Published By: Nibandh Vinod

Last Updated: December 16, 2023, 06:00 IST

Vijay Diwas, December 16th, 1971 war, India, Bangladesh, Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw, (Image: @adgpi/X, formerly Twitter)

December 16 is more than a date, it’s Vijay Diwas! Here’s a look at its story, grasp its meaning, and be inspired by Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw’s words. A day of victory, history, and heroes!

Vijay Diwas, celebrated on December 16 every year, commemorates the victory of the Indian armed forces over Pakistan during the 1971 war. On this day, India pays homage to all the soldiers who laid their lives to defend their nation.

On December 16, 1971, India won the war against Pakistan after a 13-day battle, which resulted in the creation of Bangladesh from erstwhile East Pakistan.

Accompanied by 93,000 Pakistani soldiers, General Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi, the head of Pakistan’s armed forces, surrendered to the combined forces of the Indian Army and the Mukti Bahini of Bangladesh. This was also the biggest-ever military surrender after World War II.

In Bangladesh, December 16 is celebrated as Bijoy Dibos or Victory Day.

On July 26, India also marks the Kargil Vijay Diwas to commemorate its victory over Pakistan in the 1999 Kargil War.

Who was Sam Manekshaw?

Sam Manekshaw was the Chief of the Army Staff during the 1971 Indo-Pakistani war. He was the first Indian Army officer to be promoted to the rank of field marshal. He is often regarded as the architect of India’s victory during the 1971 war.

Recently, a film, named Sam Bahadur, based on the life of Manekshaw, was released in theatres. Actor Vicky Kaushal played Manekshaw on the silver screen.

Vicky Kaushal starrer ‘Sam Bahadur’ is a film that tells the tale of Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw.

5 Inspirational Quotes by Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw

  1. “If a man says he is not afraid of dying, he is either lying or he is a Gurkha.”
  2. “Give me a man or a woman with common sense and who is not an idiot and I assure you can make a leader out of him or her.”
  3. “A ‘Yes man’ is a dangerous man. He is a menace. He will go very far. He can become a minister, a secretary or a Field Marshall but he can never become a leader nor, ever be respected.”
  4. “You should have to fight, a fight to win. There is no roof for losers, if you lose don’t come back.”
  5. “Professional knowledge and professional competence are the main attributes of leadership. Unless you know, and the men you command know that you know your job, you will never be a leader.”

History of Vijay Diwas

The 1971 war was triggered by a rebellion in East Pakistan against the then-Pakistani government. After the Awami League, led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, registered a thumping victory in the 1970 elections, the Pakistani military was accused of committing atrocities on Bengali-speaking people in the region.

Following the elections, the Pakistani military used force to influence the results. Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India, intervened and decided to give refuge to people who fled East Pakistan.

While Gandhi tried to seek international intervention on the matter, the situation escalated as Pakistan launched air strikes on 11 Indian airbases on December 3, 1971.

In retaliation, Gandhi ordered Army Chief General Sam Manekshaw to launch a full-scale war against Pakistan. The 13-day war resulted in the birth of Bangladesh. In August 1972, India and Pakistan signed the Shimla agreement as part of which India released 93,000 prisoners of war.


December 16 holds great significance in the history of modern India. It serves as a reminder of how India emerged as a celebrated nation during the war against Pakistan in 1971. On this day, India honours the bravery and strength of its armed forces. The 1971 war is also said to have altered the relationship between the US and the South Asian region.