Implications of Caste Factor in India


Bright Sword

Junior Member
Registered Member
It's important to understand the Caste factor in India, how it operates in a military environment and how it effects the military espirit de corps. It is necessary to understand why certain specific groups of Indian soldiers will only eat what their own caste cooks and are reluctant to eat together.
By tradition, the castes allowed to undergo military training and service were Brahmins and Kshatriyas.
Wikipedia has a detailed page on Bhishma who led Kauravas in
World War 0.
Imparting military training was reserved only for Brahmins and Kshatriyas. Wikipedia has done a wonderful job explaining this.
If you look up Eklavya, and his story you will see how as a self taught archer was beguiled into loosing his thumb so he could no longer use his bow. He was forced to do this because of his low tribal caste since he could not acquire proficiencies in handling of weapons.
Guru Drona ( Look up Wikipedia) ensured that and the prince Arjun he was training would remain the best archer in the realm.
This concept of Kshatriyas and Brahmins being the only ones entitled to military training, was a severe handicap in India's military capabilities. Since only the Kshatriyas and Brahmins were divinely ordained to fight, the rest of the population were incapable and indeed disinterested in fighting. They felt it was " not their job".
When the Kshatriyas failed India failed.
There was no People’s Resistance. The colonial Indian Army under British tutelage was a mercenary force of Kshatriyas and other "martial races", a culture which it retains till today. The only time a real People's Army was attempted devoid of race, religion and culture was during World War 2 by the Subhas Bose called the The Indian National Army comprised of POWs taken by Imperialist Japan, Japan hoped to use the INA as a fifth column to penetrate British ruled India. The INA wanted to use Japan's armed forces to weaken the British into relinquishing India. Ironically post independence the Indian Army didn't like the INAs anti- colonial and pan- combat capabilities stance. The INA had within its ranks all castes including "low caste " Indian origin rubber plantation workers. It was no wonder that the INA was quickly disbanded and the officers and men dismissed and banned from joining the newly independent Indian Armed Forces.
One element of the INA that did rejoin their parent armed forces were those from the area now constituting Pakistan.
They joined the newly formed Pakistan Armed Forces. One reason was that the newly formed PA has no caste or martial law elements.
 

Bright Sword

Junior Member
Registered Member
The Kshatriya and caste element of Indian military history has had tragic consequences.
In 1192 at the Second Battle of Tarain the Turko-Afghans discovered that a people's resistance in India was unlikely if the main armed forces could be smashed and the princes and commanders executed. Only the divinely ordained Kshatriyas and Brahmins would be fighting which would be a very small portion of the population. But the Turko- Afghans were only re-learning what Alexander the Great had learned in 326 B.C.E when he defeated King Porus and what Mohammed Bin Qasim had learned in 711 C.E. when he defeated Raja Dahir in Sindh. All these battles were lost by Indian generals despite a clear numerical and logistical superiority over the invaders. Once the battles were lost so too were the kingdoms. The curse of a caste based armed forces bedeviled India for the next 900 years. With the notable exception of the Sikhs (who had no castes as such ) armed resistance to foreign invasions were a series of disasters. Indian forces lost to the Greeks, Arabs, Afghans, Turks, Mongols, Mughals, Portuguese, French, and finally the British. Even the so-called Indian Sepoy Mutiny which was supposed to be making a virtue of the religious restrictions ( greased paper cartridges for muzzle loading rifles were deemed offensive) failed disastrously against disciplined British troops who were in far smaller numbers.
Indian forces were tutored by the British for 90 years and were supposed to be a replacement for British manpower. Individual acts of bravery by Sikh and Gurkha elements aside the Indian troops fared badly in battles such as at the Battle of Maiwand ( Second Anglo Afghan War).
The Indian Armed forces performed reasonably well under British officers in World War 1 though in Mesopotamia they suffered badly at the hands of the Turkish Army. World War 2 was similar.
From the late 19th century till 1947 there was no decisive victory in any campaign by a purely Indian officered, Indian led force..
The once in a 1000 year victory ( as admitted) by Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was in 1971 when India intervened in the East Pakistan Civil war and occupied East Pakistan for 60 days after which it became the nation of Bangladesh. India ( with some justification) credits this as a great victory.
But India never had a Battle of Stalingrad or a Hundred Regiment Offensive moment. It has never even had a Dunkirk or Battle of Britain.
There has never been mass resistance and consequently mass suffering. Northern India never even resisted the Mongols who penetrated as far east as Multan and Lahore. The bitter resistance the Mongols faced was from the Turko-Afghan forces of the Delhi Sultanates. The Mongols were dealt a devastating defeat by Alauddin Khilji and his Turko- Afgan troops. Hindu Kshatriyas fought alongside the Turko- Afghans in rare display of unity in the face of a common threat.
 

Bright Sword

Junior Member
Registered Member
If I may ask, What's the purpose of having a discussion about the caste system here on SDF anyway?
I worry that it will just easily go down into an endless circlejerking, bullshits and Bad India Takes.
We are discussing it only in a technical way and with strategic and military implications. Most of us are atheists here and not bothered about the religious aspect.
But there is a reason why religions and cultures are studied. The West has studied Islam for decades. Why is studying Indian caste structures taboo, especially since Indians themselves have so much to say on the topic?
 

Bright Sword

Junior Member
Registered Member
We are discussing it only in a technical way and with strategic and military implications. Most of us are atheists here and not bothered about the religious aspect.
But there is a reason why religions and cultures are studied. The West has studied Islam for decades. Why is studying Indian caste structures taboo, especially since Indians themselves have so much to say on the topic?
We can stop and delete the thread if moderators feel uncomfortable but isn't it interesting to know the following:
1. Why Indian troops mutinied against the British because of a particular type of rifle cartridge?
2. Why do some Indian soldiers do not eat together even on the battlefield?
3. Why are war widows for the common Indian soldiers KIA generally not allowed to remarry?
4.Why did some Sikh troops mutiny in 1984, seizing weapons and killing officers?
5. Also, why is there a fake news being circulated in India about a traitor "Muslim" regiment ?
 
Last edited:

Top