Evolution of Indian Strategic Thought-1

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Re: Evolution of Indian Strategic Thought-1

Postby ramana » 09 May 2011 20:31

UBannerjee, I want to refer to a phrase understood in Telugu and Kannada :"Sthana Balam!" meaning "Power of the place". Mackinder translated it or reconceptualised as geo-politics.

What we need is to "own the geography of our history". Its by giving up the geography gradually in both West Asia and East Asia due to lack of hard power to back the soft power that India laid its self open to the marauding tribes with religious idelology. The West came as merchants and saw how easy it was to take over and did.

To reverse all this we need to know what we were and what we are willing to adapt and adopt and throw out.

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Re: Evolution of Indian Strategic Thought-1

Postby ManishH » 09 May 2011 20:35

devesh: My aspiration is ~2-4 hectares of land for a family of four, not replicas of Manhattan.

We have a choice - bemoan marxist pollution (no one contests that), or define strategic goals - in simple terms, that a mango Indian like me understands. And which no amount of marxist 'intellectualism' can obfuscate in the classrooms or media.

Shiv-ji: strategic thought has to be coherent to be successful; to be coherent, it needs to be brought out of thinktanks and into a form that can be identified with by villagers in the evening chaupal (or katte).

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Re: Evolution of Indian Strategic Thought-1

Postby shiv » 09 May 2011 21:20

ManishH wrote:Shiv-ji: strategic thought has to be coherent to be successful; to be coherent, it needs to be brought out of thinktanks and into a form that can be identified with by villagers in the evening chaupal (or katte).


The think tanks and universities are to foster the development of people who can write and communicate well enough to bring it to the masses. The thinking has to be translated to publications that inspire.

Throughout the history of man - individuals with excellent skills in some subject combined with the ability to communicate with mango man have made a difference. Anyone who has studied dry subjects from textbooks will know how one author can bring a subject alive while another keeps it dead. But in the absence of a system that creates those authors - skills are lost.

Mahatma Gandhi was an extraordinary strategist who translated broad strategy into terms that mango man could relate to. Gandhi's education as a lawyer in the UK undoubtedly gave his mind the background to deal with the Brits on his terms. Gandhis are rare but we could look at less prominent people who did similar things in other fields. Carl Sagan went on to be more than a scientist.

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Re: Evolution of Indian Strategic Thought-1

Postby shiv » 09 May 2011 21:42

Relevant here
http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/NEWS/news ... wsid=14726
More broadly, India has a history of strategic restraint, which means its diplomatic and military strategy hasn't been focused on assertively achieving select goals.

As a result, India has invested in neither the legal architecture nor the physical capabilities to pull off an Operation Geronimo. For instance, U.S. counterterrorism policy declares that terrorists in breach of U.S. laws who are harbored by any state will be brought back for prosecution through "induced cooperation" and, when necessary, force. India needs something like this. Such laws would give its counterterror operators legal cover as well as set the ground for dealing with other gray legalities in the war on terror.

Then there's the question of what intelligence and arms India can put on the ground. Its human intelligence across the border and experience in foreign clandestine operations is weak. Unlike the U.S.—which probably maintains an estimated 3,000-4,000 intelligence operatives in Pakistan—India has been scaling back its intelligence infrastructure inside that country for the past 15 years. In the late 1990s, then-Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral consciously dismantled this infrastructure as part of a new doctrine for peace, a grave strategic error.

Equipment- and training-wise, too, India falls short. Indian commandos freed the Mumbai hostages with much clumsiness over a prolonged 72-hour operation in November 2008, making some wonder how they would operate in alien environments.

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Re: Evolution of Indian Strategic Thought-1

Postby devesh » 10 May 2011 04:49

ManishH wrote:devesh: My aspiration is ~2-4 hectares of land for a family of four, not replicas of Manhattan.

We have a choice - bemoan marxist pollution (no one contests that), or define strategic goals - in simple terms, that a mango Indian like me understands. And which no amount of marxist 'intellectualism' can obfuscate in the classrooms or media.

Shiv-ji: strategic thought has to be coherent to be successful; to be coherent, it needs to be brought out of thinktanks and into a form that can be identified with by villagers in the evening chaupal (or katte).



2-4 hectares per family!?!?!?! before proceeding further on this issue, let me ask: are you a die-hard Malthusian over-population fanatic? sorry to be blunt but I cannot say anything else without knowing that!

ramana ji,
rightly said. when hard power is lacking, soft power is useless. it's like what we are doing in Afghanistan right now. all the soft power will be useless without actually building strategic assets in Af-Pak that can protect and propagate our influence. the most basic step would have been to create sources in the various branches of Afghan government that are friendly to India. this might have happened but we see no proof that India is even thinking on these lines. it is obviously necessary that it be covert. but there is usually ample evidence of a country's thinking, even if there is no evidence that the "thinking" is being implemented. in India's case there is no evidence that we are even thinking on these lines.

imvho, India should have the kind of network in Afghanistan right now where every strategic move that the US is making as part of the exit plan, should all be known to India by now. we've had ample time and opportunities to create a network which should be keeping us informed on all possible future power configurations in Afghanistan. this could be happening, but that's hard to believe b/c there is no evidence that we are thinking on those lines.

the most basic necessity in the covert side of the strategic business is to realize that INFORMATION IS POWER.

that's officially my first rule/axiom for India's interests: INFORMATION IS POWER. if we realize this, then we are on the right path. what to make of said information is a later question. for now, the importance of raw information on the local moves in various regions, has to be acquiesced. when we realize it, there wouldn't be any IK Gujral type of blunders where hard built networks and sources and expertise are squandered away.

the idea behind intelligence networks is not peace or war. it is the simple axiom that Information is power. we don't know what to make of said information yet. but still, we are thirsty for information. that should be the attitude/psychology of Indian strategic thinking.

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Re: Evolution of Indian Strategic Thought-1

Postby shiv » 10 May 2011 07:11

As Indians gain confidence it is easy to forget the degree of mental servitude India had towards the west just 40 years ago. It wasn't until the MTV India generation of a decade ago that Indians stopped displaying embarrassment and shame at Indian accents and English and made it cool to be that way. Before that people would tune in to BBC to prove to someone hat he sounded like an Indian idiot.

But the same hesitation to consider one's own needs as one's interests and instead look for inputs from abroad have contributed to the lack of strategic thinking in India. A lot of the time an statement of British or American or other interests as made by those nations were/are blindly quoted by various Indian sources as truism that we should take not of and swallow undiluted.

It still happens - but the first thing to do is to separate out a statement of what is in Indian interest from a statement that is inimical to Indian interests. This can actually be done with every single media commentary by anyone that has a mention of India. The old BR discussion of exactly what is in India's interest is an ongoing quest. Sometimes it is very difficult to recognise snake oil that is sold as "Indian interest" - with a sting that subverts.

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Re: Evolution of Indian Strategic Thought-1

Postby ManishH » 10 May 2011 08:50

devesh wrote:2-4 hectares per family!?!?!?! before proceeding further on this issue, let me ask: are you a die-hard Malthusian over-population fanatic?


Like I said earlier, I don't view population as a problem, in fact it's a boon. The problem is lack of territory. I hadn't heard of Malthus before, but reading up on it, it's the opposite of what I stand for.

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Re: Evolution of Indian Strategic Thought-1

Postby UBanerjee » 10 May 2011 15:35

ramana wrote:UBannerjee, I want to refer to a phrase understood in Telugu and Kannada :"Sthana Balam!" meaning "Power of the place". Mackinder translated it or reconceptualised as geo-politics.

What we need is to "own the geography of our history". Its by giving up the geography gradually in both West Asia and East Asia due to lack of hard power to back the soft power that India laid its self open to the marauding tribes with religious idelology. The West came as merchants and saw how easy it was to take over and did.

To reverse all this we need to know what we were and what we are willing to adapt and adopt and throw out.


The problem is the inherently fragmented, decentralized nature of the Indian civilization that was left behind after expansion, made it amenable to this sort of piecemeal, slow digestion by encroaching forces from outside. So we gave up the geography and perpetually retreated more to the core and more inwards imagining these outside lands to be unimportant fringes. Till even Punjab and Bengal, the crucial endpoints of our river system 'core', became "periphery" that could be done away with!

Even now the trend is not all positive. What is Aksai Chin, POK and all that but more of the same? And we see how it doesn't stop- of course, why should it?- now there's AP and the rest of Kashmir- slow encroaching digestion, with the pressure directed inwards, and not outwards! What does a guy on the banks of the Ganga care about some barren mountain pass several thousand miles away or some lands occupied by oriental looking tribals? This is what Westerners mean when they comment that "India lacks a grasp of geostrategy". Not just the intellectual class but the people that produce the intellectual class. This is a stereotype- but like all stereotypes it is too easy to dismiss it as a myth, when it contains significant grains of truth.

In the US "Manifest Destiny" was understood in its essence by even the rudest of wagon-riding settlers. When the American empire moved to containing Communism- it became a cause of the American people as well, root and branch, personified in things like JFK's oratory. "Rule Brittania" was something that inspired even some worthless factory-worker toiling away in Birmingham- who had never seen any of this world-spanning empire let alone participated in it. Britain was a small and not very wealthy nation when it began expansion. India needs a motivating strategic purpose that goes beyond "let's get richer" that can inhabit the mass of people within it, and it has really not that much to do with "$10 trillion economy". Geostrategy can't just be a game played by diplomats and has to inhabit the people to a degree.

Like in Guns, Germs and Steel, Jared Diamond asks the central defining question, why did the Europeans colonize the Americas, and not the other way around, and then traces the answer further and further back. Similarly we must ask why are people laying claim to our lands continually- but not the reverse (these days). In India it is accepted as the status quo- simply "how things are"- which is a malaise that has to be corrected. When we can realistically lay claim to Tibet, Afghanistan and Myanmar- and this claim is something that animates the mass of Indian people- that is the only day that the traditional sphere has been somewhat reconstituted.

This has been an enduring weakness of the Indian geostrategic position for a while. It is educational to review what changed- why an outwards-expanding, vibrant Indian sphere became obsessed with internal affairs and settled into a malaise that neglected to back up the periphery with "hard power".

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Re: Evolution of Indian Strategic Thought-1

Postby ManishH » 10 May 2011 16:42

Kudos UBanerjee! This is probably the first time I see someone else espouse two things in one post on BRF:

1. Centrality of land to national survival.
2. A geostrategy driven by the people, not just elite/thinktanks.

Most probably, you'll be responded with :
- Land is incidental, cultural preservation is more important
- You need some gifted people or funded think-tanks to come up with strategy which can be disseminated to people in forms they can digest

PS: Hoping you expand your ideas in J&K thread too. Thanks.

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Re: Evolution of Indian Strategic Thought-1

Postby Pratyush » 10 May 2011 17:06

It is not that the loss of land post 47 has been accepted by the Indian govt. / Population. If it ws then the official Indian maps will show the POK and the COK as seperate entities and not as a part of India.

What we are looking at is the propaganda by a small section of the Indian elites that the land ought to be given up. This has nothing to do with Indian strategic thought or the lack thereoff.

The position of the GOI is that India must retake this land. We are surprised and frustated by a lack of credible and concrete action by the GOI to the effect of reclaiming that land, it is understandable.

But please keep in mind that regardless of the weakness of the position of the GOI (assumed or real). It has never officially conceded the loss of the land in any respect.

In addition there is school of thought emerging on this thread WRT, to the need for additional land in order to secure the future of the Indian nation/ population. (It is my understanding only)

Perhaps it is a valid POV. I don't know enought to offer a critique this POV. But I will suggest that the land most opent to the possibility of taken over is currently populated and occupied by one of the largest populations in the world. What will be done to that population. Will it be assimilated or will it be eliminated, it will be interesting to know.

If I look at it in a particular way, this reminds me of Hitler's need for German Living space and the huge Russian nation and the consquences there off.

Is there another way that can be explored. I would like to learn it.

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Re: Evolution of Indian Strategic Thought-1

Postby Pranav » 10 May 2011 18:07

UBanerjee wrote:What does a guy on the banks of the Ganga care about some barren mountain pass several thousand miles away or some lands occupied by oriental looking tribals? ....

When we can realistically lay claim to Tibet, Afghanistan and Myanmar- and this claim is something that animates the mass of Indian people- that is the only day that the traditional sphere has been somewhat reconstituted.


That is putting the cart before the horse.

There was a time when the people of Afghanistan, Myanmar etc would look with admiration and awe at the prosperity, power and the enlightened conditions of those living on the banks of the Ganges. It was then that the Indic civilization expanded in a natural way.

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Re: Evolution of Indian Strategic Thought-1

Postby shiv » 10 May 2011 20:59

UBanerjee wrote:The problem is the inherently fragmented, decentralized nature of the Indian civilization that was left behind after expansion, made it amenable to this sort of piecemeal, slow digestion by encroaching forces from outside.
<snip>
This has been an enduring weakness of the Indian geostrategic position for a while. It is educational to review what changed- why an outwards-expanding, vibrant Indian sphere became obsessed with internal affairs and settled into a malaise that neglected to back up the periphery with "hard power".



UBanerjee-ji - I put it to you that India's expansion itself was "piecemeal". It was not a "United India" that expanded - but it was a mixture of soft power (culture and religion) and hard (military) power (of specific Indian, not necessarily pan-indian) kingdoms.

Expansion implies inner strength and the ability to give what other will take (forcibly or voluntarily) and absorb. And that expansion was not always military conquest or domination. It was "soft power" then as it often is today.

Apart from peninsular India and the Himalayas, India had no specific defined border other than the latest border created by the latest conquest/military defeat. But frankly India's peninsular and Himalayan border are vast enough to give basic shape to the Indian identity and in my view the insularity (or at least the lack of deliberate expansion) of India.

India's geography provides essentially the best climate in the world for two crops a year, forests, rivers and survival without the need for great fuel burning in winter. Any alien who came to India did not want to go out. Any Indian who went far west of the Indus stated entering Baluchistan and desert regions. Any Indian going into the Himalayan passes only went to cold, hostile Tibet. Any Indian who went East had to cross mountains and intimidating forests. To a great extent the influence to the East was by the sea route. Movement is always towards India

India's landmass historically attracted (and still does) a net inflow of people and discourages an outflow. I am not at all certain that there has ever been a persistent feeling among Indians that they need to "get out" into surrounding lands until the 20th century when events made it profitable for Indian to migrate. Not conquer. In the old days - if you lived in the periphery of India - you could gain a lot more by moving towards the center of India and looting rather than by moving out. Every civilization that moved out - moved out for loot. India provided much of that loot.

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Re: Evolution of Indian Strategic Thought-1

Postby brihaspati » 10 May 2011 21:13

Land is not incidental, but a very crucial part of identity and sustainability. but the question becomes critical when holding on to the land becomes conditional on giving up the culture, as well as giving up control over the "self" to an outsider who seeks to replace you in every possible way in your "land".

History abounds in such cases, the ME is a prime example. CAR is a prime example. AFG is a prime example. Even many Latin Ameican societies are examples.

Of course adjustment and some degree of compromises is one way - as in India. The other way is that of the Jews. So retaining a sense of uhrheimat as well as enough tactical flexibility to move away to preserve the cultural bindings and fight back another day - are perhaps both necessary. Being flexible on the land does not mean giving up the claim on the land. This is a p-sec extension and corruption of the "tactical flexibility", that is being floated in India.

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Re: Evolution of Indian Strategic Thought-1

Postby shiv » 10 May 2011 21:26

brihaspati wrote: the question becomes critical when holding on to the land becomes conditional on giving up the culture, as well as giving up control over the "self" to an outsider who seeks to replace you in every possible way in your "land".


I think that if we are going to be talking about "strategic thought" we must recognize and openly state that the spread of Islam into Western India essentially demanded the giving up of identity in exchange for land.

But let me make a thought experiment here. What if all of India had been transformed into an area where culture and identity were given up in exchange for land as occurred with say Sindh? If that had happened then discussion would not even be necessary. It is only because an alternative meme survived in India that we talk about these things. If you look at vast swathes of Africa and the Americas where older cultures were eliminated by the marauders - there is absolutely no talk of tradeoff between land and culture. The old culture has been replaced forever.

Therefore culture must remain a fundamental defining feature of India apart from land. India survives if its culture survives. India is a curious amalgam of geography and culture. Cultures wedded to geography are well known but have often been given slightly snooty names like "animism" etc.

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Re: Evolution of Indian Strategic Thought-1

Postby brihaspati » 10 May 2011 21:40

Shiv ji,
I guess I am one of those accused of not giving priority to "land"! :) Just wanted to point the importance of needing to preserve the cultural identity - its not just about dress or food [even though they are important parts], its education, knowledge base, methodology and memes.

What would you really be preserving by holding on to the land but losing that part of your identity in return?

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Re: Evolution of Indian Strategic Thought-1

Postby sanjeevpunj » 10 May 2011 21:47

I am quoting from an article i wrote long ago about contemporary saints Guru Nanak and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. There were two movements on the spiritual front - one in eastern india led by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, which strengthened and unified Indians on spiritual level, and another in the north western India led by Guru Nanak, which marked the beginning of the end of Moghul rule in India by the formation of the Sikhs. It had been deemed mandatory by Guru Nanak that each family should contribute a male child to join the Sikh warriors. Chaitanya Mahaprahu on the other hand led a revolution in the spiritual domain, unifying different sects.Interestingly both were contemporaries, and while one was strengthening India on the level of pure bhakti, the other (guru Nanak) was building the foundations of a military race.Guru Gobind Singh eventually met Shivaji, and formulated the final plans for victory in Nanded, near Pune. It is no conicidence that Khadakvasla gets its name from Khadku (punjabi term for youung sikh warriors).I believe Guru Gobind Singh and Shivaji trained their men there. While Guru Nanak preached Bhakti in a different style, he was not blind to the possibilities of Persian interference in India through the onslaughts of muslim invaders, and he did the essential groundwork. Sacrifices were needed and were made, through out the history of the Sikh warriors all the way till Guru Tegh Bahadur's sacrifice. The opposition was very strong and organised, yet after the 14th moghul ruler, things swayed back our way again and with some help from the changing tides caused by British misadventures in India, we finally emerged strong as one India, with a great military tradition predominant in the north west and western regions, Rajputs,Marathas,Sikhs,Dogras fought the one single enemy-moghul armies raised in Persia. In the south too, were brave warriors who fought the invading French,British and Portugese colonists. I am not familiar with South Indian military scenarios, but I have heard the famed Coorgi warriors were very tough, and we do have ample proof for it.
Interestingly if you look today, the Persian rulers are perspiring heavily, due to the advent of Americans and their allies in the Middle East.Its dream of dominating the world on the strength of Islamic theology has faded into smithereens, and war is at its doorstep.with pakistan weakening further, Iran would be the next kingdom to fall. it is a psuedo democracy and is tottering within.

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Re: Evolution of Indian Strategic Thought-1

Postby Sushupti » 10 May 2011 21:58

Guru Nanak, which marked the beginning of the end of Moghul rule in India by the formation of the Sikhs


When Guru Nanak attained the realization 1499, Moghul empire hadn't even started. It will be in 1526 that first battle of Panipat will take place, starting point of Moghul empire.

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Re: Evolution of Indian Strategic Thought-1

Postby sanjeevpunj » 10 May 2011 22:02

True,but Guru Nanak (1469 to 1539)had foreseen the invasions that would come, as he travelled west and studied developments of islam in those regions.

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Re: Evolution of Indian Strategic Thought-1

Postby brihaspati » 11 May 2011 00:01

Guru Nanak ji could have gained knowledge from his western travels, but he should have had no problems in gaining experience much closer to home. His birthplace would be a frontierland then in the on-off struggle between regional Muslim leaders based primarily in Bihar-NW-Bengal - and the Delhi Sultans. Bengal was a kind of a tussle - where the Muslims [Turko Afghans] appear to be concentrated more to the NW [Gaur+Rajmahal+Tanda], with local Hindu "zamidaars" or "rajah's" exercising control on the ground over large parts [along with Muslim local rulers - some of whom were actually recent converts].

At Chaitanya's time, the Bengal sultanate was engaged in a struggle to retain some degree of independence from Delhi. They appear to have therefore shrewdly decided to incorporate the "Hindu" chiefs as tactical regional alliance. So, thinsg in Bengal would be slightly different from Punjab, which was too close and open to Delhi. Moreover, the earlier depredations by the Sultanate armies in the upper GV, appears to have encouraged increasing militancy in the religious orders - such as the Dasnami's. The upper GV monastic orders show increasing evidence of such militancy - obviously in reaction to Islamist violence.

Guru ji, would have experienced the results of these tussles, and drawn his own conclusions - which I would expect to be slightly different from Chaitanya's socio-political ambience. Chaitanya, I think was not initially as "Gandhigiri" as he has later on made out to be. There are tantalizing hints - of nightly torchlit processions against the Qazi of Navadwipa. Moreover, another possibility we don't know that could have altered his calculations - is the then known still prevalent influence of Buddhism in NE and eastern parts of Bengal. Was he also faced with a "factional" distrust between the potential anti-Muslim forces? He undertook wide tours in the east and north-east [Srihatta in particular - now Sylhet which still mixes a great deal of Vaishnav memes in its daily Islam] and apparently revived SD a lot in the Brahmaputra valley and wash.

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Re: Evolution of Indian Strategic Thought-1

Postby shiv » 11 May 2011 09:11

brihaspati wrote:Shiv ji,
Just wanted to point the importance of needing to preserve the cultural identity - its not just about dress or food [even though they are important parts], its education, knowledge base, methodology and memes.

What would you really be preserving by holding on to the land but losing that part of your identity in return?


This is the thought process required for expansionism. "I go out and take my culture with me and place it in a new land and let it thrive over there"

I think that the first pre requisite for this thought process is a compulsion to leave one's ancestral land voluntarily. I suspect that the real problem with India was that prior to the modern day economic migrations to the west, Indians had no compulsion to move out of what is essentially a very survival-friendly land. Respect and love for the geography - the rivers, mountains, forests and trees is an offshoot of this.

As an aside it is interesting to note that the paradise of Islam - a religion born in the desert has descriptions of flowing water and trees and fruit. hostile environment is one of the prime motivating factors for migration. When migration is resisted by earlier settlers conflicts break out. When the migrant wins it is called "conquest". If the culture of the migrant (who made the conquest) is imposed on the new land, all trace of the old culture may vanish. If the old culture does not vanish the resulting society can only be
1) An amalgam of old and invading cultures
2) Both cultures living side by side in separate pockets

India did both 1 and 2. India culture did not vanish the way Australian or Egyptian culture vanished. But all that Indian culture did was "not vanish". There was still no active incentive for Indians to move out and conquer. India's conquests are now happening with soft power as usual - via NRIs in a land of their choosing.

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Re: Evolution of Indian Strategic Thought-1

Postby ManishH » 11 May 2011 10:09

shiv wrote:"I go out and take my culture with me and place it in a new land and let it thrive over there"


J&K is that low hanging fruit which has presented itself to us for so long, and we haven't grabbed it. It doesen't even need us to go to war.

B-ji: all points taken on importance of culture. I think our only disagreement has been on accepting indigenous innovations (which I considered natural and you did not) eg. Buddhism/Jainism and Sikhism.

brihaspati wrote:What would you really be preserving by holding on to the land but losing that part of your identity in return?


A will to acquire territory has always acted as a catalyst for growing a culture. Eg. where would Christendom be if they didn't spread to Europe and instead insisted on conversion of all Jews/Pagans in Galilee to the new faith ? Where'd Russian culture be today if they'd constricted themselves to Muscovy ?

I'd even venture to say that Israel's current problems are precisely because historically, didn't acquire enough territory to secure their culture and instead went the diasporic way. So no matter how well they preserved their culture with their elaborate observances, they were borderline Dodo at one time. It was Zionism - the will to reclaim land - that became a catalyst to their cultural survival.

B-ji, cultural identity is ever evolving - as long as the evolution is indigenous, there's no such imminent danger of losing the identity - at least none that I perceive. Therefore, I advocate focusing national will on acquiring new territory and forgetting whatever little internal differences Indians have on "what really is our cultural identity".

I think an undue stress is laid on "preserving identity" which in strategic terms will gain us zilch. However, I do want to sincerely explore your alternative too.

I've already defined what my pie-in-the-sky aspiration are for 1.2 billion - 2-4 hectares of land per family. However, I'm interested to see a quantitative figure on what would be your aspiration for "cultural preservation or unison" which'll allow us to start seeing strategic benefits ? In your view, does India need a Shankaracharya like movement today ?

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Re: Evolution of Indian Strategic Thought-1

Postby shiv » 11 May 2011 10:27

ManishH wrote:
shiv wrote:"I go out and take my culture with me and place it in a new land and let it thrive over there"


J&K is that low hanging fruit which has presented itself to us for so long, and we haven't grabbed it. It doesn't even need us to go to war.



Jammu and Kashmir are "new land"? J&K would not be an example of conquest. Only one of reclaim. Mixing it up with new conquest is an error. Conquest needs a driving force to allow suffering and death of some in exchange for land ans its resources.

Irredentism is powerful in Islam. The land that was considered holy needs to be "reclaimed". Irredentism is weak for Indians because they are already in their holy land ( barring some exceptions ). And for Indians "strategic thinking" should mean an understanding of how their land is sought by various forces for various reasons. Stopping those forces in their tracks and stopping them for the next 2-3 centuries would be a good idea IMO. Reclaiming old land should be stated as an intent.

The world supports a Pakistan that wants parts of India. India needs to claim parts of Pakistan, China and Afghanistan in turn as "reclaim" if not new conquest.

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Re: Evolution of Indian Strategic Thought-1

Postby ManishH » 11 May 2011 10:45

Reclamation is first step towards acquisition of new territories - a proof of concept to ourself. Even a north-westward acquisition will in reality be reclamation because those territories were Indic historically.

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Re: Evolution of Indian Strategic Thought-1

Postby ManishH » 11 May 2011 11:19

-delete double submit-

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Re: Evolution of Indian Strategic Thought-1

Postby devesh » 12 May 2011 01:41

the natural progression of reclamation should culminate in Iran becoming Bharat's forward post. a Kshatrapa so to speak.

somebody raised the point about our river mouths being in foreign countries. this is an astute observation. one of the first things that America did, once they saw and experienced the riches of the Mississippi river system, was to drive away all foreigners and make sure no hostile interests were present anywhere near this vast fertile land. this policy culminated with the Mexican Cession in 1848 where the entire American Southwest of today was officially taken over from Mexican rule. they fought a war, won it, and colonized the land. Andrew Jackson spent years trying to push back the Mexicans from the rich fertile lands. the real prize, of course, is New Orleans. Jackson, incidentally, was also the man who defeated the British army at New Orleans. in later years, his protegee, James Polk completed the agenda of Manifest Destiny.

the objective behind the Mexican conquest was:
1. removal of any and all hostile forces from the vicinity of New Orleans (where all the rivers drained into the Atlantic).
2. expanding the country from coast to coast, resulting in a vast intercontinental nation.
3. securing all the economic riches of these lands.

the US history lesson was to highlight the need for aggressive conquest in securing vital geographic locations.
for India, the priority for reclamation should be:
1. re-integration of Brahmaputra-Ganges drainage basins.
2. re-integration of Nepal, Bhutan, and Myanmar.
3. re-integration of Indus Valley river systems :)

i consider the above 3 to be absolutely essential for India. without these, we are nothing more than a paper tiger. we can thump our chests as much as we want about 10% growth etc.....but at the end of the day, we'll be a neutered power without these regions. these lands represent our core geographical interests. as long as they're dominated by hostile forces, Bharat can never be anything more than second-rung player of some regional power. nothing more.

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Re: Evolution of Indian Strategic Thought-1

Postby devesh » 12 May 2011 01:47

Brihaspati ji,

I've read you say multiple times that the regions of Bharat which became heavily populated by Islam was because of trade incentives. the lands that were actually suppressed directly didn't yield any results or Islam. can you point some sources where one can study the emergence of Islam in Sindh and Punjab. and more importantly, how the hell did Islam skip over a 2000 Km area and establish itself in BD???

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Re: Evolution of Indian Strategic Thought-1

Postby brihaspati » 12 May 2011 02:07

devesh ji,
a first start would be with Chachnama itself. Look at the descriptions of "samani"s and their role in the entire transition from pre-Chach to Dahir and post Dahir. This text is used by "eminent historians" to support "widespread" Buddhist "commoner" support for "Qasim" ostensibly for "repression" by "brahminical" orders. This text is however supposed by the same eminences to be lying/unreliable for each and every part of it that shows repression/enslavement/massacre by Qasim, which is to be rejected as false and boasts. But reading the text itself should be illustrative and perhaps the reason it is not widely available in Indian libraries in unabridged form. Combine this with Hieuen Tsang's narrative, especially the parts where he describes the "retreat" of sad-dharma from his experiences of the Sindh part of his travels.

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Re: Evolution of Indian Strategic Thought-1

Postby brihaspati » 12 May 2011 02:29

Manish H ji,
I have never been against reclamation. In fact, the first thread-topic I started off after joining BR was about this topic. I have always been a supporter of "expansion". Reclamation is only a first step in "expansion". If you recollect the "future strat scenario" version 1, the major opposition that resulted on the forum was based on the objection to this very suggestion of "expansion".

But I am asking to think also at the same time that expansion, reclamation all must be balanced at the same time with an inner realization that land might be lost due to circumstances/wars/betrayals or even natural catastrophes. If you insist on making land the core of identity - then that loss damages "identity". If you lose identity, you are like a radar-less ship in the ocean. On the ship, some passengers will ask you to search for other ships which seem to have radars and to jump ship, some will find nothing wrong to drift along and reach any nearby shore, and you will be generally tossed around and pulled along by ocean currents and winds.

I am very much for an expansionary agenda. I have not hesitated to say that preparing for "war", and not necessarily going to war - is a great driver of national purpose, economically, technologically, and politically. We sometimes tend to separate out tactics as sequential. Both "territorial expansion" and "cultural consolidation" are necessary, simultaneously.

Probably not good to bring in "Shankar" here!

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Re: Evolution of Indian Strategic Thought-1

Postby brihaspati » 12 May 2011 02:34

^^^Further, I believe such a preparation is absolutely crucial to enhance indigenous effort and capacity. I think much more needs to be invested into and asked of our own R&D - especially in mil-tech. And setting an expansionary agenda will drive that. That has ripple effects on other areas of economy.

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Re: Evolution of Indian Strategic Thought-1

Postby ManishH » 12 May 2011 11:29

brihaspati wrote:But I am asking to think also at the same time that expansion, reclamation all must be balanced at the same time with an inner realization that land might be lost due to circumstances/wars/betrayals or even natural catastrophes. If you insist on making land the core of identity - then that loss damages "identity". If you lose identity, you are like a radar-less ship in the ocean.


I do not make Land the core of the identity, but the primary strategic goal in today's times. Were I living under Nadirshahi rule, I'd have made preservation of Culture the primary strategic goal. Strategy has to evolve with time.

I hope you expand on what are the current threats to the "identity" and what steps are needed to overcome them. I mentioned Adi Shankara, because he did indeed succeed in reclaiming our identity when it was under a conceived threat.

I'll evaluate the impact of historical "identity" reclamation movements v/s "land" reclamation movements in terms of strategic impact on today's India. I'm open enough if conclusions lead to either way. Eg. top-of-my-head, compare the 3 progressively graded from purely "identity" to purely "land" reclamation ...

1. Shankaracharya's movement - Gave us Advaita Vedanta philosophy, re-introduced ancient knowledge of vedas to the populace which had drifted away. Promulgated that everyone has the right to knowledge. I'd have expected such identity reclamation to have been a foundation or inspired some of us when dealing with the swarms of Islamic invaders, but did it ?

2. Shivaji Maharaj's Hindu Swarajya movement - no doubt inspired by preservation of identity, less by land. His fight was against Despotic Muslim rule, not against their religion. Taught us how larger armies can be defeated by smart tactics.

3. Ranjit Singh's movement - West Punjab+Frontier was an ephemeral win, but we still have Kashmir. Culturally, it spread the message of Gurus, reinvigorated the fighting spirit. I wouldn't call the era of Sikh Misls a radar-less drifting ship, even though, their culture was an innovation, not in-toto preservation of their older identity.

If you see any bias in me picking up these examples, it's only my ignorance. But I think the next bit leap for India will largely be in the lines 2+3, not 1+2.

Devesh-ji: I'm all for promoting popular use of exonyms for the areas you have outlined - eg. Gandhar, Takshashila, Kubha etc.

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Re: Evolution of Indian Strategic Thought-1

Postby shiv » 12 May 2011 13:38

Cross post
http://www.rediff.com/news/slide-show/s ... 110512.htm
..right at the outset, let us disabuse ourselves of the silly notion of India being able to carry out a similar operation to nab Dawood Ibrahim or others wanted for their complicity in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack. The Indian State does not have the will and therefore has not created the wherewithal to carry out such a strike. Indian civil society is frivolous on matters concerning national security and wedded to phoney non-violence of the weak.

We have not taken basic steps like confiscating Dawood's property and cracking down on his illegal business -- this would make him virtually redundant. It is futile to talk of nabbing him in Karachi. About the 26/11 perpetrators, we are shy to hang the murderer in our custody and have already diluted our stand vis-a-vis talks with Pakistan. If Indian soldiers were to carry out an operation similar to the Americans, they may have to stand trial for having killed an 'unarmed terrorist'.

Our NGOs hounded AS Sandhu, an honest police officer in Punjab who fought the terrorists, and forced him to commit suicide!

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Re: Evolution of Indian Strategic Thought-1

Postby abhischekcc » 12 May 2011 14:03

We can only round off this discussion if we include the impact of Islam and Xnity on Indian Identity.

IMO, the challenge of Islam to India's identity has been contained, although it remains a physical (strategic) challenge. Whereas the threat of Xnity/westernism to our identity is increasing as they increasingly attack Hindu institutions and ideas.

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Re: Evolution of Indian Strategic Thought-1

Postby Klaus » 12 May 2011 14:29

A careful reading of history will reveal that the Indics started strategic withdrawal from lands in the east at the same time they faced fragmentation of unity in the west, so all inspiration for spreading Indian presence in foreign lands came from the matrubhoomi itself.

Had the western kingdoms not indulged in petty squabbles, there is a chance that Indics could have crossed the Wallace line, taking inspiration from the ancient Munda waves of migration. So, Indics need to be dwarpalaks at Khyber Pass again!

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Re: Evolution of Indian Strategic Thought-1

Postby devesh » 12 May 2011 21:51

ManishH ji,

ramana has said many times that India is like a Phoenix that rises from the ashes and produces great men who reshape India and the world. Adi Shankara was one such man. he single handedly put an end of the pervasive spread of Jainism and Buddhism. these religions, by then, had become decadent and were not well prepared to help India in the next few centuries. it is our luck that Shankara first and later to a smaller extent Ramanuja laid the foundation of Hindu revival just when the invaders were starting to increase their tempo of attacks from the North West. the age old Kshatriya values were recovered to a certain extent once Shankara reclaimed the various kingdoms and people back into the fold.

the networking aspect of Hindu civilization did not yet revive though. had we had more time, it is possible that a strong network of alliances/relationships would have been built that could have done a better job of containing Islam and driving the invaders out without much losses. but that never happened. i believe Klaus or Atri has been talking about the networking aspect of ancient India.

not sure if a lot of people have read into Ramanuja, but his life's story is an interesting one. there is a story of him converting a large area of Karnataka from Jainism back into the Hindu fold. another aspect is that he gave rise to South Indian Vaishnavism. later on, Madhvacharya built on Ramanuja's Vaishnavism to create the Dvaita system. the Madhvas are also staunchly Vaishnavas and Vidyaranya, a Madhva guru, became a raja guru of Vijayanagara empire in its founding time.

there is a natural progression here that lead eventually to the founding of Vijayanagara. i will talk about that later, need to go now.

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Re: Evolution of Indian Strategic Thought-1

Postby jambudvipa » 12 May 2011 23:35

Since Deveshji has brought up Vijayanagara I could not resist to post these verse which describe King Bukkaraya I,all f
from Madhuravijayam wrtiien by Princess Gangadevi.

1. " Laxmi having gone near to him (King),who is alert in protecting the world,
That Laxmi did not remeber the inert Vishnu even once for a long time." verse 35,First Canto.

2."The tree of dharma which was burnt because of great demerit of the Kali yuga,
That tree sprouted again by the sprinkling of water of charity." verse 37,First canto.

For those who are not aware, a little background to the text: Maduravijayam was written by Princess Gangadevi of Vijayanagar.It is an eye witness account of the encirclement and eventual destrcution of the "secular" Sultanate of madurai by Kumara Kampana, who was her husband and the son of Vijayanagar emperor Bukkaraya I around 1377 CE.

As my knowledge of Sanskrit is basic at best I have cornered a knowedagle family member to do a rough translation for me.Since that person is loaded with other pressing priorities, the translation is moving slower than a tortoise. :((

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Re: Evolution of Indian Strategic Thought-1

Postby brihaspati » 13 May 2011 01:32

The effect of neglect of identity consolidation should be evident from even modern India. For all practical purposes, Indians do have official territorial control over the bigger portion of the subcontinent. But even its thought elite are not only divided and vague about what their identity is, in fact they do not even realize that they are divided, vague and confused. "Vasudhiava..." repeated ad nauseum and oh "Indian" identity is all about unconditional tolerance of anything and everything by Hindus onlee.

Even here on the forum we have the brightest minds produced from the ranks of the successors of that "ancient identity" railing and mocking the "hin****vadis", or the so-called "saffron" or any alternative interpretations to what their "eminent historians" peddle as history and which consist in reconstructing the history of that identity to suit imperialist ideological demands - that the Indian rashtra protect [with the resources appropriated from these very same "identity" to be replaced] such imperialist "replacement" projects.

We find them from all sections of society occupying prominent positions of leadership - from academia, politics, judiciary and the military [ at least one example comes to mind I came across on the forum], but who have all one thing in common, a deep seated hatred of their origins in a society whose identity they are ashamed of, and which they believe should be changed into something more acceptable by the imperialists.

We now have a campaign to paint that "ancient identity" as alien and brought in by invaders, as some form of minority elite and repressive rule, [as if their replacement foreign ideologies have pristinely clean history of no-repression, no hierarchical discrimination, no racism, and no sadistic or genocidic records]. Because our identity affiliations have been shaken so profoundly, the elite now collaborate, without being aware - in this imperialist ideological subversion process.

Look at the "land", to the south, to the west, to the centre, to the east coast, to the NE, all along the GV - the real imperialist imported ideologies [who came within verifiable recorded history militarily] exert an influence on rashtryia thinking far in excess of their actual numbers.

I try not to bring in Shankara because it tends to attach the image of the "avatara" or extraordinary individual for whom we must wait, as we ourselves are otherwise powerless.

But as all the examples provided - also must make it obvious, that cultural consolidation was the foundation, to an extent precursor, and intertwined with military and political expansion. I am all for expansion, really, you will be able tos ee it in page after page of the previous version of the "strat scenarios" thread. But I am warning against the "pure" expansionary vision without taking into account the need for a solid ideologically conscious movement backing it up. The fruits, modality, and targets of that expansion should not simply feed off more of the "H****" bashers we see around - and worming their way up the ladder into leadership.

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Re: Evolution of Indian Strategic Thought-1

Postby ManishH » 13 May 2011 10:22

devesh wrote:Adi Shankara was one such man. he single handedly put an end of the pervasive spread of Jainism and Buddhism.


No doubt DeveshJi, I'm in eternal gratitude to Adi Shankara. Without him, I would be likely to face my pitru without knowing their religion. However I don't share your pessimism about Jainism or Buddhism. After all, they were indigenous.

the age old Kshatriya values were recovered to a certain extent once Shankara reclaimed the various kingdoms and people back into the fold.


Yes, this is what I'd like to explore more - if you can enlighten me on short&medium term effects of Shankara's movement on how we ended up dealing with Islam invasions. The way I see it, inspite of the identity reclamation and a desired degree of cultural unison, India isn't able to put up a unified fight, and the various kingdoms are defeated piecemeal by Islamist invasion. This is probably a weak case to start with, because Islamic invaders had better knowhow of warfare in the era following Shankara.

However, if any other similar identity reclamation movement has given us strategic gains, I'd like to explore that too.

With my limited knowledge, I only see a different type of movement - which I daresay is "liberal" - give us good gains. Eg. Ranjit Singh Ji, Shivaji Maharaj. Perhaps this is a strong case because the technology gap has shrunk by this time.

I guess as B-ji says, a right mix of both is needed.

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Re: Evolution of Indian Strategic Thought-1

Postby devesh » 13 May 2011 11:45

unfortunately, my knowledge of Indian military technology/techniques of that era is nill. we know the Rashtrakutas were the powerful kingdom of the time. there was basically an open system of trading and political/cultural networks all the way from deep south into Uttar Pradesh in North and Gujarat in West. although, each region was ruled by an individual clan, all of them were related to each other or had some other close bond and accepted to be a Rashtrakuta. this facilitated the rise of a network of economic relationships spanning a vast part of India. this also included many naval trading networks including a major one in Gujarat.

Adi Shankara was born in this environment. he could easily travel vast distances unhindered or unencumbered by such things as borders or regional boundaries. this was an enormous advantage. not many other had this. in the end though, the Rashtrakutas were done in by the Paki mentality of some Indian clans. ultimately, it was the asuri mindset of one of the rising clans which set the RK's on the path to dissolution.

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Re: Evolution of Indian Strategic Thought-1

Postby abhischekcc » 13 May 2011 13:53

Buddhism filled in a major gap in traditional Hindu society and philosophy - the individual's need for independance from all forms of confirmation. Initially, they served this purpose well, but then invented their own forms and devices to curb individual spiritual expression.

Buddhism should not be looked upon as a break from tradition, because it was a modern (then) expression of pre-existing spiritual traditions. Krishna's revolt against Indra is part of the same continuum.

As such, Buddhism was a legatee of the various anti-Brahmin movements that have been part of Hindu society for as long as Brahminism itself. :)

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Re: Evolution of Indian Strategic Thought-1

Postby Atri » 13 May 2011 14:28

Buddha himself says, he is reforming dharma which was hijacked by a specific class in his times. Buddha was an essential surgery which enriched and increased the life of dharma in India.. Indian system allows emergence of such men periodically.. what buddha did was exactly what adi shankara did later, but in opposite direction.. all done to maintain a healthy equilibrium..


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