Why Do The Kolkata Policemen Wear White Uniforms?


Source - 123RF

It is said that if there are soldiers for the security of the country, then there are police for the protection of the people of the country.

The first thing that comes to mind when you think of cops is the khaki uniform they wear.

But, have you ever noticed that while the police in all the states across the country wear the same khaki uniform, the Kolkata police wear a white uniform?

Ever wondered why?

The British introduced White Uniforms

It is a known fact that the British eyed the prosperous India and converted their aspirations of ruling our country and gradually exploited us of our rich heritage and culture.

They started off by settling down in West Bengal before actually establishing The East India Company. The introduced the first efficient police system in the country. All police were ordered to wear a clean white uniform.

However, their white uniforms would get dirty at the end of the day. They would have to wash and bleach their uniforms to get back the white shine before resuming their duty.

White uniforms were soon replaced by blue uniforms which made maintaining a cleaner attire little more convenient.

Police officials who gradually identified the problem of maintaining a perfectly clean attire whilst also having to report to a strenuous duty day in and day out, suggested that khaki-colored uniforms could be used.

Khaki is more of a yellowish-brown hue which usually camouflages with the dirt and dust, making it easier to maintain. Even if the uniform were to get dirty, it wouldn’t look as dirty because the shade would resemble a normal khaki colour.

Embracing the Khaki Uniforms

In 1846, Sir Henry Lawrence, a British officer, formed a division in the British Indian army called the corps of guides.

Sir Harry Lamsden was appointed as the commander of the forces.

Even then, the police wore white, light blue, and khaki was newly being embraced by the forces. Initially, it started off as the colour of uniforms for the lower-level officers but in 1847, khaki became the official color of the entire police force on the orders of commander in chief.

It became mandatory for everyone to wear this color.

Why are White Uniforms still worn in Bengal?

There are two type of police forces in west Bengal, namely the West Bengal State Police and the Kolkata Metropolitan City Police.

As early as 1845, the British government set up a special police force for Kolkata, with this, all the Kolkata policemen were asked to wear white uniforms.

In 1847, Lamsden ordered all policemen to wear khaki. But the Kolkata police refused.

The reason behind the refusal was that Kolkata faces extreme temperatures as it is an inland state, hardly surrounded by any water bodies. White is a colour that reflects heat rather than absorbing it, which makes it an ideal choice of uniform.

The state police system of west Bengal has now taken to the Khaki Uniforms but The Kolkata-Howrah twin city policemen still wear white uniforms.

Not only the twin city police, but also the police in a few other areas of Bengal are still wearing the traditional white uniform.

However, the reason they now give is different from the original explanation. They say that it is easy to identify and differentiate which police belong to Kolkata-Howrah Force and which Police belong to State Police Force.

Written By - Keerthana Bharadwaj

Edited By - Tushna Choksey

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