A Brief History Of Commissioning In The Indian Army


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The Forerunners of Indian Army
"There are just a dozen or so of KCIOs (King's Commissioned Indian Officers) left. We were the forebearers of the Indianisation of the Army in India. Now we are a lost and forgotten breed" laments Lt Gen MS Wadalia, the doyen of KCIOs. Lt Gen Wadalia, affectionately called Wad, now nearly 90 years, is the oldest member of this exclusive but forgotten group. He retired as Deputy Chief of the Army Staff in 1964. The others alive today are Generals PK Kumaramanglam, K Bahadur Singh, UC Dubey, KK Verma, AS Guraya, Chand N Das and Partap Narain, Brigs AM Sherriff, Kulwant Singh Sandhu, "Bosco" Sankharan Nair and AS Kalha and Col GC Dubey.
The KCIOs were a category of covenanted officers introduced in the Indian Army at the end of World War-1. Till then the Army was officered entirely by British and Indians were not given a covenanted status in the Army.
As a result of promises made by the British during World War I as well as the political pressure for Indianisation of the Army, eleven Viceroy's Commissioned Officers were promoted and granted the King's Commission at the end of the war. By 1923, this figure had risen to twenty three. Some of them were sent for graduation to Royal Military College, Sandhurst. Amongst them was Field Marshal KM Cariappa, the first Indian Chief of Indian Army. However, these promotions meant little as most of the persons promoted were at the fag end of their careers and could not aspire to rise much higher in rank before retirement. In any case, these steps were totally inadequate for the total Indianisation of the officer cadre in the Army and, therefore, it was decided to induct ten officers annually from 1918. At this rate, it would take many years, possibly a century, to Indianise the Army in India and without being Indianised, India could not achieve self-sufficiency or even dominion status. At this time, neither the Navy nor the Air Force existed as part of the Armed Forces of India. So the plan covered only the Army.
It was under these circumstances that the first few batches of Indians were sent to the Royal Military College at Sandhurst to be trained as officers. On completion of training, they were to be granted the covenanted King's Commission in the Indian Army. A total of ninetyfive officers were commissioned as KCIOs between 1921 and 1933.
The wheels of Indianisation of the Indian Army had been set into motion. The threat from the North, the Third Afghan War, aftermath of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, the mutiny amongst Indian troops in Jullandhar and Solan in 1920 and the turmoil caused amongst Sikh troops by the Akali Babbar movement in 1920-21 had a cumulative effect resulting in the formation of the Military Requirements Committee called by Lord Rawlinson, the C-in-C in 1921. The Committee proposed the eventual replacement of British by Indian officers, indigenous self-sufficiency, and broadening of the base of all recruitments. They recommended a 25 per cent level of Indianisation with an annual increase. This was not acceptable to Whitehall. Subsequent deliberations by the India Office resulted in a proposal by the Shea Committee which postulated complete Indianisation of the Army to be carried out in three phases of 14 years each. If the first phase was successful, the second phase could be reduced to nine and subsequently to seven years. From the second phase onwards British officers would cease to be recruited for the Indian Army. The Shea Committee also recommended the establishment of an Indian Military College. Their recommendations were modified and it was agreed to Indianise six infantry battalions and two cavalry regiments. Lord Rawlinson also proceeded with opening a pre-Sandhurst institution in the old campus of Imperial Cadet College with a capacity of 27 cadets. The Prince of Wales, later King Edward VIII, formally inaugurated the College on March 13, 1922. It was being designated the Prince of Wales Royal Indian Military College (RIMC), today's Rashtriya Indian Military College.
In the aftermath of the Third Anglo-Afghan War, there was need for an increased troop deployment on the Frontier, but the political pressure in the Legislative Assembly demanded a reduction in deployment of troops and curtailment of defence expenditure. Nationalist pressure also increased for the establishment of an Indian "Sandhurst".
Consequently, an Indian Sandhurst Committee was formed in 1926 under Lt Gen Sir Andrew Skeen with one British and twelve Indian members. This included Mr Moti Lal Nehru and Mr MA Jinnah. The committee found that in the previous eight years against 83 vacancies for Indians at Sandhurst 44 had passed successfully. With boys from RIMC joining Sandhurst, the results had improved considerably. The committee recommended that vacancies at Sandhurst be increased gradually to 20 per year till the Indian Sandhurst was established in 1933. An option for training at Royal Military College, Woolwich for entry into arms other than infantry and cavalry continued.:brave: