Indian Army

Indian Army

The Indian Army (Bharatiya Thalsena, भारतीय थाल्सेना) is one of the armed forces of India and has the responsibility for land-based military operations. Its primary objectives include maintaining the peace and security of the country, patrolling the borders and conducting counter-terrorist operations. It also conducts rescue and humanitarian operations during calamities and disturbances, and has frequently been called upon to maintain the internal security of the country.

The Indian Army has a total troop strength of around 2.5 million (1.3 million active and 1.2 million reserve) and is the second largest standing army in the world. It is a completely voluntary service, with a clause that only entry is voluntary - the military draft never having been imposed in India. Indian Army is one of the major contributors to various United Nation missions. The army has rich combat experience in diverse terrains, considering India's diversity on this front, and also has a distinguished history of serving in United Nations peacekeeping operations.

The force is headed by the Chief of Army Staff, currently General Deepak Kapoor. The highest rank in the Indian Army is Field Marshal, but it is an honorary rank [ [ Bharat Rakshak] ] and appointments are made by the President of India - on the advice of the Union Cabinet of Ministers - only in exceptional circumstances. The late S.H.F.J. Manekshaw and K.M. Cariappa are the only two officers to have attained this rank. Though a Field Marshal is an honorary rank, the officer is held to 'never retire', and are entitled to uniform and flag as applicable to serving (active duty) officers throughout life.


The Indian Army doctrine defines the role of the Indian Army as - "The Indian Army is the land component of the Indian Armed Forces which exist to uphold the ideals of the Constitution of India. As a major component of national power, along with the Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force, the roles of the Indian Army are as follows :-
* Primary Role: Preserve national interests and safeguard sovereignty, territorial integrity and unity of India against any external threats by deterrence or by waging war.
* Secondary Role: Assist Government agencies to cope with ‘proxy war’ and other internal threats and provide aid to civil authority when requisitioned for the purpose." [ [ Indian Army doctrine] ]


:"This article deals with the modern day Indian Army. For the army before Independence in 1947, please see British Indian Army, Indian National Army."

Upon India gaining independence in 1947, the British Indian Army was divided into two parts to serve the newly created nations of Union of India and Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Most units went to India, four Gurkha regiments were transferred to the British Army, and the rest of the Gurkha regiments went to India.

The First Kashmir War

Almost immediately after independence, tensions between India and Pakistan began to boil over. And the first of three full-scale wars between the two nations broke out over the then princely state of Kashmir. Upon the Maharaja of Kashmir's reluctance to accede to either India or Pakistan, an impatient Pakistan sponsored a 'tribal' invasion of parts of Kashmir. The men are alleged by India to have also included Pakistan army regulars. Soon after, Pakistan sent in its troops to annex the state. The Maharaja, Hari Singh, appealed to India, and to Lord Mountbatten -- the Governor General -- for help, but it was pointed out to him that India saw no reason to do so. He signed the Instrument of Accession and Kashmir unilaterally acceded to India (a decision ratified by Britain but never accepted by Pakistan). Immediately after, Indian troops were airlifted into Srinagar and repelled the invaders. This contingent included General Thimayya who distinguished himself in the operation and in the later years became a Chief of the Indian Army. An intense war was waged across the state and former comrades found themselves fighting each other. Both sides made some territorial gains and also suffered significant losses

An uneasy UN sponsored peace returned by the end of 1948 with Indian and Pakistani soldiers facing each other directly on the Line of Control, which has since divided Indian from Pakistani-held Kashmir. Tensions between India and Pakistan, largely over Kashmir, have never since been entirely eliminated.

Indian Army participation in UN peace-keeping operations

Presently, the Indian army has dedicated one brigade of troops to the UN's standby arrangements. The large number of sustained troop commitments India has come in for much praise for taking part in difficult operations for prolonged periods.

The Indian Army has participated in several UN peace-keeping operations, including the ones in Angola, Cambodia, Cyprus, Congo, El Salvador, Namibia, Lebanon, Liberia, Mozambique, Rwanda, Somalia & Vietnam. The army also provided a paramedical unit to facilitate the withdrawal of the sick and wounded in Korea.

Liberation of Hyderabad, 1948

After the partition of India, the State of Hyderabad, a princely-state under the rule of a Nizam, chose to remain independent. The Nizam, refused to accede his state to the Union of India. The following stand-off between the Government of India and the Nizam ended on 12 September 1948 when India's then deputy-Prime Minister Sardar Vallabhai Patel ordered Indian troops to secure the state. Within 5 days of intense fighting, the Indian Army, backed by the Indian Air Force, successfully defeated Hyderabad State forces. The following day, the State of Hyderabad was proclaimed as a part of the Union of India. Major General Joyanto Nath Chaudhuri, who led the Operation Polo was appointed the Military Governor of Hyderabad (1948-1949) to restore law and order.

Goa, Daman and Diu Operation (1961)

Even though the British and French vacated all their colonial possessions in the Indian subcontinent, Goa, Daman and Diu remained under Portuguese control. In 1961, after repeated Portuguese refusals to negotiate towards leaving, New Delhi launched Operation Vijay and ordered a small contingent of its troops to invade the Portuguese territories and secure them. Unable to withstand the assault, Portugal signed a truce with India and gave up its control over the small territories, which formally became part of the Indian Union.

The Sino-Indian Conflict- 1962

Since 1959 Indian Police posts had been pushed forward into territory claimed by the Chinese Government. Small scale clashes broke out as India insisted the border ran along the "traditional" watershed, in effect the McMahon Line, which China disputed. In 1962 Indian soldiers were ordered to move to the Thagla ridge near the border between Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh, which formed part of the watershed, but was some three miles (5 km) to the north of the McMahon line. Tensions rose further when New Delhi discovered that the Chinese had constructed a road through Aksai Chin which India claimed. In September 1962 Chinese troops made a surprising attack on the Indian soldiers from the ridge. On October 12, Nehru gave orders for the Chinese to be expelled from Aksai Chin. On October 20, Chinese soldiers attacked India in both the North-West and North-East parts of the border, entering the disputed Aksai Chin region along with Arunachal Pradesh in numbers. China then called on the Indian government to negotiate. With no peaceful agreement between the two countries, China unilaterally withdrew their troops from the territory they had occupied. The reasons for the withdrawal are disputed with India claiming logistical problems and diplomatic support from the US and China stating that it was returning to the borders that it had staked its diplomatic claim. The dividing line between the Indian and Chinese forces was christened the Line of Actual Control. A review committee was soon set up by the Indian government to determine the causes for India's defeat. The report apparently faulted much of India's armed forces command and especially the executive government for failures on several fronts.The major reason for defeat was low deployment of troops on the China Border and that the executive did not involve the Indian Air Force to oppose the Chinese aggression and transport lines out of fear of Chinese aerial reprisals on Indian civilian targets. As a result the Chinese victory was more due to sheer numerical superiority rather than military superiority. The Ministry of Defence at the time of the war was headed by the then defence minister Krishna Menon. Despite frequent calls for its release this Henderson-Brooks Committee report still remains classified.

Indo-Pakistani War of 1965

A second confrontation with Pakistan took stand in 1965, largely over Kashmir. Pakistani President Chief Marshal Ayub Khan launched Operation Gibraltar in August 1965, believing an Indian leadership still recovering from the 1962 war with China would be unable to deal effectively with such a military thrust. It proved to be a serious miscalculation for Ayub, who had also banked on intelligence reports claiming that the people of Kashmir would aid the Pakistani war effort. No such rebellion occurred and India responded almost immediately with armoured regiments being deployed to both counter enemy intrusions and strike across the border. Pakistan launched Operation Grand Slam on September 1, invading the Chamb-Jaurian sector. In retaliation, the Indian Army's 15th Infantry Division crossed the International Border on the Western Front on September 6.

Initially, the Indian Army met with considerable success in the northern sector. After launching prolonged artillery barrages against Pakistan, India was able to capture three important mountain positions in Kashmir. Indian Army had made considerable in road into Pakistan. India had its largest haul of Pakistani tanks when the offensive of Pakistan's 1 Armoured Division was blunted at the Battle of Asal Uttar on September 10th. Six Pakistani Armoured Regiments took part in the battle, namely the 19 Lancers (Patton), 12 Cavalry (Chafee), 24 Cavalry (Patton) 4 Cavalry (Patton), 5 Horse (Patton) and 6 Lancers (Patton). These were opposed by three Indian Armoured Regiments with inferior tanks, Deccan Horse (Sherman), 3 Cavalry (Centurion) and 8 Cavalry (AMX). The battle was so fierce and intense that at the end of the war, the Fourth Indian Division had captured about 97 tanks in destroyed / damaged or intact condition. This included 72 Patton tanks and 25 Chafees and Shermans. 32 of the 97 tanks, including 28 Pattons, were in running condition. Indian losses in Khem Karan were 32 tanks. Roughly about fifteen of them were captured by the Pakistan Army, mostly Sherman tanks.

By the end of the war, it was estimated that Pakistan lost nearly 300 tanks destroyed. India had more than 150 tanks in its hands as war trophies and it is not unsafe to assume that more tanks were destroyed, that were in Pakistani territory, both by army as well as air action. Indian losses were less than half at 128 tanks destroyed. About 40 tanks would have fallen into Pakistani hands, most of them vintage AMX-13s from Chamb and Shermans from Khem Karan. Ceasefire was declared on September 23 was followed by talks in Tashkent (brokered by the Soviet Union), where Indian Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri and Ayub Khan agreed to withdraw to virtually all pre-war positions.Indian Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri died in mysterious circumstances in Tashkent, hours after signing the deal.This gives rise to conspiracy theories as India was in advantageous position after declaration of ceasefire.

Bangladesh Liberation War-1971

In 1971, rebellion broke out in East Pakistan, and India was forced to intervene as an estimated 10 million Bangladeshi refugees fled to India. Unlike the 1965 war, this time decisive change was effected. The Indian Army went into East Pakistan and effected a surrender of the Pakistani Army deployed there.East Pakistan broke away with Indian intervention and became the independent state of Bangladesh. This was of great help to India, since it no longer had to worry about a two-front war and could concentrate its combat firepower against what had been West Pakistan and the PRC. Under the command of Lt General J.S Aurora of Indian Army and General M.A.G Osmani of Bangladesh Mukti Bahini, the joint forces (Mitro Bahini) achieved a decisive victory over Pakistan in 1971, taking over 90,000 prisoners of war (38,000 Armed forces personnel and 52,000 civilians of West Pakistani origin) in the Bangladesh liberation war. Even on the western front, the Indian Army was successful in blocking Pakistan's invasion attempts (see Battle of Longewala) and counter attacked by capturing more than 2,000 sq. miles of Pakistani-held territory.

After 1971, tensions between India and Pakistan simmered, periodically threatening to break out into full-scale war, most notably in 1999 and 2002 in recent years. The 1998 tests of Indian and Pakistani nuclear weapons are seen by many commentators as acting as a restraining influence on both sides. Now that each can destroy the other in a war, according to the theory of deterrence, they are less likely to let tensions escalate.


Since the mid 1980s there has been an ongoing conflict between India and Pakistan at Siachen Glacier. Considered the world's highest battleground the battle is over differences in where the boundary is in this remote snowbound region. In 1987, 23rd September, a battle which went unreported in many quarters when 8 soldiers of the Indian Army, successfully defended & repulsed an attack & inflicted heavy casualties on Pakistani forces. In this battle 3 Indian soldiers were killed including Subedar Naik Raj(commander of the post). Reports indicated that the Pakistani's lost approximately 1000 soldiers of both the SSG & Northern light infantry. The attack continued till 25th September. The attack was launched as a reply to the Indians who captured the Quaid post(now known Bana Post after Subedar Bana who lead the successful assault on it). But, it was just the opposite, to what Pakistani's expected. The post was located at || utility helicopter || SA 316B Chetak || 60 || to be replaced by Dhruv
Aérospatiale SA 315 Lama || || reconnaissance UAV || || 100+ ||
IAI Heron II || on the Siachen Glacier in Jammu and Kashmir. Flying at these heights poses unique challenges due to the rarefied atmosphere. The Indian Army chose the Eurocopter AS 550 for a $550 million contract for 197 light helicopters to replace its ageing fleet of Chetaks and Cheetahs, some of which were inducted more than three decades ago. [ [ Eurocopter wins big Indian Army deal] ] The deal has however been scrapped amidst allegations of corruption in bidding process. [ [] ]

Recipients of the Param Vir Chakra

Listed below are the most notable people to have received the Param Vir Chakra, the highest military decoration of the Indian Army.
* Lt. Nawang Kapadia
* [ Major Navneet Vats]
* [ Major Rajesh Singh Adhikari, MVC]
* Lance Naik Ahmed Ali []
* Lieutenant Keishing Clifford Nongrum []

In Fiction

* Nair Saab: A Malayalam movie shot in Jammu and Kashmir starring Mammooty in the lead role as Captain Nair.
* Major Saab : A Hindi film starring Amithab Bachhan and Ajay Devagon
* Keerthichakra : A Malayalam movie starring Mohanlal and directed by Maj: Ravi
* [ Lakshya] : A Hindi movie starring Hrithik Roshan and directed by Farhan Akhtar
* Border : A Hindi movie by JP Dutta, based on the Indo-Pak War of 1971. The Battle of Longewala was depicted in this blockbuster movie. The movie won the prestigious Filmfare awards for Best Movie and Best Director.
* LOC Kargil : A Hindi movie by JP Dutta based on the Kargil War. The real stories of the Kargil War heroes were depicted in this multi-starrer movie.


See also

* Military of India
* British Indian Army
* Indian National Army
* Indian Territorial Army


External links

* [ A repository of information on Defence Matters in India]
* [ A Veteran Focus for India]
* [ Official website]
* [ Informative site]
* [ Indian military guide]
* [ Frontier India Journal - Indian Army Section]
* [ Video:Liberation of Goa @]
* [ Indian Army News]

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