GP CAPT TARUN KUMAR SINGHA VSM & BAR
Every Republic Day, a grateful nation acknowledges the contribution of our armed forces and the President of India honours a select few for their distinguished service or gallantry. Among those who figured in the list of Presidential awards on January 26, 2014, included Group Captain Tarun Kumar Singha, a serving Manipuri Indian Air Force (IAF) officer from Silchar, Assam, who was conferred Bar to Vishisht Seva Medal (VSM).
Gp Capt Singha is presently posted as the Chief Public Relations Officer of the Ministry of Defence at Kokata. He is also at present the longest serving PRO Defence having been in the field for 15 years since 1999, and is widely known in the media across the nation for his contribution.
At an impressive Investiture Ceremony held at Eastern Command Headquarters in Fort William on Thursday, January 15, 2015, coinciding with the 67th Army Day, Gp Capt Tarun Singha was awarded the Bar to VSM by Lt Gen MMS Rai, GOC-in-C, Eastern Command. Significantly, he was the only IAF officer to be awarded a medal at the ceremony, which is essentially held to honour army personnel.
Gp Capt Tarun is the son of Keithenlakpam Harendra and Basonti Singha from Silchar, Assam. Gp Capt Tarun is a second-generation IAF officer. His father was among the first Manipuri youths to join the IAF in the technical trades as early as 1960. He retired in the rank of an Honorary Flying Officer, a distinction that is awarded to those with an extremely distinguished career.
Bar to VSM signifies the second time consecutive award of VSM, which is an award for distinguished service of a high order to military personnel. Gp Capt Tarun was first awarded VSM in 2006. It was for the first time that any Manipuri officer from Assam to be given such an award.
With the award of a Bar to VSM, he does proud to the Manipuri community yet again.
Speaking to this paper after receiving the medal in the presence of his proud parents, Gp Capt Tarun dedicated the award to his late wife, Rekha, who sadly passed away only two months ago after a brief illness. “She was the motivation behind my hard work and today, which incidentally is also her birth anniversary, there could have been no better way to pay her my tributes,” an emotional Singha, said.
His singular achievement can be judged from the fact that he is the ninth IAF personnel ever in the history of IAF to receive this honour out of the nearly 1250 VSMs awarded till date since 1960 when it was fitst introduced.
The first Manipuri fighter pilot from Assam who began his career flying the Mig-21, he was commissioned in the IAF on June 14, 1985. He later also flew the helicopters and was posted in a flying unit in Guwahati, where only the best IAF pilots are posted to fly VIPs.
His natural flair for writing and other media-related interests made him the right choice to be selected as a spokesperson for Ministry of Defence (MoD).
He began his tenure as the Public Relations Officer from April 1999 at Shillong, just months ahead of the Kargil War.
He subsequently raised a new PR Unit for the in MoD Ahmedabad in 2003. Later, he was nominated the spokesperson for IAF From 2009 to 2011, in New Delhi. He is presently the Chief Public Relations Officer for the Defence Ministry at Kolkata since August 2011.
An avid documentary maker, Gp Capt Tarun has the rare distinction of having been also commended by all the three Services and also by the Indian Coasty Guard. He has been commended by the Chiefs of the Air Force and Army, by Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of South Western Air Command (Air Force), Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Western Naval Command (Indian Navy) and Commander Coast Guard (West) in his illustrious career.