Former Navy Chief Admiral L. Ramdas Passes Away

Admiral Ramdas

Admiral L. Ramdas (90) passed away this morning at the Military Hospital in Secunderabad. He stood up for peace, justice and communal harmony. He was a champion of India-Pakistan peace. One of the harshest critics of nuclear weapons and nuclear power. We lost a giant of a man. He will be greatly missed.

His wife Lalita Ramdas said, “We want all our friends to know that we are not mourning Ramu’s demise; we are celebrating his life and spirit. We want all our friends and comrades to celebrate ‘him’ with us; celebrate his indomitable spirit that refused to be cowed down by the mighty and the authoritarians! Ramu will continue to be with us in our peaceful struggles for secularism, peace, rights, justice and human dignity! As passionately as always…”

He is survived by wife Lalitha Ramdas, daughters – Kavitha, who stays in the USA, Sagari, who resides in Hyderabad, and Mallika, presently residing in Singapore, their spouses and grandchildren. All the daughters were in the city keeping in view the ill health of Admiral Ramdas. The former Naval Chief had moved from Alibag in Maharashtra to Sainikpuri to stay with his daughter Sagari last year.

The mortal remains were kept at Military Hospital, Secunderabad and the last rites would be performed with full Naval honours at Swarg Vatika, RTC Colony, Trimulgherry, Secunderabad at 12.30 p.m. Saturday.

Admiral Ramdas, PVSM, AVSM, VrC, VSM was the Chief of Naval Staff between 1990-1993. Born on September 5, 1933 in Matunga, Bombay, he had his early education in Delhi at the Presentation Convent and Ramjas College. He joined the Joint Services Wing of the Armed Forces Academy, in Clement Town Dehradun in 1949 and subsequently commissioned in the Indian Navy in September 1953, and trained as a communications specialist.

The Admiral had a glorious career in the Indian Navy rising to the helm as its 13th CNS. During the Indo – Pakistan War of 1971, as part of the newly formed Eastern Fleet, whilst in command of INS Beas, Admiral Ramdas took part in the most effective naval blockade of East Pakistan which frustrated Pakistan’s attempt to evacuate 93,000 of their troops who eventually surrendered to the Indian Forces.

INS Beas also captured a large number of ships carrying contraband to East Pakistan, bombarded Cox’s Bazar and took part in the landing and other operations in an area which had been mined. He was awarded the Vir Chakra, the third-highest gallantry award. He succeeded Admiral Jayant Ganpat Nadkarni as the 13th CNS on 30 November 1990. Other key achievement while in service include establishing the Naval Academy in Cochin, serving as the Indian Naval Attache in Bonn, West Germany (1973-76), serving as Fleet Commander of the Eastern Naval Command, and commanding both the Southern and Eastern Naval Commands.

It was during his tenure as CNS that women were inducted into the armed forces with the Navy showing the lead. This was in keeping with his lifelong commitment to gender justice.

After retirement, Admiral Ramdas settled in the village of Bhaimala, Alibag, Maharashtra, on a piece of land awarded to him by the government of Maharashtra in recognition of his acts of gallantry in the 1971 war operations. Admiral Ramdas and his wife Lalita Ramdas involved themselves in a range of public service activities. These included being actively involved in the Pakistan India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy, Indo-Pakistan Soldiers Initiative for Peace (IPSI), the anti-nuclear peace movement – Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace (CNDP), supporting the struggle against an SEZ under the 22 Gaon Bachao Andolan in Raigad district, Maharashtra

He became an outspoken voice of conscience, advocating actively for the defense of the Indian Constitution, especially the values of liberty, equality, fraternity and secularism. He was particularly concerned about maintaining secularism and the commitment to constitutional values among the Indian Armed Forces. He reminded them of their oath to the Constitution of India. He continuously advocated with political parties to stand up for these same core values.

He fearlessly voiced his opinions about injustices against marginalised and minority communities and wrote several representations to the highest authorities, condemning the communalisation and polarisation being promoted, and urged them to uphold democracy and the secular fabric of India.

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