Caste, community and region based Regiments

  • Rajput Regiment
  • Gurkha Regiments
  • Jat Regiment
  • Mahar Regiments
  • Dogra Regiment
  • Bihar Regiment
  • Rajputana Rifles
  • Kumaon Regiment
  • Maratha Light Infantry
  • Assam Regiment
  • Madras Regiment
  • Ladakh scouts
Caste based REGIMENTS in Indian Army Know history behind it
Source : Media
Caste based REGIMENTS in Indian Army Know history behind it
Source : Media

Are all regiments based purely on caste?

✓ Rajputana Rifles has an equal mix between Rajputs and Jats

✓ Rajput Regiment has Rajputs , Gurjars and Muslims.

• Support and technical arms like EME, Ordnance, ASC, Signals, etc are not caste based.

• All these regiments are responsible for their own recruiting and training.

Why do we have caste based regiments in our army?
The British did recruitments in the Army primarily on the basis of whether the candidate was ‘martial’ and ‘non-martial’. The categorisation was on the basis of ethnicities and castes

In the 18th and early 19th centuries, the major share of recruits for EIC armies came from Bombay, Madras and Bengal regions. Caste based REGIMENTS in Indian Army Know history behind it

The Great Sepoy mutiny of 1857

• It was the mutiny in 1857 which triggered caste-based system foundation in the Indian Army.

• Many units of Bengal Army and Bengalis spearheaded the early years of the nationalist movement.

• Since the mutiny rose from the east and south, the British struck them off from roles in the army.

• It was the north which got rewarded for its martial heritage and the tradition of contribution to the military service in India.

Post 1857

• While reorganizing the Indian army in the post-1857 revolt, the Jonathan Peel Commission had the task of identifying social groups and regions from which ‘loyal’ soldiers could be recruited.

• The British decided to divide the army into martial and non-martial races. The principle it emphasized was that the native army should be composed of different nationalities and castes.

• Recruiting of soldiers was seen more in terms of the communities to which they belonged rather than as individuals.

• Non-martial – who did not have the qualities to make good leaders and lacked ‘courage’.

• Courage was not considered an aspect of individual’s personality, but a racial quality.
• Martial races given preference- Rajputs, Gorkhas, Sikhs, Dogras, Pathans, Baluchis and some selected Muslim communities

`Non-martial’ regiments

1st and 3rd Brahman Infantry was created in 1903, only to be disbanded after the First World War.
During Second World War, the 1 Chamar regiment, was raised which continued to serve in Burma till its disbandment in December 1946.

Post 1947

Existing caste and region based recruitment policies were continued.

No new caste based regiment has been raised though.

4 committees have withheld the merit of the current recruitment policy over the last 70 years

“The existing Regiments of the Indian Army are constituted on the basis of enhancing cohesion and war fighting potential and have stood the test of time in an exemplary manner.”
“There is no proposal ‘to demobilize any existing Regiment of the Indian Army.”

The President’s Bodyguard

An elite unit of the Indian Army – recruits from three castes only : Rajputs, Hindu Jats and Sikh Jats.
There have been multiple pleas in Courts to strike down the recruitment notice as these three castes are being given “preferential treatment” to the detriment of other citizens of the country.
The position of the President’s Bodyguard is the senior-most , of the army and the distinction is ‘Right of the Line’ on all official and ceremonial occasions.
It, thus, suppose significance and position above all other regiments and corps in the Indian Army.

Demand For New Caste based regiments

The All India Yadav Mahasabha (AIYM) (Political Party) has sent around 20 lakh postcards to Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding a separate ‘Yadav regiment’ in the Indian Army.
Samajwadi party had made it a poll promise to raise a ‘Ahir/Yadav’ regiment in 2019

The Bhima Koregaon battle

1818 – Mahar regiment of East India Company defeated the Peshwa forces
Today many organizations commemorate it as the victory of `lower’ caste Mahars over ‘upper’ caste Brahmin Peshwa armies. Many clashes took place in 2018 over the celebrations.

What is Wrong with this system?

It ushers a sense of caste hierarchy before national unity Age old belief that courage is ‘caste’ or community based.
Martial tradition?

Equality Why does Indian army keep this system?

✓ Infantry

✓ Regimental history and ethos

✓ Cohesion

✓ Recruitment

The battle of Rezang La

■ Chushul, Ladakh during the India-China war of 1962

■ 120 Jawans of the Ahir company of Kumaon regiment, recruited from the Rewari region of Haryana.

■ Led by – Rajput officer from Rajasthan, Major Shaitan Singh

■ Attacked by 5000 Chinese army heavy artillery.

■ In the battle, 114 Ahir jawans laid their life, five were captured by the Chinese army and one was sent back to tell the story to the world. Caste based REGIMENTS in Indian Army Know history behind it