1935 Nazi Party Rally at Nurnberg displayed the new half-track artillery-carriers. | Image source and courtesy – Hitler’s Army- The Men, Machines, and Organization- 1939-1945 – David Stone – Google Books 2012-08-02 17-43-23 | Click for image.
In 1940, Jinnah, who for most part of his career was anti-colonial, suddenly changed.
The man who defended Bal Gangadhar Tilak wanted a Pakistan.
To many this has seemed like a puzzle.
From MA Jinnah’s speech at the Lahore Session in March 1940 of the The All-India Muslim League. | Image Extract from Transfer Of Power In India – V.P. Menon – Google Books accessed on 2012-07-31 at 01-20-35 | Click to go to books.google.co.in
Why or what changed Jinnah?
The simple answer is the British.
The British needed a counter to the Congress – which could have disrupted the British recruitment of Indian soldiers. Congress decided to oppose British recruitment of Indian soldiers. Jinnah agreed to support British recruitment of Indian soldiers to fight a British war in far-off lands.
Indians soldiers who were essential to the British victory in WWII.
Keys to British power
Just as Indian gunpowder powered the British rise to world power, the other leg was the Indian Army. Drawing upon India’s vast military market, tens of thousands of soldiers could be raised in a short time – at a very reasonable cost.
To impose British writ on the world.
When the British needed to teach a lesson to Emperor Tewodros II of Ethiopia (then Abyssinia; also “Theodore”), it was the Indian sepoy who was sent. After the British disaster in Burma, it was decided to use the Bengali sepoys in Burma – which resulted in the Barrackpore Mutiny of 1824. After a lull, British power was imposed on Burma, in degrees, between 1856 to 1896, by Indian soldiers. As the Chinese started steaming, and the Boxer Wars started, it was the Indian Sepoy who landed in China.
On August 4, 1900, a relief force of more than 3000 soldiers from Sikh and Punjabi regiments left Tianjin, part of the larger eight-nation alliance that was dispatched to aid the besieged quarter, where 11 countries had set up legations. Indian troops were also dispatched to guard churches and Christian missionaries, the targets of the Boxer uprisings.
Among the Indians, there was sympathy for the Boxers, Colonel Jaishankar said. Gaddhar Singh, a Rajput who was in Beijing in 1900-01, empathised with Chinese grievances in his accounts, arguing it was an entirely justified peasant rebellion.
The British also dispatched Indian regiments to China leading up towards the Opium War, which ended with the Treaty of Nanking in 1842 and the opening up of Chinese ports to the British.
The British deployed Sikh soldiers as law enforcement officers in ports like Shanghai, where their trading companies had set up a large presence by the early twentieth century. The Sikh soldiers were feared by the Chinese with their imposing figures, so much so that the British deemed that they did not even need guns when on duty, Colonel Jaishankar said, citing records from the time.
The history of Indian troops in China is one that is ignored in Chinese accounts, and is likely a sensitive legacy considering they were often deployed against the Chinese.
via The Hindu : Arts / History & Culture : The forgotten history of Indian troops in China.
During WWI, more than ten lakh Indian soldiers fought all over the world to save the British Empire from being overrun by the German-Ottoman alliance.
After WWI, with many idle Indian soldiers and no war, the British Raj decided on another adventure against Amir Amanullah Khan of Afghanistan in 1919. A small contingent of Indian soldiers under Wilfrid (also Wilfred) Malleson landed in Russian Central Asia to hold crucial railway lines and oil fields from falling in Bolshevik hands. Both campaigns failed.
Modern Western narrative is reluctant to admit the role played by the British Indian Army in the power and conquest of the Raj.
The role of the Indian soldier was most crucial in the British victory in WWII.
A White Paper introduced in the British Parliament on March 1, 1935 discussed Germany’s secret re-armament – and proposed British increase in defense production.
Germany responded with an announcement of Luftwaffe, and universal military conscription on March 16, 1935 in the Wehrmacht. Nearly four years after the white paper, Britain introduced conscription to increase the size of its army, after the passage of the Military Training Act (April 27, 1939).
The small size of the British military against the might of Hitler’s Blitzkrieg, forced Britain into conscription at the beginning of WWII.
During the early years of the war, the army suffered defeat in almost every theatre in which it was deployed. With mass conscription, the expansion of the army was reflected in the formation of larger armies and army groups. From 1943, the larger and better equipped British Army hardly suffered a strategic defeat.
In September 1939, the army had a total of 892,697 officers and men in both the full-time regular army and part-time Territorial Army. The regular army could muster 224,000 men, who were supported by a reserve of 173,700 men. Of the regular army reservists, only 3,700 men were fully trained and the remainder had been in civilian life for up to 13 years.The Territorial Army numbered 438,100, with a reserve of around 20,750 men.
By the end of 1939, the Army’s strength had risen to 1.1 million men, by June 1940 it stood at 1.65 million men, and had further increased to 2.2 million men by the following June. The size of the Army peaked in June 1945, at 2.9 million men.
By 1944, the United Kingdom faced severe manpower shortages. By May 1944, it was estimated that the Army’s strength in December 1944 would be 100,000 less than at the end of 1943. Although casualties were actually lower than anticipated, losses from all causes were still higher than could be replaced. 35,000 men from the Royal Air Force and Royal Artillery were retrained as infantry.
via British Army during the Second World War – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Although 35 lakh British soldiers enlisted during WWII, the peak numbers of soldiers fighting was never more than twenty-nine lakhs – including reserves, under-training, injured and non-combatants, which was about half the number. In contrast twenty-five lakh Indian soldiers fought to save the British Empire. Compare this with the thirty lakh soldiers that Germany committed for Operation Barbarossa (June 22, 1941) against Soviet Union.
At the beginning of the WWII, the British attitude, in part was ‘Me? Worry!’ ‘Indeed the advice coming from London was that it was unlikely that Indian troops would be required at all.’
The tune soon changed.
There were over two and a half million Indian citizens in uniform during the war. The Fifth Indian Division, for example, fought in the Sudan against the Italians, and then in Libya against the Germans. From North Africa the Division was moved to Iraq to protect the oilfields.
After this relatively easy posting, the Division was moved to the Burma front, together with eight other Indian Divisions, and then occupied Malaya. It was then moved to Java to disarm the Japanese garrison there.
The Fourth Indian Division also fought in North Africa, Syria, Palestine, Cyprus and then in Italy. Together with the 8th and 10th Division it participated in the taking of Monte Cassino, after which it was moved to Greece.
India also served as an assault and training base, and provided vast quantities of foods and other materials to British and Commonwealth forces, and to the British at home. This necessitated the involvement of more millions of men and women in war work and war production.
via BBC – History – World Wars: Colonies, Colonials and World War Two.
For this privilege of saving the British skins
India also had to pay for its two and a half million citizens in uniform, as well as for the highly paid white British officers.
via BBC – History – World Wars: Colonies, Colonials and World War Two.
Later in this post we will use gold prices indices to demonstrate the high salaries paid to Indian and British soldiers by the British Raj. From the taxes levied on the Indian peasant.
Western historians make much of the fact that the British-Indian Army was a voluntary Army and not a conscript army.
They conveniently overlook the fact that what went towards paying for the British Indian Army were extortionate taxes that the Indian peasant paid. Neither voluntarily nor willingly.
Taxes that were not even fair.
Wages of sin?
The question about British-Indian Army on most people’s minds was
What motivated men to fight in a war thousands of miles from home, in a cause that did not seem to be their own? The Indian Army has often been described as a mercenary force, and money may have been one motive for enlistment. The pay for an Indian infantryman was a modest 11 rupees a month, but the additional income would have been useful to a hard-pressed peasant family. Promotion could bring more substantial income, particularly to men who had served for many years.
via BBC – History – World Wars: India and the Western Front.
In an India wracked by famines in the British Raj, in an agricultural economy subjected to crippling taxes, British-Indian Army with it high pay, timely salaries, pension benefits was attractive to rural families with any surplus children, that could not be used on the farm.
The other aspect is that as the Squeeze-India Campaign initiated by Churchill-Montagu Norman progressed, indebtedness of the Indian population also grew. The Central Banking Enquiry Committee estimated the total rural debt in 1929 at Rs.900 crores. Some 4.5 crore families owed equal to today’s Rs.200,000 in debt – calculation based on Rs.200 debt per family debt with gold at Rs.30 per tola.
By 1937, this doubled to today’s Rs.400,000 for every rural family – indexed to current gold prices.
To get a handle on this
Let us compare this to modern India’s labour market.
Look at the software industry. Employing about 28 lakh people (Nasscom; 2012), the average entry level pay for a basic software professional (HTML; Java) is about Rs.1.00-1.20 lakhs per annum. SAP-trained entry level employees cost between Rs.2.0-3.0 lakhs.
At entry-level, software employees get just about double of what farm labour gets in India. A typical farm labourer makes about Rs.50,000-Rs.100,000 per annum.
Similar to India modern software industry, the British Indian army at the end of WWII had recruited about 25 lakh soldiers. Unlike software employees, the recruits in the British Army had close to zero skills and negligible education. Mostly from rural areas, a career in the British Indian Army was rewarding. For most of the British Raj period, rural wages in India were about 10%-20% of a sepoy’s salary.
To better understand the value of this salary, we will need to understand the value of the Indian currency vis-a-vis the British pound and the price of gold in India – during this period.
In 1927, the peg was once more reduced, this time to 18 pence (13⅓ rupees = 1 pound). This peg was maintained until 1966, when the rupee was devalued and pegged to the U.S. dollar at a rate of 7.5 rupees = 1 dollar (at the time, the rupee became equal to 11.4 British pence). This peg lasted until the U.S. dollar devalued in 1971.
via Indian rupee – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Gold in India, before WWII was at Rs.30 per tola. A salary of Rs.60 indexed to today’s gold price would mean Rs.60,000 – excluding food, lodging, uniform, and other allowances.
So, what were actual pay scales like?
Paying for loyalty
We will take a broad sample of reports for that period. A luminary from the British Indian Army was
Gurbaksh Singh Dhillon (March 18, 1914 – February 6, 2006) an officer in the Indian National Army charged with “waging war against His Majesty the King Emperor”. Along with Shah Nawaz Khan and Prem Kumar Sahgal, he was tried by the British at the end of World War II in the INA trials that began on November 5, 1945 at Red Fort. Dhillon also played an important role in the Indian independence negotiations.joined the Training Battalion of the 10/14th Punjab Regiment on May 29, 1933, receiving pay of fifteen rupees per month. He completed his training in the first week of March 1934.
via Gurbaksh Singh Dhillon – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Another INA leader who joined in the officer grade had a much higher salary.
Habib ur Rahman Khan (1913–1978) was an Indian freedom fighter during British colonial rule of India, Rahman was an officer in the Indian National Army who was charged with “waging war against His Majesty the King Emperor”. Along with Gen. Shah Nawaz Khan, Col. Prem Kumar Sahgal & Col. Gurbaksh Singh Dhillon, he was tried by the British at the end of World War II in the famous INA trials that began on November 5, 1945 at Red Fort.
Khan got enrolled himself at the Prince of Wales Royal Indian Military College, Dehradun and was commissioned as an officer in the British Indian Army. In 1933 after training from Dehradun joined 5th Battalion, formed by redesignation of 40th Pathans, the 5/14th Punjab Regiment on May 29, 1933. As a officer his pay was hundred rupees per month. He was posted to 1st Battalion of the 14th Punjab Regiment.
After Independence Quaid-i-Azam was delighted with that Khan joining the government service and advised him in writing to visit and report about the current situation of the state of Jammu and Kashmir in Srinagar. Following the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947, Khan chose to settle in Pakistan
via Raja Habib ur Rahman Khan – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Comparing pay scales in navy yields similar numbers.
In 1914, Indian deckhands earned between 16 and 22 rupees (£1.00-£1.50) a month and firemen (who worked with the engines) 20 rupees (less than £1.50) compared to wages of £5.10 per month for their British co-workers. By 1919, their wages had stayed the same, while the British seamen’s wages had nearly tripled to £14.00 a month.
When World War II began, there were still big differences in pay, with White seamen earning on average seven times as much as lascars. This caused widespread unhappiness amongst the lascars, and led to strikes, running away and the setting up of seamen’s unions. By the end of the war, lascar wages had increased by 500% to over £9.00 a month, but still stood at less than half the wages paid to White seamen (£20.00-£24.00 a month).
via Bangla Stories – Two World Wars.
As the German motorized division rolled across Europe brushing all opposition aside, the British also changed their Indian army recruitment. At the start of the war some British Indian Army divisions had entire regiments where no one knew how to drive an automobile.
The outbreak of World War Two forced the British to speed up mechanisation but initially mechanisation for Indians meant only trucks or armoured cars. There was one important measure which the British undertook and which most probably attracted the best available manpower to try to enrol in the Indian Armoured Corps. This was an almost doubling of the pay of the Armoured Corps soldiers from around 18 rupees to 33 rupees per month. This was done in October 1942, once General Martel who was visiting India in order to reorganise the Indian Armoured Corps was told that “India had a mercenary army” and that the best men in India would not join he (sic; read as the, and not he) Indian Armoured Corps if they were paid Rs 18 per month which was the average monthly pay of an Indian soldier.
via Pakistan Armoured Corps as a Case Study.
The above figures are broadly confirmed by the memoirs of a soldiers. This following memoir, with some contradictions and inconsistencies (not to mention spelling mistakes) still serves a useful purpose of confirming a soldiers salary.
Once the situation came under control, then I joined the Indian Army. This was in 19th Febuary 1948. At first I was an electrician/ motor vehicle engineer. After this I was made an Armamnet Artificial Vehicle Officer. At that time India was in the commonwealth. India brought independance in 1947. However, Lord Mountbatton was still the Governer General of India until 1952.
During the British period the uniforms were Khaki. Under Indian rule this changed to olive Green. Status was low. We used to receive the same wages though, 29 rupees monthly. Normally people were not very well educated at that time. When i joined the air force,
During the beginning, I was going to join in 1945, but the British recruitment was finished. That is why I had to join later. Living standards were very good for army people, and people used to give us more respect. British people really appreciated the Sikhs joining the British Army, and were very encouraging.
via BBC – WW2 People’s War – My Life as a Sikh Soldier In India.
Money alone is not enough
By the time of the Burma offensive (Nov.1944-August 1945), Field Marshal Claude Auchinleck had to increase pay to retain Indian soldiers. When the time came, even this increased pay was not enough.
In January 1943, the Japanese invited Bose to lead the Indian nationalist movement in East Asia. He accepted and left Germany on 8 February. After a three-month journey by submarine, and a short stop in Singapore, he reached Tokyo on 11 May 1943, where he made a number of radio broadcasts to the Indian communities, exhorting them to join in the fight for India’s Independence.
On 15 February 1943, the Army itself was put under the command of Lt. Col. M.Z. Kiani. A policy forming body was formed with the Director of the Military Bureau, Lt. Col Bhonsle, in charge and clearly placed under the authority of the IIL. Under Bhonsle served Lt. Col. Shah Nawaz Khan as Chief of General Staff, Major P.K. Sahgal as Military Secretary, Major Habib ur Rahman as commandant of the Officers’ Training School and Lt. Col. A.C. Chatterji (later Major A.D. Jahangir) as head of enlightenment and culture.
On 4 July 1943, two days after reaching Singapore, Subhash Chandra Bose assumed the leadership of the IIL and the INA.
via Indian National Army – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
An estimated 40,000 joined the INA, though the Japanese agreed to kit and fit only some 16,000 soldiers.
After winning WWII, the British attempted to punish the Indian Army deserters, rebels who had joined SC Bose’s INA, and fought against the armies of the Raj. Against much objections and opposition, the trials and court martial proceedings were initiated against Habib-ur-Rahman and
Colonel Prem Sahgal, Colonel Gurubaksh Singh Dhillon and Major General Shah Nawaz Khan. The three had been officers in the British Indian Army and taken PoW in Malaya or Singapore. They had, like a large number of other troops and officers of the British Indian Army, joined the Indian National Army and later fought in Imphal and Burma alongside the Japanese forces in allegiance to Azad Hind.
via INA trials – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
The whole nation rose in revolt. A common rhyme during the period was
Lal Qile se aaee awaz,
Sahgal Dhillon Habib Shah Nawaz,
Charoon ki ho umar daraz
Translation – Comes a voice from the Red Fort, Sahgal, Dhillon, Habib, Shah Nawaz, May the Four live long
Nehru informed the Congress and Mountbatten reported to London, that India was like like a volcano, which could erupt any time. Penderel Moon, a much quoted British Civil servant, felt that the Raj was on “the edge of a volcano.” As did Nehru and Pethick Lawrence. The INA trials had created serious ruptures in British control over India.
This movement marked the last major campaign in which the forces of the Congress and the Muslim League aligned together; the Congress tricolor and the green flag of the League were flown together at protests.
During the trial, mutiny broke out in the Royal Indian Navy, incorporating ships and shore establishments of the RIN throughout India, from Karachi to Bombay and from Vizag to Calcutta. The most significant, if disconcerting factor for the Raj, was the significant militant public support that it received. At some places, NCOs in the British Indian Army started ignoring orders from British superiors. In Madras and Pune, the British garrisons had to face revolts within the ranks of the British Indian Army.
Another Army mutiny took place at Jabalpur during the last week of February 1946, soon after the Navy mutiny at Bombay.
via INA trials – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
British officers deemed that this court-martial was minimum necessary to maintain military disciple. Later retreating, Claude Auchinleck wrote to his British officers, explaining why the sentence could not be carried out.
practically all are sure that any attempt to enforce the sentence would have led to chaos in the country at large, and probably to mutiny and dissension in the Army, culminating in its dissolution.
Unsure of Japanese and German ability to fully arm and support the INA, the thinking was that an armed confrontation by an Indian Army against the British, with foreign aid and support would establish diplomatic and military credentials of the Indian leadership.
Prem Kumar Sahgal, an officer of the INA once Military secretary to Subhas Bose and later tried in the first Red Fort trials, explained that although the war itself hung in balance and nobody was sure if the Japanese would win, initiating a popular revolution with grass-root support within India would ensure that even if Japan lost the war ultimately, Britain would not be in a position to re-assert its colonial authority, which was ultimately the aim of the INA and Azad Hind.
via Indian National Army – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Even as India draws direction from the above elements, in Pakistan, it can be quite different. One study derives the Pakistani-military tendency to British recruitment patterns.
Explains a Muslim historian
The most drastic effect of the 1857 Uprising was the regional recruitment shift in the British military from Bengal to the Punjab and North West Frontier Province NWFP of the subcontinent. This shift resulted in the de-Bengalisation and the Punjabisation of the Indian army – a punishment for the Bengal region that rebelled and a reward to the Punjab that suppressed the Uprising. the assertive role played by the Pakistan Army during the 1950s and 60s can be traced to the evolution of the colonial Indian army.