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India: Uniforms, Ranks, and Insignia
Country Study > Chapter 10 > National Security > Organization and Equipment of the Armed Forces > Uniforms, Ranks, and Insignia


Indian military uniforms resemble those in the corresponding British services: olive drab for the army, dark blue for the navy, and sky blue for the air force. More uniform variations exist in the army than in the other services, with certain army regiments preserving traditional accoutrements. Sikhs may wear turbans instead of standard military headgear, for example.

The rank structure in the three services, especially in the commissioned officer ranks, for the most part follows conventional British practice. The army, however, has the category of junior commissioned officer, for which there is no precise equivalent in the United States or British services. Junior commissioned officers are promoted on a point system from within the enlisted ranks of their regiments, filling most of the junior command slots, such as platoon leaders. The senior junior commissioned officer usually acts as the principal assistant to the commanding officer.

Rank insignia closely follow the British system. Combinations of stars, Lion of Sarnath (the national emblem) badges, crossed sabers, and crossed batons in a wreath show respective army ranks from junior commissioned officer up through field marshal. The latter rank has been granted to only two distinguished Indian officers: K.M. Cariappa, a highly decorated veteran of the 1947-48 war with Pakistan, and S.H.F.J. "Sam" Manekshaw, the strategist of the 1971 war with Pakistan. Arm chevrons worn with the point down indicate enlisted ranks. Naval insignia follow the convention of sleeve stripes for officers and fouled anchor badges for enlisted personnel. The air force uses broad and narrow sleeve stripe combinations for officer ranks and combinations of chevrons, Lion of Sarnath badges, and wing symbols for enlisted ranks.

Data as of September 1995

Last Updated: September 1995

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for India was first published in 1995. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

India Main Page Country Studies Main Page

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