Indian Defence System Essay

The Indian Armed Forces (Hindi (in IAST): Bhāratīya Saśastra Senāeṃ) are the military forces of the Republic of India. It consists of three[12][13] professional uniformed services: the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force. Additionally, the Indian Armed Forces are supported by the Indian Coast Guard and paramilitary organisations[14] (Assam Rifles, and Special Frontier Force) and various inter-service commands and institutions such as the Strategic Forces Command, the Andaman and Nicobar Command and the Integrated Defence Staff. The President of India is the Supreme Commander of the Indian Armed Forces. The Indian Armed Forces are under the management of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) of the Government of India. With strength of over 1.4 million active personnel,[15][16] it is the world's 2nd largest military force and has the world's largest volunteer army.[17] It is important to note that the Central Armed Police Forces, which are commonly and incorrectly referred to as 'Paramilitary Forces', are headed by officers from the Indian Police Service and are under the control of the Ministry of Home Affairs, not the Ministry of Defence.

The Indian armed forces have been engaged in a number of major military operations, including: the Indo-Pakistani wars of 1947, 1965 and 1971, the Portuguese-Indian War, the Sino-Indian War, the 1967 Chola incident, the 1987 Sino-Indian skirmish, the Kargil War, and the Siachen conflict among others. India honours its armed forces and military personnel annually on Armed Forces Flag Day, 7 December. Since 1962, the IAF has maintained close military relations with Russia, including cooperative development of programmes such as the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) and the Multirole Transport Aircraft (MTA). Armed with the nuclear triad,[18] the Indian armed forces are steadily undergoing modernisation,[19] with investments in areas such as futuristic soldier systems and missile defence systems.[20][19]

The Department of Defence Production of the Ministry of Defence is responsible for the indigenous production of equipment used by the Indian Armed Forces. It comprises the 41 Indian Ordnance Factories under the control of the Ordnance Factories Board, and eight Defence PSUs namely: HAL, BEL, BEML, BDL, MDL, GSL, GRSE and Midhani.[8] India was the largest importer of defence equipment in 2014 with Russia, Israel, France and the United States being the top foreign suppliers of military equipment.[21][22][23] The Government of India has launched a Make in India initiative to indigenise manufacturing and reduce dependence on imports, including defence imports and procurement.


Main article: Military history of India

India has one of the longest military histories, dating back several millennia. The first reference to armies is found in the Vedas as well as the epics Ramayana and Mahabaratha. Classical Indian texts on archery in particular, and martial arts in general are known as Dhanurveda.

Ancient to medieval era[edit]

Indian maritime history dates back 5,000 years.[24] The first tidal dock is believed to have been built at Lothal around 2300 BC during the Indus Valley Civilisation period, near the present day port of Mangrol on the Gujarat coast.[25] The Rig Veda written around 1500 BC, credits Varuna with knowledge of the ocean routes and describes naval expeditions. There is reference to the side wings of a vessel called Plava, which gives the ship stability in storm conditions. A compass, Matsya yantra was used for navigation in the fourth and fifth century AD. The earliest known reference to an organisation devoted to ships in ancient India is in the Mauryan Empire from the 4th century BC. Powerful militaries included those of the: Maurya, Satavahana, Chola, Vijayanagara, Mughal and Marathaempires.[26] Emperor Chandragupta Maurya's mentor and advisor Chanakya's Arthashastra devotes a full chapter on the state department of waterways under navadhyaksha (Sanskrit for Superintendent of ships) [1]. The term, nava dvipantaragamanam (Sanskrit for "sailing to other lands by ships," i.e. exploration) appears in this book in addition to appearing in the Vedic text, Baudhayana Dharmashastra as the interpretation of the term, Samudrasamyanam.

Sea lanes between India and neighbouring lands were used for trade for many centuries, and are responsible for the widespread influence of Indian Culture on other societies. The Cholas excelled in foreign trade and maritime activity, extending their influence overseas to China and Southeast Asia. During the 17th and 18th centuries, the Maratha and Kerala fleets were expanded, and became the most powerful Naval Forces in the subcontinent, defeating European navies at various times (See the Battle of Colachel). The fleet review of the Maratha navy, at which the ships Pal and Qalbat participated, took place at the Ratnagiri fort.[27] The MarathaKanhoji Angre, and Kunjali Marakkar, the Naval chief of Saamoothiri were two notable naval chiefs of the period.

British India (1857 to 1947)[edit]

Main articles: Royal Indian Navy, British Indian Army, and Presidency armies

The Royal Indian Navy was first established by the British while much of India was under the control of the East India Company. In 1892, it became a maritime component as the Royal Indian Marine (RIM).

During World War I the Indian Army contributed a number of divisions and independent brigades to the European, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern theatres of war. One million Indian troops served overseas; 62,000 died and another 67,000 were wounded. In total, 74,187 Indian soldiers died during the war. It fought against the German Empire in German East Africa and on the Western Front. Indian divisions were also sent to Egypt, Gallipoli and nearly 700,000 served in Mesopotamia against the Ottoman Empire.

Following WWI, the Indian Armed Forces underwent significant transformation. In 1928, Engineer Sub-lieutenant D. N. Mukherji became the first Indian to receive a commission in the Royal Indian Marine. In 1932, the Indian Air Force was established as an auxiliary air force; two years later, the RIM was upgraded to the status of a naval service as the Royal Indian Navy (RIN).

Though the gradual "Indianisation" of the officer corps began after WWI, at the outbreak of war in 1939, there were no Indian flag, general or air officers in the armed services. The highest-ranking Indian officers were those serving in the non-combatant Indian Medical Service, who held no rank higher than colonel; in the regular Indian Army, there were no Indian officers above the rank of major.[28] The Royal Indian Navy had no Indian senior line officers and only a single Indian senior engineer officer,[29] while the Indian Air Force had no Indian senior officers in 1939, with the highest-ranking Indian air force officer a flight lieutenant.[29][30]

In World War II, the Indian Army began the war in 1939 with just under 200,000 men. By the end of the war it had become the largest volunteer army in history, rising to over 2.5 million men by August 1945.[31] Serving in divisions of infantry, armour and a fledgling airborne forces, they fought on three continents in Africa, Europe and Asia. The Indian Army fought in Ethiopia against the Italian Army, in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia against both the Italian and German Army, and, after the Italian surrender, against the German Army in Italy. However, the bulk of the Indian Army was committed to fighting the Japanese Army, first during the British defeats in Malaya and the retreat from Burma to the Indian border; later, after resting and refitting for the victorious advance back into Burma, as part of the largest British Empire army ever formed. These campaigns cost the lives of over 36,000 Indian servicemen, while another 34,354 were wounded; 67,340 became prisoners of war. Their valour was recognised with the award of some 4,000 decorations, and 38 members of the Indian Army were awarded the Victoria Cross or the George Cross.[31]

The demands of war and increasing recognition that the era of British dominance in the subcontinent was ending increased the pace of "Indianisation." In 1940, Subroto Mukherjee (later the first Indian C-in-C and Chief of the Air Staff) became the first Indian to command an air force squadron and attain the (albeit acting) rank of squadron leader.[32] In July 1941, Indian Medical Service officer Hiraji Cursetji became one of the first Indian officers to be promoted to substantive general officer rank.[33] During the war, several Indian Army officers, notably Kodandera M. Cariappa, S. M. Shrinagesh and Kodandera Subayya Thimayya, all of whom would subsequently command the Indian Army, achieved distinction as the first Indian battalion and brigade commanders. In 1946, sailors of the Royal Indian Navy mutinied on board ships and in shore establishments. A total of 78 ships, 20 shore establishments and 20,000 sailors were involved in the rebellion, which had an impact across India.

Dominion of India (1947–1950)[edit]

The period immediately following Indian independence was a traumatic time for India and her armed services. Along with the newly independent India, the Indian Armed Forces were forcibly divided between India and Pakistan, with ships, divisions and aircraft allocated to the respective Dominions. During this period, the armed forces of India were involved in a number of significant military operations, notably the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947 and Operation Polo, the code name of a military operation in September 1948 where the Indian Armed Forces invaded the State of Hyderabad and overthrew its Nizam, annexing the state into the Indian Union. On 15 January 1949, General K M Cariappa was appointed the first Indian Commander-in-Chief of the Indian army.

Republic of India (1950 to present)[edit]

Main article: Military operations of India

Upon India becoming a sovereign republic on 26 January 1950, some of the last vestiges of British rule - rank badges, imperial crowns, British ensigns and "Royal" monikers - were dropped and replaced with the Indian tricolour and the Lion Capital of Asoka.[34] While India had become a republic, British officers seconded from the British Armed Forces continued to hold senior positions in the Indian Armed Forces into the early 1960s. On 1 April 1954, Air MarshalSubroto Mukherjee became the first Indian Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Air Force. Effective from 1 April 1955, a Parliamentary Act, the Commanders-In-Chiefs (Change in Designation) Act, re-designated the office of Commander-in-Chief as the Chief of Staff of each branch. Not until 1958 would the last British chief of staff that of the Indian Navy, be succeeded by an Indian. On 22 April of that year, Vice Admiral Ram Dass Katari became the first Indian Chief of Naval Staff. The Chiefs of Staff of the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy were upgraded to four-star rank on par with the Chief of Army Staff in 1966 and 1968, respectively.

In 1961 tensions rose between India and Portugal over the Portuguese-occupied territory of Goa, which India claimed for itself. After Portuguese police cracked down violently on a peaceful, unarmed demonstration for union with India, the Indian government decided to invade and initiated Operation Vijay. A lopsided air, sea, and ground campaign resulted in the speedy surrender of Portuguese forces. Within 36 hours, 451 years of Portuguese colonial rule ended, and Goa was annexed by India.

India fought four major wars with its neighbour Pakistan in 1947, 1965, 1971 and 1999, and with China in 1962. Indian victory over Pakistan in the 1971 war, helped create the free country of Bangladesh. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Pakistan began organising tourist expeditions to the Siachen Glacier, disputed territory with India. Irked by this development, in April 1984 India initiated the successful Operation Meghdoot during which it gained control over all of the 70 kilometer (41 mile)-long Siachen Glacier, and all of its tributary glaciers, as well as the three main passes of the Saltoro Ridge immediately west of the glacier—Sia La, Bilafond La, and Gyong La.[35][36] According to TIME magazine, India gained more than 1,000 square miles (3,000 km2) of territory as a result of its military operations in Siachen.[37] In 1987 and in 1989 Pakistan to re-take the glacier but was unsuccessful. The conflict ended with Indian Victory.[38] There has been a ceasefire since 2003.[citation needed]

The Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) carried out a mission in northern and eastern Sri Lanka in 1987–1990 to disarm the Tamil Tigers under the terms of the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord.[39] It was a difficult battle for the Indian Army, which was not trained for an unconventional war. After losing approximately 1,200 personnel and several T-72 tanks, India ultimately abandoned the mission in consultation with the Sri Lankan government. In what was labelled as Operation Pawan, the Indian Air Force flew about 70,000 sorties to and within Sri Lanka.

The beginning of the 21st century saw a reorientation for India on the global stage from a regional role in the subcontinent to a major role in the Indian Ocean region stretching from the Gulf of Aden to the Malacca Strait.[40] India's sphere of influence needs to encompass not just the South Asian Sub-continent, but also the northern Indian Ocean area, from the eastern seaboard of Africa in the west, to the Malacca Straits in the east, and must include Iran, Afghanistan, the Central Asian Republics (CARs), China and Myanmar. India's credibility, as a regional power will be contingent on institutional stability, economic development and military strength, including nuclear deterrence. The long stretches of disputed borders with China and Pakistan, and sizeable areas under their occupation, continue to be major irritants, in spite of the peace processes under-way with both countries.[citation needed]



The headquarters of the Indian Armed Forces is in New Delhi, the capital city of India. The President of India serves as the formal Supreme Commander of the Indian Armed Forces,[41] while actual control lies with the executive headed by the Prime Minister of India. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is the ministry charged with the responsibilities of countering insurgency and ensuring external security of India. GeneralBipin Rawat is the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), Admiral Sunil Lanba is the Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS) and Air Chief MarshalBirender Singh Dhanoa is the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS).[42][needs update] The Indian armed force are split into different groups based on their region of operation. The Indian Army is divided administratively into seven tactical commands, each under the control of different Lieutenant Generals. The Indian Air Force is divided into five operational and two functional commands.[43] Each Command is headed by an Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief with the rank of Air Marshal. The Indian Navy operates three Commands. Each Command is headed by a Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief with the rank of Vice Admiral. There are two joint commands whose head can belong to any of the three services. These are the Strategic Forces Command and the Andaman and Nicobar Command. The lack of an overall military commander has helped keep the Indian Armed Forces under civilian control, and has prevented the rise of military dictatorships unlike in neighbouring Pakistan.[44]

The Armed Forces have four main tasks;[45]

  • To assert the territorial integrity of India.
  • To defend the country if attacked by a foreign nation.
  • To support the civil community in case of disasters (e.g. flooding).
  • To participate in United Nations peacekeeping operations in consonance with India's commitment to the United Nations Charter.

The code of conduct of the Indian military is detailed in a semi-official book called Customs and Etiquette in the Services, written by retired Major General Ravi Arora, which details how Indian personnel are expected to conduct themselves generally.[46] Arora is an executive editor of the Indian Military Review.[47]

The major deployments of the Indian army constitute the border regions of India, particularly Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, and Northeast India, to engage in counter-insurgency and anti-terrorist operations. The major commitments of the Indian Navy constitute patrol missions, anti-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia, the 'Singapore Indian Maritime Bilateral Exercise' with the Republic of Singapore Navy in the Straits of Malacca,[48] maintaining a military presence in Southeast Asias waters, and joint exercises with other countries, such as: Brasil, South Africa,[49] the United States and Japan,[50] France (Varuna naval exercises), the People's Republic of China,[51] the Russian Navy (INDRA naval exercises), and others.

Between April 2015 and March 2016, India allocated $40 billion to Defence Services, $10 billion to Defence (Civil Estimates) and another $10 billion to the Home Ministry for Paramilitary and CAPF forces - a total allocation for defence and security of about $60 billion for the financial year 2015–16.[52][53] In 2016-17, the contribution to the Home Ministry has been increased from $10 billion to $11.5 billion.[54]

Contemporary criticism of the Indian military have drawn attention to several issues, such as lack of political reform,[55] obsolete equipment,[56] lack of adequate ammunition,[56] and inadequate research and development due to over-reliance on foreign imports.[57] In addition, the lack of a 'strategic culture' among the political class in India is claimed to have hindered the effectiveness of the Indian military.[44] Critics believe these issues hobble the progress and modernisation of the military. However, analysis by the Central Intelligence Agency indicates that India is projected to have the fourth most capable concentration of power by 2015.[58][needs update] According to a report published by the US Congress, India is the developing world's leading arms purchaser.[59] It is investing ₹99.7 billion (US$1.5 billion) to build a dedicated and secure optical fibre cable (OFC) network for exclusive use of the Army, Navy and Air Force. This will be one of the world's largest closed user group (CUG) networks.[60]


This section needs to be updated. Please update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information.(June 2017)

During 2010, the Indian Armed Forces had a reported strength of 1.4 million active personnel and 2.1 million reserve personnel. In addition, there were approximately 1.3 million paramilitary personnel, making it one of the world's largest military forces.[61] A total of 1,567,390 ex- servicemen are registered with the Indian Army, the majority of them hailing from: Uttar Pradesh (271,928), Punjab (191,702), Haryana (165,702), Maharashtra (143,951), Kerala (127,920), Tamil Nadu (103,156), Rajasthan (100,592) and Himachal Pradesh (78,321). Many of them are re-employed in various Central government sectors. [62] Prior to 1992, women served in auxiliary services. Since then, women have been granted the right to serve as officers in the military and starting 2015, women fighter jet combat pilots were also inducted. As of 2014, the percentage of the women in the Army was 3%, in the Navy was 2.8% and in the Air Force was 8.5%.[63]

Recruitment and Training[edit]

The highest wartime gallantry award given by the Military of India is the Param Vir Chakra (PVC), followed by the Maha Vir Chakra (MVC) and the Vir Chakra (VrC). Its peacetime equivalent is the Ashoka Chakra Award. The highest decoration for meritorious service is the Param Vishisht Seva Medal.

Indian Armed Forces[15][6][64]
Indian Army1,237,117991,000
Indian Navy67,22855,000
Indian Air Force139,576140,000
Paramilitary Forces[6]
Indian Coast Guard11,000
Assam Rifles66,000
Special Frontier Force10,000
Central Armed Police Forces and Others'[6][65]
Central Reserve Police Force313,678
Border Security Force257,363
Indo-Tibetan Border Police89,432
Central Industrial Security Force144,418
Sashastra Seema Bal76,337
Railway Protection Force75,000
National Disaster Response Force13,000
SFs (NSG & SPG )10,000
Other Forces25,000+
Humber armoured cars of 10th Indian Division move forward in Italy, 22 July 1944.
Picture showing equivalent ranks and insignia of Indian Armed Forces (click to enlarge)

The power to defend the State against aggression is the primary responsibility of the People. Now we have to think about this problem from a truly national standpoint, for the sacred duty and respon­sibility rests with us, especially the younger generation.

The first step has been taken by organizing a real National Defence Force consisting of a well-built army, the navy and the air-force. This is admitted by all. Our entire army is today nationalized, and under our own military leaders; our armies have shown their mettle at home and abroad in a remarkable manner and earned glory.

Our Defence Services and forces have given a heroic account of themselves in the three wars against Pakistan and during the Chinese aggression of 1961. Our soldiers were also sent to several interna­tional theatres as Peacekeeping forces under the UNO and earned good name everywhere.

A real National Defence Force consists of a well-trained army, a navy and an air-force. The defence must not be built up with foreign aid in any form. It means that the army may have to be used in the interests of the foreign power that offers aid or has other interests. Obviously, such a defence cannot be called 'national'.

India is well protected by Nature. She was overrun and conquered by foreign powers in the past more for her own disunity than for the weakness of her defence. Today a foreign power will not find it at all easy to attack the country; for the country as a whole will rise in self-defence under the President, the super-head of the Armed Forces.

The true defence of the country lies in the hearts of the people. Hence, national defence, in the proper sense, can never be the concern merely of Government only. It is the sacred duty that devolves upon every individual and every community, irrespective of rank, caste, creed or religion. It is, therefore, the moral duty of every able-bodied youth in the country to be ready to rush to armed defence of the motherland, whenever the country is in peril.

With the magazines of the Big Powers stored with atomic weapons, however, the nightmare of a long-drawn war of attrition has given place to fear of a war of annihilation. This frightening possibility should act as a salutary check on war-mindedness in this world. For this reason it does not seem wise or expedient for under­developed countries to spend crores of rupees for national defence and thereby deprive the common people of necessary financial help.

However, it should be mentioned with pride that the nuclear test explosions, that India caused in May 1998 at Pokhran desert was an urgent necessity. Some of our neighbours have been consistently threatening us with nuclear night. Why should a big and capable country like India submit to nuclear blackmail? So India's explosion of nuclear devices had been in self-defence. Yet India should now be recognized as a nuclear state. However, it is possible to have non-aggression pacts with all these countries as a second line of national defence. Nehru's lasting credit lies in basing the national defence more on the Five Principles—Panch Shil,—than on a powerful system of military defence.


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