India will celebrate its 75th Army Day on January 15, 2023, marking the day when Field Marshal KM Cariappa took over as the first commander-in-chief of the Indian Army in 1949. This year, the parade, which is traditionally held in Delhi, will be held in Bengaluru for the first time as part of the government’s initiative to celebrate major events in different parts of the country. The goal of the parade being held outside of the National Capital Region is to give wider visibility and attract a larger participation of citizens, particularly the youth.
Honouring Southern India’s Sacrifices: Indian Army Day Parade Comes to Southern Command
The Indian Army’s decision to shift the location to an area in the Southern Command is an opportunity for citizens to witness the pride, gratitude, and respect evoked by the parade. The Southern Command, which was established in 1895 and is headquartered in Pune, comprises two Corps with their headquarters in Jodhpur and Bhopal. 11 states and four Union Territories, covering almost 41% of the country’s landmass, fall under the Southern Command.
This year’s parade is a recognition of the sacrifices, valour, and services of the people of Southern India, and an apt tribute to Field Marshal KM Cariappa, who hailed from the state of Karnataka. The parade will showcase military hardware, contingents, and combat displays, and soldiers will receive gallantry awards such as Sena medals.
The day also commemorates the transfer of power from the British to the Indian Army and honours soldiers who have sacrificed their lives in the service of the nation. The parade will feature eight marching contingents, including a horse-mounted cavalry from the Army Service Corps and a military band composed of regimental brass bands, and will include a fly-past of Dhruv and Rudra helicopters.
This year’s parade is also in line with the government’s initiative to celebrate major events outside of the National Capital Region in order to create general awareness about the significance of the day and attract the youth. The Indian Air Force Day parade took place in Chandigarh in 2022. The Army Day parade will commence with a wreath-laying ceremony at the Madras Engineer Centre war memorial by the Chief of the Army Staff, who will review the parade and give away gallantry awards.
The Life and Legacy of Field Marshal KM Cariappa: The First Indian Commander-in-Chief
Field Marshal Kodandera Madappa Cariappa, known as KM Cariappa, became the first Chief Commander of the Indian army after the country gained independence from British rule. He was born in 1899 in Karnataka and his father Kondera worked as a revenue officer. Cariappa, alongside Sam Manekshaw, is one of the army officers who earned the Five-Star title as Field Marshal. However, Cariappa’s legacy extends beyond being the first Indian commander-in-chief or one of the five-star generals.
Before becoming Army chief, he played a vital role in administering the country’s army in the west during the Indo-Pak War of 1947. He also made significant contributions in reattaining territories in Kargil.
He was honoured with the “Order of the Chief Commanders of the Legion of Merit” and died in Bangalore in 1993 at the age of 94. Indian Army Day is celebrated to recognize the efforts of this man of principles. He was known for his compassion and discipline and inspired generations through his demonstration of the highest standards of patriotism.
Leading the Way: The Role of Field Marshal in the Indian Armed Forces
The Field Marshal is the highest rank in the Indian Army and is a ceremonial rank. It is a 5-star rank, higher than the 4-star General. A Field Marshal never retires, and is counted as a serving officer until his death. There are only two ways to become a Field Marshal in the Indian Army. The first way is by leading your army to victory in a major war and getting the rank as a token of gratitude. All of the appointments of the Field Marshal were in this way so far.
The second way to become a Field Marshal is through a wartime need. Suppose a war is going on, and the General’s age of retirement is near. Changing the top man of your army during an ongoing war can be a disaster. The solution is to promote him to the rank of a Field Marshal, as a Field Marshal cannot retire. After the war, transfer the administrative responsibilities to the next General. However, there was never a need to appoint a Field Marshal in this way.
The Navy and Air Force equivalents of the Field Marshal are Admiral of the Fleet and Marshal of the Air Force, respectively. There has never been a promotion to the Admiral of the Fleet, however, there has been a promotion to the Marshal of the Air Force. Arjan Singh was promoted as a token of gratitude for leading the Air Force to victory under his command in the 1965 war.
One way to identify a Marshal is by his baton, known as the Marshal’s Baton. It is a golden bar with some added decorations on its head. The Marshal’s Baton reflects the honour and prestige of this rank. In the Indian Military, the Marshal’s Baton is typically made with a golden bar, having the Ashoka Stambha as its decorative head.
-The writer is a Defence and Aerospace Analyst. The views expressed are personal and do not necessarily reflect the views of Raksha Anirveda