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Getting to Know the British Indian Army Before 1947

The Indian army during the days of the Raj was a volunteer force with British officers and was instrumental in helping Great Britain control the subcontinent. In addition this army also manned many outposts of the British Empire where the adage ‘The Sun never sets on the British empire’ held true.

One fact that is glossed over is that this army was for the greater part of its existence supported by Indian taxation. London hardly financed this volunteer force. Despite being financed by Indian tax payers this army was an essential cog in the wheel of British domination over the globe, more particularly its grip over India. Perhaps they would never have been able to rule India without this army at their call.

Changes after 1857

The Indian mutiny 1857-1858 was a watershed in Indian history and had far-reaching consequences. Firstly the force was downsized in numbers and artillery and engineering were put exclusively out of the reach of native troops and were thus manned only by Britishers. The second transformation was the induction of the Sikhs, Gurkhas, and Pathans in a main role in the British army as a reward for their loyalty during the mutiny. They replaced the Bengalis, Marathas, and other groups who were earlier part of the East India company army.

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