One of the largest components of the Indian Armed Forces, the Indian Army has played a pivotal role in guarding the borders of the country. The force has, at times, also been called upon to offer its services in quelling secessionist movements and restoring order. So, as India celebrates its 68th Army Day, let’s take a look at some of the interesting facts about the Indian Army and its valiant soldiers.
Formation and History
1. The origin dates back to 1895, when the armies of Bengal, Bombay and Madras presidencies were merged to form a unified Indian Army.
2. The Indian Army witnessed a major overhaul in 1947, when British India was divided into India and Pakistan. The British Indian Army was divided between the two newly created countries and four out of the 10 Gurkha regiments were transferred to the British.
3. Assam Rifles, which was formed in 1835, is the oldest paramilitary force in the country.
4. While the Indian army has adapted to the changing times, it has not entirely abandoned the past. The 61st Cavalry is probably the only horsed regiment in the world today. Though the cavalry is today employed primarily for ceremonial purposes, it can also be pressed into service for internal security or policing, if the situation demands so. During the 1971 Indo-Pak War, the 61st Cavalry took the work of mounted patrolling.
5. The intelligence arm of the Indian Army, called the Directorate of Military Intelligence, was formed in 1941. It deals with cross-border intelligence and checks corruption.
6. The Army has fought four major wars with Pakistan – 1947-48, 1965, 1971 and 1999. In every war, the valour of the Indian soldiers has kept the enemy at bay and the sovereignty of the country intact. However, of all the battles fought in these wars, perhaps the most well-known is the Battle of Longewala, which was fought in December 1971. The war is well remembered for the fact that just 120 soldiers halted the advance of over 2,000 Pakistani soldiers. The battle was fought all through the night and when the Indian Air Force planes rained down fire from the sky in the morning, the Pakistani soldiers fled. They left behind 34 tanks.
7. The Portuguese had been ruling Goa for more than 400 years. When the British relinquished their control over India in 1947, the Portuguese refused to do so in Goa. Operation Vijay was launched in December 1961 which ended the Portuguese rule in India and led to the incorporation of Goa, Daman and Diu into the Indian Union.
8. One of the biggest kingdoms in India, Hyderabad, had refused to join the Indian Union. Operation Polo was launched in September 1948 and proved to be a success. The operation, which lasted 5 days and witnessed 32 causalities on the Indian side and 3,500 on the enemy side, led to the integration of the princely State of Hyderabad into India.
9. The Kargil War, fought in 1999, was another big achievement for India. The Indian Army was able to recapture a number of positions on the Indian side that were infiltrated by Pakistani troops and militants. It has been estimated that around 3,000 Mujahideens and 700 Pakistani troops were killed.
10. Built by the Indian Army in 1982, the Baily Bridge is the highest bridge in the world. The bridge is located between the Dras River and Suru River in the Ladakh Valley.
11. The Param Vir Chakra (PVC) is India’s highest gallantry award. It is awarded for the highest degree of valour or self-sacrifice in the presence of the enemy. Till now, the medal has been awarded 21 times, out of which 14 were posthumous awards.
12. The Indian Army also played the role of a peacemaker during the Korean War from 1950-53. It sent aid for UN troops and soldiers were sent for peacekeeping.
13. The flag of the Indian Army has red in the background. The Indian tricolour is placed on top left and the national emblem and swords on the right.
14. “Service Before Self” is the motto of the Indian Army.
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