A lot of changes are expected to be made to several customs and traditions being followed in the Indian Army as it plans to shed its colonial past. Soon names of regiments, buildings, roads, uniform, ceremonies which are dating back to pre-Independence times. The focus will be on changing the old and following new customs.
The first change that has been reported is that the Indian Army Day Parade is moving out of New Delhi. Next year it will take place in Southern Command on January 15. It is on this day the first commander in chief of the Indian Army after Independence was appointed.
On Wednesday (Sept 21, 2022) an internal discussion of the Army’s Adjutant General (AG) Lt General C Bansi Ponnappa was scheduled to review the old regulations, policies as well as prevailing practices. However, this meeting has not taken place so far, said sources. Sources have also clarified that the circulation of the agenda note does not mean that all these changes will be made without discussing with all the stakeholders.
“If it is decided to make changes, the first impact will be on the ranks the officers and the soldiers hold. They will have to shed them with immediate effect. So what ranks will they be holding? Changing the names of the regiments will impact the soldiers and it will have an impact on their morale, creating more chaos,” said a senior veteran.
The discussions will also be on changing the call signs the aviators use.
What does the agenda note say?
The note for the review meeting which is floating on the social platforms says: “it’s time to move away from archaic and ineffective practices”.
Changes to be made in the Army Uniform too have been suggested. What does this mean? Does it mean that there are plans to change the uniforms and accoutrements? What is not clear is if the lanyard will be there or removed? (It is the cord around the shoulder).
Change in the name of the Units?
There are plans to review the current name of units which were named by the British – like the Gorkha Regiment, Punjab, Rajput, Dogra and Assam or Sikh regiment.
In 2021, while addressing the Combined Commanders Conference which took place in Gujarat’s Kevadia, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had focused on the indigenisation customs, procedures and doctrines of the Indian armed forces.
During that address he had also advised the three service chiefs to “rid themselves of legacy systems and practices that have outlived their utility and relevance”.
On the agenda that is expected to be reviewed by the AG also has establishments, institutes of the colonial past, units, roads, parks, buildings and more which are named after the British Commanders like Sir Herbert Kitchener and Claude Auchinleck.
The units of the Army which fought in the two World Wars are also expected to be reviewed as well to restrict the regimental reunion and events should be restricted to the Army.
During the meeting when it takes place, the army officials will also touch upon the pre-Independence theatre honours or battle honours. These were awarded by the British to ensure there was no dissent by the Indian states.
What does this mean?
It means, if the decision is made that several army units who have battle honours to mark the Anglo-Gorkha wars, Anglo-Maratha wars and Anglo-Sikh wars, will then have to give it up.
Affiliation with Commonwealth War Graves Commission, granting Honorary Commission, Beating the Retreat are all expected to be reviewed.
The system of appointing ‘Colonel of Regiment’, military funerals are all on the agenda.
These changes when they are made will be in line with the Prime Minister’s `Amrit Kaal’. This phrase is used to define the period between 75th Independence and 100th year of the country’s Independence in 2047.