New Delhi, May 31 (IBNS) General Vijay Kumar Singh retired from Indian Army on Thursday after forty-two years of a military career.
However, his tenure at the end was marked by several controversies.
But in his parting comment said people know more about the army now owing to a change in the mindset of the forces.
"There is a change in the mindset in the army and so you come to know more," he told reporters.
On his last day, after serving 42 years in defence, he also brushed aside the controversies and said the issues that were set up at the core are progressing.
The retiring army chief on Thursday laid a wreath at Amar Jawan Jyoti and took his last salute.
General Bikram Singh, who was Eastern Army Commander, replaced him as the new Chief of the Army Staff.
The 26-month long tenure of General Singh was marked by controversies.
Despite his spotless image of an honest, firm and an upright officer, Singh, who took over the reins of the Army on March 31, 2010 leaves behind a trail of rows and scandals.
A native of Bapora village in Rohtak district of Haryana, Singh's career drew unprecedented media attention after a messy controversy over his age.
He became India's first army chief in history to take the country's civilian government to the court as he filed a writ petition over an arcane bureaucratic tussle over his date of birth that stemmed from the presence of two conflicting age proofs in official records.
Singh, who claimed that his year of birth is 1951 and not 1950 as recorded by the Ministry of Defence, had said that the error cropped up due to a clerk who had listed his age as 16 instead of 15 in the Union Public Services (UPSC) examination form for National Defence Academy.
The highly publicised dispute eventually ended after the Supreme Court refused to accept his contention that 1951 was his year of birth.
The perceived anti-corruption crusader also sent ripples earlier this year after a candid admission of being offered a bribe allegedly by a former military officer.
Singh, in an interview to a newspaper alleged that a retired army officer had approached him on behalf of a vehicle supplier and offered Rs 14 crores as a bribe to approve a tranche of 600 “sub-stanadard” trucks.
The allegations, that pointed towards Czech vehicle manufacturer Tatra, appeared even more inflammatory after the General added that 7,000 such vehicles were already in use in the army and that they had been sold over the years at exorbitant prices, without anyone questioning it.
Singh's bid to flag concerns over the shortage of arms and ammunition and impress upon the Government the urgent need for immediate steps to shore up purchases also concluded in a widely publicised affair after the confidential letter directed to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was leaked to the media.
However, even though opinions stand divided among among former top officials of armed forces with some hailing him and others criticising him, Singh is widely credited with taking decisions that aimed to make India's 1.3 million-strong force more modern and efficient.
Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, he sought to downplay the controversies surrounding him, saying there is "no misunderstanding" between him and the defence ministry.
He also said defence minister AK Antony was "very clear headed" in supporting the armed forces.
"Certain controversies were created. Certain controversies erupted. Certain controversies can be ascribed to my dear media friends who have great imagination to see a ghost behind every bush," he said.
"There is no misunderstanding between the ministry of defence and us. Army is part of the government. We are one. Whatever we say is listened to," he added.
"I would say it has not concerned me at all. Somebody told me a lot of people throw insults at you. You actually deserve those insults is you react to them. If you are not concerned with those insults, don't react to them," Singh said.
Replying to a question over how he wished to be remembered, Singh said that he "wanted to be remembered as a soldier, as someone who upheld what the army stands for".
Singh, PVSM, AVSM YSM, ADC was a third generation officer of the Rajput Regiment.
An alumnus of Birla Public School, Pilani, the General was commissioned in 1970.
He was a recipient of Yudh Seva Medal, Ati Vishisht Seva Medal and Param Vishisht Seva Medal.
Singh has seen action in the liberation War of Bangladesh in 1971 and Op PAWAN in Sri Lanka in 1987, where he was awarded Yudh Seva Medal.
He has vast operational experience in Counter Insurgency Operations, Line of Control and High Altitude Area.
He has had a very illustrious career. He was a graduate of the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, US Army Rangers Course at Fort Benning, USA and US Army War College, Carlisle.
Singh has wide-ranging experience in various high profile command, staff and instructional appointments.
He has also commanded a Strike Corps in Western Sector, before taking over the command of the Eastern Army in March 2008. He has been an instructor at Infantry School and at IMTRAT, Bhutan.
During his tenure, Indian Army initiated a transformation process which seeks to restructure its organisations, capabilities equipment, training and mould our military values, traditions and mindsets, besides addressing host of aspects related to the Army’s functioning.
A time-bound roadmap was drawn up and the process is likely to fructify in near future.
Singh is also a keen sportsman and plays almost all troops games as well as tennis, badminton and golf.