Commissioned on March 31, 1972, into the Sikh Light Infantry (SIKHLI) Regiment, General Bikram Singh is an alumnus of the National Defence Academy and the Indian Military Academy. He also attended the US Army War College at Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
The 59-year-old General marks a generation shift in the army, being the first chief who has not seen action in a conventional war. The last conventional war India fought was in 1971 against Pakistan to liberate Bangladesh.
However, during the last major operation the Indian Army was involved in - the Kargil conflict in 1999 - he was posted in the Directorate General of Military Operations (DGMO) at Army Headquarters and used to conduct the daily media briefings.
General Singh's appointment as the Army Chief came after an intricate vetting process in the wake of an allegation that he was involved in a fake shootout in Kashmir. The police gave him a clean chit, but a petition on the issue is still pending with the Jammu and Kashmir High Court.
The defence ministry had sought a detailed clearance from intelligence agencies on his eldest daughter-in-law, who was said to be a Pakistani citizen. But intelligence agencies rubbished this and in fact informed the defence ministry that the daughter-in-law is a US citizen.
General Singh studied at Punjab Public School, Nabha. An avid sportsman, cricket, athletics and hockey were his favourite sports in school. Singing and painting were his other talents that also fetched him awards in school. He retains an avid interest in music, especially Indian classical music and Ghazals.
As a young student, the Army Chief had considered becoming a doctor. He was an exceptional student of Zoology and Biology. But the wars of 1962 and 1965 motivated him to join the National Defence Academy in Khadakvasla in 1968.
Known as 'Bikki' to his friends, General Singh has commanded a Rashtriya Rifles Sector in South Kashmir, an Infantry Division in Kashmir and the prestigious 15 Corps at Srinagar and as the Army Commander of Eastern Command. His staff appointments include four important tenures at the Army Headquarters, including the Director General Staff Duties (DGSD).
His international assignments include two with the United Nations in Central America and as the Deputy Force Commander and General-Officer- in Command (GOC) of Eastern Division in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
It was during his tenure as an instructor at the Commando Wing of the Infantry School that General Singh, then a young Captain, met, Surjeet Kaur - popularly known as 'Bubbles' in the army circles - at a family wedding. They were married within a month and have two sons.