India Should Refer to Civilizational History to Draw a Strategic Framework: Arvind Gupta

October 05, 2017

New Delhi: Emphasising upon the importance of India’s civilizational history, Dr Arvind Gupta, Director, VIF and former Deputy National Security Advisor today insisted that India, in order to rise to the ranks of major powers of the world, should not only have the material strength of military, economy and technology, but should also be able look into the vast storehouse of its rich past to contribute to the realm of ideas which would be useful in resolving today’s problems.

Speaking at a one day Seminar on ‘Exploring the Roots of India’s Strategic Culture’ at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) on October 5, 2017, Dr Gupta insisted that an objective study of India’s ancient history would help us overcome our defensive mindset about our rich past. We need to pick up relevant information from our past history, study them, modify them if necessary, and adapt them to today’s circumstances, he suggested.

While critical analysis of our ancient history is important to develop a strategic framework, equal emphasis should also be given to evaluate India’s rich economic and regional past, said the former NSA. Different regions of India had rich history which should be synthesized to get the bigger picture of India’s glorious past, he added.

Citing innumerable wars and military uprisings of the past as a rich source to evaluate human behaviour - good and bad, Dr Gupta pointed out that an in depth study of these uprisings can be an invaluable source of information on peace, power struggle, leaderships, strategy, logistics, weapons, technology, inter-state relations of the past etc.

India being diverse and complex, there is diversity in Indian thought as well, commented Dr Gupta. However it is clear even from a cursory study of Indian texts that our forefathers had a sophisticated and advanced view of material reality, as well as spirituality, he noted. The West has also gradually reversed its views of India and is now conducting research to draw a parallel with Indian thoughts, he added.

There is also a need to convert scholarly works on India’s rich glorious past into text books that can be easily comprehended by the masses. The scholars should be encouraged to do more and credible work in this area, he concluded.

The Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) has been conducting research and organising national and international events initially on Kautilya’s Arthashastra as a part of indigenous historical knowledge. The effort has been motivated by the desire to educate and inform policy makers, scholars and the general public the traditions of strategic thought, defence and security. Reinterpretation of text and traditions relevant to contemporary issues is the vision of this exercise.