Updated May 21st, 2024 at 19:07 IST

General Manoj Pande on Harnessing 5,000 Years of Wisdom in Modern Military Strategy

Emphasizing India’s 5,000-year-old heritage, Gen Pande introduced 'Project Udbhav,' an initiative launched to rediscover and integrate ancient Indian statecraft

Reported by: Yuvraj Tyagi
Representational | Image:AP

New Delhi: Indian Army Chief General Manoj Pande emphasized the profound impact of ancient Indian wisdom on contemporary strategic culture. Speaking at a seminar on 'Historical Patterns of Indian Strategic Culture,' General Pande highlighted the value of India’s 5,000-year-old civilizational heritage.

"The ancient Indian wisdom is rooted in a 5,000-year-old civilizational legacy, where immense value is attached to knowledge," Pande said. He noted that this heritage is exemplified by a vast collection of manuscripts and the nurturing of numerous thinkers. These intellectual contributions span various domains, enriching India's strategic and cultural landscape.  


Project Udbhav: Rediscovering Ancient Indian Strategic Thought  

General Pande introduced 'Project Udbhav' in October 2023. The project aims to rediscover and integrate ancient Indian statecraft and strategic thoughts. "Project Udbhav was conceptualized with the idea to rediscover the profound Indian heritage of statecraft and strategic thoughts," he stated. This initiative draws from ancient texts on statecraft, warcraft, diplomacy, and grand strategy.  

The project was officially launched by Raksha Mantri Rajnath Singh at the Indian Military Heritage Festival on October 21, 2023. The Indian Army collaborates with the United Service Institution (USI) to facilitate extensive discussions and panel presentations. These efforts aim to apply ancient wisdom to modern scenarios and international relations.  


Kautilya's Arthashastra: A Pillar of Ancient Strategic Thought  

A focal point of Project Udbhav is Kautilya's Arthashastra, a foundational text on politics and strategy. Kautilya, the adviser to King Chandragupta Maurya, wrote this comprehensive guide around 300 B.C.E. The Arthashastra offers detailed discussions on governance, war, and diplomacy, emphasizing strategic alliances and espionage.  


Max Weber compared Kautilya's work to Machiavelli's The Prince, noting its superior tactical insights. "Kautilya's Arthashastra was one of the greatest political books of the ancient world," General Pande remarked. The text's pragmatic and sometimes radical approaches remain relevant to modern strategic thought.  

Project Udbhav delves into ancient Indian texts such as the Vedas, Puranas, and Upanishads. These texts emphasize interconnectedness, righteousness, and ethical values. The project also explores epic battles like those in the Mahabharata and strategic brilliance during the reigns of the Mauryas, Guptas, and Marathas.


"The project has revealed substantial intellectual convergences between eminent Indian and Western scholars," Pande said. These convergences highlight the resonance between their thoughts and philosophies. Project Udbhav also examines India's tribal traditions, the Maratha naval legacy, and heroic military exploits, particularly by women.  

Furthermore, the initiative fosters civil-military collaboration among academia, scholars, practitioners, and military experts. This Whole-of-Nation approach broadens the study of ancient India's defence and governance. It also enriches the nation's strategic outlook by integrating historical military wisdom with contemporary practices.


General Pande emphasized the importance of learning from the experiences, sacrifices, and triumphs of the Indian Armed Forces. "The vast experiences, sacrifices, and triumphs of the battle-hardened Indian Armed Forces will continue to shape our strategic culture," he noted. The project's findings, encapsulated in the 'Udbhav Compendium,' aim to benefit the Indian Armed Forces, ensuring they remain progressive and future-ready.  

The seminar and Project Udbhav reflect a deep commitment to integrating ancient wisdom with modern military practices. This initiative aims to enhance India's defence strategies and contribute to a robust strategic culture. General Pande expressed confidence in the project's potential to provide valuable insights.  


"I am confident that the project's findings will benefit the Indian Armed Forces," Pande concluded. By drawing from the nation's historical military wisdom, the Indian Armed Forces can remain innovative and effective. The continued exploration of ancient texts and traditions will further enrich India's strategic discourse. 


Published May 21st, 2024 at 19:07 IST