Subedar is a historical rank in the Indian Army, ranking below British commissioned officers and above non-commissioned officers. The rank was otherwise equivalent to a British lieutenant and was introduced in the East India Company's presidency armies, (the Bengal Army, the Madras Army and the Bombay Army) to make it easier for British officers to communicate with native troops. It was thus essential for subedars to be fluent in English.
In the Mughal Empire and the Maratha Empire, the subahdar was the governor of a province. During the British Government it was named as the second highest rank of enlisted Indian soldiers with commanding powers over the Indian troops.
Until 1858, subedars wore two epaulettes with small bullion fringes on each shoulder. After 1858, they wore two crossed golden swords, or, in the Gurkha regiments, two crossed golden kukris, on each collar of a tunic or else on the right breast of their kurtas. After 1900, subedars wore two pips on each shoulder. A red-yellow-red ribbon was introduced under each pip after the Great War. After the Second World War, this ribbon was moved to lie between the shoulder title and the rank insignia (two brass stars on both shoulders). A subedar is senior to a naib subedar and junior to a subedar major.
Until 1866, the rank was the highest a non-European Indian could achieve in the armies of British India. A subedar's authority was confined to other Indian troops, and he could not command British troops.
Before the 1947 Partition of India and the independence of India and Pakistan, subedars were known as Viceroy's commissioned officers. After 1947 this term was changed to 'junior commissioned officers'.
After independence, which came in 1947 with the Partition of India, the former Indian Army was divided between India and Pakistan. In the Pakistan Army, the rank has been retained, but the ribbon is now red-green-red. After Bangladesh separated from Pakistan, the Bangladesh Army also retained the rank, changing the ribbon colours to red-purple-red, but in Bangladesh the title of subedar was changed in 1999 to senior warrant officer.
During the Rule of the Nizams in Hyderabad the top of the administrator / tax revenue collector hierarchy was Subedar which had responsibility for the largest divisions of the country i.e. (the Princely State of Hyderabad) and below him the rank or official title of lower division post holder was Tehsildar and below that rank the Taluqdar, so in effect it could be equated to the three tier ranking from province administrator to county administrator to district administrator in size from the largest to smallest. Thdese are further divided into villages, under a Village officer.
- www.Bharat-Rakshak.com/Army/Ranks.html- Illustration of various military insignias including three subedar insignia designs.
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