Col B S Nagial (Retd)
Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav is an innovative idea of the Government of India to honour and eternalise seventy-five years of Independence and highlight the spectacular history of its people, culture and achievements in various fields. This Mahotsav is devoted to those people of India who were responsible for bringing India on its evolutionary journey and held within them the power and potential to change India for the better. The official journey of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav commenced on 12 Mar 2021, which started a seventy-five-week-long journey to celebrate our seventy-fifth anniversary of Independence and will end post a year on 15 Aug 2023.
The Indian Independence movement was a series of historical events aimed at throwing Britishers out of India. It almost lasted for ninety years, from 1857 to 1947. The first nationalistic movement for the Independence of India emerged from Bengal. It took its roots in the Indian National Congress,which was formed in1885 by prominent moderate leaders like AO Hume, Dadabhai Naoroji and DishawWacha. The Indian Independence movement was in relentless ideological flux. The first half of the twentieth century saw the rise of radical leaders. This struggle for Independence culminated in the Indian Independence Act of 1947, which ended suzerainty in India and created Pakistan. India remained a ‘Crown Dominion’ till 26 Jan 1950, when the Constitution of India was adopted, and India became Republic. Pakistan remained a ‘Crown Dominion’ until 1956, when it adopted its constitution.
The role of the Indian Armed Forces in India’s Independence movement was immense but, unfortunately, has not been appropriately documented. Thus the general public was not aware of the contribution of Indian soldiers toward the freedom struggle, and national leaders never acknowledged or appreciated it. These unsung heroes remained covered under destiny and time. These freedom fighters were deprived of their livelihood and liberty in a few cases. The major uprising wherein Indian troops took part were:
* The Vellore Mutiny-1806
* The Barrackpore Mutiny-1824
* The Great Indian Mutiny-1857
* The Singapore Mutiny1915
* The Peshawar Mutiny-1930
* 130th Baluch Regiment Mutiny in Rangoon during WW-I
* Royal Indian Service Corps Mutiny-1940
* Central Indian Horse Mutiny-1940
* HongKong Mutiny-1941
* Indian National Army-1942
* Christmas Island Mutiny1942
* The Indian Naval Mutiny of 1946
* The Indian Airforce Mutiny-1946
* The Jubbulpore Mutiny-1946
Before the formation of the Indian Army, the East India Company raised and maintained its own Army consisting of indigenous Indian and European troops. Indian Army, which was formed in 1859, before 1947, also referred to as the British Indian Army, fought in both world wars. Thus British Indian Army consisted of both European officers and Indian soldiers. British Army, also present in India, alongside the British Indian Army. After Independence, the president of India became the supreme commander of the Indian Armed Forces, and the Indian Cabinet became the highest decision-making body in all defence-related matters.
Indian Army is the defender of National Sovereignty. For the Indian Army, while discipline is the bedrock, the fact remains that the synthesis of the nation’s diversity sets it apart from other military establishments in the world. India, having numerous castes, creeds and credos, has an Army that has absorbed them so well that it has become a perfect example of social and communal harmony not found in other armies of the world. It is the only Army where all religions get the same respect, and all religious festivals are celebrated with the same passion and enthusiasm, again a rare and admirable characteristic of the Indian Army.This is a significant factor in the excellent performance of the Indian Army in warfighting, peacekeeping/ peace-making international obligations, disaster management and aid to civil authority within the country. This harmony has played a stellar role in the performance of Indian Army personnel during peacetime and war.
With freedom also came the partition of the country and the birth of Pakistan. Indian Army has fought four major wars and one limited war with its enemies Pakistan and China: Kashmir War of 1947- 48,India-China War of 1962, India Pakistan War of 1965, India Pakistan War of 1971 and Kargil War, 1999. The significant operations conducted in India are: Operation Meghdoot in April 1984, Operation Pawan in 1987, Operation Cactus Lilli in Nov 1988, Operation Black Tornado in 2008, etc.
In addition to its contribution within India, the Indian Army played a lead role in United Nations Peacekeeping with its presence in eight out of fourteen UNO Missions worldwide. Over 5,400 military troops are currently deployed under the UNO flag in challenging environments.In the interest of world peace, Indian Army troops have carried out many operations, earning the respect of the UNO, the world community, and the local populace. The professionalism and heroic actions of the Indian Peace Keeping Forces have been recognised immensely. The Indian Army has a significant presence in UNO missions in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lebanon, South Sudan, Golan Heights, Syria, Western Sahara, Abyei, and Cyprus. India is also deploying an infantry Battalion Group in United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA).India has so far provided 15 Force Commanders, two Military Advisors, one Deputy Military Advisor to the Secretary-General of the UNO, two Divisions Commanders, and eight Deputy Force Commanders in various United Nations Organisation (UNO) Missions.
The organisational structure of the Indian Army is so solid and unified that it works more like an extended family support system. The Indian Army is synonymous with its commitment to the ‘motherland’ and its safeguarding prowess during attacks on international borders and insurgencies within the national borders. The units of the Indian Army work for the welfare of the habitants in the far-flung areas by providing them security as well as education, health and medical facilities, which creates a perfect bonding between Army personnel and citizens of the region.
A series of significant events have been planned to commemorate the seventy-fifth year of Independence.The Indian Army will celebrate various events such as Achievements @75, Actions @75, Freedom Struggle @75, Ideas @75 and Resolve @75. Various events include the Indian Army expeditions to seventy-five mountain passes, Jan Sampark Abhiyan, display of equipment and fire-power, military bands display, plantation, run, drawing and painting competition, quizzes, etc.
The Indian Army, the nation’s defenders, is resolute towards enabling its troops by rearranging and introducing modern weapon systems for future wars. Evolving technologies, like Artificial Intelligence, Cyber Warfare, Robotics and Aerospace, which have the potential for military application and a disruptive impact on modern-day warfare, are being explored and inducted. The infusion of high technology-based precision weaponry has enhanced the lethality of future warfare manifold. The spectrum of threats ranges from nuclear to conventional and asymmetric, with terrorism emerging like a hydra-headed monster.
The Indian Army has lived up to its tradition of valour, heroism, sacrifice and fortitude. It stands vigil along the border, watchful, prepared for any sacrifice so that the people of this country may live in peace and with honour. The theme of the year 2022 is In Stride With The Future.Thus the Indian Army is fully committed to modernisation with the impetus to indigenous solutions.
Col B S Nagial (Retd)