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Indian Army History Thread

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Re: Indo-UK News and Discussion - April 2013

Postby anjan » 18 Nov 2013 07:21

devesh wrote:but what you describe above, about the historians being essentially a cold, purely logical, completely unbiased, recorders of history seems a bit unreal to believe. are you seriously saying that in all of the formal history books of the IA, they never show any hint of pride about any operations/wars/battles of the past?
So out of curiosity, what would you like them to say? "Mt Popa. At 2100 Hrs the Japanese and the INA attacked in company strength and one section holding the left flank was wiped out. Seven dead. Hav. X died while getting Sep. Y to the field dressing station. However let us remember instead the brave men of the INA that killed them."

Frankly if I just got shot at by someone and watched my comrades die to their bullets, I'd not be too inclined to write epics to their glorious deeds either. I'm not certain what thought process would lead one to conclude otherwise. If you want to write a grand national narrative that's a different issue. Expecting the army that fought them and bled in what was a pretty vicious campaign to write some kind of glowing eulogy is devoid of any kind of sense.

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Re: Indo-UK News and Discussion - April 2013

Postby Singha » 18 Nov 2013 07:31

nevertheless the IA cannot brush under the rug its obedient role in certain unsavoury internal incidents like the gurkha unit (65 soldiers) taking part in the jallianwala bagh massacre. the other unit balochis must have gone to PA.

firing continued for 10 mins into the densest sections of the crowd.

the masterly skills of the british from day1 in forming native armies of sepoys but keeping them loyal to the crown as native kings were crushed one by one, and then keeping them loyal during WW2 is surely a lesson in management worth of case studies.

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Re: Indo-UK News and Discussion - April 2013

Postby KrishnaK » 18 Nov 2013 08:07

Singha,
There never was an Indian nation state before the Brits. None of the states that existed pre-british times were Indian in the sense they were mughal or peshwa's, scindia's, ranjit singh's or tipu's. How many of the soldiers that fought under any of those dynasties really thought that the dynasty was their own nation ? Would the jats also have thought of the Maratha empire as their own nation ?

Where India failed badly was coming up with the idea of a state as an entity backed by institutions. IMO such an idea allowed for a longer life of such entities since fall of dynasties or even outright defeats in some cases did not destroy them. The fact that it was also broader than belonging to a single dynasty allows for a more diverse set of people to develop stakes and thence also loyalty and patriotism. After all, exactly why would a Gurkha develop any loyalty for his Punjabi brethren.

The Brits had that advantage and we didn't. Given that advantage it was relatively simple for the brits to take advantage of India's multi-ethnic character. Had we developed that advantage before them, we could just have easily played the scots, irish and the english against each other.

On a broader note that's where the genius of the Indian Independence movement lies. They focussed on the most important aspect - creation of a nation state at the least cost in terms of disturbing existing and functioning institutions. Not pontificating or analyzing the behaviour of the BIA allowed for us to inherit a perfectly awesome army as a intact and cohesive whole. One that has since shown how critical it's performance is to the continued well being of the republic. As far as priorities go, nothing else comes close.

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Re: Indo-UK News and Discussion - April 2013

Postby rohitvats » 18 Nov 2013 11:07

Singha wrote:nevertheless the IA cannot brush under the rug its obedient role in certain unsavoury internal incidents like the gurkha unit (65 soldiers) taking part in the jallianwala bagh massacre. the other unit balochis must have gone to PA.

firing continued for 10 mins into the densest sections of the crowd.<SNIP>


That is a valid point.

The Gorkha Unit in question was 1/9 Gorkha Rifles along 54th Sikh and another unit of Baloch (FF) Regiment. Not surprisingly, the men from other two units were Baluchi and Pathan.

In hindsight, the right thing to do post independence would have been to disband 1/9 GR. That event is a blot in the history of an otherwise fine battalion. Interestingly, 1/9 GR was part of 7 Infantry Bde which was routed in Namka Chu in 1962 during opening chapter of the war.

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Re: Indo-UK News and Discussion - April 2013

Postby Vayutuvan » 18 Nov 2013 11:18

Oh no. Have I mistakenly wandered into military history thread? Not likely considering so many posts by Bradmins. Must be on-topic :wink:

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Re: Indo-UK News and Discussion - April 2013

Postby rohitvats » 18 Nov 2013 11:27

matrimc wrote:Oh no. Have I mistakenly wandered into military history thread? Not likely considering so many posts by Bradmins. Must be on-topic :wink:


:mrgreen:

The privileges of being mods. :P

But you're right - guilty as charged. I've been thinking of hiving off this thread into two - one which deals with situations/events/news in present context and another where historical aspects like being discussed now be housed.

Let me consult the high council of Jedi Knights.

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Re: Indo-UK News and Discussion - April 2013

Postby Vayutuvan » 18 Nov 2013 11:35

Rohit, my idea of fun excludes self-flagellation on India-UK thread. I would rather see the contrition of the Brits. No matter. The posts were interesting read.

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Re: Indo-UK News and Discussion - April 2013

Postby Singha » 18 Nov 2013 12:29

>> Let me consult the high council of Jedi Knights.

unfortunate choice of words sire. you might want to search for "jedi council australia" for a recent news item.

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Re: Indo-UK News and Discussion - April 2013

Postby Lalmohan » 18 Nov 2013 13:36

talking of baluch regiment in BIA - one company of the baluch was cornered in singapore during the japanese invasion. their british lieutenant finally surrendered, and was then promptly beheaded in front of the troops

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Re: Indo-UK News and Discussion - April 2013

Postby brihaspati » 18 Nov 2013 19:12

Rohitvats ji,

My points (1)+(2)+(3) were to explore the claim that what people did as part of BIA before independence did not matter to the IA which was being represented as a complete rupture from the BIA.

The points appear to show that what people did as part of BIA was very much used to decide the fate of personnel, after independence and into the "fresh start" IA. These happened to be exactly on issues related to rebellion against the Brits.

It does not matter what excuses are given to explain JLN's behaviour or anyone elses : the main point of contention was continuity from what happened "before". What you say about pressures on JLN, etc, does not detract from the fact that what happened in BIA was held to be perfectly valid as an excuse to push for stuff in the framework of IA - and which were associated with political aspect of the army and the freedom movement and not purely contextualized on the basis of military affairs.

So what happened "before" was very much usable "after" - especially where freedom struggle and involvement of the armed forces were concerned - and typically in a negative way.

"is it supposed to mean anything" : it points to the new IA and the relevant state not being comfortable with politically conscious armymen who had identified with the nation prior to independence too strongly to remain loyal merely to a regime and the state's government.

The upper echelons of the new IA were formed with men who had taken their oath to a regime and gov as over and above any ideological affiliations of nationhood, and the same were upper echelons within what was allowed to Indians - within the BIA. When people talk of the whole of the Indian component of the BIA as having been "nationalistic" even within the BIA, I do not see any tangible overt proof of that within the BIA records. I would naturally acknowledge those who rebelled as having distinctly proved their affilaition to nationhood over and above their oath of loyalty to the then existing regime. I dont see value in usurping the acts of a portion of the lower echelons of the IA as something that those who did not rebel can bask in.

As for patriotism and sincerity of devotion to the nation - both the post-independence state and the IA has proved that the IA is loyal to its oath. The BIA was loyal to the state and regime it took oath to support - and the IA shows the same loyalty to the state. The proof of nationalism will come in the event that the regime in power or the state clashes with the "nation" - and which side the IA takes then. This is a hypothetical situation not yet experienced.

A clear cut opinion could be formed if the entire Indian portion of the BIA had rebelled - if the upper level of officers came forward and joined the RIN uprising, ityadi. In the absence of such concrete evidence, to declare in any one particular direction is unsubstantiated. Ideally, I would have seen that the Indian portion broke away completely from the Brit side and fought and defeated the British portion of the BIA - and instituted the elected civilian leadership into a new republic. That did not happen.

But I think this whole discussion is going heavily OT now.

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Re: Indo-UK News and Discussion - April 2013

Postby Karan M » 18 Nov 2013 20:04

IMO, some of the dross in the forces from the brit era needs to go... was speaking to some old rtd types the other day.. and they were open about the fact that some of this stuff is either silly/out of time or just plain & simple elitist & meant to disconnect services from common Indian society. Also, on the operational side, I think as India advances, more and more of the desi flavor in services will anyways rise.. perhaps one day we'll see new formations/raisings which are based on entirely new concepts as well as versus those copied/emulated from west with local flavor.. cold start was, i think, a good first step in this long proces.

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Re: Indo-UK News and Discussion - April 2013

Postby Karan M » 18 Nov 2013 20:09

Brihaspati-ji,

"As for patriotism and sincerity of devotion to the nation - both the post-independence state and the IA has proved that the IA is loyal to its oath. The BIA was loyal to the state and regime it took oath to support - and the IA shows the same loyalty to the state. The proof of nationalism will come in the event that the regime in power or the state clashes with the "nation" - and which side the IA takes then. This is a hypothetical situation not yet experienced. "

It has been experienced when orders of the state conflict with deeply held beliefs. And results have been mixed. From the reaction of certain units to Blue Star, to the candid feedback given by IA brass to statements about deployment during RJB movement, to opinions expressed by an officer (pretty elitist) during what happened in Orissa. Point is IA is not a monolith, and this is a very controversial topic best left out of discussion because it will be used by those who seek to weaken India (imho). Thing is the IA is what is standing, all said and done, between India (which includes us) & all those external/internal forces which have openly sought to complete the "work of earlier". Hence periodic attempts to politically attack the IA & defang it & make it into exactly what you point out. But IA is made up of ordinary Indians, and I do think that if such a schism were to ever occur, they'd do the right thing, which is protect the people.

All I'd say is, change the state to be truly respectful of its citizens and their civilizational ethos and all else will fall in place too. If India keeps producing brown sahibs, all institutions will suffer. If India produces Indians who are not pale copies of what they think others want them to be, then all Indian institutions will advance.

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Re: Indo-UK News and Discussion - April 2013

Postby brihaspati » 18 Nov 2013 20:21

KrishnaK wrote:Singha,
There never was an Indian nation state before the Brits. None of the states that existed pre-british times were Indian in the sense they were mughal or peshwa's, scindia's, ranjit singh's or tipu's. How many of the soldiers that fought under any of those dynasties really thought that the dynasty was their own nation ? Would the jats also have thought of the Maratha empire as their own nation ?

Where India failed badly was coming up with the idea of a state as an entity backed by institutions. IMO such an idea allowed for a longer life of such entities since fall of dynasties or even outright defeats in some cases did not destroy them. The fact that it was also broader than belonging to a single dynasty allows for a more diverse set of people to develop stakes and thence also loyalty and patriotism. After all, exactly why would a Gurkha develop any loyalty for his Punjabi brethren.

The Brits had that advantage and we didn't. Given that advantage it was relatively simple for the brits to take advantage of India's multi-ethnic character. Had we developed that advantage before them, we could just have easily played the scots, irish and the english against each other.

On a broader note that's where the genius of the Indian Independence movement lies. They focussed on the most important aspect - creation of a nation state at the least cost in terms of disturbing existing and functioning institutions. Not pontificating or analyzing the behaviour of the BIA allowed for us to inherit a perfectly awesome army as a intact and cohesive whole. One that has since shown how critical it's performance is to the continued well being of the republic. As far as priorities go, nothing else comes close.


The idea of a nation == state was given up a very long time ago, even by the Brits themselves. What nation state was the British empire itself? If India was not a nation, then United Kingdom was not a nation either. There were no nation-states anywhere by that criteria anywhere. Its a false premise to bring in terminology that do not apply universally.

As early as the 1920's very British scholars were disassociating nation from state - because they themselves were increasingly facing the problem in defining their own nationhood in terms of the state.

On the contrary - ideas of nationhood have widened over the last hundred odd years of scholarship to drop conditions of statehood, regime identity etc. Its now more based on culture and sense of geographical primacy. In that sense there have been elaborate discussion on this forum elsewhere where the usually suppressed but very long debate on India's nationhood has been discussed. If there are opinions which follow the early and naive but imperially driven negation of existence of Indian nationhood before the "British" gifted it - there are contrary opinions which try to show existence of nationhood on other points of salience long before English tribes fought with each other and invited continental Europeans from Romans to the French to intervene.

If mere existence of intraregional conflict and consciousness of contrary identity or distinctions is proof of lack of nationhood - naturally - then UK shows its lack of nationhood too, even after more than 1500 years of attempted coercive homogenization.

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Re: Indo-UK News and Discussion - April 2013

Postby brihaspati » 18 Nov 2013 20:26

P.S. The unified British nation-state had to part with the Republic of Ireland in 1920's, ( full 25 years before formal indpendence for India )- with whom it had its sporadic but running battle from 1600's. And the British were more of a nation than Indians? The Scotts still want to separate and there is a less vociferous yet persistent Welsh aspiration for separation and independence. If the regions within the geography of India contested each other - they also collaborated with each other - just as they do now within the constitutional framework. It neither proves nor disproves nationhood.

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Re: Indo-UK News and Discussion - April 2013

Postby brihaspati » 18 Nov 2013 20:42

Karan M ji,
agreed, and I was reluctant to explore too far - but responded to rohitvats. I think my position on rebellion against the Brits had also been made clear before. I did not want to use the term "monolith" for exactly the reasons of potential abuse that you indicate.

I do think oath of loyalty to the state that we have now in India is the next best thing to having an army that was raised through popular revolutionary overthrow of foreign coercive and essentially militarily imposed ruling order. The British have almost always been subject to foreign military states implanting themselves on British soil, and hence they have keen sense of keeping the army detached from people and attached to personal oaths of loyalty to the supreme rulers. That is a mindset of a detached foreign affiliated elite - that is neither rooted in its country/nation of origin, nor identifying entirely with the ruled - who become the "commons".

But we do not have to copy the british in all ways - do we? This strange psychology, which is in contradiction to Chanakya's concept of the soldier as a pillar of the nation [and yes Chanakya does elaborate on the concept of nationhood right in the first few chapters of his well-known work, and yes it is not onlee the king and his kingdom], reflects both a fear of the soldier as potential friend and hand of the people to overthrow unpopular regimes that still manage to maintain itself within technicalities of legalism and formal legitimacy, while also recognizing the need of the soldier to maintain the territoriality of the state within which a detached elite can rule and hold on to its power. Do we really need to fear the soldier so much - so politically?

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Re: Indo-UK News and Discussion - April 2013

Postby Karan M » 18 Nov 2013 21:35

sir, all this is because the country has been run by a kleptocracy with a disproportionate amount of power concentrated in the hands of one muddled up family and their assorted power structure. as india itself changes, all indian organizations will progress likewise. i have hope that will occur. if you had asked me 4 years back, if common indians would see through the corruption & dross of current establishment i would have said, definitely no. but then see the amount of churn there is today, despite all the attempts of the establishment and hangers on to prevent this realization from happening. IMO, there is still good grounds for positivity. as indians rediscover themselves and their own strengths - intellectual and civilizational - changes will occur. you have folks like sabhlok - as establishment as could be - rediscovering chanakya's work and how it relates to effective administration. more will come.

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Re: Indo-UK News and Discussion - April 2013

Postby Rahul M » 18 Nov 2013 21:53

a past COAS wrote on the topic of INA.
http://archive.asianage.com/columnists/ ... atriot-192

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Re: Indo-UK News and Discussion - April 2013

Postby Rony » 18 Nov 2013 23:12

Rahul M wrote:a past COAS wrote on the topic of INA.
http://archive.asianage.com/columnists/ ... atriot-192


Thanks for that link

The post-Independence Indian Army is the spiritual and temporal heir of two armies — the British Indian Army and the Indian National Army. From the former, it has imbibed almost every aspect of its functioning, mannerisms and attitudes; from the latter, nothing. Its principal opponent, the Pakistan Army, is a highly Islamicised military which uses terror as a weapon of state. Is there any matching military and spiritual doctrine to provide sustenance for an avowedly secular Indian Army, now mired in moral distress as well? In the 64th year of the nation’s Independence, the modern Indian Army must introspect deeply upon its Azad Hind Fauj heritage which stressed patriotism as a way of life, something with far more substantial foundations than the mere regimental loyalties which have served so far. The true heritage of Netaji and the INA, which goes well beyond the mere military and into the spiritual, ethical and emotional region of military motivation, will provide succour. The teachings of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose must become required study material in its professional institutions, to motivate the Army and prepare it for the future in an increasingly turbulent environment.

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Re: Indo-UK News and Discussion - April 2013

Postby rohitvats » 18 Nov 2013 23:25

Well, thanks to the recent debate (and brihaspati ji) on the subject of BIA and Indian officers + men who formed part of it, I ended up reading on the topic from a wider perspective.

And courtesy the research I wan doing online, I came across this book:

Contribution of the Armed Forces to the Freedom Movement in India - written by Maj General V.K. Singh (retd)

and here is an free e-book:

http://indianstrategicknowledgeonline.com/web/Contribution%20of%20the%20Armed%20Forces%20230109.pdf

Please read this for a perspective on the issue. I've not read the same beyond some sections but hope to complete it in sometime.

A very telling excerpt from the book which captures the essence of what an Indian Officer in BIA would have generally felt like:

In 1928, Captain (later General) KS Thimayya’s battalion, 4/19 Hyderabad, moved from Baghdad to Allahabad. Thimayya spent a few days in Bombay, enroute, where he met Sarojini Naidu, who introduced him to Jinnah. This was Thimayya’s first contact with nationalist leaders, and he found the experience confusing. As an Indian, he sympathized with their cause. But as a soldier, he had sworn an oath of allegiance to the British sovereign. He was not sure if he could reconcile his position, with respect to his country, and his profession. At Allahabad, he came into close contact with the Nehrus, and was a frequent guest at Anand Bhawan, where he came to know Nehru’s sisters, Vijay Lakshmi Pandit and Krishna (Betty) Hutheesingh. He also met Dr. Kailash Nath Katju and Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru. After the Civil Disobedience Movement in 1930, there was a general upsurge of nationalist feeling among the people.

Thimayya was deeply impressed by the winds of nationalism then blowing through the country, and the sacrifices being made by the people. On one occasion, he almost got into trouble, for throwing his peak cap in a bonfire of British goods, at the behest of Krishna Hutheesingh. One day, he and some other Indian officers, met Moti Lal Nehru and told him that they wanted to resign their commissions. The elder Nehru told them not to do so. “There are enough of us in the Congress, and we need more people in the army”, he said, advising them to stick it out. He felt that the Indianisation of the army had been achieved after lot of effort and should not be stopped. He added: “We’re going to win independence. Perhaps not this year or the next, but sooner or later the British will be driven out. When that happens, India will stand alone. We will have no one to protect us but ourselves. It is then
that our survival will depend on men like you.”


Another very pertinent excerpt:

Although the struggle for freedom had been going on for almost half a century, the Indian armed forces remained virtually untouched until the out break of World War II, when a large number of Indians were granted emergency commissions. Though Indians had been given commissions earlier, their number was small. Moreover, most of them came from feudal or military families, which were largely unaffected by political events. on the other hand, the majority of emergency commissioned officers came from rural or urban middle class backgrounds, which were the most active constituents of the freedom movement.

Due to their upbringing, lack of training and political leanings, the emergency commissioned officers were not treated as equals by British officers. This discriminatory attitude was largely responsible for the growth of disaffection
and nationalistic fervour among Indian officers during World War II. Another reason that caused frustration among Indian officers was the perceived delay in the process of Indianisation, which seemed to progressing at a very slow pace, mainly due to opposition by British officers.


Lt. General Thakur Nathu Singh was one of the best of the initial lot of senior leadership of the Indian Army. He refused the post of first COAS of Indian Army when it was offered to him by JLN acting through Sardar Baldev Singh. He was clear that Cariappa was senior to him and deserved the post of COAS. For his nationalistic views, he was called the 'Fauji Gandhi'.

He is the one who famously said these lines to Nehru:

Soon after Independence, the Prime Minister held a conference of senior Army officers, to elicit their views regarding keeping British officers for some more time, as advisors. Nehru felt that Indian officers lacked the experience to take over the responsibility for such a large Army, and wanted to retain British officers for a longer period, as Pakistan had done. Almost every one agreed with Nehru, except for Nathu Singh.

He said: " Officers sitting here have more than 25 years service, and are capable of holding senior appointments in the Armed Forces. As for experience, if I may ask you Sir, what experience do you have to hold the post of Prime Minister ?" There was a stunned silence, and Nehru did not reply. Finally, it was decided to keep the British advisors for some more time, as proposed by Nehru.


The reason I am quoting his example is because thought process of an officer like him to an extent is symptomatic of what officers and men felt in that period.

You can read about this great man here:


Here is an excerpt from the book linked above:

The most well known nationalist soldier was Lieutenant General Thakur Nathu Singh, a Sandhurst trained King’s commissioned Indian officer who had been christened ‘Fauji Gandhi’ by his colleagues. Even as as a young officer, Nathu Singh openly expressed his anti- British feelings, for which he was often in trouble.

When he was a major he was asked to suppress an agitation during the Quit India movement in 1942. Nathu Singh objected, saying that it was not fair to ask him to shoot at his own countrymen, who were only asking for their freedom. He requested the commanding officer to give the job to some other officer, but this was refused, and he was told that if he disobeyed orders he would be court martialled. Nathu Singh refused to carry out the orders, and the matter was reported to the District Commander, Major General Bruce Scott. When he was marched up to General Scott, Nathu Singh defended his action, as a “conscientious objector”, quoting the example of similar cases in Ireland. To his good luck, Scott turned out to be an Irishman. He appreciated the stand taken by Nathu Singh, and let him off.

Nathu Singh was of the view that the slow process of Indianisation and the discriminatory treatment of Indian officers were largely responsible for the birth of the Indian National Army (INA). He had grave doubts whether the British were serious about Indianisation, or it was merely “window dressing,” to impress the public and the outside World. Despite the fact that two and a half million Indians had fought in two wars, they had not been able to produce a single general. Important appointments dealing with
operations were denied to them, and just a handful were given command of units. Drawing a parallel with the Soviet Union, which took shape at about the same time as Indianisation began in India, the disparities were obvious.

However, his most scathing comments were reserved for the unfair treatment meted out to Indians, which he covered at length in a strongly worded letter to the Commander-in-Chief, General Auchinleck, on 17 December 1945, soon after the commencement of the INA trials in the red Fort in Delhi. Nathu Singh, who was then a lieutenant colonel, wrote:

The formation of the INA was not alone the work of its leaders like Bose, or of the Jap opportunist. The creation and growth of the INA was a direct result of the continuous unjust treatment of Indian officers in the Army. It is the natural heritage of years of dissatisfaction, disappointment and disgust of various elements in the Indian Army. The present members of the INA are to be blamed for their conduct, but equally to blame is the Imperialist Anti-Indian British element in the army who by their talk and action daily estranged the otherwise loyal mind of the Indian, and last but not the least to blame are the British reverses in the Far east, which left the Indian soldier to their fate


I will answer other points raised by Bji later.

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Re: Indo-UK News and Discussion - April 2013

Postby Karan M » 18 Nov 2013 23:28

Roychowdhury lives up to his record of fearlessly thinking about and then speaking those concentrated thoughts, on topics few of his peers would dare touch. However, its not just Bose but the entire military record of past India that deserves study as versus being deemed communal and hence untouchable, as was hitherto done by our beloved political class. But if the IA has to have any sort of true renaissance, it can only happen if India itself undergoes the same. One cannot happen (imho) without the other.

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Re: Indo-UK News and Discussion - April 2013

Postby Rahul M » 18 Nov 2013 23:37

sometime back Jagan had sent me a few pages of an autobiography (in bengali) of a bengali RIAF man who later continued in IAF.

He describes his own motivation for joining the british controlled RIAF as "This was our only chance to gain knowledge of modern military science, if the need arises the same can be used against".

karan, sometime back a retd senior IA officer commented on those lines, that India needs to seek lesson and inspiration from its own military history. could have been Gen RoyC or someone else.

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Re: Indo-UK News and Discussion - April 2013

Postby ramana » 18 Nov 2013 23:47

Folks its time to take the above line of posts to the mil forum in another thread*. Lets keep this thread only for Indo-Uk news and discussions.

Thanks,

ramana

*Say a new thread with titiel "Role of nationalism in BIA officers" or "Pre-Independence thought process in BIA" or anything that captures the idea.

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Re: Indian Army History Thread

Postby brihaspati » 20 Nov 2013 02:55

One of the arguments used to say that the early post-independence leadership was justified in keeping out the so-called "perverse" [as per Sardar Baldev Singh] influence of the INA/Bose from the new IA or using BIA rules to penalize and deny those who had rebelled under the BIA in favour of nationalist sentiments in the framework of the new IA - is that we can see what a "politicized" or "ideologically committed" army would have meant - in Pakistan and BD.

I think what is ignored is the ideological difference between the foundations of the two societies - where Islamism dominated, and where it didn't. The particular attitudes towards use of violence or coercion - as ingrained in societies and cultures and religions, are never taken into account.

The fear of "ideological" commitment in the soldier was actually perhaps a cover for the fear that soldiers were perhaps more amenable to be attracted to alternative leadership. I have not seen ample evidence in the military to justify this fear, [who seems to have been on the large quite admiring of the INC leadership] but it was perhaps much more the political threat to personal power within the political leadership's perception as represented in the spectre of the INA influenced by Bose.

The transition period and the BIA shows something also :

(1) "secular", or equidistance posturings from the regime - actually could onlee be implemented by sharpening the religious distinctions and maintenance of such distinctive identities. The Brits did it to keep British identity as a superior one, and split the Indians. The post independence policy did not unravel this distinction sharpening policy - and replaced the concept of loyalty to the imperial state with the concept of loyalty to a non-religious "secular" state. Both reflected the same needs of a regime that was uneasy with a ideologically conscious army whom they thought would be a contestant for autocratic or personal power.

(2) the BIA could not prevent religious violence and its demobilized or ex-service Muslim soldiers played a crucial role in the horror and genocidal tendencies of pre-planned and trained ML led partition violence. So far I have not seen significant parallel evidence for the "Hindu" soldiers to mobilize and train the populace for violence. Religious prior grounding within what Harbans ji calls the "dharmik" (even if mocked by many) actually perhaps serves as a check against the army turning Paki [== inhuman].

(3) that a regime which uses "secularism" negatively, as encouraging and preserving rival claims on values because they are part of "texts", will end up emasculating the "good" ideological influence on the army as the BIA did, while Bose could use the very same composition of the army in a "positive" use of secularism - because he himself never really gave up on "Hinduism", and was less scared of identifying with the "dharmik" in his lifelong fascination and interest in Hindu spiritualism.

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Re: Indo-UK News and Discussion - April 2013

Postby KrishnaK » 20 Nov 2013 10:01

brihaspati wrote:
KrishnaK wrote:Singha,
There never was an Indian nation state before the Brits. None of the states that existed pre-british times were Indian in the sense they were mughal or peshwa's, scindia's, ranjit singh's or tipu's. How many of the soldiers that fought under any of those dynasties really thought that the dynasty was their own nation ? Would the jats also have thought of the Maratha empire as their own nation ?

Where India failed badly was coming up with the idea of a state as an entity backed by institutions. IMO such an idea allowed for a longer life of such entities since fall of dynasties or even outright defeats in some cases did not destroy them. The fact that it was also broader than belonging to a single dynasty allows for a more diverse set of people to develop stakes and thence also loyalty and patriotism. After all, exactly why would a Gurkha develop any loyalty for his Punjabi brethren.

The Brits had that advantage and we didn't. Given that advantage it was relatively simple for the brits to take advantage of India's multi-ethnic character. Had we developed that advantage before them, we could just have easily played the scots, irish and the english against each other.

On a broader note that's where the genius of the Indian Independence movement lies. They focussed on the most important aspect - creation of a nation state at the least cost in terms of disturbing existing and functioning institutions. Not pontificating or analyzing the behaviour of the BIA allowed for us to inherit a perfectly awesome army as a intact and cohesive whole. One that has since shown how critical it's performance is to the continued well being of the republic. As far as priorities go, nothing else comes close.


The idea of a nation == state was given up a very long time ago, even by the Brits themselves. What nation state was the British empire itself? If India was not a nation, then United Kingdom was not a nation either. There were no nation-states anywhere by that criteria anywhere. Its a false premise to bring in terminology that do not apply universally.

As early as the 1920's very British scholars were disassociating nation from state - because they themselves were increasingly facing the problem in defining their own nationhood in terms of the state.

On the contrary - ideas of nationhood have widened over the last hundred odd years of scholarship to drop conditions of statehood, regime identity etc. Its now more based on culture and sense of geographical primacy. In that sense there have been elaborate discussion on this forum elsewhere where the usually suppressed but very long debate on India's nationhood has been discussed. If there are opinions which follow the early and naive but imperially driven negation of existence of Indian nationhood before the "British" gifted it - there are contrary opinions which try to show existence of nationhood on other points of salience long before English tribes fought with each other and invited continental Europeans from Romans to the French to intervene.

If mere existence of intraregional conflict and consciousness of contrary identity or distinctions is proof of lack of nationhood - naturally - then UK shows its lack of nationhood too, even after more than 1500 years of attempted coercive homogenization.

brihaspati, my use of the term "nation-state" was wrong. I should just have used state instead. The brits did for a more cohesive state earlier than us. Essentially gave them a huge advantage. As I pointed out - had we had that advantage earlier, we'd just as easily have played them.

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Re: Indian Army History Thread

Postby Paul » 20 Nov 2013 11:11

Published on Sep 13, 2013
Lt. Gen. Kartar Singh Gill (Retd.) on Indo Pak War of 1965 and Role of Lt. Gen. Gurbaksh Singh GOC in C, Western Command. He recollects how India, Punjab and Sikhs were saved just because of the firm decision of Lt. Gen. Harbaksh Singh. Contribution of Gen. Harbaksh Singh is no less than that of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur, Hari Singh Nalwa and Akali Phula Singh. Interview on GET Punjabi by Gurcharanjit Singh Lamba (Sant Sipahi)


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HnhI0WkkR_o : General Harbaksh Singh, starts from 17 min

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Re: Indian Army History Thread

Postby Khalsa » 20 Nov 2013 15:02

Paul wrote:
Published on Sep 13, 2013
Lt. Gen. Kartar Singh Gill (Retd.) on Indo Pak War of 1965 and Role of Lt. Gen. Gurbaksh Singh GOC in C, Western Command. He recollects how India, Punjab and Sikhs were saved just because of the firm decision of Lt. Gen. Harbaksh Singh. Contribution of Gen. Harbaksh Singh is no less than that of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur, Hari Singh Nalwa and Akali Phula Singh. Interview on GET Punjabi by Gurcharanjit Singh Lamba (Sant Sipahi)


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HnhI0WkkR_o : General Harbaksh Singh, starts from 17 min


No doubt.
Very fortunate to know about this intimately from book and people involved.

Paki Armoured thrust launched from my area (Khem Karan) at Amritsar almost certainly caught us with the pants down.
Army command had issued the command to fall back to Beas and sacrifice Amritsar and perhaps Gurdaspur districts at this moment to prevent a rout. Little did we know how spread thin were the Pakistani logistic chains that they could never get to Jallandher (Delhi being their wet dream).

It was at the most juncture that General Harbaksh Singh is said to have respectfully disobeyed his superior and then formulated a plan with his excellent men like Brigadier T.K. Theogaraj to turn the open plains of my village into the graveyard of Pattons. Canals were breached, sugercane fields were turned into ambush points for the Shermans etc and the rest is history.
+ Don't forget this opportunity was coupled with the ambush which resulted in their 1st Armoured Div Commander being injured and Brig Shammi the brigade Artillery commander being killed by a small company of sikh regt which was great for screwing the momentum of the Pak 1st Armoured. But by this time .... Theogaraj has was slicing up the 1st Armoured so well and making them react to his chess moves that the whole Op would be dropped few days later and Pak 1st Armoured redeployed. It never saw action again I believe.

General J.S. Dhillon, Brigadier T.K. Theogaraj and their army commander, General Harbaksh Singh were heroes of the theatre.
When all seemed lost and pitch black was night, few like them stood their ground because they realised how close they were to the final light.

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Re: Indian Army History Thread

Postby brihaspati » 25 Nov 2013 03:31

From the excerpt from VCAS(retd) S.N.Singh
http://intellibriefs.blogspot.ie/2009/12/1947-partition-in-indian-army.html
The Indian Army got involved in fighting the Indonesians. The Indonesians would tell us that we were ourselves not free and yet we were fighting against their becoming independent. This was embarrassing to hear. When the Indonesians raised the banner of Islam in their appeal to Indian soldiers, I was told that about a thousand or more of our Muslim soldiers deserted and joined them. They were left behind when we came out from Indonesia. I mention this because this was the first time that I saw the virus of communalism affecting the Army.

Notwithstanding the early signs in Indonesia, it is remarkable that during the outbreak of communal violence in August 1946 and till well after 1947 had set in, the Indian soldier, Hindu and Muslim, showed remarkable impartiality when dealing with communal violence. This was so in Kolkata in August 1946, in Bihar in October 1946 and in Garhmukteshwar (Uttar Pradesh) in November 1946. Two or three battalions of the Bihar Regiment, which had Hindus and Muslims in equal number, had operated in Bihar during the communal riots with complete impartiality.


Kolkata - we know that the BIA was onlee deployed after the Muslims began to lose ground in the retaliation from non-Muslims, after most of the raping/looting/killings were actually over from the Muslim side on the non-Muslim side.

Noakhali - army came tagged along after MKG's visit - after most of the looting, raping and abduction of women for jihadi pleasure as well as conversions - were over. In fact, it is quite possible that it was the combineD concern of retaliation in Bihar and UP, and the army and police contingents that were drawn into the region as a consequence of MKG's visit - might have played a substantial role in the temporary retreat of the jihadis in Noakhali [it erupted with equal viciousness, once Pakistan formed, on the remnant Hindus] and MKG's effects have to be evaluated in that backdrop.

Bihar - the army was promptly called out by JLN taking supposedly personal charge of operations when opportunities arose - specifically to protect "Muslim" population centres, and on one occasion - such a centre that needed protection, was already manned in defensive arrangements by armed Muslims.

So in Kolkata, Bihar, and Garhmukhteswar - BIA deployment had ample opportunities to show their "impartiality" on majority "Hindu" as the supposed aggressor. Both the Muslim and the Hindu companies could show their impartiality on Hindus. The Muslims of BIA - on these two occasions - did not need to show their impartiality on Muslim aggression.

Tucker, in "while memory serves", casually dismisses all Muslim aggression/provocation in Garhmukhteswar case, and squarely blames the "Hindus/Jats" onlee and tries to show that the BIA essentially moved to restrain the majority Hindus.

Where exactly was the BIA called upon to and did take impartial action on Islamic violence?

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Re: Indian Army History Thread

Postby ramana » 26 Nov 2013 23:36

A blog post on Post-1857 BIA composition:

http://jostamon.blogspot.com/2011/01/pu ... -army.html

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Re: Indian Army History Thread

Postby Akshay Kapoor » 27 Nov 2013 00:38

Paul wrote:
Published on Sep 13, 2013
Lt. Gen. Kartar Singh Gill (Retd.) on Indo Pak War of 1965 and Role of Lt. Gen. Gurbaksh Singh GOC in C, Western Command. He recollects how India, Punjab and Sikhs were saved just because of the firm decision of Lt. Gen. Harbaksh Singh. Contribution of Gen. Harbaksh Singh is no less than that of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur, Hari Singh Nalwa and Akali Phula Singh. Interview on GET Punjabi by Gurcharanjit Singh Lamba (Sant Sipahi)


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HnhI0WkkR_o : General Harbaksh Singh, starts from 17 min



BR has an excellent article on Lt Gen Harbaksh Singh written by his ADC Capt Amrinder Singh. My mother is from Amritsar and would have been in her late teens during 65. Sometimes when I hear about that decision it becomes more real and personal. He says that when Gen JN Chaudhari came the day after 4 Div stabilized its situation the issue of the previous night's heated discussion did not come up.

Reminds me of another incident. When Gen PS Bhagat VC was a Div Commander there was a tactical discussion where a lot of officers were present. Brig Inder Gill was leading a syndicate who's solution came under a lot of criticism from everybody including Gen Bhagat. After an intense discussion Brig Gill blurted out 'sir you are talking cock'. Everybody was stunned. Gen Bhagat said gentlemen 'I suggest we adjourn for lunch'. The next day the Brig asked for an interview and gave him a request for premature retirement. Asked for the reason he said that he was appalled at his behavior and could not continue to serve. Gen Bhagat asked him to sit down and said 'Inder , I doubt if I was talking charlie yesterday but I have no doubt whatsover that you are talking charlie today !' and tears up his request. Inder Gill retired as Western Army Commander. Great paratrooper.

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Re: Indian Army History Thread

Postby ramana » 27 Nov 2013 01:00

Inder Gill had a great history. Wasn't he in Greece in WWII?

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Re: Indian Army History Thread

Postby Akshay Kapoor » 27 Nov 2013 01:14

Yes I think so. I have found this on the net

http://www.globalpolitician.com/print.asp?id=4823

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Re: Indian Army History Thread

Postby Akshay Kapoor » 27 Nov 2013 01:21

And this about Gen Bhagat. He was the Istha Devta of the Bombay Sappers and Sikh LI and a great commander. Really cared for troops under his command.

http://veekay-militaryhistory.blogspot. ... -pvsm.html

Actually Maj Gen VK Singh has written a great book about 12 Indian senior commanders. Very good read. On his blog as well.

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Re: Indian Army History Thread

Postby Raja Bose » 27 Nov 2013 01:27

ramana wrote:Inder Gill had a great history. Wanst he in Crete in WWII?


He also did the Raid on Gorgopotamos bridge.

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Re: Indian Army History Thread

Postby ramana » 27 Nov 2013 03:42

Yeah. Lots of great stuff on him in Google:

1)Remembering Lt Gen IS Gill

2)Lt Gen. I.S. Gill

3)Flier from Presidency College Madras

4) Book Review Born to Dare

5) Inder Gill and Zorru Bakshi


These are his written words in Demi Official Letters to his Corps Commanders.

“We should always keep an ‘open mind’ – specially with regard to the offensive task.

‘At present we seemed to have closed our minds to any other option and all we seem to be obsessed with is a one night affair.

‘For God’s sake think of other options – two nights, a week, a month or something totally different. Learn from history – they win who do what was never thought of.

‘Doing everything in one night restricts and limits time for all the various needed activities. The result is very tight timings for all needed tasks like securing home bank, breeching minefields, establishing bridge head, bridging, induction and breakout.

Should any one thing go awry, the whole operation will unhinge, fall in pieces and the result will be disaster. It will take a long while to pick up the pieces.

Having tight timings with no alternate plans is dangerous. Should any timing go awry then the whole thing is jeopardized and no one can afford such a scenerio.

Tight timings make the risk of failure very high. We should always keep our minds open and consider all alternatives. We should never ever close our minds. No fixations ever.



I used the above quote in a staff meeting as to how indecision leads to tight timings (schedule compression) and chance of collapse.

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Re: Indian Army History Thread

Postby ramana » 27 Nov 2013 03:46

Google book:

India's Wars SInce Independence By Maj Gen Sukhwant Singh

One of my favorite books.

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Re: Indian Army History Thread

Postby ramana » 02 Dec 2013 06:45

I came across a book "The Sepoy and the Cossack" which chronicles the expansion of British and Russian Imperial ambitions.

In the limit the Soviet drive into Afghanistan was driven by that urge.
We haven't seen the end of it yet.

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Re: Indian Army History Thread

Postby ramana » 05 Mar 2014 20:55

X-posting. Please continue this discussion here...

SRoy wrote:
shiv wrote:Roy I believe this topic is vast but OT here. It is better discussed in the mil forum separately. I actually have three books on the subject of what it is that makes men fight and what is done to keep them that way - with analyses going back to wars fought centuries ago as well as to modern wars.

All your references are Western authors. Their own ideas of statehood based on nation-state one is messed up. So, I'd pay minimum attention to that. All that comes out of a white's mouth is not a gospel truth.

shiv wrote:I believe it is too simplistic to dismiss paltan/platoon loyalty as wrong. Loyalty to platoon, leader, regiment, flag and nation are not mutually exclusive. All are necessary and useful.

Agreed. Then the question of choosing between platoon and nation should not arise.
Truth is somewhere in between. Our soldiers have good understanding of which line of loyalty to be applied where. Being from the background, I'm privy to few cases, where during Kargil war men have exactly made those choices.
Actually there is no issue here. It is the commentators that are wrong. "Izzat" has nothing to do with loyalty at the unit level. It is the pride. And the pride never supercedes loyalty to the nation.
There is a reason why the commentators are wrong. They are still using Brit framework, where any talk of loyalty was clever mixed with unit pride. Under the Raj any notion of loyalty to the nation (though there was the idea of the loyalty to the crown) would have resulted in 1857 every week.
A 10th pass soldier of the modern IA has better understanding of the line between and pride and loyalty.

shiv wrote:I think it would be instructive to study where the loyalty structure is messed with as was done with the Pakistan army, where Islam has replaced other loyalties. Sorry. OT

Nothing wrong with that. If their notion of nationalism is based on Islam, then it is perfectly in line. I see a lot of heartburn among commentators of various hue(not just you) on this issue, because their own armies are incapable of transforming civilizational memes as rallying point for their soldiers.

This topic belongs to startegic forum itself.

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Re: Indian Army History Thread

Postby Mukesh.Kumar » 11 Mar 2014 00:12

Honoring the Fallen

This does not strictly belong here, but yet I am posting. (Request to Mods to let this one stand, or move it to a thread where it maybe appropriate.

Time and again we speak of our fallen soldiers. Yet, 67 years after independence, where are the memorials? Was moved by the spirit of this questin Russia.

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Re: Indian Army History Thread

Postby kmkraoind » 15 Mar 2014 19:08

Hope it is not posted here before. Its a 300-page, nearly 5 MB PDF file.


HISTORY OF JAMMU AND KASHMIR RIFLES
1820-1956

PDF Link

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Re: Indian Army History Thread

Postby SSridhar » 18 Mar 2014 07:30

Classified 1962 War Report Revealed for the First Time - Ananth Krishnan, The Hindu
For the first time, a large section of the still classified Henderson Brooks Report, which details a comprehensive operational review of India’s military debacle in 1962, has been made public.

A more than 100-page section of the first volume of the report, which includes an exhaustive operational review of the India-China war over both western and eastern sectors, has been published by Australian journalist Neville Maxwell on his website.

The now retired Mr. Maxwell was a former correspondent of The Times of London who reported on the war from New Delhi. He authored in 1970 ‘India’s China War’ — a path-breaking, yet controversial, account of the conflict which angered the Indian establishment by drawing upon classified information to highlight the flawed decision-making that led to defeat at the hands of the Chinese.

Explaining his decision to release, for the first time, four chapters of the still classified report, Mr. Maxwell said he believed he was “complicit in a continuing cover-up” by keeping the report to himself.

“The reasons for the long-term withholding of the report must be political, indeed probably partisan, perhaps even familial,” he wrote in an explanatory note on his website.

The report indicts the highest levels of the government — from the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru's own office and the Defence Ministry — particularly for its Forward Policy, which was enforced, the report reveals, despite considerable concerns and objections from on-the-ground military commands that lacked resources.

It underlines the deep disconnect between Delhi and Army commands on assessing how China would react to the Forward Policy.



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