Army and Nation: The Military and Indian Democracy since Independence, by Steven I. Wilkinson

Kartik Bommakanti was Research Assistant at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi.
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  • July-September 2018
    Book Review

    Steven I. Wilkinson’s work on the Indian Army and its relationship to Indian democracy is mandatory reading for scholars interested in civil-military relations. Ironically, despite the voluminous literature on civil-military relations in the Subcontinent, it is still an understudied subject. Wilkinson’s book breaks new ground by giving the reader a distinct assessment of the evolution of civil-military relations in India vis-à-vis those in Pakistan. His core claim is that, contrary to a widespread misconception that the Indian Army is representative of Indian society, recruitment into the service continues to be based on martial class factors, despite a promise dating back to 1949 to diversify recruitment. It must be noted here that when Wilkinson uses the term ‘class’, he does not define it in terms of socio-economic strata but in terms of caste and ethnic homogeneity. Therefore, despite claims that the Indian Army is a heterogeneous fighting force that mirrors the diversity of Indian society, it continues to draw a bulk of its recruits from the same regions and ethnic groups as prevailed under the British.

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