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How Savarkar saved Indian army

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Krishna Kumar
Krishna Kumarhttp://krishnakrwrites.com
Writes about Indian History with context and analysis. Focus: British occupation period of India. Author: Rapid Reads-India and Investigating Indian History series. Available now : 1942-When the British Rule in India was Threatened Coming Next : Ten Months to freedom Also writes a newsletter.Free Subscription. krishnaKwrites.substack.com

Remembering the call given by him in his birthday celebrations in 1939 to Hinduize the Military and its implications.

Like all the other assets Indian army went through a partition in ’47. The numbers were:

‘The British staffed battalions were only six, while Indians in the army were 373570, out of whom 164,780 were Hindus,135,268 Muslims and 35390 Sikhs and 16382 Christians, and others’.[i]

Nearly all Muslims chose to go to Pakistan with some British and Christians. Thus, the size of the Indian Army was around 225,000, while Pakistan had approximately 130,000. As a percentage, Pakistan had nearly an army in size of 36% of the Indian army.

But this was not the case just a few years earlier. Even Jinnah claimed in ’42, speaking to American reporters, that 65% of British India’s army was Muslims and supported demand for Pakistan.[ii]

Ambedkar estimates that the pre-1937 ratio of Muslims was at least 50%, if not 60-70%. The Additional hiring done during World War II had been widened to different areas of the country. Still, the regions’ share in 1943 was Punjab 50%, U.P.15%, and Madras and Bombay 10% each.[iii].

The composition of the army had changed and in 1943, as per details given in the House of Commons in Britain, was:

Muslims 34%, Hindus and Gurkhas 50%, Sikhs 10%, Christians and the rest 6%[iv].

If the Indian Army had been 50% Muslim in 1947 and, say, the same percentage went to Pakistan -the Indian Army and Pakistan Army would have been nearly equal, with a much bigger area to be defended by Indians, causing them to be spread thin. Imagine the Kashmir war with this imbalance.

How did the percentage change? A large part of the credit needs to go to Savarkar, who, on his birthday in 1939, had given the call to Hindus to join the Military in large numbers and spoke about this in public meetings after public meetings traveling throughout India.

British Indian Army was used for multiple purposes. It subdued agitations and uprisings and also fought wars for the British Empire globally. However, after the revolution of 1857, the recruitment was done under an identification known as Martial Races and focused on specific areas and Sikhs and Muslims. Therefore, the army had a disproportionate representation of people from Punjab, NWFP, and U.P compared to the other regions.

Savarkar helped balance this from various areas and, by pushing for more Hindus to join, ensured India was left with an adequate army in ’47.

An honest recognition of Savarkar’s contributions is overdue.


[i] Ahmed Istiaq Pakistan the garrison state, P 60

[ii] Wolpert, Stanley, Shameful flight, P 47

[iii] Ambedkar B.R, Pakistan and Partition of India, P 77

[iv] Ambedkar. B.R, Pakistan and partition of India P 77

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Krishna Kumar
Krishna Kumarhttp://krishnakrwrites.com
Writes about Indian History with context and analysis. Focus: British occupation period of India. Author: Rapid Reads-India and Investigating Indian History series. Available now : 1942-When the British Rule in India was Threatened Coming Next : Ten Months to freedom Also writes a newsletter.Free Subscription. krishnaKwrites.substack.com
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