HC Deb 20 June 1938 vol 337 cc672-3
1. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Under-Secretary of State for India the number and percentage of non-commissioned and commissioned Indian officers now serving in His Majesty's Army and in the Air Force in India; how many of these are of the rank of captain and why there are no Indian officers of superior rank to captain; and whether it is the intention of the Government substantially to increase the number of Indian officers and to secure that the higher officer ranks shall consist mainly of Indians?

The Under-Secretary of State for India (Lieut.-Colonel Muirhead)

I presume that the hon. Member refers to the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force. The Non-Commissioned Officer personnel of the Indian Army is entirely Indian. In addition there are some 4,000 Viceroy's Commissioned officers, who are also entirely Indian. In the officer ranks other than that of Viceroy's Commissioned officer there are 345 Indians, or slightly over 10 per cent. of the total; 71 of these are of the rank of captain. The promotion of officers of the Indian Army both British and Indian is on a time-scale basis in which the rank of major is reached after 18–20 years' service. The policy of Indianising the officer ranks was only placed on a regular footing after the War, and Indians commissioned in accordance with that system are only now approaching the seniority necessary for promotion to major. It is clear that, under the present system of Indianisation, both the total number of Indian officers and the number in the higher ranks will progressively increase. The Indian Air Force, of which the first unit was constituted in April, 1933, is organised on a somewhat different basis, but the considerations governing the increase in the number of Indian officers holding higher ranks correspond generally to those I have stated for the Indianising units of the Indian Army. There are at present 11 Indian officers in the Indian Air Force while seven officers of the Royal Air Force are attached to it for purposes of instruction and also of command until Indian officers of the requisite seniority become available. The corresponding figures for airmen are 75 and 35.

Mr. Sorensen

While thanking the hon. and gallant Member for that answer, may I ask whether he can inform the House as to the original purpose of limiting the number of Indian officers in this way, and also by what date, approximately, the stage of 90 or even 100 per cent. of Indian officership will have been reached?

Lieut.-Colonel Muirhead

Off-hand I could not give the hon. Member dates, but I will try to let him know. With regard to the limitation, of course this is in the nature of novel procedure, and already there has been a considerable increase in the number of units Indianised as compared with the original estimate. Originally eight battalions were to be Indianised, and now the infantry and cavalry units alone number about 16, and, in addition, there are artillery and engineer units.

Mr. Sorensen

But could the hon. and gallant Member explain what is the purpose of the limitation?

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