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President’s Bodyguard (PBG)

Yes, the President of India does have a special, rather a unique security force, which is known as the President’s Bodyguard (PBG). Here is a photograph in which we may see that the president of India is seen presenting the Banner and Silver Trumpet to the President’s Bodyguard.

President presents Silver Trumpet and Banner to President’s Bodyguards

This is the main gate of the President’s Estate at Dehradun. Long back, for the first time, I had seen the President’s Bodyguard, with their horses and regalia here only.

This is the President’s Estate (Rashtrapati Niwas) Dehradun. (within the above gate).

See this picture. You might have seen them earlier during the Republic Day Parades.

Here is a rare picture of Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the first President of India, passing through a market place in his horse carriage, escorted by the President’s Bodyguard.

Here are more pictures of the President’s Bodyguard, as may be seen often in Delhi.

Well, there are few special requirements for joining the President’s Bodyguard. One is that you have to be at least 6 feet tall. Also, you must be from 3 specified castes.

The matter of specific castes is challenged in court and the Army defends it strongly.

As of today, President’s Bodyguards (PBG) is a small body of handpicked men, comprising 4 Officers, 14 Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs) and 161 troopers backed by administrative support personnel. This establishment has not changed much since the 19th century. Its men are trained for operational duties, both, as tankmen and airborne troops in addition to their ceremonial role.

The physical standards for the PBG are very specific with 6 feet being the minimum height for a trooper. Men of the PBG are expert horsemen, adept at ceremonial punctilio, trained combat paratroopers, armoured vehicle crewmen and tradesmen.

Honed in diverse combat skills, the PBG personnel have proven their worth in battle as well as in mounted tourneys and equestrian skills.

The records indicate that the first time a force like PBG was raised in 1773 at Benares (Varanasi) by the then Governor Warren Hastings, with a strength of 50 handpicked troopers. This nucleus of the Bodyguard was later augmented by another 50 horsemen, provided by Raja Cheyt Singh of Benares, thus bringing the overall strength of the regiment up to 100 horses and men by the end of that year, say the records.

The establishment of the regiment varied through the years, being augmented in times of war and it attained its maximum strength of 1,929 all ranks, as per the Army List of 1845, just prior to the First Sikh War. The PBG continued to be a select Cavalry Unit, primarily for the personal and battlefield security of the Governor and later Governor General, who often had to personally lead his forces into battle.

The Raising Charter clearly spelt out the role of the PBG, namely — “To act as Bodyguard to the Governor in peace and to accompany him as Commander-in-Chief in battle”.

This unique band of select troops, in over two centuries of service, has seen action in various roles — as mounted and dismounted cavalry; Artillery, with ‘Galloper Guns’ in the Egyptian Expedition of 1801-1802; Marines in 1809, protecting naval transports in the Bay of Bengal; and more recently as mechanised and airborne troops.