Gentlemen of the Raj: The Indian Army Officer Corps, 1817-1949

By Pradeep P. Barua | Go to book overview

3

An Officer and a Gentleman: The Socialization of the Indian Officer Cadet, 1919-1945

In 1925 Mr. S.K. Brown, the joint secretary to the Military Department, India, remarked that the “future of Indianization in the army lies in the hands of the Indian officers themselves.” 1 Indeed, no analysis of the modernization program can be complete without a direct examination of the Indian officers' role in ensuring the success or failure of the Indianization effort. In the previous chapter, I revealed that one of the ultimate aims of the British was the creation of a professional national army so that India could take on the status of a self-governing dominion within the empire. Contrary to popular belief, Indianization was never meant to be a half-hearted attempt to mollify Indian nationalist politicians. The evidence suggests that Indianization was not a matter of political expediency to be achieved at any cost. Military efficiency remained a priority in this reform, and, had it become obvious over a period of time that the Indian officers were not up to the task, it is quite likely that the entire reform process would have failed.

Had the Indian officers proved inept, the British could have exercised two options: They could have scrapped the program altogether, or if this was not politically viable (as seems the more likely), they could have rushed through the Indianization process regardless of the cost to military efficiency. In either situation India would have ended up with a “headless” army after independence, the all-too-common legacy of most newly independent colonies. So, in the final analysis, the Indian officers alone would dictate the outcome of the ambitious Indianization program. This chapter analyzes the first phase of the Indianization process, the training of the Indian officer cadets.

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