Racial Groups of India - Martial Races Theory

Martial Races Theory

The Martial races theory was a British ideology based on the assumption that certain peoples were more martially inclined as opposed to the general populace or other peoples. The British divided the entire spectrum of Indian ethnic groups into two categories: a "martial race" and a "non-martial race". The martial race was thought of as typically brave and well built for fighting. The non-martial races were those whom the British believed to be unfit for battle because of their sedentary lifestyle.

The question of loyalty and disloyalty cannot be debated on the simple fact that many of the races mentioned as "loyal" actually did participate in the rebellion. The Indian rebellion of 1857 may have played a role in British reinforcement of the martial races theory. During this rebellion, some Indian troops, particularly in Bengal, mutinied, but the "loyal", Dogras, Gurkhas, Garhwalis, Devars, Sikhs, Jats and Pakhtuns (Pathans) did not join the mutiny and fought on the side of the British Army. Modern scholars have suggested that this theory was propagated to accelerate recruitment from among these races, while discouraging enlistment of "disloyal" Indians who had sided with the rebel army during the war. This may have been because of the fact that these rebelious forces were the one that helped the British in the annexation of Punjab in not too distant past. So these "loyal" forces sided with the British when the time came for getting even.

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