The Indian Army has a long history of being not only apolitical but also religion neutral. For ages, soldiers from all communities and religious backgrounds have been part of the Army. Although the British did establish regiments on lines of castes and regions, by and large, the character of the Army remained mostly irreligious.
The British did get a taste of mixing religion when the ‘pure’ Brahmin units went renegade and started the 1857 mutiny. The reaction of the British was swift and very harsh, because they not only disbanded a large number of Brahmin units but also gave extreme punishments — ordering captured soldiers to be shot dead after pretend court martial proceedings.
The British analysed the situation and immediately transformed the regimental system of the Army. All the native Infantry regiments based on religious denomination were disbanded and consigned to history without a trace.
The British transformed the regimental system to instil discipline in the forces. Since Independence, the Army brass has introduced various measures, big and small, to have successfully ensured that forces are governed by their own code. However, recent developments show a worrying trend.
Social media impact on forces
The negative impact of social media has spread in the last five years. The danger from false propaganda and half-truths that are being spread almost daily on social media has become a reality. Few will admit, but this trend is permeating into the rank and file of this most secular organisation of India. WhatsApp has been used to circulate a huge amount of Right-wing propaganda among the forces.
Most of this literature, based on baked lies, is likely to make an adverse impact on the performance of caste/region-based units, if there is a crisis like Punjab that saw mutinies in the Army.