Indian Army Ranks can be broadly classified into three categories: Commissioned Officers, Junior Commissioned Officers and Other Ranks.

These ranks generally correspond with those of the British Indian Army. Traditional names for ranks are still used.


Upon independence in 1947, India became a dominion within the British Commonwealth of Nations, but the old rank insignia, incorporating the Tudor Crown and four-pointed Bath Star ('pip'), was retained, as King George VI remained Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Armed Forces. Until 26 January 1950, when India became a republic, the Indian Army utilised the British-pattern rank badges of the British Indian Army. After 26 January 1950, when India became a republic, the President of India became Commander-in-Chief, and the Lion Capital of Ashoka (the State Emblem of India) replaced the crown, with a five-pointed star drawn from the Star of India substituted for the 'pip'.[1][2]

Field Marshal

Main article: Field Marshal (India)

India has a Field Marshal rank, but it is mostly ceremonial. There are no Field Marshals in the army organizational structure at present and it has been conferred on only two officers in the past, the late Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw and the late Field Marshal K. M. Cariappa.[3]

Field Marshals hold their rank for life and are considered to be serving officers until their death. Unlike other officers, they do not draw a pension. A Field Marshal gets the full pay of a general equal to the Chief of the Army Staff. They wear full uniforms on all official occasions.[4]

Ranks and insignia


Rank group General / flag officers Senior officers Junior officers Officer cadet
 Indian Army[5]
No insignia
Field marshal General Lieutenant general Major general Brigadier Colonel Lieutenant colonel Major Captain Lieutenant Officer cadet
Wartime rank
Held by the
Chief of Defence Staff (with different insignia)
and the
Chief of the Army Staff
Held by army commanders, corps commanders, principal staff officers at the army headquarters and also by paramilitary forces commanders and other highly important appointments The most junior general in the Indian Army; perform as division commanders and also hold other important appointments Not considered as general in the Indian Army Considered senior officers in the army Considered junior officers
Other ranks
Rank group Junior commissioned officers Non commissioned officer Enlisted
 Indian Army[5]
No insignia
Subedar Major Subedar Naib Subedar Havildar Naik Lance Naik Sepoy
Cavalry ranks Risaldar Major
रिसालदार मेजर
Naib Risaldar
नायब रिसालदार
Lance Daffadar
लांस दफादार
Acting Lance Daffadar
एक्टिंग लांस दफादार

Ranks that are no longer in use

The rank of Second Lieutenant is no longer in use; all new officers are commissioned as Lieutenants.

The appointments of Regimental Quartermaster Havildar and Regimental Havildar Major are no longer used in the Indian Army (except for the Regiment of Artillery and Army Air Defence) and those duties are now performed by JCOs.[6][7][8]

Ranks of the Indian Army no longer in use
Officers Non-commissioned officers
Rank Second

Notable holders include 2Lt. Arun Khetarpal, 2Lt. Rama Raghoba Rane, CHM Piru Singh Shekhawat and CQMH Abdul Hamid.

Rank descriptions

Commissioned officers

Equivalent ranks of Indian Armed Forces (click to enlarge)

Commissioned officers are the leaders of the army and command anywhere from Platoon, Company, Battalion, Brigade, Division, Corps and the whole army.

At the time of joining, all Indian Army officers are inducted as officer cadets. The rank of officer cadet is denoted by an officer's uniform with no insignia.

Indian Army officers are continually put through different courses and assessed on merit throughout their career, for promotions and appointments. Substantive promotions up to Lieutenant Colonel or equivalent (subject to clearance of Part B and Part D exam for Major and Lieutenant Colonel)[11][12] and are based on time in service whereas those for Colonel and above are based on selection, with promotion to Colonel also based on time served. Due to steep hierarchy and few vacancies, most of the officers retire at the rank of Colonel and only a few make it to the rank of Brigadier and above.[13][14][15] Civilian equivalents are in accordance with government policies on functional allocation of duties in staff billets, otherwise the rank structure of the armed forces is different from the civilian with regard to years of service and vacancies available.[citation needed]

Indian Army officers undergo various courses such as Young Officers Course, Junior Command Course, Defence Services Staff College course at DSSC Wellington, Management Development Programme: Senior Defence Management Course, Higher Defence Management Course at the College of Defence Management (Secunderabad), Higher Command Courses, NDC courses at various premier institutions of Armed Forces for promotions. The same is applicable to officers other two services namely Indian Navy and Indian Air Force

Dress insignia are in Gold/Black/Silver based on regiments of the officers commissioned

Ranks Description Insignia Collar Patch[16] Notes[17][18] Retirement age
Field Marshal National emblem over a crossed baton and sabre in a lotus blossom wreath. Crimson patches with five golden stars and golden laurel wreath Only two appointments have ever been made. Not applicable. Life-Long
General National emblem over a five-pointed star, all over a crossed baton and sabre. Crimson patches with four golden stars and golden laurel wreath Held by the Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army and Chief of Defence Staff, if from the army (but with slightly different insignia). Equivalent to Cabinet Secretary of India

Pay Level 18, Rs. 250,000

As CDS: 3 years as CDS or at age of 65, whichever is earlier.

As COAS: 3 years as COAS or at the age of 62, whichever is earlier.

Lieutenant General National emblem over crossed baton and sabre. Crimson patches with three golden stars and golden laurel wreath (army and theatre commanders)
Crimson patches with three golden stars (corps commanders, other positions)
By selection.

36 years of commissioned service required.

Lieutenant Generals appointed as Vice Chief of Army Staff/Army Commanders/Equivalent at Pay Level 17, Rs.225,000

HAG + Scale: Admissible to 1/3rd of total strength of Lt Generals Pay Level 16, Rs.205,400–224,400

HAG Scale: Pay Level 15, Rs. 182,200–224,100

Major General Five-pointed star over crossed baton and sabre. Crimson patches with two golden stars By selection.

32 years of commissioned service required.

Pay Level 14, Rs. 144,200–218,200

Brigadier National emblem over three five-pointed stars in a triangular formation. Crimson patches with one golden star By selection.

25 years of commissioned service required.

Pay Level 13A, Rs.139,600–2,17,600

Colonel National emblem over two five-pointed stars Crimson patches with golden braids First selection-grade rank; highest rank which may be attained by officers on time-scale promotion if not promoted to colonel by selection. 15 years of commissioned service required for selection. 26 years of commissioned service required for time-scale promotion.

Pay Level 13, Rs. 130,600–215,900

Lieutenant Colonel National emblem over five-pointed star. None On completion of 13 years reckonable commissioned service subject to clearance of Part D exam.

Pay Level 12A, Rs. 121,200–212,400

Major National emblem. None On completion of 6 years reckonable commissioned service subject to clearance of Part B exam.

Pay Level 11, Rs. 69,400–207,200

Captain Three five-pointed stars. None On completion of 2 years reckonable commissioned service.

Pay Level 10B, Rs. 61,300–193,900

Lieutenant Two five-pointed stars. None On commissioning into Indian Army as an Officer in Pay Level 10

Rs. 56,100–177,500

Officer Cadet Shoulder tags with training academy name No insignia Term and Company badges On getting inducted in the Indian Army.

Fixed stipend as applicable


In the Indian Army, officer cadets are known as Gentlemen Cadets or Lady Cadets. Gentlemen Cadets (GCs) join the Indian Military Academy (IMA)/Officer's Training Academy (OTA) after going through the Service Selection Board (S.S.B.) interview. Gentlemen Cadets undergo a pre-commission training programme at IMA/OTA, which is equally divided into terms.

Junior commissioned officers

Junior commissioned officers are promoted from non-commissioned officers and are broadly equivalent to warrant officers in the British Army. Senior non-commissioned officers are promoted to JCO rank on the basis of merit and seniority, restricted by the number of vacancies. In between the Commissioned Officer and the NCOs lies the Junior Commissioned Officers. They are treated with great respect as they have a minimum of 28 yrs and over service and are referred to as Sahab by all ranks.[19]

The current living recipients of the Param Veer Chakra are all from JCO ranks namely Bana Singh Retd, Sanjay Kumar, and Yogendra Singh Yadav.[20]

JCOs are entrusted with supervisory roles and the three JCO ranks are Subedar Major, Subedar and Naib Subedar. JCOs are equivalent in status to Group B (Gazetted) of Government of India.[21]

Junior commissioned officers are treated as a separate class and hold many additional privileges. In the army, they have a separate mess (the JCO's mess), get well-furnished family quarters, and are authorized to travel in AC II-tier on the railways.[22]

Ranks and abbreviations Description Insignia Retirement Age
Infantry and other arms Cavalry and Armour
Subedar Major (Sub Maj) Risaldar Major (Ris Maj) Golden national emblem with stripe After 34 years service or at the age of 54, whichever is sooner.[23]
Subedar (Sub) Risaldar (Ris) Two golden stars with stripe After 30 years service or at the age of 52, whichever is sooner.[23]
Naib Subedar (Nb Sub) Naib Risaldar (Nb Ris) One golden star with stripe After 28 years service or at the age of 52, whichever is sooner.[23]

JCOs are currently enrolled as jawans and few of them get promoted to officers over a period of time-based on their performance and on their ability to clear promotion examinations. A few JCOs are directly enrolled as religious teachers and in certain technical arms such as the Corps of Engineers. As of 2021, the Indian Army is discussing a proposal to directly enrol Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs) in all arms of the service to address the shortage of commissioned officers. According to the proposal, the Indian Army will directly induct JCOs who have cleared the Services Selection Board (SSB) interview. The UPSC will conduct an entrance examination, which would be followed by an SSB interview and a medical examination. Selected candidates would then be trained for one and a half years before joining the units as JCOs. Subsequently, they would be promoted to officers up to the rank of Colonels based on their length of service and qualifications.[24]

Other ranks

Other ranks in the Indian Army include Non-Commissioned Officers ("NCOs") and Soldiers ("sepoys" or "jawans")

Non commissioned officers

Non-Commissioned Officers ("NCOs") are soldiers promoted to positions of responsibility and are equivalent to junior non-commissioned officers (sergeants and corporals) in Western armies.

Ranks and abbreviations Description Insignia Retirement Age
Infantry and other arms Cavalry and armour
Havildar (Hav) Daffadar (Dfr) Three rank chevrons After 26 years service or at the age of 49, whichever is sooner.[23]
Naik (Nk) Lance Daffadar (L/Dfr) Two rank chevrons After 23 years service or at the age of 49, whichever is sooner.[23]
Lance Naik (L/Nk) Acting Lance Daffadar (ALD) Single rank chevron After 19 years service or at the age of 48, whichever is sooner.[23]


Ranks Insignia Retirement Age
Infantry and other arms Cavalry and armour
Sepoy Sowar No insignia After 15 years, 56 Days service or at the age of 42, whichever is sooner.[23]

A sepoy is a rank equivalent to Private in most Commonwealth armies. Many regiments and corps use other distinctive and descriptive names instead of sepoys. These distinctive equivalents for Sepoy include:

Corps Designation Abbreviation
Regiment of Artillery and Army Air Defence Gunner Gnr
Rifle regiments Rifleman Rfn
Parachute Regiment Paratrooper Ptr
Grenadiers Grenadier Gdr
Brigade of the Guards Guardsman Gdsmn
Corps of Engineers Sapper Spr
Corps of Electronics and Mechanical Engineers Craftsman Cfn
Corps of Signals Signalman Sigmn

Honorary ranks


Honorary ranks and honour, also called brevet, are granted in the Indian Army, and its branches such as India Territorial Army (TA), for various reasons. These ranks may not entitle the rank holder to pay, pension, or perks (e.g. ranks given to celebrities).

Retiring Soldiers

Since the time of the British raj,[25] exemplary soldiers who are about to retire are given honorary ranks, usually a few days before their retirement, although these ranks can be granted at any time. Examples include the grant of the rank of Field Marshal, which is rarely granted. Most frequently, honorary ranks that are granted are those of junior commissioned officers, which are granted 1 or 2 weeks before retirement.

Prominent citizens as brand ambassadors

In order to inspire Indian youths to join the Indian Army, and to acknowledge contribution towards the nation, honorary ranks are awarded to the accomplished and eminent personalities who act as brand ambassadors for the defence forces. The following were awarded honorary titles:[26]

Foreign trainees of India's military academies

See also: Strategic partners of India

Trainees of foreign nations who are trained by the military academies of India, such as the National Defence Academy (NDA) or the Indian Military Academy (IMA), are sometimes awarded honorary ranks in the Indian Army. The trainees are usually from friendly armies, such as the Singapore Army.

Reciprocal awarding of honorary ranks to other nations


Since 1950, when former Indian Army Chief General K. M. Cariappa visited Nepal, awarding the highest reciprocal honorary ranks to the newly appointed serving chiefs of each other's armies is a practice followed by India and Nepal. For example, in 2009 the newly appointed Nepal Army Chief General Chhatra Man Singh Gurung was decorated with the honorary rank of General of the Indian army at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi by the President of India who is also the Supreme Commander of Indian Army. Similarly, in 2010 the newly appointed Indian Army Chief General V. K. Singh was awarded the honorary rank of General of Nepal Army at Shital Niwas in Kathmandu by the President of Nepal who is also the Supreme Commander of Nepal Army.[28]

British Colonial era: Indian Army ranks to British Army

Some members of the ruling families of Princely states were given ceremonial honorary ranks during the colonial era.[25]

An 1832 journal reports that during the colonial British raj era, the Commander-in-Chief of British Army (ex officio role of the serving Monarch of Britain) promulgated an order directing that the Lieutenant Colonel of H.M. (Royal British Army) can not be superseded by the East India Company's Indian Army's Lieutenant Colonel. Whenever an Indian Army's Lieutenant Colonel was promoted to Colonel, all the British Army's Lieutenant Colonels who were deployed with the Indian Army and had the equal date and rank with the newly appointed Colonel of Indian Army were also mandatorily given the local Indian Army's honorary rank of Colonel from the date of his Lieutenant Colonelcy with British Army. This unfair system preserved the fictional equivalency of British Army officers with Indian Army officers while denying the officers of the Indian Army their hard-earned honours and ranks within their peculiar service. This was not a reciprocal system, i.e. Lieutenant Colonel of East India Company (EIC) (Indian Army) were not promoted to Colonels rank when a British Army Lieutenant Colonel of equal date and rank was promoted to Colonel's rank in Indian army. For example, when a ranked Lieutenant Colonel of Bengal Presidency's Indian Army was promoted to Colonel he was ranked 34th on the general list, he superseded 33 other Lieutenant Colonels of Indian Army, along with him all of the British Army's Lieutenant Colonel serving with the Bengal Presidency were also given the honorary rank of Colonel of Bengal Presidency and they superseded 33 Lieutenant Colonels of Indian Army who were their seniors. The army officers of EIC appealed against this derogatory and non-reciprocal system in EIC's Court of Directors. EIC directors had no authority to revoke or amend the order issued by the British monarch.[29]

Retired officers: form of address

On 21 July 2014, the Indian Army issued a circular for retired personnel informing them that the correct form of addressing a retired officer is "Brigadier ABC (Retd) and not Brigadier (Retd) ABC",[30] the correct example is "Brigadier Sant Singh (Retd)". The stated rationale of army was, "Rank never retires, it is an officer who retires."[30] This form of address applies to both living and deceased officers.[30]

See also


  1. ^ "New Designs of Crests and Badges in the Services" (PDF). Press Information Bureau of India - Archive.
  2. ^ Chhina, Man Aman Singh (2 September 2022). "Explained: How India adopted its military flags and badges based on Lord Mountbatten's suggestions". The Indian Express. Retrieved 2 September 2022.
  3. ^ "Field Marshal KM Cariappa : The First Indian Chief of Independent India". Aviation & Defence Universe. Aviation & Defence Universe.
  4. ^ "Did You Know That Only 3 People Have Been Given The Highest Ranks In The Indian Armed Forces?". 24 February 2016.
  5. ^ a b "Indian Army Rank Badges". Indian Army. Retrieved 27 May 2021.
  6. ^ Personnel Services Directorate. "Psdte311212" (PDF). Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  7. ^ "DSR Volume I, Chapter IV—JCOs, WOs, OR AND NON-COMBATANTS (ENROLLED)". Indian Army. 2014. Archived from the original on 9 November 2014. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  8. ^ Kumar, M. K. Sunil (16 May 2012). "Rules of the Raj hindering havildars' promotion". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 3 August 2015.
  9. ^ Singh, Navdeep. "Clarification on the nature of 'Group-A' services". India Military Info. India Military Info. Retrieved 22 February 2018.
  10. ^ India, Times of. "JCOs are Gazetted". ToI. Times of India.
  11. ^ Times, Hindustan. "Army defers key annual promotion exam amid LoC tensions". Hindustan Times. Hindustan Times. Archived from the original on 23 February 2018. Retrieved 22 February 2018.
  12. ^ India, USI. "PROSPECTUS". USI. USI of India. Retrieved 22 February 2018.
  13. ^ Government of India (4 November 2008). "MoD Letter No. 1/55/2008 D(Pay/Services)—Terms and Conditions of Service" (PDF). Indian Army. Government of India, Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  14. ^ Tirkey, Ajay (30 August 2008). "Ministry of Defence Resolution—Sixth Central Pay Commission" (PDF). The Gazette of India. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  15. ^ "NCC Spl entry Scheme" (PDF). Indian Army. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
  16. ^ "How to Distinguish between Different Ranks of The Indian Army?".
  17. ^ "Army Pay Rules" (PDF). MoD. GoI. MoD. Retrieved 21 February 2018.
  18. ^ Army, Indian. "NCC SPL ENTRY NOTIFCATION" (PDF). Indian Army Offl website. Indian Army. Retrieved 22 February 2018.
  19. ^ "The indomitable Subedar Major". The Tribune.
  20. ^ "3 Living Legends Of Indian Army – Param Veer Chakra Winners". SSB Crack.
  21. ^ "Army corrects JCO status after 6 years". DNA.
  22. ^ "Benefits, and challenges military personnel and their families face".
  23. ^ a b c d e f g "Report of the Seventh Central Pay Commission" (PDF). Government of India. November 2015. pp. 397–398. Retrieved 4 April 2021.
  24. ^ "Indian Army to recruit 14000 JCOs Soon". Jagran Prakashan Ltd. Jagran Prakashan Ltd.
  25. ^ a b Lt. Col. Gautam Sharma, 1996, Nationalisation of the Indian Army, 1885-1947, pp 11.
  26. ^ a b c d e f Kumar, Anshika. "10 Celebrities with Military Ranks that motivate Youth to Join the Indian defence Forces".
  27. ^ "Mohanlal inducted into Territorial Army". NDTV. 9 July 2009.
  28. ^ "Army chief made honorary General of Nepal Army". Hindustan Times. 22 December 2010. Retrieved 28 May 2020.
  29. ^ May-Aug 1832, The Asiatic journal and monthly register for British and foreign India, China, and Australasia, The Asiatic Journal and Monthly Register for British India and its Dependencies, Parbury, Allen and Company, vol III, pp 66.
  30. ^ a b c Sura, Ajay (3 August 2014). "Rank never retires, officer does: Army". The Times of India. TNN. Retrieved 13 September 2015.