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Arthashastra, Bhagavad Gita may soon be part of India’s military training to ‘Indianise’ the force

Congress however opposed any such modification and said that ‘we won the Kargil war with the help of Muslim soldiers’

College of Defence Management (CDM), a premier tri-services military training institution, where senior officers from the Army, Navy and the Indian Air Force are trained for higher defence management recently conducted an internal study that suggested finding ways to include ‘relevant teachings’ from ancient Indian texts such as Kautilya’s Arthashastra, Bhagavat Gita and Thirukkural into the current military training curriculum, a report published by News 18 said.

The project titled “Attributes of Ancient Indian Culture and Warfare Techniques and its incorporation in present day strategic thinking and training” was sponsored by Headquarter Integrated Defence Staff.

Defence sources told News18 that the project was aimed at exploring select ancient Indian texts in the context of strategic thinking and leadership in the Indian Armed Forces, and set up a roadmap for adopting best practices and thoughts from them, which are relevant in current times. “This could be in the sphere of statecraft, military diplomacy, among others,” a top defence source said.

The report further recommended that a study on ancient texts and treatise such as Manusmriti, Nitisara and Mahabharata should be carried out for two years, as well as organising workshops and annual seminars on ancient Indian culture and its lessons for the Armed Forces.

In 2016, the Army War College, Mhow, had also published a combat paper, which drew instances from the Mahabharata and Arthashastra and stated that the strategic thoughts and art of war found in the texts were also relevant in today’s context as well. News18 has accessed the paper.

The Congress party however has objected to the proposal, stating that the inclusion of these texts in the Indian Army’s training amounts to the politicisation of the country’s Armed Forces.

“At least the government should not do politics in military matters, we won the Kargil war with the help of Muslim soldiers,” said Congress spokesperson KK Mishra.

In the last few months, there has been a renewed government push towards a greater “Indianisation” of the Indian military. At the Combined Commanders Conference in Gujarat’s Kevadia in March, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had sought greater indigenisation in the national security apparatus, including in procuring military equipment as well as in the doctrines and customs of the Armed Forces.

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