Rank Insignias

Special thanks to Uniform Insignia for the artwork

Commissioned Officers

They are the leaders of the Army and Commissioned Officers lead everything from a Company all the way to a Corps and higher.

Field Marshal is a honorary rank given to a General for his invaluable service and will continue to serve the rest of his term with the honorary rank. S.H.F.J. Manekshaw was Army Chief when India went to war in 1971 against Pakistan. In recognition of his services, he was elevated to the rank of Field Marshal, the first in post-independent India, on 01 January 1973. Field Marshal Manekshaw completed his term of office, as Army Chief, just a fortnight later on 15 January 1973. Field Marshal K.M. Cariappa was also elevated to this honorary rank in 1986, after he had retired in 1953.

Field Marshal


Lieutenant General

Major General



Lieutenant Colonel




Second Lieutenant*

*The rank of Second Lieutenant is not used anymore and all new officers are commissioned as Lieutenants.

Junior Commissioned Officers

The second set of Officers in the Army are the Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs). During British rule, English Officers found it very difficult to communicate with Indian soldiers, and thus they created these three new ranks. They were known as the Viceroy's Commissioned Officers or VCOs but after the British left India, they were known as Junior Commissioned Officers or JCOs. The soldiers in these ranks had long years of service and they acted as middlemen, in the passing of orders from Officers to the Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs) ranks. The soldiers who became VCOs (or JCOs) joined the Army as Sepoys and came up through the NCO ranks. The ranks of Subedar Major, Subedar and Naib Subedar are used in the Infantry while the ranks of Risaldar Major, Risaldar and Naib Risaldar are used in the Armoured Corps.An important difference between the Indian and other armies is that officers do not command platoons - Naib Subedars, who are Junior Commissioned Officers (senior NCOs in other armies) do. A Naib Subedar / Naib Risaldar was also known as a Jemadar until 1965.

Subedar Major / Risaldar Major

Subedar / Risaldar

Naib Subedar / Naib Risaldar


Non-Commissioned Officers

The third set of Officers are the Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs). These ranks are given to Jawans according to their merit and seniority. Most commonwealth nations still follow English ranks for NCOs, but in the Indian Army, the NCO ranks are partly in Hindi. The rank badges for NCOs are worn only on the right sleeve of the shirt. The rank badges of Regimental Havildar Major (RHM), Regimental Quarter Master Havildar (RQMH), Company Havildar Major (CHM) and Company Quarter Master Havildar (CQMH) are basically appointments given to a Havildar by his Commanding Officer (CO). The same applies to Daffadars in the Armoured Corps. The rank insignia are worn on the wrist of the right hand. The appointments of RHM and RQMH are now phased out of the Army. Those tasks have now been taken over by the Subedar Adjutant (SA), and the Naib Subedar Quarter Master (JCO Quarter Master). The rank insignia is however displayed here, for information sake. The ranks of Havildar, Naik, Lance Naik and Sepoy are used in the Infantry, while the ranks of Daffadar, Lance Daffadar, Acting Lance Daffadar and Sowar are used in the Armoured Corps. As per the Army rules, all ranks up to RHM are appointed by the CO. Each company can have 15 Lance Naiks, 10 Naiks, and 5 Havildars. The two senior-most Havildars become the CQMH and CHM. The CO can promote or demote any of these ranks at his discretion, with valid reasons.

The rank of Quarter Master Havildar (QMH) used to be there in every regiment and not just in supply units. Today, however, the QMH rank is slowly being removed. The ranks of Quarter Master (QM) and Havildar Major (HM) are just appointments. They receive only the pay and perquisites of a normal Havildar. For their extra work, they generally get appointment pay, in the range of Rs. 75 to 200 per month. If the RHM or CHM has to change his unit, there is every chance he may lose the HM status. For example, when a Havildar joins a National Cadet Corps unit, he may become a HM, but when he goes back to his unit, he becomes Havildar again. HMs and QMs are not separate ranks, but rather just appointments which can be cancelled at any day. The Sepoy rank also has different names in various arms and regiments. The equivalents to a Sepoy are - Grenadier, Rifleman, Paratrooper, Gunner, Signalman, Commando, Sapper, Craftsman, Gaurdsman, Sowar, etc. The Sepoy (and its equivalents) rank does not have any insignia, rather they just wear a plain shoulder badge, with no rank badge on the right sleeve of the shirt.

Regimental Havildar Major / Regimental Daffadar Major

Regimental Quarter Master Havildar / Regimental Quarter Master Daffadar

Company Havildar Major / Squadron Daffadar Major

Company Quarter Master Havildar / Squadron Quarter Master Daffadar

Havildar / Daffadar

Naik / Lance Daffadar

Lance Naik / Acting Lance Daffadar

Sepoy / Sowar


Additional Information

The drill for the salute depends upon a soldier's rank. The salute given using bare hands is the same for all the ranks, but when rifles are present the procedure changes. Officers up to the rank of Captain and Junior Commissioned Officers are authorised for a rifle salute. Non-Commissioned Officers are not authorised for any form of salute. Ranks of Major and above are authorised for the present arms salute. The present arms can only be given by a soldier, when he is standing at his post. When a soldier meets a Commissioned Officer when he is on the march, only the rifle salute is given. The Officers above the rank of Brigadier are authorised for the General Salute. The National Salute is authorised for the National Flag, the President of India, and the Governors of States. The drill procedure of National Salute and General Salute are one and the same. These salutes are only given in a guard of honour where the band will be in attendance. The tune, which the band plays for these salutes, marks the difference.

The Government of India, has given many privileges to the Indian Armed Forces. The privileges include free train tickets and subsidised prices for house hold articles. The NCOs are authorised for free train journeys in second class compartments anywhere in India. The JCOs and Officers are authorised for first class tickets. All the camps have canteens, which sell consumer goods at subsidised rates. This facility remains even after a soldier has retired. Many State Governments have certain government jobs, which are reserved exclusively for ex-service men. The British considered JCOs as men of great importance and treated them well. They had a separate mess and quarters. More over no Officer (English or Indian) was to address a VCO either by his name or his rank. The word, Saab (Master), had to be used as a suffix when addressing VCOs. Today, even the President of India has to follow certain rules when speaking to a JCO.

Home Heraldry Rank Insignias