Past Perfect

Rajnath Singh launches ‘Project Udbhav’, a collaboration between Indian Army and the USI

During the inauguration of the Indian Military Heritage Festival, defence minister Rajnath Singh launched ‘Project UDBHAV’, in the presence of Chief of the Army Staff General Manoj Pande, Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal V.R. Chaudhari, Vice Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral S.J. Singh, Chief of Integrated Defence Staff, Lieutenant General J.P. Mathew and director general United Services Institution of India Maj. Gen. B.K. Sharma (retd).

Rajnath Singh launches ‘Project Udbhav’, a
collaboration between Indian Army and the USI

Deputy Chief of Army Staff (Strategy), Lt Gen. Tarun Kumar Aich briefed the gathering about the importance of ‘Project UDBHAV’, highlighting that it is an endeavour to revisit the roots of India’s ancient military thoughts. ‘Udbhav’, which means ‘origin’ or ‘genesis’, acknowledges the vintage Indian scriptures and writings, spanning past centuries, which contain profound knowledge that can benefit modern military strategies.

According to Aich, the objective of the Project is to synthesise ancient wisdom with contemporary military practices, forging a unique and holistic approach to address modern security challenges. It is a visionary initiative by the Indian Army that seeks to integrate age-old wisdom with contemporary military pedagogy.

The ancient Indian knowledge system is rooted in a 5,000-year-old civilisational legacy, which has attached great value to knowledge; witnessed by its amazingly large body of intellectual texts, world’s largest collection of manuscripts, thinkers and schools in so many domains of knowledge. Project UDBHAV will facilitate in-depth understanding of Indian knowledge systems and philosophies and also comprehend their enduring connect, relevance and applicability in the modern day.

Aich said that literature like Chanaky’s Arthashastra underscores the importance of strategic partnerships, alliances and diplomacy, aligning with modern military practices such as international cooperation and soft power projection. Chanakya’s teachings on statecraft and warfare are studied by various institutions the world over. Similarly, the wisdom of Thirukkural, the classical Tamil text authored by Thiruvalluvar, advocates ethical conduct in all endeavours, including warfare. This aligns with modern military codes of ethics of just war and principles of Geneva Convention.

Apart from ancient texts, a study of prominent military campaigns and leaders is also important. The empires of Chandragupta Maurya, Ashoka and Cholas flourished and expanded in influence, during their times. There are examples of the Ahom Kingdom too, which successfully ruled for 600 years, repeatedly defeating the Mughals.

The naval battle of Saraighat in 1671, led by Lachit Borphukan, stands as a stellar example of the use of clever diplomatic negotiations to buy time, employing psychological warfare, focus on military intelligence and exploiting the strategic weakness of the Mughals.

The tenets expounded by the ancient knowledge system, were also put to practise by Chhatrapati Shivaji and Maharaja Ranjit Singh who defeated numerically superior Mughal and Afghan invaders. While Shivaji’s use of guerrilla tactics is well acknowledged, less highlighted is his foresightedness in construction of a series of naval forts along the western seaboard to ward off external threats.

An initiative in this research was earlier taken by the Army Training Command, who after delving into the ancient Indian scriptures such as Arthashastra, Nitisara by Kamandaki and Mahabharata compiled the ‘Compendium of 75 Stratagems’. Other academic institutions like College of Defence Management have also conducted a study to establish linkages between Indian culture and the art of strategic thinking. These studies will also provide valuable inputs for Project UDBHAV.

Project UDBHAV will facilitate emergence of previously under-explored thoughts and theories related to strategic thinking, statecraft and warfare, foster deeper understanding and contribute to enriching military training curricula. Project UDBHAV is an attempt to bridge the gap and sustain this knowledge creation, of Indian heritage, in terms of grand strategy, strategic thinking and discussions on statecraft. As part of Project UDBHAV, a series of events and workshops, will dwell on various facets of Indian strategic culture and culminate in January 2024, with a publication, to document and institutionalise such knowledge.

By marrying age-old wisdom with modern military pedagogy and operations, ‘Project UDBHAV’ sets the stage for a robust, progressive and future-ready Indian Army that not only resonates with the nation’s historical military sagacity but is also attuned to the demands and dynamics of contemporary warfare and diplomacy.

With the launch of ‘Project UDBHAV’, the Indian Army begins a new era, signifying their commitment to nurture a future where Indian military might and strategic thinking are enhanced by our rich and strategic past.



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