Why Bihar Regiment isn’t only about soldiers from Bihar | India News


Last week while paying tribute to the soldiers of the Indian Army who were killed in the clash with Chinese forces in Ladakh, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said: “Country is proud of the sacrifice made by our braves in Ladakh. Today, when I am speaking to people of Bihar, I will say the valour was of Bihar Regiment, every Bihari is proud of it.”
PM Modi made these remarks while launching a mega employment scheme for rural workers in which Bihar would be a key beneficiary. News agency ANI later put out a story on how “the Biharis” removed a Chinese observation post.
The question
Some military veterans pointed out that Indian Army regiments aren’t strictly about regions or states. In fact, of the 20 soldiers killed in the face-off with the Chinese, 13 were from the Bihar Regiment but only five were from Bihar. Altogether, the 20 were from 11 states, belonging to different units. The commanding officer of the regiment, Colonel Santosh Babu, who was killed, hailed from Hyderabad. Here’s a look at how the army names its regiments.
The names
Since the Indian Army traces its lineage to the pre-independence times when the British raised regiments of Indian soldiers, several of the regiments are named after the community or the region from where the soldiers were recruited.
So, for instance, the Sikh Regiment recruited from the Jat Sikh community while the Punjab Regiment recruited from among Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims and Dogras. Bihar Regiment, which was raised in 1941 — during World War 2 — also followed the tradition, with Bihari soldiers from the 19th Hyderabad Regiment banded together as 1 Bihar.
The change
The British policy of caste, region or religion-based regiments was done away with after Independence and no community-based regiment has been raised in the Indian Army since 1947.
However, in certain regiments, such as the Sikh Regiment, the practice of recruiting only from the Jat Sikh community continues till date for the lower ranks — the officers may be from different communities or regions.
In fact, the current army chief, General M M Naravane, is from the Sikh Light Infantry despite being a Maharashtrian Brahmin. The army, in a case against it in the Supreme Court, while denying that recruitment was based on community considerations, has justified “grouping of people coming from a region in a regiment for administrative convenience and operational requirements.”
There are currently 25 community-based regiments in the Indian Army — while there are also certain “mixed class” regiments, like the Brigade of Guards raised in 1949, which drew its ranks from the Punjab Regiment, Grenadiers, Rajputana Rifles and the Rajput Regiment.



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