Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Tony Norfield — Indian Boots on the Ground

British policy was to depend upon alliances with others, rather than to maintain a large standing army itself. So it was important to be able to draw upon a force of colonial troops when needed, including for the policing of the British Raj.
Important though they were for British power, Indian troops commonly faced racial discrimination, were looked down upon by white officers and were often used as cannon fodder, while also being given worse grade arms and equipment than regular British troops. Attractive as a cheap military resource for the Brits, these men could nevertheless see enlistment in the army as a reasonable option. There was regular pay and regular food, something not always available in the Indian economy dominated by British Empire interests….
Still going on in a modified form. Now they are mostly proxies and mercenaries rather than subjects.

Of course, the same goes for the "cannon fodder" recruited from domestic resources on the same basis, given the alternatives at the low end of the socio-economic scale.

Economics of Imperialism
Indian Boots on the Ground
Tony Norfield

1 comment:

Noah Way said...

The economic 'incentive' for the all-volunteer military effectively eliminates the kind of popular antiwar movement that ended the Vietnam 'police action'.