Book Review – India’s wars

 

Warfare is as old as human civilization so is its history. Indian subcontinent has been witness to bloody conflict and clashes since ages. Epics such as Mahabharata, Ramayana, Alha- Udhal are masterpieces of South Asia’s age old tradition of rendering and preserving. conflicts in different literary and art forms.

India inherited thorny issues left behind by colonial masters at the time of partition which led to altercation and conflict with neighbors. These issues are still pestering making understanding of military history an essential part of statecraft. India can ill afford to ignore the history of conflict in this part of the world. Still there are few good books on this topic worth visiting.

The academics have largely ignored this important area whereas one comes across account of military conflict in memoirs of politicians or retired soldiers. There is dearth of well researched accounts on military history of India. This gap has been filled by  Arjun Subramaniam, a soldier scholar and an expert on military matter. The account of conflicts faced by India after freedom in 1947 to 1971 comes directly from the horse’s mouth.  

Arjun Subramaniam

India’s war: Miliarty history of India by Arjun Subramaniam is well researched, deftly written without personal or profession prejudice.The author hopes the book creates a missing link between the study of military history and its impact on contemporary strategic culture.

Arjun Subramaniam writes for various military journal both in India and abroad on  Leadership, Air Power, Jointmanship, India-China relations, Terrorism and Fourth Generation Warfare, National Security and Military History.

Soon after independence, India faced attack on J&K by Pathan tribal as well Pakistani regulars. A country which was limping back to normalcy after deadly riots and displacement of large number of population had to send its army to its northern border hastily and unwillingly. There was challenge of national integration of princely states just aftermath of independence. The police action in Hyderabad state and liberation of Goa was not an easier task. The 1962 conflict and defeat suffered at the hands of china, war with Pakistan in 1965 and liberation of Bangladesh in 1971 are the testimony of valor and sacrifices rendered by brave soldiers in the line of duty.

The acknowledged expert on military matters has objectively analyzed and presented the glory story of conflict skillfully. Chronicling conflicts, handling of internal disturbances and integration of princely states, the book has been organized in five parts and further divided into chapters.

Part I outlines what lays ahead in the book and objectives the book has been written for. In chapter Personal Quest, the soldier scholar shares his personal experiences. The author has deftly decoded DNA of India’s armed forces in Part II. This part analyses the different martial communities of India and colonial legacy of Indian military.

In Part III under “Teething years”, the book covers major conflicts India faced in the early years. The first India – Pakistan war of 1947-48, liberation and integration of Hyderabad and sizing of Goa is discussed thread bare. The Part IV “Across the borders” deals with external aggression India’s faced from its hostile neighbors.

 The book concludes in Part V with remembering the master strategist of ancient time, Kautilya also known as Chanakya and Vishnugupta. The author try to read through Kautilya’s mind and wonders how Kautilya would have assessed the manner in which India and its military conducted in the conflicts India faced since 1947 to 1971. It may be tactical by author as he praises and criticizes the leadership what he portrays Kautilya would. The chapter is definitely an interesting read.

The book diagnoses strategy, strength and weakness of Indian military during major war India fought since 1947. The author praises and doesn’t shy away criticizing the Political and military leadership.

The book is captivating and thrilling account. Though it depicts the bloody conflicts still readers enjoys the depiction of battleground and different theaters of conflict. The author has been impartial in showering praise and criticizing leaders on both side of conflict.

This book is relevant for students, academics, experts and strategists both political and military.

 

 [ Imteyaz Alam  is a writer and  Civil Servant with Railway Ministry, Govt. of India]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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