Rajput Regiment Soldiers

Rajput Regiment Soldiers
Infantry section of the 2nd Battalion, 7th Rajput Regiment in Arakan front, Burma 1943

Saturday, September 22, 2012


The following photos have been taken from various locations. Each photo conveys the difficult conditions under which the Indian Soldier was serving the British Empire.

The Indian Cavalry charging the enemy in the Mesopotamia war.

The Indian Cavalry advancing in Mesopotamia.

Indian soldiers preparing for mustard gas.

Indian Transport unit advancing in Mesopotamia.

Bengal Native Infantry Soldiers with the British Flag.

The North-West Frontier of India in 1897

 Preparing to advance on the Frontier - 1897

 An Indian Mountain Battery in action.

The Pay Book of 1920's and you would see nothing much has changed till date.

The cover: same format is used even today.

Similar certificate is pasted on a Paybook even today.

Monday, June 7, 2010


I have served in the Recruitment Directorate for over five years and this is  an attempt to pay back the Directorate which has served the nation by carrying this thankless job for last so many years.....
Col Deepak Joshi (Retd)

" The colour and pageantry of the old colonial Indian Army, and the rather nostalgic way it is remembered, can easily distract any analyst from understanding its primary purpose, namely, to act as an instrument of war raised and developed through necessity. The Indian Army, and its predecessors, the  East India Company and Presidency Armies, were designed to defeat Asian conventional armies, rebellions and insurgencies, and act as expeditionary forces from East Africa to East Asia. The various forms they took, so admired at the time and since, should be seen for what they were: tactical infantry formations specialising in conventional linear engagements, light artillery for mountain warfare, armed constabulary to ‘watch and ward’ on the frontiers, as light cavalry able to meet any emergency; and later: as fighter squadrons to defend Indian air space, destroyer crews to dominate the Bay of Bengal, or armoured regiments to fight their way to Rangoon against the Imperial Japanese Army. The various changes made to the Indian Army throughout its history reflected developments not only in technology or strategic threat, but reactions to failure and setback, attempts to incorporate diverse cultural expectations and the need to inculcate a specific military culture. Above all, change was through both necessity and a prescient recognition of changing tasks and roles. Unlike the armies of Persia, the Ottoman Empire, Afghanistan, Burma, or China, which failed to transform successfully, the Indian Army was equipped and guided through its evolution under European control."  Dr Rob Johnson, Oxford University.
The Indian Army of the Raj has no parallel in history. The Indian Army has its origins in the years after the Indian Rebellion of 1857, when in 1858 the Crown took over direct rule of British India from the East India Company. Before 1858, the precursor units of the Indian Army were units controlled by the Company and were paid for by their profits. These operated alongside units of the British Army, funded by the British government in London.  During the Great War of 1914-1918, The Indian Army sent hundreds of thousands of desperately needed soldiers to the fields of France & Flanders, the rocks of Gallipoli & Salonika, the mountains of East Africa & the North-West Frontier, and the deserts of Egypt, Palestine, Mesopotamia & Persia. By the time of the Armistice, the Indian Army emerged with a fighting record second to none, and could take pride in the work they had done. During the 1920's and 1930's, the Indian Army remained busy fighting on the Frontiers of India, while regimental life and sport maintained a high level of professionalism and esprit de corps.
In general, the army has steadily evolved into a more heterogeneous service since 1947. Regiments raised during and after World War II have recruited Indians of almost all categories, and the doubling of the army's size after the 1962 border war with China sped up the process. The armed forces have made a concerted effort to recruit among underrepresented segments of the population and, during the late 1970s and the early 1980s, reformed the recruiting process to eliminate some of the subjectivity in the candidate selection process. After a little unrest in the armed forces due to Operation Blue Star it was proposed that all the infantry units be intermixed [no Rajput regiment, Sikh regiment, etc]. But in the end the proposal was dropped. Since 1989 the government has sought to apportion recruitment from each state and union territory according to its share of the population. The Indian Army has still not discarded the colonial tradition of recruitment based on allotting vacancies category wise. Recruitment in army is based on intake from all categories so that equal opportunities are provided to one and all. Vacancies are filled biannually and categories to be filled are advertised accordingly.
-Secularism has been traditionally followed in the Indian Army. In mixed regiments, like the Guards, the Grenadiers, the Rajputana Rifles, the Punjab Regiment and the J&K Rifles, a prayer room is set aside for followers of all the faiths and equal time is allotted. Secularism does not exclude religion, but gives equal opportunity to all for saying their prayers.
 The largest of the colonial military forces was the British Indian Army. Up to Indian independence, this was a volunteer army, raised from the native population and staffed by British officers. The Indian Army served both as a security force in India itself and, particularly during the World Wars, in other theaters. The Indian Army proved a very useful adjunct to British forces wherever it served. Recruitment was entirely voluntary; about 1.3 million men served in the First World War, many on the Western Front, and 2.5 million in the Second. Initially the soldiers and NCO's were Indian, with British officers, but later Indian officers were promoted King's Commissioned Indian Officer. The Indian Army has remained volunteer Army till date.
The British Indian Army remained Bengal centric till about 1857, and then the Great Mutiny happened. This was the time when the balance of recruitment tilted towards North India, specially Punjab. Most drastic effect of this mutiny was a gradual shift in recruitment from Bengal Region was to Punjab. 
The Early Years     
The history of recruitment in India goes back to the Moghul times, when they introduced and refined the "Mansabdari " system. This system was used very effectively for obtaining a large army for campaigns, with minimal expenditure being incurred .Mansabdar was the generic term for the military -type grading of all imperial officials of the Mughal Empire. Inevitably, such a system bred a wide variation in training standards, loyalty, and morale, and uneven leadership. Nevertheless, for internal empire building, and keeping outlying principalities in line, this system worked. Notwithstanding this, the recruitment system , as we know it in the modern Indian Army, owes it's origins to the East Indian Company.
              "The East India Company is, or rather was, an anomaly without a parallel in the history of the world. It originated from sub-scriptions, trifling in amount, of a few private individuals. It gradually became a commercial body with gigantic resources, and by the force of unforeseen circumstances assumed the form of a sovereign power, while those by whom its affairs were directed continued, in their individual capacities, to be without power or political influence." — Bentley's Miscellany  (1858)
Lord Robert Clive
                    The natural fortifications of the island enclave, especially its excellent harbor, helped ensure Bombay’s rapid rise as a center of regional trade.

East India House in Leadenhall Street in the City of London in England was the headquarters of the British East India Company. It was built on the foundations of the Elizabethan mansion Craven House, the London residence of Sir William Craven, Lord Mayor of London, to designs by the merchant and amateur architect Theodore Jacobson and completed in 1729. Much of British India was governed from here until the British government took control of the Company's possessions in India on November 1, 1858.
In 1772, Calcutta became the capital of British India, and the first Governor General Warren Hastings moved all important offices from Murshidabad to Calcutta. It remained the capital of India uptill 1912.
The Arrival of East India Company
        The East India Company had the unusual distinction of ruling an entire country.  On 31 December 1600, a group of merchants who had incorporated themselves into the East India Company were given monopoly privileges on all trade with the East Indies. The Company's ships first arrived in India, at the port of Surat, in 1608. Sir Thomas Roe reached the court of the Mughal Emperor, Jahangir, as the emissary of King James I in 1615, and gained for the British the right to establish a factory at Surat. Gradually the British eclipsed the Portuguese and over the years they saw a massive expansion of their trading operations in India. Numerous trading posts were established along the east and west coasts of India, and considerable English communities developed around the three presidency towns of Calcutta, Bombay, and Madras. In 1717, the Company achieved its hitherto most notable success when it received a firman or royal diktat from the Mughal Emperor exempting the Company from the payment of custom duties in Bengal.
         The Company saw the rise of its fortunes, and its transformation from a trading venture to a ruling enterprise, when one of its military officials, Robert Clive, defeated the forces of the Nawab of Bengal, Siraj-ud-daulah , at the Battle of Plassey in 1757. A few years later the Company acquired the right to collect revenues on behalf of the Mughal Emperor, but the initial years of its administration were calamitous for the people of Bengal. The Company's servants were largely a rapacious and self-aggrandizing lot, and the plunder of Bengal left the formerly rich province in a state of utter destitution. The famine of 1769-70, which the Company's policies did nothing to alleviate, may have taken the lives of as many as a third of the population. The Company, despite the increase in trade and the revenues coming in from other sources, found itself burdened with massive military expenditures, and its destruction seemed imminent. State intervention put the ailing Company back on its feet, and Lord North's India Bill, also known as the Regulating Act of 1773, provided for greater parliamentary control over the affairs of the Company, besides placing India under the rule of a Governor-General.
The 31st Foot attacking the Sikh fortifications on the morning of the second day of the Battle of Ferozeshah : 21 December 1845
   The first Governor-General of India was Warren Hastings. Under his dispensation, the expansion of British rule in India was pursued vigorously, and the British sought to master indigenous systems of knowledge. Hastings remained in India until 1784 and was succeeded by Cornwallis, who initiated the Permanent Settlement, whereby an agreement in perpetuity was reached with zamindars or landlords for the collection of revenue. For the next fifty years, the British were engaged in attempts to eliminate Indian rivals, and it is under the administration of Wellesley that British territorial expansion was achieved with ruthless efficiency. Major victories were achieved against Tipu Sultan of Mysore and the Maratha's, and finally the subjugation and conquest of the Sikhs in a series of Anglo- Sikh Wars led to British occupation over the entirety of India.
The Army Under East India Company  Major Stringer Lawrence, who formed the first military units of the East India
Company in Madras in 1748, is regarded as ‘The Father of the Indian Army’. He organised the British Indian Army that was divided into three presidencies: Bengal, Madras and Bombay. The three presidencies formed their own armies which later on constituted the Indian Army: the Bengal Army ; the Madras Army ; and the Bombay Army (that arrived as a detachment when Bombay passed to the British as part of the dowry that Catherine of Braganza brought to her marriage to Charles II). The first British regulars, the 39th Foot, arrived in India in 1754 under the command of Colonel John Adlercron. He began the amalgamation of the East India Company’s Indian Army (European and Indian troops) and Royal British regulars (rented from the Crown and constituted the British Army) in India. Until this time all – British and Indian, Company and Royal troops – were officered  by Britons. 
                 The East India Company Army: The Company established the Three Presidencies of Madras, Bombay and Calcutta primarily to safe guard their factories and other commercial interests in India. By 1708 all factories were place under these Presidencies. The Presidential Armies grew in Size as the interests of the Company grew.. These Armies grew as distinctive Armies and the Indian soldier were referred as "Native Troops" and  were commanded by Indian Officers.In Bengal, the "Buxarries"  from Buxar were recruited and there were a total of 300 Indian soldiers in Bengal Army. In 1683, the Bombay Presidency recruited two companies of 500 Rajputs. Muslims and Topasses were also recruited thereafter. The Madras Army recruited Telingas from Telengana Region. The initial strength was some 150 soldiers and they were also known as Topasses.
            From as early as the 1770s, the British East India Company army officials began to compete with Indian rulers in recruiting peasant soldiers from the zamindaris of Bihar, the Benaras Raj and the Awadh Nawabi. The comparative success of the Company in recruiting its peasant army gradually drew these Indian polities into its military and monetary orbit.  From 1802, the East India Company began its expansion into the region of the Farrukhabad Nawabi, the Rohilkhand state and the Shinde and Samru territory, for which it urgently required cavalry regiments to control revenue-bearing territories as well as meet the challenges of the mounted armies of the Marathas, the Mewatis and the Pindaris. It is here that people like  James Skinner, William Linnaeus Gardner and the Irish mercenary George Thomas helped East India Company lay the foundation of a military tradition in North India. The employment of officers like James Skinner introduced into the Company`s army certain military practices of this Indian state and the conception of military honour into the Company`s army.
It was only after the Battle of Calcutta in 1757, that the  First Regiment of Bengal  Native Infantry was raised, nicked named 'Lal Paltan'. It consisted of recruits from Bihar, Oudh, Doab, Rohilkhand and some even from West of Indus River. Men were recruited after due care and ascertaining their  physique & background. These regiments had Pathans, Muslims, Rohilas, Jats, Rajputs and Brahmins . It did not have local Bengalis. Madras Presidency also decided to raise its sepoys battalions on the lines of Clive's "Lal Paltan". Bombay Presidency got it's Lal Paltan in 1760. The sepoys of East India Company were dressed and trained just like their European counterparts. They were initially led by Indian Officers, who showed outstanding qualities of leadership. Men with rural backgrounds, lacking education, characterised both European and Indian infantrymen and troopers.The Indian recruits had to stand 5’7’’ tall and meet the same physical standards as would any British enlisted man. There was little ideological about this, and the approach was universal. Discipline was firm for both, but was proven, time after time, to be necessary to drill men to overcome their instinctive desire to save themselves in a close quarter battle.  Another major reason for the recruitment of troops in India had been the need to find employment for unskilled men who might otherwise foment disorder, a strategy the British had used successfully  North America and in Scotland.  Christian evangelism was opposed by the Company in India because, as the Commander in Chief, Charles Cornwallis, stated, " They might: ‘endanger a government which owes its principal support to a native army composed of men of high caste whose fidelity and affections we have hitherto secured by an unremitted attention not to offend their religious beliefs"

From 1802, the East India Company began its expansion into the region of the Farrukhabad Nawabi, the Rohilkhand state and the Shinde and Samru territory. The Company urgently required cavalry regiments to control revenue-bearing territories as well as meet the challenges of the mounted armies of the Maratha's, the Mewatis and the Pindaris against whom this part of the Doab had acted as a buffer zone.James Skinner is regarded as a representative for a category of European and Eurasian military leaders, who had determined the East India Company`s cavalry-based military tradition. He raised Skinner's Horse (now called First HORSE) in 1803. Later William Linnaeus Gardner  raised Gardner's Horse in 1809 (now called 2nd Lancers).  The employment of officers like James Skinner who had successful careers in the Maratha army of Shinde, introduced into the Company`s army certain military practices of this Indian state. Most important however was the incorporation of the Mughal practice of recruitment and conception of military honour into the Company`s army. To raise the Cavalry units, they borrowed/ took on hire horses and riders from local Rajas/ PrincesBy the 1840s, much of the sub-continent was under Company rule or allied to it. The Bombay Presidency had recruited such a large number of local sepoys by 1805 that it could muster over 26,000men, while Madras and Bengal could each muster a further 64,000 each.
           The first Sikh Corps was raised by Capt Rattray as Bengal Military Police Battalion , which was subsequently changed to 45 Bengal Infantry. in 1857.      The composition of Indian Troops in 1856 under the East India Company was as follows:
  •      Bengal Army- 1,37,571 Indian Troops belonging to Cavalry, Artillery, Sappers & Miners and Infantry. Of these approximately 10% were Muslims and the rest Hindus/ Sikhs.
  •   Bombay Army - It consisted of 44,929 Indian Troops. The caste composition was approximately 33% were Hindus/ Muslims from North India, 33% Maratha's and the balance were lower caste Mahars.
    • Madras Army  - It consisted of 49,252 Indian Troops. The composition was mainly Muslims from North and lower caste Hindus from Telengana Region.

    Recruitment Catchment Areas of the Three Presidencies

    Bihar, Oudh, Agra, Punjab, Nepal. (Caste based recruitment)
    Madras, Hyderabad, Central Provinces, Burma. (Supra-caste,
    religion & class recruitment)
    Bombay, Sindh, Rajputana, Aden. (Supra-Caste, Class & religion) Gorkhas were later added to this region.

    Changes After 1857         On 1 November1858, Queen Victoria assumed the governance of India. It was appreciated that the British could no longer function in India purely as a military power. They, therefore, concentrate on improving their system of administration and introducing social reforms.    
                     In 1895 the Presidency Armies were abolished and the process commenced of dividing Indian Army into four commands that is Punjab, which included North-West Frontier and Punjab Frontier Force; Bengal; Madras which included Burma, and Bombay which included Sind, Quetta and Aden. Certain units and local corps, however, remained directly under the Government of India.
                In November 1902, Lord Kitchener became Commander-in-Chief and immediately set to work on further reorganisation and redistribution of the Army in India. Since the recruitment pattern shifted further towards the north-central areas towards the end of 19 Century, in 1903 it again became necessary for Indian battalions to be given new names like Madrassis, Punjabis, Bengal Infantry (with the term ‘native’ dispensed with much earlier), Marathas, Rajputs, Sikhs, Jats, Garhwalis, Moplahs and so on, depending on their recruiting pattern. To cite an example, the initial five battalions of the Madras Presidency were further re designated as ‘Punjabi’ battalions. By adding a numerical 60 to their Madras Infantry designation, these battalions then became 67, 69, 72, 74, and 87 ‘Punjabis’ respectively. A similar restructuring took place in the other Presidencies.
        Lord Kitchner completed the unification of Indian Army, which had begun in1895. Further reorganisation to include a centralised command and control was resorted to in 1903. The four commands were reduced to two, that is Northern Army and Southern Army, and all infantry regiments after re-numbering were grouped into brigades and divisions placed under permanent commanders with staff.
    Changes in Recruitment Policies
        One of the major change which took place in recruitment policy was to separate the catchment area of recruitment from the area where the Indian Sepoy was to serve. Unlike the East India Company which believed in using the Indians for operations in the areas where they belonged, to make use of their local expertise, the British wanted to use them away from their native places, one of the after effects of the “Indian  Sepoy Mutiny”. Another change was to make the Native Infantry Provincial in nature and not base it on caste system alone. This was to avoid the two major problems which the British perceived, firstly the community feeling which caste system recruitment generated and secondly to avoid the “Mischievous” political activity & intrigue which resulted from association with other races & castes in that area. In order to avoid the discontent amongst Natives on postings away from home, the word Native was dropped from all designations of all Infantry Regiments in the year 1885. The Regiments were now called Bengal Infantry, Bombay Infantry and Madras Infantry.  Another fallout of the Mutiny was that in order to contain such rebellion in future the British were compelled to recruit soldiers from the Punjab. Gradually, the base of recruitment to the British Indian army shifted west, from the UP and Bihar to the Punjab and now Haryana.
    By the end of the nineteenth century, recruitment was confined to certain social classes and communities--principally those in the Northern border areas and Punjab. The narrowing recruitment base was a response to the Sepoy Rebellion and reflected the needs of prevailing security requirements. The bulk of the rebels in the Bengal Army came from the Indo-Gangetic Plain while those that had remained loyal were mostly from Punjab. The experience of the mutiny also gave rise to a pseudo-ethnological construction, the concept of "martial races" in South Asia. The popularization of this notion was widely attributed to Frederick Sleigh Roberts, Earl of Kandahar, Pretoria, and Waterford.
     Roberts was an Indian-born veteran of the British forces that put down the Sepoy Rebellion and the Commander in Chief of the British Indian Army from 1885 to 1893. He  believed that the most martial races were located in northwestern India. He regarded Bengalis, Marathas, and Southern ethnic groups as lacking in martial virtues. Their warlike propensities, he contended, had dissipated because of the ease of living and the hot, enervating climate of these regions. Roberts's views profoundly influenced the composition of the British Indian army in the last decades of the nineteenth century. For example, when the Bengal Army was reestablished in 1885, its new units were drawn from Punjab. (Martial Class will be dealt with in detail else where in the blog)
    In 1892 army policy was changed significantly. Units were no longer raised on a territorial basis but along what was referred to as "class" lines. In effect, regiments admitted only those having similar ethnic, religious, or caste backgrounds. Between 1892 and 1914, recruitment was confined almost entirely to the martial races. These modes of recruitment and organization created a professional force profoundly shaped by caste and regional factors and loyal and responsive to British command. The procedures also perpetuated regional and communal ties and produced an army that was not nationally based.
           Raising of Class regiments & Recruitment Centres: Recruiting Centres were established in 1891 and "Class Regiments" in 1892 completed the process of edging out non martial races of the "Softer Races" of Southern and Eastern Provinces from the Army. Recruiting Depots  under District Recruiting Officers were set up first time when in Bengal Army. In 1892 it was decided to reorganise Sixteen Infantry Regiments of Bengal Army into " Class Regiments" of well known fighting class viz The Rajputs, Jats, Sikhs, Gorkhas, Muslims, Garhwalis, Multanis, Pathans, Kumaonies, pathans, Dogras, and Punjabies.It was felt that it would foster a greater degree of espirit de corps and induce keener and more healthier rivalry between regiments. It was also aimed to divide the class and communities for the larger interest of the British Empire. The system of recruiting centres was also introduced into Bombay Army. It comprised of Marathas, Punjabies, Baluchies, jats, Rajputs, Decanni Brahmins, Telengana Christians, low caste Brahmins / Rajputs / Marathas and Gurasians.                        

     The first Indian officers, recruited into the Indian Army under the British in 1905, came from aristocratic families. They were Zorawar Singh of Bhavnagar Princely State, Wali-ud-din Khan of Paigah in Hyderabad, Kanwar Amar Singh of Kanota in Jaipur, and Aga Kassim Shah nephew of the Aga Khan. Although enjoying internal autonomy, the princely states were not completely disconnected from the changes occurring in British India. Their military forces in particular mirrored the organization of the Indian Army. The necessary organisational or bureaucratic approach to the recruitment and management of the army enabled the British to overcome the problems of the pre-1857 army, where customs and caste prejudices had impaired military efficiency.The three essentially  elements which contributed to this were : 1. the welfare system which provided incentives to enlistment and long service;2. regimental organisation, which absorbed the clan and caste ethos of various communities and created new identities; and 3. the courts martial system which imposed a moderate system of coercion to assist with the cohesion and integrity of the individual units. 

        There were no changes in the Recruitment Policy during the World war I except increased Army strength, introduction of new equipment, guns, cavalry and mules due to mobilisation of the Army for employment over sea's.


    No Province Combatant

    Non Combatant Recruitment Total Recruitment
    1 Madras 51,223

    41,117 92,340
    2 Bombay 41,272

    30,211 71,483
    3 Bengal 7,117

    51,935 59,052
    4 United Province 1,63,578

    1,17,565 2,81,143
    5 Punjab 349,688

    97,288 4,46,976
    6 NWFP 32,181 13,050 45,231
    7 Baluchistan 1,761

    327 2,088
    8 Burma 14,094

    4,579 18,673
    9 Bihar and Orissa 8,576

    32,976 41,552
    10 Central Provinces 5,376

    9,631 15, 007
    11 Assam 942

    14,182 15,124
    12 Ajmer & Merwara 7,341

    1,632 8,973

    Total 683,149

    4,14,493 10,97,642


    World War II : Class Composition

    Class Composition in the Indian Army remained as it had been introduced in 1892. However its applicability was at variance as it was followed rigidly in case of Arms, but was not so rigidly followed in case of recruitment into Services. Except for South Indian Classes from Southern India and Marathas, recruitment in Services was biased towards North and North Western India from amongst the so called “martial Classes”.
    As a result of the policy of recruitment in vogue during those days, regiments and units of Arms had particular Classes recruited in them and thus became one class or Fixed Class regiments/ units. The only exception was in the case of recruitment of Southern Indian wherein these units, were mixed class composition.
    During World War II, the strength was increased manifold. As a requisite number of volunteers were not available from the earlier preferred areas/ regions/ races/ classes/ castes, the recruitment was thrown open to other regions of India as well. The resultant effect of this changed policy was as follows:
    • ASSAM, BIHAR and MAHAR Regiments were raised in 1941. With this the recruitment into Army was thrown open to residents of Assam, Bihar, Orissa, Hill Tracts of North East India and the Mahars from Maharastra.
    • SIKH LI Regiment , which was disbanded in 1933 was re-raised in 1941.
    • Recruitment into Signal regiment and other Services was thrown open to all, irrespective of Class/ caste/ region/ area. This resulted in broad basing recruitment into Services including Signal Regiment.
    Physical Criteria
    Physical  Standards for recruitment relate to the height, chest and weight measurement of a recruit.  Prior to World War II, the physical standards were laid down for recruitment into Arms and Services and were common for all classes/ casts/ regions and areas of India, the racio-ethnic differences was taken into account. This was making availability of volunteers further difficult.  During WWII, not only the physical standards were laid down, but medical standards  and age of recruitment also underwent a change. The ages for recruitment were further relaxed in June 1942. Physical Standards laid before the beginning of the WWI and applicable till June 1942 were as follows:
           Class                      Height             Chest           Weight
    • Muslims/ Sikhs                5’6”                 331/2”              115 lbs/ Jats / Rajputs/Ahirs
    • Dogras                             5’ 5”                 34"                  115 lbs
    • Kumaonies/                     5’6”                   341/2”            118 lbs
    • Madrasies                        5’4”                   331/2”           110 lbs
    • Gurkhas                            5’0”                  33”                110 lbs

    The Martial Class Theory of the British
    Martial Race was a designation created by Army officials of British India, who observed that the Scottish Highlanders were more fierce in battle than others in Britain, and extended this concept to India, where they classified each ethnic group into one of two categories: 'Martial' and 'Non-Martial'. A 'martial race' was typically considered brave and well-built for fighting. The 'non-martial races' were those whom the British believed to be unfit for battle because of their sedentary lifestyles. "Race" in 19th century terminology corresponds to the contemporary term "ethnic group", and is here not used in the sense of the "great races" of scientific racism corresponding to modern notions of race. The British faced fierce resistance in some regions while easily conquering some others. The British officials sought 'martial races' accustomed to hunting or agricultural cultures from hilly or mountainous regions with a history of conflict. Still others were excluded due to their 'ease of living' or branded as seditious agitators. The doctrine of 'martial races' postulated that the qualities that make a useful soldier are inherited and that most Indians, with the exception of the specified groups, did not have the requisite genes that would make them warriors.
    The British recruited heavily from the 'martial races' for service in the colonial army. Sensing the inequalities and fierce loyalty to one's tribe or group of the diverse native peoples of the subcontinent, the British found opportunities to use it to their own great advantage. These already wide divides were a fertile breeding ground to inculcate pride in one's identity based on 'race'. This served the British in two ways. On the one hand it made sure that there was no repeat of the Indian rebellion of 1857 by ensuring there was no unity among the different subjects of the Raj. On the other hand it encouraged a sense of competition among the different 'races'.
    A British general and scholar, Lieutenant-General Sir George MacMunn (1869–1952) noted in his writings "It is only necessary for a feeling to arise that it is impious and disgraceful to serve the British, for the whole of our fabric to tumble like a house of cards without a shot being fired or a sword unsheathed". To this end, it became British policy to recruit only from those tribes whom they classified as members of the 'martial races' and the practice became an integral part of the recruitment manuals for the Army in the British Raj. According to Dr. Jeffrey Greenhut, "The Martial Race theory had an elegant symmetry. Indians who were intelligent and educated were defined as cowards, while those defined as brave were uneducated and backward."
    The British regarded the 'martial races' as valiant and strong but also intellectually challenged, lacking the initiative or leadership qualities to command large troops. They were also regarded as politically subservient or docile to authority. For these reasons, the 'martial races' theory did not apply in the case of officer recruitment, which was based on social class and loyalty to the British Raj. One source calls this a "pseudo-ethnological" construction, which was popularised by Frederick Sleigh Roberts, and created serious deficiencies in troop levels during the World Wars, compelling them to recruit from 'non-martial races'. In fact, Winston Churchill was reportedly concerned that the theory was abandoned during the war and wrote to the Commander-in-Chief, India that he must, "rely as much as possible on the martial races". After Indian Independence, the Indian Army abandoned this theory and recruitment took place without discrimination.
    Critics of this theory state that the Indian rebellion of 1857 may have played a role in reinforcing the British belief in 'martial races'. During this event some Indian troops (known as 'Sepoys'), particularly n Bengal, mutinied, butloyal' Pathans, Punjabis, Gurkhas, Kumaoni/Kumaunis and Garhwalis did not join the mutiny and fought on the side of the British Army. From then on, this theory was used to the hilt to accelerate recruitment from among these 'races', whilst discouraging enlistment of 'disloyal' Bengalis and high-caste Hindus who had sided with the rebel army during the war.] Some authors, such as Heather Streets, argue that the military authorities puffed up the images of the martial soldiers by writing regimental histories, and by extolling the kilted Scots, kukri-wielding Gurkhas and turbaned Sikhs in numerous paintings. The 'Martial Race' theory has also been described as a clever British effort to divide and rule the people of India for their own political ends.

     The Rajput Regiment
                                                                                                                                  The hill men Kumaonis, Garhwalis, Dogras and Gorkhas were initially a great impediment to the establishment of the British Empire but once they gave their loyalty to the British they helped them greatly in their administration and were thus conferred the status of martial race. Kumaonis had helped the British in their efforts against the Gurkhas in the Nepal War. When they were observed by the British to be fighting from both sides — the British as well as the Gorkha side — their valour was given recognition by the British and they were included in the British Army. It is interesting to note that the 3rd Gorkha Rifles was known as the Kumaon battalion when it was formed and it included Kumaonis as well as the Garhwalis along with the Gorkhas. The Kumaonis, once accepted as a martial race, were themselves to be recruited in the Hyderabad regiment and displace the native troops, ultimately becoming the Kumaon Regiment after Independence of India.
    The biggest loser in the implementation of the Martial Races theory were the units of native infantry and cavalry of the Madras Presidency. After the 1857 uprising, the military hierarchy of British India disbanded the local troops of South Indian origin and replaced them with troops of the so called martial races. This action was a poor reward to the Madras Army which had defeated Tipu Sultan and the Marathas and had remained loyal throughout the mutiny. It is in this manner, that the Punjab Regiment became the most senior regiment of the Indian Army as it originated from the first Madras Native Infantry battalions.

    British declared 'martial races' in India, listed in alphabetical order:
    §                                        Ahir/Jadhav/Yadavs
    §                     Awans
    §                     Bengali (excluded after rebellion)
    §                     Bhumihar ( excluded later after rebellions )
    §                     Dogra
    §                     Gakhars
    §                     Qaimkhanis
    §                     Garhwalis 
    §                     Gurkhas
    §                                          Jats
    §                     Janjua
    §                     Gujjar
    §                     Meena
    §                     Kamboj/Kamboh 
    §                     Kodava (Coorgs)
    §                     Khokhar 
    §                     Tarkhan (Punjab)
    §                     Kumaoni/Kumaunis 
    §                     Mukkulathors
    §                     Mahars
    §                     Dhund Abbasis
    §                     Sainis of Punjab 
    §                     Satti
    §                     Sudhan
    §                     Nairs (removed after rebelling)
    §                     Pathans
    §                     Rajputs
    §                     Sikhs
    §                     Tanolis
    The Marathas were classified as 'non-martial', ignoring the military achievements of the Maratha Empire or the Maratha Regiment's contribution against the Turks during the First World War, when they were recruited by the British Indian Army. However, the Jadhavs, the Dhangars and the Mahars considered by British as martial races belong to the Marathi community. Marāthā has three related usages: within the Marathi speaking region it describes the dominant Maratha caste or to the Maratha and Kunbi castes together; outside Maharashtra or generally it can refer to the entire regional population of Marathi-speaking people; historically, it describes the Maratha Empire founded by Shivaji in the seventeenth century and continued by his successors, which included many castes.
                                                   Indian troops in Burma  
    The Mahars were recruited by the Maratha King Shivaji  Maharaja scouts and fort guards in his army. They were also heavily recruited by the British East India Company, at one part forming one-sixth of the Company's Bombay Army. The Bombay Army especially favoured the Mahar troops for their bravery and loyalty to the Colours, and also because they could be relied upon during the Anglo-Maratha Wars. They achieved many successes, most notably on the 1st of January 1818, when 500 men of the 2nd Battalion 1st Regiment of the Bombay Native Light Infantry along with 250 cavalrymen and 24 cannon defeated 20,000 horsemen and 8,000 foot soldiers of the Maratha Army in what would be called the Battle of Koregaon. This battle was commemorated by an obelisk, known as the Koregaon pillar, which featured on the Mahar Regiment crest until Indian Independence. The Bombay Army also saw action in the Indian Mutiny of 1857, and two regiments (the 21st and 27th) joined the revolt under the British.
    The South Indian troops who had proved their valour in the battlefields of central and south India were disbanded after 1857 to make way for more martial races. The recruitment of 'Madrassis' for infantry only took place during the Second World War when large numbers of troops were required to defend British Empire in the form of a newly raised Madras Regiment. The Nairs of Kerala were initially included in the list, however after the Nairs of Travancore rebelled against the British under Velu Thampi Dalawa, they were recruited in lower numbers.
    The martial race classification, which was created by the British, still has a huge influence on the recruiting policies of the Indian Army.
    -->   Expansion of the Army
    The initial expansion of the Indian Army during the war was based very largely on it's pre war class composition. Only as the war progressed was the field of recruitment widened to include many new classes/ castes/ races/ areas from  the whole of India.. Before the British created Manpower Directorate in the Army Headquarters, demands of recruitment was placed by the Recruitment Depots and Centres directly on the Recruitment Centres. This almost always resulted in a lopsided demand for recruits from some prominent "Martial Classes" like Sikhs, Jats, Gurjars, Ahirs, Marathas and  Pathans. Although intensive propaganda & advertisement was carried out amongst these much in demand classes, the recruitment demand was never met in full. There were many factors for the demand not being met in full, the important ones are as follows:
    • The agriculture produce fetched very high prices during the war period.
    • Cost of casual labour was very high and landlords discouraged their own sons, as also the sons of their tenants to join the army.
    • The pay in non technical arms was poor compare to what a labourer was able to make at home.
    • The fear of posting to a foreign land also played it's part.
    Despite the above mentioned problems, Indians came in numbers to join the Army. During the period  from 1939 to 1945, the British Indian Army expanded from some 1,75,000 to 2,000,00, and it was all voluntary. The details of recruitment from various regions/ states during World War II was as follows:
    • Bombay region         -  1,00,000
    • Southern region        -  5,00,000
    • Punjab                       -  8,00,000
    • Central India             -     25,000
    • UP                             -  4,00,000
    • Assam                       -     20,000
    • Bengal region           -  2,00,000
    • Bihar                         -  1,00,000
    • Other States             -  2,00,000
    • Nepal                        -  1,25,000 
    It is a matter of interest to note that over 36,000 Indian members of the armed forces were killed or went missing in action, and 64,354 were wounded during the war. Indian personnel received 4,000 awards for gallantry, and 31 VCs. The only VC winner from elsewhere in the Empire was Corporal Sefanaia Sukanaivalu, of the Fiji Military Forces, who earned this highest of all commendations in June 1944, at Bougainville.
     The recruitment of Pathans was specially very difficult due to the very rigid tribal composition in units/ regiments.By the end of the World war II, recruitment in Army had been introduced to almost all parts of the country, but with varying success.Recruitment from Baluchistan, Sind and Assam equaled to the desertions of troops from these areas. recruitment from Sind and Baluchistan stopped. However continued with some success from Assam particularly in the Assam regiment. However recruitment of Assamese in Royal  Indian Army Service Corps  (Transport) was discontinued for their high rate of desertion, specially after completion of training. By the time the War ended, Punjab was the most represented state in the Army, followed by Madras. In fact Armoured Corps was the only arm, in which the troops from Madras State were not represented.
    The expansion of the catchment for recruitment during the war resulted in a number of tribes/ classes/ castes being enrolled in the Indian Army. The following is the list of classes which did not have representation in Army before the war, but were enrolled during the war and were subsequently accepted. These are:
    • Assamese - Enrolled mainly for RIASC (MT, Indian Pioneer Corps and Assam regiment
    • Bengali's  -  Enrolled mainly in Indian Pioneer Corps.
    • Bihar Aboriginals - Accepted for Infantry and Indian Pioneer Corps.
    • Brahmins - Accepted in all arms & services.
    • Schedule Castes - Initially accepted only in Indian Pioneer Corps, but later on recruited in Animal Transport Units,, Royal ASC (MT), They even had their own Infantry Regiment called " Chamar Regiment", however it was soon disbanded and remnants merged the Punjab Regiment.

    • Bombay &; Central Provinces. There were  miscellaneous classes found in the specified areas, they were accepted for Royal ASC ( MT)  and Indian Pioneer Corps.
    • Dotials - Accepted for Pioneer Corps  and did some excellent job on the Burma Front.
    • Gilgits - Accepted for Mountain Artillery Training Centres ( MACT) and the First Punjab Regiment. where they were mixed with muslim troops.
    • Kabirpanthis - They are from the areas of Dogras and were mixed with them in DOGRA units
    • Lingayats - By the end of the war an entire garrison battalion was Lingayats was included in the Maratha Light Infantry. A large portion of these tropps came from the Hyderabad State.
    • Mahsuds - They were accepted specially for Royal ASC (MT) where they proved themselves.
    • Mahars - Before the war they were only enrolled in the Territorial Army units of the Maratha Light Infantry, however on raising of the Mahar Regiment in 1941, they were enrolled for the MAHAR Regt.
    • Oriyas - They were enrolled for the Indian Pioneer Corps.
    Recruitment Organisation in General Headquarters
    Before 1939 the recruiting staff at General Headquarters was concerned only with recruitment of Combatants and non combatants in Indian Army. In jan 1940, a Director of Recruiting was appointed, of the rank of a brigadier. later on recruitment of all three services was over seen by the Director Recruitment. He was given a section each from Navy and Air force for this task. A small secretariat was added to the recruiting directorate. It consisted of  an Officer Supervisor (Recruiting)for coordination of recruitment of all three services. The organisation of a typical recruiting centre was:
    • Recruiting Officer (ROs)- Lt Col.
    • Deputy Recruiting Officer (DROs) - Lt Col / Major 
    • Assistant Recruiting Officer (ARO) - Major/ Captain
    • Senior Recruiting  Medical Officer (SRMOs) - Major, IMS, IAMS
    •  Recruiting Medical Officer (RMO)- captain/ or a civilian Doctor including  Private medical Practitioner.
    • Extra Assistant Recruiting Officers (EAROs)- Civilians/ non gazetted status or ex VCOs.
    • Honorary Assistant Recruiting Officers (HAROs)- Local Influential Civilians of status.
    • Paid Recruiters (PRs)- Civilians or ex soldiers.
     Immediately after India gained Independence, Recruitment in Army was being looked after by MT-5, then under AG's Branch.  Subsequently Recruitment Directorate was put under MT Branch. A number of  retired JCO's and NCO's were re employed as civilian EARO's or as JCO's / NCO's in one rank below which they retired / were discharged. They could earn their second pension if they completed the required service satisfactorily. 

    Post Independence 

    The need for abolishing prefential treatment for the so called Martial Races and to broad based recruitment into the Army was felt on independence. The broad based recruitment policy was initiated in 1947 but it's implementation was put aside due to the external threat India faced in 1948. A start was again made in 1948 when recruitment in certain units of Armoured Corps , Artillery, Infantry which hitherto had 'Fixed Class' was opened to all citizens (All Class). This measure was in addation to the Services and certain Corps like Signals where recruitment was already opened to All Class. On 01 Feb 1949 the Ministry of Defence, Government of Indiaissued a press conference note announcing that "With a view to eliminating communal and caste differences in the Indian Army so as to make it representative of nationals in the Army. , it has been decided to abolish class composition based on Fixed Percentages and recruitmentto Army is open to All Classes"  This was emphasised by Gen KM Cariappa, the then COAS, in various forums including during his visit to units and formation and address to troops and civil gatherings. The whole idea of Martial and non martial races was abhorrrent to the COAS. "We are all Martial, every one of us, I do not understand why any body still gives publicity to this nonsence of Martial Races." said General Cariappa. Considering this, Bengalies, who were considered non martial class were recruited and a nucleus of 200 recruits to form Bengali Companies later to be merged with the Rajput Regiment to be trained at Rajput Regiment Training Centre at Fathegarh in Uttar Pradesh. 

        In order to make the Indian Army more broad based, Indian Army Order was published in 1949. The gist of this order was as follows:-

    • Except for the Armoured Corps and Infantry, new raisings of all Arms / Services / Corps will be on mixed class basis, and recruitment in to these will be thrown open to all class, creed or region.
    • Steps wil be taken to reorganise the existing one class / fixed class units of the afected Arms / Services to ensure that theses are organised on class less composition as soon as possible.
                                                   Gen KM Cariappa,
    Subsequently in 1953 again order was issued to make the recruitment more based into a number of other units of certain Arms / Services to make the Indian Army more broad based and recruitment directorate was directed to draw bulk of their recruits from rural areas.

    In 1963 a Stastical  Analysis was carried out on the recruitment in the Army and based on the results the following was decided:-
    • New units / regiments being raised in Paras, Guards, and certain units of Grenadiers , Rajputs, Marathas will have certail All India All Class.
    • To increase the representations from the Eastern and North East  Areas two addational battalions were alloted to Assam Regiment.
    • To increase the representation of Oriyas, two addational battalions were alloted to Bihar Regiment.
    • New raising in Artillery to have Khaim Khanis, Schedule castes from Northern Zone, Bengalis and Oriyas.
    • Subsequently the representation of All Classes for Eastern Zone, Ahirs, Gujjars, Schedule Castes from Northern Zone, Khaim Khanis, Hindustani Mussalams from UP/ MP, Other Indian Castes from Gujrat, Mysore and West Bengal was increased in Artillery.
    Recruitment based on Recruitable Male Population (RMP)
    After the Indo Pak war of 1965 the recruitment was again reviewed and a phased programme was drawn to regulate recruitment demands to various States/ Zones in proporation to the Recruitable Male Population (RMP).  RMP is defined as that proporation of the population which is minimum class 5 pass and between 17 to 25 years of age. It was computed by Dr NT Mathew the then Chief Stastical Officer, that this was 11.7% of the Total Male Population. For ease of calculation this has been rounded off to 10%.
    In 1967 it was decided that recruitment vacancies of All India all Class will be distributed in proporation to a Zone/ State's RMP. This will ensure more equitable distributation of these vacancies. Vacancies of the Zones/ States which were the traditional recruitment areas for the Army was gradually reduced 10% annually so as not to upset/ adversely affect the employment prospects in these areas in a phased manner.
     This issue of broad basing the recruitment was again raised by the civilian bureaucrats in 1971. They were of the opinion that the entire recruitment be done on All India All Class and all caste / class based recruitment be gradually reduced.  The then COAS of the Army Gen SHFJ Maneksaw ordered a Board of Officers headed by a Maj Gen  to examine all issues raised by the Ministry of Defence and put up a comprehensive report. Due to the 1971 war, the study group could only give their report in mid 1973. The main recommendation of the Study Group were as follows:-
    • Recruitment in Armoured and Artillery was recommended to be made fully broad based in next 20 years.
    • No change was recommended in the Engineers except that the share of Sikhs (M&R) was to be reduced from 40% to 20% in the Bombay Engineers.
    • Recruitment in the Services and Signals was recommended to be based RMP on All India All Caste basis as hitherto fore.
    • No change was recommended in recruitment in Infantry.
    • The existing physical standards were recommended to be continued. Changes were recommended  in weight which was recommended to conform to the height and age.
    • Minimum class 5 was laid for recruitment in Infantry.  However existing education standards were recommended to be revised to accommodate differing pattern of education in the country.
    • The existing Zonal Recruiting Organisation and Branch Recruiting Organisations were recommended to be increased.
     Present Policy
    At present all vacancies are filled in Army based on the following:-

    • Fixed Class Vacancies: These are those vacancies which are alloted specific to a caste / class e.g RAJPUT or SIKH or JAT or KUMAON or GARHWAL and so on. These vacancies are for units / regiments having a fixed / mixed class composition e.g. Rajput Regt / Jat Regt / Sikh Regt etc.
    • All India All Class: These are those vacancies which are alloted for enrolmentof any person of India irrespective of his class / region / areaand so on. as in Signals / Army Medical Corps / Electrical Mechinal Engineers and so on.
    All vacancies are alloted strictly as per the Recruitable Male  Population (RMP) of that Zone / Region / Regiment etc. No dilutation in this is accepted and it is ensured that al enrollment takes place based on RMP, for example the vacancies for the following castes are alloted strictly based on the RMP of that caste for that particular state / region:-
    • SIKHS(Other than M&R): Rajasthan 5%, UttarPradesh 5%, NCR 5%, Haryana 10% and Punjab 75%.
    • SIKH (M&R): Rajasthan 5%, Undivided UttarPradesh 5%, NCR 5%, Haryana 10% and Punjab 75%.
    • BENGALI: West Bengal 95%, Balance of North East 5%
    The recruitment in Army has been made broad based since the recruitment in Army is being done on RMP basis. However in so far as selection of officers is concerned, all selection is done strictly on merit, caste, creed, region etc have no role to play. There is however one more anomaly which needs to be addressed   There are still a large number of Units in Armoured Corps,  Artillery Regiment, Infantry and Engineer Regiments which still have a caste/ class based enrollment.  Due to historical baggage which the Army has inherited, these castes/ classes belong to the so called "Martial Class". Such vacancies form approximately 40% of the total strength of the Army. It is a very complex problem and needs a very mature handling to ensure that the fighting capabilities of the Army specially the fighting arms is not compromised.


     Recruiting Zone                State/ Union Territory       RMP % of Rect Zone