. At this time, it possessed six fighter squadrons of Spitfires, Vampires and Tempests, operating from Kanpur, Poona, Ambala and Palam, one B-24 bomber squadron, one C-47 Dakota transport squadron, one AOP flight, a communications squadron at Palam and a growing training organisation.
The early sixties were accompanied by the IAF's induction of yet more new aircraft types, the most interesting of these arguably being the Folland Gnat lightweight fighter. With its startling agility, the Gnat proffered outstanding cost effectiveness and during the mid-fifties a licence agreement was concluded for its manufacture by HAL following delivery of 23 complete aircraft and 20 sets of components by the parent company. The first IAF unit, No. 23 Squadron, converted from the Vampire FB Mk. 52 to the Gnat in March 1960. No. 2 Squadron re-equipped with the Gnat at Ambala early in 1962, and No.9 Squadron soon followed suit.

The real test of IAF airlift capability came in October 1962, when open warfare erupted on the Sino-lndian border. During the period 20 October to 20 November, pressure on the Service's transport and helicopter units were intense, troops and supplies having to be flown to the support of the border posts virtually around the clock and at extreme altitudes. The helicopters had to constantly run the gauntlet of Chinese small arms and anti-aircraft fire, while operating to.the tricky helipads in the mountains. Many notable feats were performed by the IAF during this conflict, including the operation of C-119Gs from airstrips 17,000 ft (5180m) above sea level in the Karakoram Himalayas, and the air-lifting by An-12Bs of two troops of AMX-13 light tanks to Chushul, in Ladakh, where the small airstrip was 15,000 ft (4570m) above sea level.

An epoch-making decision was taken in August 1962 which was to profoundly alter the complexion and strength of the Indian Air Force into the decades ahead. The Government of India signed protocols with the Soviet Union for the very first supply of combat aircraft and missiles for the Indian Air Force. The purchase of 12 MiG-21 fighters from the Soviet Union - the IAF's first combat aircraft of non-western origin - and for Soviet technical assistance in setting up production facilities for the fighter in India was followed by the procurement of SA-2 (Dvina) surface-to-air missiles.

Tension between India and Pakistan had steadily escalated over the years, culminating on 1 September 1965 in a massive attack in the Chhamb sector by Pakistani forces. Possessing the initiative in having chosen the time and place to strike and enjoying overwhelming numerical superiority in the sector in both armour and troops, Pakistan posed a grave threat to Indian forces on the ground and so, in response to urgent requests for air strikes against Pakistani armour advancing in the Chhamb-Jaurian sector, Vampire FBMk.52s of No. 45 Squadron, at the time undergoing operational training at a forward base, mounted their first sorties at 1745 hours on the first day of the conflict, and on their heels came the Mysteres of Nos.3 and 31 Squadrons operating from Pathankot. The Pakistani armoured thrust was staggered. IAF Gnats proved their mettle in shooting down PAF Sabres in this sector, the first of aerial victories being notched by Nos. 23 and 9 Squadrons. Rapidly escalating, full scale warfare broke out on 6 September all along the international border between West Pakistan and India.

In the days that followed, IAF Canberras raided the major PAF bases at Sargodha and Chaklala at night, flying 200 counter air and interdiction missions against these and other Pakistani bases, including those at Akwal, Peshawar, Kohat, ChakJhumra and Risalwala. The virtuosity of the Hunterswas fully demonstrated, Nos. 7, 20 and 27 Squadrons being employed in counter-air as well as interdiction and close air support missions in the West while Hunters of No. 14 Squadron battled with Sabres of the PAF No. 14 squadron raiding the IAF base at Kalaikunda in the East. The September conflict was the first full-scale war in which the post-independence IAF was involved and the Service learned many lessons as a result.

1971 aerial conflict between the respective air arms began in earnest on 22 November, preceding full-scale warfare between India and Pakistan by 12 days. full-scale war began on 3 December. Pre-emptive strikes were launched by the Pakistan Air Force against IAF bases at Srinagar, Amritsar and Pathankot, followed by attacks on Ambala, Agra, Jodhpur, Uttarlai, Avantipur, Faridkot, Halwara and Sirsa. Apart from IAF bases, the PAF attacked railway stations, Indian armour concentrations and other targets. The IAF had good reason for satisfaction with its showing during the December 1971 conflict. Although Pakistan had initiated the war with pre-emptive air strikes against major forward air bases, the IAF rapidly gained the initiative and had thereafter dominated the skies over both fronts. The December 1971 war also meant the gaining of India's highest award for gallantry to the IAF. Flying  Officer NirmalJit Singh Sekhon, flying Gnats with No. 18 Squadron from Srinagar, was posthumously awarded the Param Vir Chakra.


President Dr Rajendra Prasad presented the President’s colours to the Indian Air Force on the occasion of its 21st birthday in New Delhi on April 1, 1954.  About 1,500 officers and airmen, representing  every IAF unit in India, were drawn up for the colours presentation parade in front of about a hundred aircraft of various types, including Jet Vampires and Ouragans (Toofanis) and the latest acquisition, the Helicopter.  Among those who watched the presentation, which was made in recognition of the meritorious services rendered by the IAF to the country in war and peace, were Prime Minister Nehru and Cabinet Ministers, Diplomats, Members of Parliament, Service Chiefs and the families of Service Personnel.  The Indian Air Force is the second service to be presented the President’s colours.  The Indian Navy received them in 1952.

First Indian C-in-C

On the eve of relinquishing command of the Indian Air Force, Air Marshal G. E. Gibbs in his “Order of the Day” says: “On December 10, 1951, I took over command of the Indian Air Force and at midnight on March 31st the command will pass from me to Air Marshal Mukherjee.
“April 1, 1954, will be a great day for the IAF, when the first Indian C-in-C, an officer of such very fine qualities, takes over.”

More Details at Official IAF Site


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