Indianisation (British India)
Indianisation was a process introduced in the later period of British India (early 20th century) whereby Indian officers were promoted to more senior positions in government services, formerly reserved for Europeans. In the Indian police, the rank of Deputy Superintendent was introduced to prepare Indian officers for promotion to higher rank. In the armed forces, the process referred to the replacement of British officers by Indians. The progress was slow and unsatisfactory to the Indian nationalist politicians, however events, mainly World War II and Independence shortly after, overtook the program.
British Indian Army
It was announced in 1918 that the King's Commission would be opened to Indians for whom ten places would be reserved in the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst to be trained as officers of the British Indian Army. There was great disquiet amoingst the British who disliked the idea of serving under native officers; others felt that without good breeding, public school exposure and sufficient suitable training, Indians would not become good officers and would neither be able to lead or be accepted by the native troops. There was a firm belief amongst the British officers and the Government that only the public school system could provide the right kind of officer and that too only from proper stock.
The Sandhurst training directly pitted Indian boys in conditions alien to their experience, upbringing and experience and not surprisingly, the results were unsatisfactory. Of the first batch of 25 cadets admitted to Sandhurst, ten failed to meet the requisite standard, two died, two resigned, one was deprived of his commission and ten passed. To remedy this, the Prince of Wales Royal Indian Military College was established on the 13th of March, 1922 for training native Indian cadets for an entry into the Sandhurst.
In the meantime, the first measure taken by the British government to "Indianise" the army - the Eight Unit Scheme of Indianisation - was announced on 17 February 1923. Indian proposals of faster induction were rejected and equally unrealistic timeplans of over 40 years with restricted kinds of commission were suggested. Finally, only eight units of the of British Indian Army were accepted by the British for Indianisation - only 5 infantry battalions out of 104, two cavalry regiments out of 21 and one pioneer battalion out of seven. They were to be reorganised on the British Army model, with King's Commissioned Indian Officers at every officer level and Indian Warrant Officers replacing Viceroy's Commissioned Officers. The eight units selected were:
- 7th Light Cavalry.
- 16th Light Cavalry.
- 2nd Battalion, 1st Punjab Regiment.
- 5th (Royal) Battalion, 5th Mahratta Light Infantry.
- 1st Battalion, 7th Rajput Regiment
- 1st Battalion, 14th Punjab Regiment.
- 4th Battalion, 19th Hyderabad Regiment.
- 2nd Battalion, 1st Madras Pioneers.
Of these eight battalions, the 2nd Battalion, 1st Madras Pioneers was disbanded in 1933 for economic reasons. Another eight units would follow after ten years for "Indianisation", one of which was the wartime 8th Battalion, 19th Hyderabad Regiment, today the 4th Battalion, the Kumaon Regiment in the Indian Army.
Indianisation was considered a failure by the Indians due to the refusal of the British Government to increase the extremely slow rate of induction and the reluctance of the British to accept the Indian officers on an equal footing both professionally and socially. The scheme was suspended at the outbreak of the Second World War, at which point only a handful of military units had been Indianised. The process was never reintroduced, as the wartime influx of Emergency Commissioned Officers were posted in all units. In 1947 India became independent and Indian officers immediately started to fill senior appointments with accelerated promotion.