In 1999 during India’s Kargil War with Pakistan, I was a teenage boy. My blood boiled and with each breath, I whispered an old patriotic song. Vengeance was in the air, so was love for a land that I call my motherland. Years went by. Time took away what used to be and brought new changes to everything surrounding my existence. When in the last month of 2018, I read Military History of India, I felt my heart switching into the same teenage boy’s rhythm. However, I also realised that this wasn’t a book just to entertain our patriotism. It was also a historical study, as the title suggests, of one of the most successful defence organisations in the world: The Indian Armed Forces.
I realised that I wasn’t just reading Military History of India with the heart of a teenager but also with the brain of a grown man. I was seeing the history of my country in a different light. Military History of India gave me the insight that if one wants to completely understand the sensibilities of one’s motherland, it is important to study the evolution of their respective armies. Military History of India, therefore, reflects on the history of the evolution of the nation of India. Reading this book is a learning experience.
Just as the quote at the beginning of the book in its preface by the author, “It is history and history alone which, without involving us in actual danger, will mature our judgement and prepare us to take right views, whatever may be the crisis or posture of affairs_Polibus.” Uma Prasad Thapliyal worked as the director of the History Division of Defence, Government of India. This small information about the author makes the book more intriguing and imbues it with immense value. A reader is getting a first hand view into the history of the country’s armed forces from a person who guarded this information for the people. In recognition of his research skills, Uma Prasad Thapliyal was awarded Senior Fellowship by the Indian Council of Historical Research in 1997.
Uma Prasad Thapliyal traces the history of Indian Armed Forces back to ancient India. He elaborates the medieval warfare and enters the realm of the modern Indian army. The author traces the history of modern Indian army through its beginning stages to the present day. He includes the growth and development as well as various operations of the Indian Navy and Air Force. Military History of India also has a chapter on recruitment and training in the Indian Army. This makes the book an essential read for all those who are interested in joining the organisation as a passion as well as an employment opportunity.
Military History of India is a valuable resource for any writer working on thrillers that include Indian Armed Forces. This book deserves to be in the curriculum of our schools and colleges too. As of now, military history is an area that we have been shunning to address, especially in our school classes from 8th standard onwards. At least from 8th standard, there should be a reference or a chapter on the Military History of India. This should also be carried forward to Post Graduate syllabi. This is because the military of a nation also influences it’s culture. Therefore, the history of armed forces is well within the boundary of Cultural Studies.
With Uma Prasad Thapliyal I have no difficulty visualising a critical engagement with the subject of the Military History of India on a higher academic level.
Military History of India has 21 chapters. The book includes the names of all chiefs of armed forces, a well chalked out section at the end of the book. The bibliography at the end of the book is also a great resource for all those who are interested in delving deeper into the history of the Indian armed forces. Military History of India is published by Rupa Books. E-book version is also available. As the publisher, Rupa has presented the book superbly. The cover, as well as the layout, makes Military History of India a highly readable volume. It’s a hardcover edition with a ton of data with charts and columns elaborating various sections within the book.
Certainly, Military History of India is one of the noblest books to begin the reading year of 2019. The author deserves special points for choosing a readable lucid language to present a seriously academic monogram.
Author(s): Uma Prasad Thapliyal
Publisher: Rupa Publications
Release: November 2018
Genre: Non Fiction/History
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