New Delhi, Dec. 10: Bihar is the third and Bengal the sixth largest annual contributor of soldiers to the Indian Army, according to the latest available statistics.
Uttar Pradesh is the largest contributor to each of the three services: the army, navy and the air force.
A state-wise distribution of recruits into the armed forces in ranks other than those of officers was presented in Parliament today by defence minister A.K. Antony in reply to questions in the Lok Sabha. Officers are not selected state-wise but through all-India examinations.
The statistics presented do not rank the states, nor do they indicate any trend except that Uttar Pradesh consistently tops the list because it is the most populous state.
The statistics for the army are available only for the year 2011-2012. The force recruited 57,077 soldiers during this period, with Bihar contributing 4,540 and Bengal, 3,535 among the eastern states.
Among the other eastern and northeastern states, there were 1,140 recruits from Jharkhand in 2011-12, 1,019 from Assam, 945 from Odisha, 587 from Manipur, 190 from Arunachal Pradesh, 134 from Nagaland, 108 from Sikkim, 104 from Tripura, 94 from Mizoram and 91 from Meghalaya.
The figures show that the people of the erstwhile Bengal Presidency and Maharashtra, who were mostly classified as “non-martial” by the British after the revolt of 1857, are among the largest contributors to the soldiery.
The Bengal Native Infantry led by Mangal Pandey, which revolted against the British — after which the Raj propounded and applied the “martial races theory” — was made up largely of “purbaiyyas” (easterners) from an area that now comprises eastern Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Bengal, Jharkhand and Odisha.
There is still a Bihar Regiment in the army but the Bengal Native Infantry (named after the Bengal Presidency) was disbanded. The Bengal Sappers continue to be part of the Regiment of Engineers.
The army recruits large numbers of soldiers every year from the Darjeeling hills who mostly go into its Gorkha Rifles regiments and Para (Special Forces) units. But recruits are also distributed among the other infantry, artillery, armoured, engineers and combat-support regiments.
In the army, “vacancies of other ranks (Ors) are divided amongst (the) states and Union territories based on their Recruitable Male Population, which provides equitable opportunity to youth from all states/UTs”, Antony said.
Among the other traditionally large contributors of soldiers to the army are Andhra Pradesh (2,890), Haryana (2,452), Gujarat (2,205), Jammu and Kashmir (2,085), Himachal Pradesh (1,687) and Gujarat (2,205).