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Martial Race Theory

The British colonial authorities in India manufactured the Martial Race Theory to designate particular ethnic groups as being innately brave, tough, and strong. Per this theory, these individuals were chosen as British Indian Army soldiers because they were "naturally" suited for military service.

Martial Race Theory's roots can be found in the late 18th century when the British East India Company attempted to increase its hold on India. They discovered that the existing Indian soldiers were not always loyal and prone to deserting, so they needed a loyal army to uphold order and protect their interests. The British started recruiting soldiers from particular ethnic groups because they thought they had a warrior tradition and would be more obedient and brave.

With time, the Martial Race Theory idea gained more traction, and particular racial or ethnic groups were identified as inherently well-suited for military service. These included ethnic groups like the Punjabis, Pashtuns, Gurkhas, and Sikhs. These groups received special consideration when it came to hiring, educating, and promoting soldiers, and they eventually became the British Indian Army's core personnel.

The British colonial authorities benefited in several ways from the martial race theory. They could build a more dependable army devoted to the British throne in the first place. Second, it supported colonial ideology's central tenet, racial superiority. Thirdly, it allowed the British to subjugate and divide its subjects by pitting various ethnic groups against one another.  The theory reinforced racial stereotypes and gave some ethnic groups a sense of superiority. Additionally, it resulted in prejudice against other groups seen as less qualified for military service and constrained their prospects for advancement.

The Martial Race Theory still influences today's sociopolitics in Pakistan. Pakistan received a large portion of the British Indian Army, including the Martial Race regiments, after India was partitioned in 1947. The members of these regiments eventually rose to positions of authority and influence in the political and social structure of the nation, and they formed the basis of the Pakistan Army.

Officers from the Punjabi and some Pashtun ethnic groups, seen as the natural heirs to the tradition of the Martial Race, still lead the Pakistani Army. Other ethnic groups, especially those from Balochistan, Sindh, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, have been left out.

In a nutshell, the Martial Race Theory was a way for the British colonial rulers of India to classify some people as naturally brave, strong, and challenging. Its effects can still be seen in how Pakistan's military is structured today. It's important to know where this theory came from in history, but it's just as important to question and reject the racial stereotypes it helped keep alive.

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