Our country celebrates Indian Army Day on January 15 every year to commemorate the achievements of the first Indian Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army, General K.M. Cariappa who took over the command of the Indian Army in 1949 from General Sir FRR Bucher, the last British Commander-in-Chief of Indian Army. Indian Army Day is not just a commemoration of the historic transition of leadership but celebration of the rich history of the Indian military. It was on this august day in 1949 that the Indian Army transitioned from British leadership to Indian command, a pivotal moment in the country's post-independence history marking the transition from a colonial army to an independent and sovereign country’s professional armed forces which have proved their mettle by safeguarding the nation.
The day is marked with various events to pay homage to the valiant armed forces that have devoted their lives to defend the sovereignty of the nation. It's a time to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice at the altar of nation and those who continue to serve in challenging conditions. One of the key highlights of Indian Army Day is the grand military parade held in the national capital, New Delhi to commemorate the day and to pay homage to the sacrifices of fallen heroes as well as showcasing the rich history going back from the East India Company’s provincial armies to British Indian Army which fought for the British Empire across the world in both the World Wars. It also highlights the might and precision of the Indian armed forces, with various regiments participating in a display of strength and discipline. Ceremonies and events including wreath-laying at war memorials, cultural programs, and events to honor the sacrifices of soldiers are held nationwide beyond the precincts of the national capital too.
Until year 2022, Army Day parade was organised in Delhi, in which the advancement of various weapon systems held in the Indian Army’s inventory are showcased along with awarding of soldiers with Gallantry awards and Sena medals and Chief of Army Staff unit citations to units for their exceptional performance. On Army Day, the modernization and technological advancements within the Indian Army, State-of-the-art weaponry, equipment, and tactics are often demonstrated and projected on a single platform including integration of technology, highlighting the nation's commitment to maintaining a formidable and technologically advanced defense force.
However, post 2022 it was decided by the Indian Army that Army Day will be celebrated in various parts of the country with 2023 being held at Pune and 2024 to be held in Lucknow. The reason behind this notable shift in decision to de-centralize the event is to bring about amplified visibility of these events and foster increased public engagement to actively participate in expressing gratitude and support for the armed forces as well as fostering a sense of national unity and pride. Further, change of venue gives opportunity for improved public engagement through social media campaigns or community outreach programs to instill a sense of national unity and pride. Beyond the military parades and official ceremonies, Army Day encourages public participation. It's a time for citizens to express their gratitude and support for the armed forces, acknowledging the sacrifices made by soldiers and their families.
Kashmir has been a focal point of geopolitical tensions, and the Indian Army plays a crucial role in ensuring the security and stability of the region. The Indian Army plays a vital role in addressing security threats, counter terrorism operations and maintaining peace in Kashmir. The challenging terrain and geopolitical complexities make the Army’s presence and commitment in the region crucial for safeguarding national interests. Army Day serves as reminder of the sacrifices made by the armed forces, including those serving in Kashmir, and underscores their dedication to protecting the nation. Thus, Army Day Celebrations lies not only in the strategic significance of the region but also the Indian Army's role in safeguarding the nation's sovereignty and ongoing efforts to ensure peace security and stability in Kashmir.
As India faces various geopolitical challenges, Army Day also provides an opportunity to reflect on the triumphs and ongoing struggles of the Indian Army. The commitment to national security and peacekeeping missions both within and beyond borders is a testament to the resilience of this esteemed institution.