The dynamics of colonial military conquest rarely have been the subject of significant academic debate. Most scholars agree that the conquest of the non-Western world by the West was primarily a case of the advanced state organizations with superior military technologies overrunning the inferior ones. The most frequent depiction of a battle of colonial conquest is that of a few well-disciplined European troops holding their ground and overwhelming the hordes of the native armies. This scenario also has been accepted largely in India's case. Scholars such as Geoffrey Parker, Bruce P. Lenman, and Randolf G.S. Cooper attribute India's collapse to its inability to catch up with the West in terms of military organization and tactics. 1 Their analysis is based on the assumption that everything the Indians did was in reaction to the West. However, recent research has shown that the British succeeded not so much because of the inability of the Indians to adopt completely the Western military system, but because of the ability of the British to adapt rapidly to the changing military situation in India. 2 It is only by acknowledging the fact that the wars of colonial conquest in India were, in military terms, at least a contest among equals that one can begin to form an understanding of motivations behind the British attempts to modernize their colonial army in India.
The debate on the postconquest era has been monopolized by dependency theorists. Many of these scholars found the affair of the so-called martial races fascinating. Briefly, the “martial races” were certain categories of peoples from the subcontinent whom the British considered to be particularly suited, physically and mentally, for inclusion in the Indian army. Scholars, including Nirad C. Chaudhuri and David Omissi, have adopted the view that the martial races were in effect a conspiracy by the British to
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Publication information: Book title: Gentlemen of the Raj: The Indian Army Officer Corps, 1817-1949. Contributors: Pradeep P. Barua - Author. Publisher: Praeger. Place of publication: Westport, CT. Publication year: 2003. Page number: 1.
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