Thursday, 04 June, 2020

The Heart Of The British Indian Army – Mhow


Many would vote Tunku Abdul Rahman as Malaysia’s most beloved prime minister because of his endearing ways. His wit, sharpness of mind, empathy and compassion for the common people were legendary.

MHOW has a salubrious climate and a visit to this place can be a good holiday. You can reach Indore by train or air from all major Metros of India and from there to Indore one can take a taxi or a local train that plies between MHOW and Indore.

MHOW was a major railway division during the British Raj.But after independence the stock and facilities were shifted to Ratlam and Ajmer. However its importance to the Indian Army Exams has grown manifold as it has become one of the most important training centers of the joinindianarmy. The Army war college, School of Infantry and the Military College of Telecommunication Engineering are institutes that command a name in the indian army exams. In addition MHOW boasts of one of the oldest Military clubs in India with a 18 hole golf course which again is a tribute to the British.

The Demise of Ranjit Singh brought to the fore the Ills of the Sikh army. Unlike the western powers Ranjit created no training academy for his troops and the battles at the most were adhoc affairs with no planning. Staff work to frame a war plan was not known. This proved decisive in battles with the British.

The Eastern Command was in existence, but the IAF never carried out any exercises for hill attacks and operations. All the exercises were carried out for operations in the plains. This is hard to stomach now and the role of successive Air Chiefs from Air Marshal S Mukherjee down wards needs evaluation. The IAF was not conditioned for any form of operation in the hills and the heights of the Himalayas. However the IAF was combat ready for operations in the plains. Thus when the PLA moved in a logical corollary would have been to use the IAF as a ground support to blunt the Chinese offensive. This however did not happen and the Army fought it’s battle without Air Support. Thus the cardinal principle of Douhet was thrown to the winds.

The credit for reducing Great Britain to this dire strait must go to Hitler whose war greatly taxed the English. In fact if the second war had not taken place there is cent per cent chance that Great Britain would have never left India. Maybe the 21st century would have dawned with Great Britain still in control of India. This is not an airy statement but one that could have been very plausible.

After the British rule lapsed in 1947 the RIAF was divided into two Air forces, the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) and the Indian Air Force (IAF). The IAF had a checkered history and took part in vigorous operations during the 1965 and 1971 wars with Pakistan and did have a cutting edge over the PAF.

The code of conduct for an officer is a matter of honor. Fight and kill- yes that is what he is trained for but underneath, the concept of the Raj of fair play and going by the rules is paramount. Do not kill innocents and follow the Geneva conventions. Dammit! you have to be a gentleman as well. I let all who read this article form a judgment of their own. Is that concept, of an unwritten code of behavior for the officer class, still alive – in the Pakistani army? One will have to think deep to arrive at an answer.