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More British-era honours, symbols and ceremonies could be ditched as military tries to ‘Indianise’ the force


By News18.com IST (Released)

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Defense sources say the current system for appointing a regimental colonel could be discussed on September 21, as could military ceremonies such as Beating the Retreat or military funerals in modern hearse vehicles and not in speed cars. cannon.

After the navy adopted a new naval ensign earlier this month, dropping a colonial-era remnant of the Cross of St. George, the military will also look at a range of British-era practices that are still followed. by force, to see if they can be thrown away, News18 has learned.

According to defense sources, discussions to remove some of these legacy practices have been ongoing for more than two years now and some of the changes have also been implemented.

Plans accelerated after Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke in March last year about improving the indigenization of military equipment as well as the doctrines, procedures and customs followed by the armed forces during the Combined Commanders Conference in Kevadia, Gujarat.

According to the sources, some of the existing customs and traditions of the army, uniforms and equipment, regulations and laws having their roots in the colonial and pre-colonial era will need to be revised.

Renaming of units, establishments and institutes – especially those created during colonial times and bearing English names – including the Queen Mary’s Technical Institute for Differently Capled Soldiers, based in Pune, the names of the colonial era and unit insignia or army crest. as various customs and traditions inherited from the past, including Officers’ Mess procedures, will also be subject to revision.

Discussions on the affiliation of army units with foreign armies and that of the army with the Commonwealth Graves Commission are also ongoing. There will be reviews of pre-independence battle honours, which several army units were awarded in the past by the British.

A defense source said the current practice of awarding honorary commissions to junior officers will also be discussed, as will the existing regimental colonel appointment system, military ceremonies such as Beating the Retreat or funerals. soldiers in modern hearses and not in gun carriages.

Sources said many of these points could be raised in an internal discussion chaired by Army Adjutant General Lt. Gen. C Bansi Ponnappa on Wednesday.

The efforts, they said, go in the direction of Amrit Kaal – an expression first used by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2021 to describe the period between the 75th anniversary of India’s independence and its 100th anniversary, which will be celebrated in 2047. Sources added that the review of some of the legacy practices is also in line with the Panch Pran goals for the next 25 years announced by PM Modi.

“Everyone’s input will be gathered and perspectives will be brought together as we look at some of these legacy practices. The idea is to discuss; no immediate decision can be made,” a source said.

The efforts drew mixed reactions from several officers News18 spoke to, with some supporting the process of reviewing outdated military practices, while others opposed any hasty moves to change customs and traditions. of the army followed for centuries.

A senior officer told News18 that military funerals in gun carriages, for example, make little sense at present. “It’s a vestige of past colonial traditions and it’s best to get rid of it,” the officer said, adding that while most of those traditions were removed in the past, some still remain with the three combat arms. of the Army.

Another senior officer said that much of the customs and traditions of the colonial era had already been abandoned by the military in the past. “Too many changes carried out simultaneously in a short period of time as part of the ‘Indianization process’ of the Indian Armed Forces may not be a good idea,” the officer said.

Earlier this year, the traditional anthem stay with me was dropped for the first time since 1950 at the Beating Retreat ceremony on January 29 and was replaced by the Hindi Patriotic Song Ae Mere Watan Ke Login.

According to the sources cited above, 75 outdated laws, practices and procedures of the three defense services will likely soon be removed.

Efforts have also been made to include indigenous texts such as Arthashastra in military training and strategic studies with greater emphasis on Indian war heroes, leaders and thinkers. The military also worked actively to end the use of pre-independence terms, avoiding anglicized names for military exercises and call signs, including aviation call signs.

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