Hindu Militarisation – regaining the martial spirit

“Had India listened to Savarkar and adopted his policy of militarization and prepared herself she would not have been placed in this predicament.” ¹

These were the words of first Commander in Chief of Indian Army Field Marshal K.M. Cariappa.

Veer Savarkar urged Hindu youth across all regions and caste to list in British Army.In his statement on 8th April 1942, Savarkar asserted:

“If the Hindus are thus trained, armed and equipped in their millions, then and then alone they will be in a position to defend their hearths and homes from the ravages of the war and to suppress any internal anti-Hindu anarchy. Under the present circumstances this can only be done by joining the Governmental military forces in the land……Moreover the martial mentality and capacity thus developed today by the Hindus is bound to prove an incalculable asset to the national strength even after the war. “

What was this Hindu ‘militarization’ and ‘Martial Spirit’ that Veer Savarakar emphasised on all his life ? Answer to this question is in Dr. Ambedkar’s writings.

Dr. B.R. Ambedkar writes in his book on Pakistan in 1945

“…the Indian Army today is predominantly Muslim in its composition….one often hears them say that they are the ‘gate – keepers’ of India. The Hindus must consider the problem of the defence of India in the light of this crucial fact. How far can the Hindus depend upon these ‘gate – keepers’ to hold the gate and protect the liberty and freedom of India ? The answer to this question must depend upon who comes to force the gate open…… If the invasion came from Russia it may be hoped that these gatekeepers of India will be staunch and loyal enough to hold the gate and stop the invader but suppose the Afghan singly or in combination with other Muslim States march on India will these gatekeepers stop the invaders or will they open the gates and let them in ? This is the question which no Hindu can afford to ignore this is a question on which every Hindu must feel assured because it is the most crucial question.

The loyalty and dependability of this Army of the Muslims can only be tested by considering how it will behave in the event of an invasion by the Afghan will they respond to the call of the land of their birth or will they be swayed by the call of their religion is the question which must be face if ultimate security is to be obtained. The question how this Army of the Muslims will behave if afghan invades India is the very pertinent and crucial question must be faced however unpleasant it may be. “

Dr Ambedkar further writes :

“Can the Hindus depend upon such an army to defend the country against the invasion of Afghanistan ? Only the so-called Indian Nationalist will say ‘yes’ to it. The boldest among the realist must stop to think before he can give an answer to the question the realist must take note of the fact that Musalman look upon the Hindus as Kaffirs who deserve more to be exterminated then protected.”

Composition of British Indian Army :

Composition of British Indian Army varied over the years on caste , regional and religious basis. Mutiny of 1857 was the turning point in the composition of British Army before that recruitment was open for all Indians. After 1857 theory of Martial and Non Martial was introduced by British army. Communities who were leading the 1857 Mutiny mainly Brahmins , Kayasathas and Mahars etc. were labelled as non martial (unsuitable for army) whereas communities mainly from North West India such as Sikhs , Rajputs , Gurkhas , Dogras and Muslims which supported British efforts to crush 1857 mutiny because of their personal enmity with communities leading mutiny were labelled as Martial races. Only martial races were allowed to recruit in Army whereas Non martial races were abstained to do so. Composition of British Army also varied in peace and war time. During peace time proportion of Muslims was alarmingly high 70% in the Army because of Gandhi’s ‘Ahimsa’ Hindus become more reluctant to join Army whereas Muslims under the guidance of Muslim league joined in large numbers . However the turning point came during World war 2 when Britishers were facing shortage of Manpower in the Army they opened recruitment for all. This lead visionaries like Savarkar , Ambedker and Dr B.S. Moonje to motivate under represented communities to join the Army.

Hinduisation of the military and militarization of Hindus.

Dr. B.S. Moonje Hindutva Ideologue , Hindu Mahasabha and R.S.S. leader who was himself a military doctor and participated in Boer War had a keen interest in Hinduisation of the military and militarization of Hindus”. He was member of the “First Defense Committee of India” under the Chairmanship of General Chetwood and also member of Central Legislative Council (now known as the Parliament).

Taking the advantage of new recruitment opened by British Government during World War II, Hindu Mahasabha under his guidance conducted several Recruitment Rallies for inducting young men into the British Army, thinking that the well trained Hindu Blood (at the cost of British) will revolt against British when nation needs it.

He visited many Military Schools in Britain, Germany, France and Italy. He met many Generals of First World War and also met Benito Mussolini to study the military training imparted in Italy. He took initiative in starting Indian Military Academy at Dehradoon as the first Indian Academy in 1936. After this tour he established Central Hindu Military Education Society at Nashik in 1935 and started Bhonsala Military School in 1937 as a feeder Institute to IMA, Dehradun.

Dr B.R. Ambedkar, whose father had been a soldier in the British Indian Army, was a strong advocate of raising the Mahar regiment for ‘Lower’ Caste Hindus again, an effort that paid off only during World War II, when the British Empire once again started recruiting ‘Lower’ Caste Hindus and raised 3 regiments specially for ‘lower’ caste Mahar , Ram Dasia and Chamar Regiment.

One might argue that this militarisation drill was conducted to help Britishers in World War 2 but that’s not the case as Savarkar has demanded provincial and central governments to introduce military training for youth in school and colleges way before Britain entered Word War 2 and letters from INA soldiers suggest that many Hindus who joined British Army have flipped side and joined Indian National Army of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose to fight for freedom because of Savarakar. This drill was even appreciated by Netaji Bose himself.

In a broadcast on 25 June 1944 on the Azad Hind Radio, Netaji Bose said –

“When due to misguided political whims and lack of vision, almost all the leaders of the Congress party have been decrying the soldiers in the Indian army as mercenaries, it is heartening to know that Veer Savarkar is fearlessly exhorting the youths of India to enlist in the armed forces. These enlisted youths themselves provide us with trained men and soldiers for our INA.“

The drill was so successful that Muslim proportion in army went from 70% in 1935 to 34% in 1945. These young Hindu soldiers not just fought for freedom under Subhash Chandra Bose but even after Independence when India and Pakistan went on war in Kashmir just after 3 months in October they fought for Independent India against Pakistan. Keep that in mind Partition happened not just of landmass but of Army too. Most of the Pakistan Army was made up of Muslim Regiments of British Indian Army. Just imagine what would have happened if Muslims proportion would have that high in British Army. Pakistan would have defeated India’s comparatively small Army. Even during the disturbed conditions in the aftermath of partition, the young hindu soldiers helped in the safe transfer of lakhs of refugees, in the face of violent armed mobs.

Now the question arises what was the Savarakar’s ‘Militarisation’ Field Marshal K.M. Cariappa mentioned after the defeat of 1962. Savarakar wanted this militarisation of Indians to continue even after Independence. He wanted military training for Indian youth in school colleges and modernization of Indian Army , Navy and Air force. He strongly criticed Nehru-Gandhi’s pacifist policies and reluctance to build Atom Bomb. No doubt if Independent India would have initiated the Militarisation drill even after Independence we would have defeated China in 1962.

Reference and Source

1. Veer Vinayak Damodar Savarkar book by Bhawan Singh Rana
Savarkar Samgra
Hindu Rashtra Darshan by V.D. Savarakar page 86.
Historic Statements by Savarkar page 4.
Pakistan or the Partition of India by B.R. Ambedker page 77 ,81, 83

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