Saluting is a prime custom of the military forces be it army, navy or air force. Saluting means giving respect to the seniors and it was started in very early days and the custom is still followed. The history behind the salute started when the soldiers greeted their men, who defeated the other army, by raising their right hand till their forehead. And since then, it is custom, which has been followed and today it is one of the ways to show respect to their senior officers and the officers in return to their gesture salute back.
There is another theory for the origin of salute, which is, when the knights greeted each other they saluted, so as to tell their enemies that they are not armed and are harmless and it was one of the ways to show friendly intentions to them. In the early 1975, a British order book, stated that the junior officers should not take off their hats when a senior officer passes by them, instead they should just clap their hands to their hat and bow, to show respect. No matter what the theory, the custom has been followed since ages and it will be continued for time immemorial.
The president of India grants the custom of saluting of all the three forces, and hence whenever an officer saluted he is showing respect to the head of the military forces and the head of the state and the salute that is returned to them is on behalf of the President.
Saluting in the three different military forces is completely different and they have different reasons for their way of saluting. Here is the reason as to why the salute of Indian army, Air Force and Navy is different from each other.
The Salute of Indian Army
The Jawans of the Indian Army, salutes with an open palm, fingers glued together along with the thumb, where the middle finger almost touches the hatband. The reason they salute like this is to tell the other person that they are not armed and are harmless.
The Salute of Indian Air Force
The Officers of the Indian Air Force Salute with their right hand, where the palm is raised to 45 degrees from the ground towards the sky. The reason behind saluting like this is to show progress towards the sky. There is an interesting fact concerned with saluting in the IAF that they must salute all the ladies at any time.
The Salute of Indian Navy
The Navy officer’s salute with their palm down towards the ground. The reason behind saluting like this is that earlier the navy officers used to work a lot with oil and grease, which made their hands look dirty, so they started wearing gloves, to protect their hands while working, but even the gloves became extremely dirty. So when they saluted, they never wanted to disrespect their seniors or the respected people by saluting with dirty hands, hence they started saluting with a stiff right hand, but facing downwards to a 90 degrees angle where the palm cannot be seen. Though nowadays, there is not much of work with oil and grease but the tradition is kept alive and is still followed.