Swaraj Parkash was born on 3 September 1923 in Jullundur Punjab of British India. He was commissioned into the Royal Indian Navy in December 1942 as a Midshipman. He was posted as an acting Sub-Lieutenant on 3 September 1943. Swaraj also attended the Naval College of UK for the Ling Navigation and Direction Course. He got promoted to the rank of Lt. Commander in 1952 after which he attended the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington in 1955.
Lt. Com. Parkash commanded the INS Krisna, INS Khukri, INS Betwa and many more world-class ships of the Indian Navy. Co. Swaraj Parkash also attended the Naval War College at Newport in the US.
During the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, Parkash was the head commander of the aircraft carrier INS Vikrant (R11). They were tasked to create havoc in Pakistani harbours by eliminating threats of Pakistani ships and tons of cargo being shifted from West Pakistan to East Pakistan. Parkash devised a strong plan for a frontal attack on Pakistani warships and thus, the Alize and Hawker Sea Hawk fighter jets from the INS Vikrant launched multiple bombings on Chittagong and Cox’s Bazaar. The constant airstrikes under the command of Lt. Co. Parkash resulted in the sinking of 11 Pakistani ships and destroying a huge amount of merchant cargo in Eastern waters. The new submarine of Pakistan, PNS Ghazi was also unsuccessful in defeating INS Vikrant despite multiple attempts. Commander Parkash beautifully played in the Indian waters causing a major loss to Pakistan and thus, protecting our coastline from possible dangers. INS Vikrant under Parkash’s strategic warfare strategies ghosted every Pakistani ship proving it to be a game-changer for India. The Bangladesh coast was dead scared of Indian troops due to battle skills shown by the Vikrant. For his exemplary bravery, meticulous planning and outstanding warfare leadership, Lt. Commander Swaraj Parkash was awarded the Maha Vir Chakra.
The citation read: “Captain Swaraj Parkash Commanded INS VIKRANT which was the nucleus of the Naval interdiction and strike force operating against the enemy in the Bay of Bengal. Throughout the period of those operations, the ship was operating in most hazardous waters and was the principal target both for the enemy Submarines and Aircraft. With indomitable spirit, he launched ceaseless offensive operations against the enemy. The successful air strikes from the VIKRANT had devastating effect on Ports all along the Bangladesh coast and completely denied the enemy the use of sea and island waterways. The complete supremacy of our Naval force symbolized by the VIKRANT paralyzed the enemy, shattered his morale and considerably expedited the enemy’s capitulation in the Eastern Theatre. Captain Swaraj Parkash displayed conspicuous gallantry inspiring leadership, professional skill and devotion to duty in keeping with the highest traditions of the Indian Navy.” After the war, Parkash was promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral in 1973 thus, presiding as the Deputy Chief of the Naval Staff. He also assumed command of the entire Western Fleet of Indian Navy and became the Flag Officer. On 2 April 1976, Parkash rose to the rank of Vice-Admiral and took over the Eastern Command. In 1978, he was awarded the Param Vishisht Seva Medal for his service. The Indian Coast Guard term came into action in 1978 and on 1 April 1980, Vice-Admiral Parkash became the Director-General of the ICG succeeding Vice-Admiral V A Kamath. He served there for two years finally retiring on 31 March 1982.