THIS is a magnum opus which presents the inside story of the Kargil conflict through original dispatches filed by the Army Commander from the war zone and provides a tour de force of 5,000 years or more of Indian history through the military prism.
Since the earliest times of human life on earth, the basic human aspirations of self-protection and expansion, even among the Vedic tribes has continued for ages, leading to several wars not only between Aryans and non-Aryans but among the Aryan tribes themselves. The author considers the Ramayana as the role model where the predominance of the highly developed state and war-craft are discussed; while the Mahabharata presents the ancient Indian military mind giving an insight into the moral code and socio-political system existing then. He says that the art of higher planning and direction of war tactics and “combat priming of the warriors” were so “well-developed that it is relevant even today.”
He writes about Alexander’s invasion of India and returning back home not due to India’s hot climate or his tired army, but due to getting demoralised on hearing of the kingdom of Magadh possessing 6,000 war elephants. He commends the role played by Chandragupta Maurya in making the Greeks leave the country. He also talks of the Scythians or Sakas invading India from Central Asia, the entry of Arabs into Sindh, the Mughal rulers and how the Indian military acquitted itself. He praises the role of the Maratha and Rajput warriors who put up a brave front. He discusses the entry of the British who could rule for so long because of the disunity among Indian rulers. He describes the Indo-Pakistan conflict of 1947-48 in great detail and is critical of Indian leaders of the time who failed “to visualise that Pakistan, a product of divisive forces, would develop into a malignant problem, which called for a deterrent combat power.” He is of the view that centuries-old foreign rule had kept the indigenous Indians insulated from the country’s defence and military planning, “which has resulted in an obvious lack of security consciousness in the Indian society” and the resultant void in military expertise. He adds that decision-making and mobilisation of the nation “continues to be a weak link, which keeps it from fully gearing up and realising its inherent potential.”
He also criticises Nehru for his naivette in military matters and tendency to be idealistic than realistic when dealing with military matters. He adds, “Mountbatten and other British military officers assigned to the Indian services exploited the naivette of the political leadership in matters of defence and warfare.”
(Lancer Publishers & Distributors, 2/42 (B) Sarvapriya Vihar, New Delhi -110016; www.lancerpublishers.com)