Book Review: Military History of India by Uma Prasad Thapliyal

Author: Uma Prasad Thapliyal

Publisher: Rupa

Genre: Non- fiction

Rating: 4.8/5

Book Blurb: This book covers all major aspects of the military history of India, including the organizational and operational dimensions. Beginning with ad 1600, it examines the role of the military from ancient times to the present day. The book also catalogues the various operations undertaken by the Indian Army through the centuries within the country and overseas. Indian Navy, Indian Air Force and Paramilitary Forces have been adequately covered to highlight their role in the defence of the country. Major organizational changes introduced in the military apparatus and the operations conducted from time to time have been narrated in detail. This book will serve as a useful guide to the history and relevance of the armed forces, for both the general and the informed reader.

Review: The book is a holistic and concise account of military warfare in India. It starts at the very beginning and chronicles ancient warfare techniques right from the Indian epic Mahabharata and the Mahajanapadas. This earlier section may seem a bit repetitive to Indian readers as this is frequently introduced as part of syllabus in most Indian schools. Even the subsequent chapters mainly deal with the Mughals and the British rule. But if you can hang onto this lovely book or maybe even skip the initial chapters, then the text is very rewarding and erudite.

It deals with the military setup in India and written from the view point of an insider, it is a very rich account in detail. A brief is provided about the various defence procurement units and factories along with the role of each separate wing (The Navy, Air Force and the Army). This is all new information and not available to laymen.

“The Indian Army is said to be the fourth largest in the world, which is a matter of pride, indeed. But in modern wars, the numbers do not matter much if the forces are not adequately equipped.”

The most interesting aspect of the book is that it is not only an account of Indian military history but also deals with the role of Indian armed forced in other countries. This has been documented very well and India’s role in Sri Lanka and other countries has also been documented.

The only downside is that in an effort to be concise, many sections have been reduced to one paragraph and a more detailed outlook on some lesser known aspects would have enriched this book.

The book has been compiled meticulously and is very well researched. It has been organised wonderfully well and will be of great use to both ordinary readers and researchers.

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