What is the Importance of Naam, Namak, Nishan for an Indian Army Soldier

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‘Naam, Namak, Nishan’ are the core ethos of me in the uniform. And the concept has held good across ages. Loosely translated, it means:

  • Naam – Name/Reputation of your country, Name/Reputation of your Regiment or ‘Paltan’
  • Namak – Fidelity to the salt you’ve partaken
  • Nishaan – Ensign, Flag or standard. This can be the Indian flag and the Colors of the regiment. In older times, the regiments carried the Regimental Standards/Colors into the battle and it would be considered an utmost disgrace if a Regiment was to loose their Regiment Standard/Colors. Men rallied around their flags and would make ultimate sacrifice to protect it from falling into enemy hands.

Let me give you a small anecdote on this ‘Nishaan’ bit: The famous armored regiment of the Indian Army, The Poona Horse, which won PVC in 1965 and 1971 wars, captured the standard of a famous Persian Regiment in 1857 Anglo-Persian war in Herat, Afghanistan.  The Persian Standard read – ‘Yad Ullal Fauk Idaheem’ which roughly means that ‘The Hand of God is above all things’. That standard, in the shape of Hand, forms the central devise of the unit emblem of Poona Horse. The actual standard is still with the Poona Horse, even after 250 years! That is how precious and prestigious, these Standards/Colors are.

class=”qtext_para”>Cap badge of The Poona Horse:

The ethos of ‘Naam, Namak, Nishaan’ is the honor code which drives the officers and men alike. While this ethos permeates the whole of the Indian Army, you see this the strongest in the fighting arms like Infantry, Armored and Artillery which have the Regiment and Battalion concept. The reason being men spend most of the professional lives in one Regiment/Battalion and identify very strongly with it.

There are many interviews of wounded/decorated soldiers where on being quizzed why did they do what they did, one hears them saying, ‘Paltan is izzat ka sawaal tha’…’It was a matter of honor of the battalion/regiment’.

Finally, I leave you with this excerpt from the book on American Civil War – ‘He Kept the Colors: The True Story of the General, the Old Man and the Flag’

‘A Regiment was in disgrace if it lost its flag. It was an honor to carry the flag, but the Color Guard had the most dangerous position. The highest mortality rate of the war was suffered by the Color Bearers defending their flags in the battle. At Gettysburg, the flag of 24th Michigan was riddled with 23 bullets as nine flag bearers died defending it as the Regiment retreated, still fighting, from the Mcpherson’s Wood’.

This answer was written by Rohit Vats at Quora.

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