Friday, March 11, 2011

The Father of Indian Army

The first authentic record of the existence of a sort of regular battalion in Indian soil dates back to the year 1741, when such a unit came into being for carrying out garrison duties in Bombay Castle. Seven years later Major Stringer Lawrence, " the father of the Indian Army", was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the East India Company's field forces in India with its Headquarters at Fort St. David, 100 miles south of Madras and only 12 miles from the then French town Pondichery. The war with France , which had temporarily ended in 1748,had brought about a substantial increase in the local enrolment of Indian troops, since neither France nor Britain could spare regular troops for India. In 1754, however, a considerable force of king's troops was sent to India from England, but this again proved to be woefully inadequate to manage the Company's military affairs in India, and local recruitment continued.
In 1757, the reorganisation of the Indian troops into regular, organised battalions was entrusted by Major Lawrence to Robert Clive. That year was also famous for the battle of Plassey, wwhich gradually reduced French influence and led to an expansionof the Company's territories in India. With the expansion, the number of troops at its disposal, quite naturally increased.  
Thus came into creation the first regular Indian infantry battalions, each with an establishment of one British captain, two lieutenants, several British sergeants, 42 Indian non commissioned officers and 820 Indian ranks and file. Clive was the first British officers in India to have Indian troops fully equipped , at the expense of the East India Company Company, which was popularly known as 'Sarkar'. He even dressed them with British 'Red Coats', hence the term 'Lal Paltan' came into being, which was locally used for such units.