Last modified: 2006-01-07 by michael smuda
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by Željko Heimer
I am not sure about the military flag on land - I would
guess that the national flag is used, but I have not found the confirmation for
that. However, Smith (1982) (and others) show
for the war flag purpose the red flag with three golden
lions and swords in saltire. However, I think this is the Army flag, and not the
national flag for use by the military on land (although in some countries this
difference is not easy to determine, and sometimes is very vague and possibly
not clearly legislated). I would guess that in India, since the two are so
different it should not be so difficult to decide. The war flag is the one that
is hoisted daily on military installations (barracks) and that one to which the
pledge is given. And in India, I think, it is the tricolour.
Željko Heimer, 15 January 2002
I believe Željko is correct in this - the Indian Army is the world's chief
repository for the maintenance of old British Army traditions--probably more so
than the British Army itself. British Army garrisons hoist the union jack on
their flagpoles; it would be very surprising if Indian Army garrisons hoisted a
flag other than the national tricolor under the same circumstances. In fact, the
Indian Army uses the tricolour as the equivalent of the union jack in all other
circumstances of which I am aware, including as the national colour (equivalent
of queen's colour) of infantry regiments and to cover the bodies of soldiers
killed in action.
Joe McMillan, 16 January 2002
Das (1981), Traditions and Customs of the Indian Armed Forces has a
wealth of information on colors, rank flags, and so on, including, on page 50,
that the national flag of India is flown only on the following army
- Establishments of the Army Ordnance Corps, Defence Inspectorate Organisation, and Defence Research and Development Organisation
- Posts along the border
- Headquarters of prisoner of war camps
- Field medical units (along with the Red Cross flag)
- Recruiting offices
- The National Defence College, Defence Services Staff College, National Defence Academy, Indian Military Academy, and Armed Forces Medical College.
Joe McMillan, 16 January 2002
Otherwise, the army normally flies the flag of the headquarters, formation,
or other unit at the headquarters building and the commander's residence. The
national flag is displayed at all posts for ceremonies in connection with
Republic Day and Independence Day, and is broken when the national anthem is
played to render a national salute to a civilian VIP.
Now, as it turns out, this is roughly consistent with old British practice, as are most ceremonial practices in the Indian Army. The 1894 Queen's Regulations and Orders for the Army (HMSO, 1894) lists well over a hundred installations as "flag stations," but only about a third of them were authorized to fly the Union Flag on a daily basis. The others were authorized to fly it either on Sundays and royal anniversaries only, or on anniversaries and when required to render salutes.
I still don't think this makes the red flag with crossed swords and Ashoka
lions a "war flag" in the proper sense of the word. The national flag does fly
at the most important installations ("forts") and is used to cover coffins. The
Army flag is not flown at most installations--the local formation flag
Joe McMillan, 23 January 2002
by Željko Heimer
Source: Smith (1982)
The Indian "war flag" reported by Smith (1982) is
probably the flag of the army. It is red with golden crossed swords and a capital from the Maurya empire time that is the national coat of arms of India. On the flag is just the capital without the inscription that is a part of the arms.
The Army Flag "is flown:
(a) at Command HQ, on such occasions of purely army character as the G.O.C-in-C may decide (it is, however, not flown in place of the National Flag wherever the latter is flown), and
(b) at Army sports meetings when representative matches are played."
It does appear to be modelled on the British "Army Flag". The India Office asked for a drawing of the British flag on 14 November 1938. [WO 32/4632]
David Prothero, 23 January 2002
by Paige Herring, 23 August 1998
The flag of Chief of the Army Staff of the Indian Armed Forces is the same as the
Merchant Ensign; however, emblems from the army flag, the swords and the national arms, have been appropriated. Proportions 2:3.
Source: Kannik (1958).
Paige Herring, 23 August 1998
In the Defense Planning Staff briefing room in New Delhi, this flag appeared to be used as the army flag, along with the flags of the other services, rather than that of the Chief of Army Staff.
The flag on the car of the Chief of Army Staff may have been this flag, but I
thought at the time that it had instead the insignia of a general of the Indian Army on the fly rather than
the Army badge: Ashoka lions above a five pointed star above a crossed baton and sword. The flag
was made of metal with the emblems painted on it.
Joe McMillan, 3 December 2000
The army webpage contains a flashing image starting with a version of this flag without the swords, suggesting that it may be the army flag.
Contributed by Ivan Sache, 26 August 2001
Carr (1961) says that this flag "is now displayed on
Service buildings where it was formerly the custom to fly the Union
Flag. It is officially known as the "Flag National India"."
Barraclough (1971) assigns it to the Commander-in-Chief of the Army. (That smells of correcting without reading...)
Jarig Bakker, 14 February 2001
According to several sources, including
http://www.tribuneindia.com/1999/99sep20/nation.htm, there is now a flag
known as the Chief of Army Staff's Banner that can be issued to military units
as a reward for distinguished service. The then-COAS, General V. P. Malik,
presented it to the Ladakh Scouts (a paramilitary unit in northern Kashmir) for
service during the 1999 Kargil conflict. The photo shows a red flag with gold
fringe; unfortunately the design on it is not visible.
I believe this must be a way of recognizing organizations that are not eligible for award of the President's Colour (about which more later). Since the Ladakh Scouts are not a regular Army unit, presumably they do not carry official colours. If so, this flag would be similar to the "banners" awarded to non-colour-bearing Australian military organizations by the Queen, Governor-General, and other dignitaries.
Joe McMillan, 30 January 2003
The flag Das
(1984) describes as the Chief of Army Staff flag, but with the swords
in the horizontal orientation that this page and Das show for the Army flag,
seems currently to be used as the flag of the Army, as I have noted before. It
is displayed with the naval and air force ensigns in the joint planning
directorate in New Delhi. It is shown and captioned as the Army flag on the
unofficial but very highly regarded Bharat-Rakshak website. And a story in India
Defence on the occasion of the adoption of the new naval ensign in August 2001
said the new design was intended to give the naval ensign a commonality of
design with the other service flags. That only makes sense if the army flag has
the national flag in the canton.
On the other hand, however, another article, at http://www.indiadefence.com/Naval_flags.htm says "the Army has no ensign, not even an army-wide flag.... It has, instead, formation flags at command/unit levels."
Finally, verily inconclusively, a photograph of the just-retired Chief of Army Staff General Padmanabhan at http://spacedaily.com/news/nuclear-india-pakistan-02a.html shows a red flag behind him with what is obviously the handle of a large yellow sword with black detailing, but the entire flag is not visible. In any case, the Chief of Army Staff might equally well be portrayed with the Army flag as his personal flag, so it might not tell us anything anyway.
So for now all we have authoritative is Das, but I would nevertheless speculate that there may have been a change since 1984.
Joe McMillan, 3 February 2003