According to some media reports, the Indian Army is thinking for mechanizing 61 Cavalry, one of the handfuls of the remaining non-mechanized horse-mounted military units in the world, to create a new armoured regiment. The Indian Army plans to bring together three independent squadrons of other regiments across the nation under the headquarters of 61st Cavalry to form a new Regiment. The process was initiated on the recommendations of D.B Shekatkar Committee (2016). The motive behind this move is to cut costs and to enhance combat capabilities.
Background of 61st Cavalry
The Regiment, located at Jaipur, is today primarily ceremonial in nature and has a limited combat role.
It came into existence in 1953 with the amalgamation of different state forces.
It was Prime Minister J.L Nehru’s vision that led to the raising of the 61st Cavalry. He had strong reasons to favour pomp, pageantry and ceremonials. Their value in instilling national pride and fostering elan and panache in public was fully appreciated by him.
His plan was to raise no less than three regiments of horsed cavalry to perform ceremonial roles and promote equestrianism.
Role in Wars
The Constituents of the 61st Cavalry have a glorious history, In the Battle of Haifa, Jodhpur Lancers and Mysore Lancers defeated a combined much larger Turkish, German and Australian forces. The battle of Haifa is considered as one of the most astonishing battles in history and also a lesson for future generations that despite all odds, any battle can be won by sheer will power and excellent leadership.
In 1922, the Teen Murti Memorial was created in Delhi by British sculptor Leonard Jennings in honour of the Jodhpur, Mysore and Hyderabad Lancers. In 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu, formally renamed the iconic memorial as Teen Murti Haifa Chowk. A year earlier, our Prime Minister had specially visited Haifa in Israel to participate in the centenary celebration of the Haifa victory.
Operation Parakram on 13 December 2001 after the terrorist attack on Parliament. It was the first full-scale mobilization since the 1971 Indo-Pak war. During Operation Parakram, This was deployed on the western border for the entire duration of the operation in defence of vital installations.
In the 1990s and early 2000s, some armoured vehicles were also given to the Regiment, which was returned on account of being obsolete.
Achievements in the field of sports
It has also been a nursery for Indian polo and other sports. It has given Padma Shri, 9 Asian Games medals,11 Arjuna Awards, a gold medal in Polo World Cup against Pakistan, silver in Jakarta Asian Games and other medals to Nation and Indian Army.
Criticism against the conversion
The move is criticized by many veterans of the Indian Army. According to them, the foundation of the Indian Army is based on intangible but strong core values of regimentation, tradition and history and conversion of 61 Cavalry is against them.
They have also suggested that the Regiment must be trained and equipped for meaningful operational roles like reconnaissance, defence of critical rear area establishment, etc. to be utilized in combat roles.
Yes, it is true that 61st cavalry is a ceremonial Regiment, and has a very limited role in the battles. Currently, there is a need to cut costs and to enhance the combat capabilities of the Indian Army. But on the other side, 61st Cavalry just not an ordinary cavalry but a mirror to the glorious past of Indian Army. The Government and the Indian Army needs to find a middle path to this issue, Maintaining the history as well as focusing on mechanization.
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