Rear Admiral ® Gulab Thadani was the pioneer in the transfer of Technology and technical implementation of Indian Navy’s program of new acquisition of Ships and Submarines. He is a living legend.
The number of Sindhis who joined Indian Navy may not be the large, but they rose to highest positions due to their efficiency, honesty to their profession and hard work, and gathered fame. Some of them were Admiral Radhakrishna Hariram Tahliani, the first Sindhi to become the Chief of Naval Staff of India, Vice Admiral Gulab Mohanlal Hiranandani, the Vice Chief of Indian Navy, and Rear Admiral Gulab Thadani. They were, in fact, mentors of Indian Navy. Sindh Courier has published the life sketch of Admiral Radhakrishna Hariram Tahliani and Vice Admiral Gulab Mohanlal Hiranandani. Here is the life sketch of Rear Admiral Gulab Thadani.
Rear Admiral Gulab Thadani, known as GC Thadani, was born on 03 Aug 1930 in Hyderabad, Sindh in a highly respected Sindhi business community. After his primary education in Hyderabad, the family shifted to New Delhi in 1940. He joined Indian Navy in the year 1949 and served for 38 years. Rear Admiral GC Thadani has vast experience of visiting many countries and handling extreme sea and war conditions.
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He has narrated his entire naval and personal life in autobiography named as “Sailing through Life, on a Happy Journey” released on July 30, 2019 in Mumbai three days prior to his 89th Birthday where Dimple, his beautiful daughter spoke about her dynamic, brilliant, noble and inspiring Dad.
The memoirs cover his life in Delhi in the early 40s and he describes vividly the aftermath of Partition in 1947, the largest ever migration of refugees, the Hindu-Muslim riots and massacres that history had witnessed. The Admiral accomplished his High School from St Columba’s School and moved on to St Stephen’s College prior to joining BHU for engineering. His destiny directed him to join the Indian Navy in 1949. For the Cadets training, he was sent to Dartmouth College, HMS Devonshire, UK. After his midshipman’s tenure onboard HMS Triumph he joined Manadon, Plymouth for Marine Engineering. Having successfully completed his Engineering specialization in 1956, he was posted to 4 Coastal Minesweepers as a Technical Officer.
During his naval career, Rear Admiral Thadani served in the ships of both Eastern and Western Commands, Naval Headquarters and 3 tenures in Naval Dockyards. His last Sea appointment was E.O. INS Amba. During the 1971 War, the Admiral was Command Engineering Officer, Eastern Naval Command and was awarded VSM for his contribution during the War. The Rear Admiral was a member of Dockyard Maintenance Team that was deputed to Russia in 1966 to acquire the Repair and Maintenance Technology for Submarines and Petya class Ships that were being inducted. He was a Pioneer in the transfer of Technology and technical implementation of Indian Navy’s program of new acquisition of Ships and Submarines. Rear Admiral Thadani had a long stint in Russia and Poland as the Deputy Naval Attaché. His last appointment was Director General Naval Projects, Mumbai. Post-retirement in Aug 1987, the Admiral was appointed Captain Commandant of the Engineering branch.
Gulab Thadani’s memoirs depict way of life in the Navy during the mid-’50s, an era when Indian Navy was shaping up and hard-work together with responsibilities ingrained into officers at a comparatively younger age. The book also captures the Admiral’s life from a holistic perspective, sharing intimate accounts of family relationships and the social bonhomie of our fine Indian Navy of yesteryears.
Watch Rear Admiral (R) Gulab Thdani’s interview
Rear Admiral recalls in a piece on his personal website: “I was the only one of us five siblings, to join the Navy. It is amazing that prophesy based on my horoscope became a reality. I recall that sometime in 1944-45, my late father came in contact with a Pundit from Meerut. My father invited the Pundit home and he read the horoscopes of all of us brothers. When my turn came, he told my parents that my life would be very different from my other three brothers (we were four brothers at that time). The Pundit predicted that I would not be a rich man, but I would always have sufficient income to lead a good and comfortable life. Also, that I would earn a good name and respect from those around me. He also told my parents that water is dangerous for me. My father immediately reacted and told me “no more swimming for you”.
“Now, looking back over the years, all my brothers became prosperous businessmen with good money while I in the Navy lead a different life with a lavish lifestyle of a different kind, lived sufficiently well, traveled widely and earned the respect of community at large with dignity…And I joined the Navy in 1949 almost five years after the prophesy,” he says.
“During my career in the Navy, I experienced a few setbacks when a few officers, close to my seniority tried one-upmanship, and sidelined me and gained their own upper hand. Luckily, I came unscathed through these professional upheavals thanks to my competence and continued high performance over the years. I was very fortunate to have the support of some very fine officers under whom I worked, and those who worked under me,” Thadani writes.
This book is a remarkable cultural and chronological retrospective of his life spanning the period from 1930s when his family was in Hyderabad Sindh. It covers his inadvertent but successful career in the Indian Navy replete with detailed accounts of his youthful exploits in England, his professional experiences as a young Naval officer, and his expertise as one of the Indian Navy’s earliest pioneers in the submarine repair technology transfer from the former U.S.S.R to India. Other historical accounts include his involvement with the 1971 war with Pakistan, and circumstances that led to the sinking of Pakistan’s submarine Gazi. He describes life as defence diplomat in Moscow under the Soviets, and chronicles some brief but fascinating encounters with Dhirubhai Ambani, Prince Charles and His Holiness the Pope. The book also spends time on his personal life, and intricately winds through his family, marriage and friendships. Written in a simple narrative style, the book keeps one engaged and provides a lovely glimpse into the life of a passionate man and honorable Naval Officer.