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A Wide-Spectrum Overview

K.P.S. Gill

By Lt. Col. Vivek Chadha
Sage Publications, New Delhi and United Services Institution of India, 2005, pp. 504, Rs. 495.00


Despite India’s long and diverse history of insurgencies and terrorist movements across a multiplicity of theatres, the literature on the Low Intensity Conflict (LIC) in the country is extraordinarily deficient. The past few years have seen a flurry of publications with ‘terrorism’, ‘insurgency’ and other titillating variants in their titles, but the contents have tended to be disappointing and the quality of scholarship and analysis only rarely acceptable.   Lt. Col. Vivek Chadha’s Low Intensity Conflicts in India is obviously an attempt to fill this enormous vacuum, and the author does bring personal experience and a great deal of earnest effort to his task. A serving officer in the Indian Army, he has done tours of duty in various theatres of insurgency and terrorism, including Nagaland, Assam and Jammu & Kashmir.   Apart from the general dearth of strategic literature on LICs, there is a specific lack within the various security forces, which has historically resulted in the loss of collective experience, the absence of institutional learning, and the failure to transfer principles from theatre to theatre. The increasing involvement of serving officers in research may, over time, address this deficiency, and officers like Chadha—and there is an increasing number today who are turning their minds to research and analysis—could create the pool of necessary intellectual resources within the Army for this purpose. If India’s strategic and tactical responses to LICs are to become more coherent, rational and effective, such an intellectual effort and institutional structures to support it, are an urgent necessity.   Chadha’s work seeks to give a sweeping overview of all major and many of the minor LICs in the country since Independence, with a contextual background that reaches back into the pre-Independence era in many cases. The sheer scope of what he attempts is enormous. Indeed, to justify the inclusion of such a wide canvas in a single volume without being open to the charge of superficiality, it would be necessary that the many conflicts treated were dealt with under an integrating vision that thematically linked each with the others. Such a harmonizing perspective—despite the concluding chapter that seeks to draw out ‘general factors’ and define certain underlying principles relating to the nature of LIC in India—is evidently lacking in a book that essentially comprises unconnected surveys and historical descriptions of each of the conflicts within its scope.   Even as a history, ...

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