Indian society and the soldier

Will the twain ever meet?

Authored by: Kaushik Roy

Handbook of Indian Defence Policy

Print publication date:  October  2015
Online publication date:  October  2015

Print ISBN: 9781138939608
eBook ISBN: 9781315674742
Adobe ISBN: 9781317380092


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Despite independence in August 1947, the postcolonial Indian military system has several similarities with colonial India’s military fabric. Regimental organisation and recruitment doctrines of the post-1947 Indian Army are two prime examples of continuity with the colonial army. In spite of economic growth, Indian society remains multiethnic, multilinguistic and multireligious even in the new millennium. Rather than a nation state, India is a nation with many nationalities. This chapter analyses the complex interaction between plural Indian society and the Indian Army, which happens to be the fourth largest in the world (Khalidi 2010: 1). 1 In general, there are two views about the Indian Army’s social character. While one group of scholars (influenced by the modernisation theory, which was in vogue in the American political scientist circle in the 1960s) argues that independent India has a national modernising army, which represents all the communities and geographical regions (Moore 1969: 219–34; Bopegamage 1971: 71–9; Singh 1985; Rosen 1996) 2 ; the opposite view is that we still have a quasi-mercenary unrepresentative army (Cohen 1991; Cohen 1993). 3

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