Navy abandons colonial practice; personnel to stop carrying batons

The move is similar to PM Modi changing Finance Minister’s Budget in a suitcase to a red pouch handbag and changing ensign of Navy

The move is similar to PM Modi changing Finance Minister’s Budget in a suitcase to a red pouch handbag and changing ensign of Navy
The move is similar to PM Modi changing Finance Minister’s Budget in a suitcase to a red pouch handbag and changing ensign of Navy

Indian Navy finally ends colonial-era practice of carrying batons by all officers

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been changing every colonial practice. First, PM Modi asked Nirmala Sitharaman not to put the Budget in a leather attache, why should we adopt the English style, let us keep it in a red pouch.

With the latest step towards shedding colonial practices, the Indian Navy has decided that its personnel will no longer carry ceremonial batons, officials aware of the matter said on Saturday. Senior officers in command roles, commanding officers of warships, naval bases, and other establishments, and provost personnel responsible for policing, vigilance, and enforcement of discipline thus far carried batons.

The Defence Ministry has also begun a drive to rename British-era cantonments as military stations. Yol in Himachal Pradesh was the first cantonment to shed the colonial tag and be renamed a military station in April 2023.

The Navy said the symbolism of power portrayed by holding such batons is a colonial legacy. “With time, carrying of batons by naval personnel has gradually become a norm,” a naval headquarters letter dated July 28 said. “The symbolism of power or authority portrayed through holding the baton is a colonial legacy that is out of place in a transformed navy of the Amrit Kaal.”

Amrit Kaal” refers to the 25 years leading to India’s Independence centenary in 2047.
The carrying of batons has been discontinued with immediate effect. From now onwards, the baton will find a place only in offices. “A ceremonial baton may be placed appropriately in the office of the head of the organization of every unit. A ceremonial handing over of the baton may be undertaken within the office, as a part of Change of Command only,” the letter added.

Last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled a naval ensign at the commissioning ceremony of aircraft carrier INS Vikrant, with the new flag drawing inspiration from the seal of Maratha king Shivaji Maharaj and the Cross of St George being dropped, a move that the PM described as getting rid of the burden of a colonial past.

The army is also reviewing its British-era customs and will discard some practices without diluting its rich legacy.

The PM made the call for doing away with colonial customs in the armed forces in March 2021 during the Combined Commanders’ Conference at Kevadia in Gujarat when he asked the three services to rid themselves of legacy systems and practices that are no longer relevant.

PM Modi’s remarks at the top conference were the first indication that colonial practices in the armed forces were on their way out. He had then underlined the importance of enhancing indigenization in the national security system, not just in sourcing equipment and weapons but also in doctrines, procedures, and customs.

In his Independence Day speech last year, PM Modi spoke of the “panch pran” or five pledges for India to become a developed country by its 100th year of Independence — one of those resolutions was to uproot all signs of colonial slavery from mindset and habits.

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