I know, all of us are proud of our Indian armed forces. And some of you might have watched their salutes on Television on 26th January, i.e. republic day pared or on 15th of August. But did you ever noticed their solutes carefully? If you did, then you would have noticed one thing that officers from Indian Navy, Indian Army, and Indian Air Force don’t solute the same way.
The President of India is Supreme Commander of the Indian Armed Forces.
The President of India is the Supreme Commander of the Indian Armed Forces. The Indian Armed Forces are under the management of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) of the Government of India. With the strength of over 1.4 million active personnel, it is the world’s 2nd largest military force and has the world’s largest volunteer army.
A salute is a gesture of respect and trust among soldiers which encourages a pride in their ever-shining uniforms while at the same time elevates them in their own eyes by reminding them all of that is implied by the profession and its traditions of chivalry and courtesy.
Indian Armed Forces: The salutes of the Air Force and the Army were the same until mid of last decade.
The salutes of the Air Force and the Army were the same until last decade, they saluted with their palms facing front, but the Indian Navy always had a different one as they salute with their palms facing downwards. The reason behind lies in a fascinating bit of history.
First of all the custom of saluting has evolved gradually to come to be what it is today. It is believed that it began in the late Roman times when a citizen who wanted to meet a public official had to raise his hand in order to show that he had no concealed weapon in his palm. This, however, grew into a means to show respect.
Transformations in saluting
This practice of saluting then went through a number of transformations, for instance in the 1800s in Britain the armed forces tipped their hats to acknowledge their superiors which cause a lot of wear and tear on the hats so they change it later. Thus gradually it came to be what it is.
Now, as you might be aware our saluting customs are directly descended from the British saluting customs so that explains why our forces salute but the question remains…Why a different salute for the navy?
Why a different salute for the navy?
The thing is, in the old days sailing ships used to tar and pitch to seal the wood hull from sea water and to keep the ropes from rotting. To protect their hands the officers started wearing gloves. But the gloves as you may imagine turned very dirty so in order to not show their superiors the dirty palm of their gloves the officers started saluting with their palms downwards. Well, the sailing ships are gone now but the tradition has remained. That is the brief history of saluting.
Wait, but why keep it?
Armed forces, you must understand, work in a hierarchical fashion. In the time of war, the lapse of order in a force can lead to cataclysmic results. So, the chain of command must always be kept in mind and what better way to keep everyone conscious of who the commanding officer is than a salute? As an added advantage it also gives you one more incentive to rise in the command structure.
Indian Army – Open palm facing the person in front.
In Indian Army, a salute is executed by an open palm gesture with the weapon hand, with fingers and thumb together and the middle finger almost touching the hatband or the eyebrow. It not only establishes trust among the personnel but also proves that the person saluting has no bad intentions and no weapons hidden up anywhere.
Indian Air Force – Open palm at a 45-degree angle to the ground.
In March 2006, Indian Air Force issued new salute norms to its personnel. This new salute involves the palm at a 45-degree angle to the ground and the right arm being sharply raised from the front by the shortest possible way. It is a mid-way between the Army and Navy salute and was standardized to make it more convenient for the IAF. The Air Force salutes with their palms at 45 degrees to the ground showing progress towards the skies. Earlier, IAF hand salute that was just like the Army one.
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