Hyderabad: The Indian Armed forces are considering introducing Bhagwad Gita and Kautilya’s Arthashastra as part of the curriculum for officers, Army and Air Force sources confirmed on Saturday.
Inspired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call, the Secunderabad-headquartered College of Defence Management (CDM) has started research on ancient Indian texts that are relevant to modern warfare and military statecraft and have recommended two ancient scripts – Bhagwad Gita and Arthashastra.
“Bhagwad Gita is a treasure trove of wisdom and insight into military doctrine, strategies and morality of war and life. They will give an indigenous perspective to our officers and jawans to apply in complex modern warfare,” said a senior officer based in the Army headquarters in Delhi. “Arthashastra is one of many wonderful texts of ancient India that brings insight into the complex interplay of politics, military thinking and intelligence.”
Two senior officers, speaking on the condition of anonymity, confirmed that the broad conceptual and research work is ongoing but refused to give specific details. “It is an ongoing project. We cannot confirm either when this curriculum will go live, or if it would be initiated in which academy or course or for whom,” they said.
Air Vice-Marshal Pawan Mohey, the commandant of CDM, when reached out to, was not willing to speak to the media.
Lt. Gen. Anil Bhatt, PVSM, who formerly served as general officer commanding (GOC) XV Corps and director-general of military operations (DGMO), speaking with The Asian Age, said that eventually, this rich training framework must extend to all levels – from entry officer level at the NDA or IMA to higher-levels of warfare training.
In select armed forces circles, both serving and retired, the issue has started getting discussed, largely with a welcoming outlook despite some doubts outside the Indian military about the motivation and implications of the move.
“It is a right move, and long overdue. The Indian armed forces largely operate on war doctrines and philosophies of the Western world, like the Carl von Clausewitz doctrines. We even study Sun Tzu’s Art of War. This shift in military thinking, to incorporate ancient Indian thinking on state craft, doctrinal military warfare, discipline of espionage and spycraft, as well as administration and other aspects should give us a unique edge,” said a decorated retired colonel who is one of the many Kargil war heroes.
A few retired offices expressed doubts about the impact of the move.
“As Pakistan learnt in 1971, it was defeated because it was a secular Indian Army they faced. The Indian Army had a Parsi chief in Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw, a Sikh army commander in J.S. Aurora, a Hindu general who captured Dhaka in Sagat Singh, a Jewish general who steered the famous surrender of Pakistan in J.F.R. Jacob. Arthashastra is fine, but a religious text like Gita leaves me a little unconcerted,” said a retired colonel, who also served in imparting training to young officers.
Lt. Gen. Bhatt dismissed the fears, saying, “The secularism and humanity of the Indian Army, both before Independence and after, is one of culture, mutual respect, ability to comprehend diversity in thought and faith. We are strong because we respect everyone and we are proud of it. This is Eastern thinking and philosophy we are bringing in to further strengthen our forces.”