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The Military as an Institution


Dhruv C. Katoch

THE ARMED FORCES OF INDEPENDENT INDIA : 1947-2006
By Kaushik Roy
Manohar Publishers, Delhi, 2011, pp. 404, 995.00

VOLUME XXXVI NUMBER 2 February 2012

The book written by Kaushik Roy offers an interesting take on the development of the Armed Forces as an institution, its nature and purposes and the formulation of theories as regards its functions. Not much has been written about India's military post-Independence despite the fact that the Armed Forces of India have continuously been enga-ged in conflicts of various intensities for over five decades since then. Perhaps this has some-thing to do with the Indian ethos which histo-rically has been more attuned to dissemina-ting information through the oral tradition rather than the written one.This is a lacuna which the military would do well to correct as the British Indian Army was prolific in recording every aspect of its history. The bulk of the book is devoted to the Indian Army while a chapter each looks at the Air Force, Navy and defence industry. The author has succinctly traced the military di-mension of India's national Security Policy and viewed Indian policy as being essentially pas-sive in nature. He explains the convoluted process by which India's security policy origi-nated and grew. His well researched analysis confirms the view of George Tanham, the American security analyst, who stated in a re-cent work that Indians had no strategic doc-trine and formulated strategy on an ad hoc basis. The author then delves into the sphere of civil-military relations in India. The theoretical construct of such relationships across the world have been well analysed and placed in the context of the developments in India. The process of downgrading the role of the military in the security decision making paradigm has been rightly attributed to Nehru and the political class who were ever fearful of a military coup. The power of the civilian bureaucrats increased over the years as a result of playing into such fears of the political. This resulted in the exponential increase of central armed police forces like the Border Security Force and the Central Reserve Police Force under the Ministry of Home affairs to act as a counterweight to the Army. In the name of civilian control, India's bureaucracy gradually assumed supremacy over military affairs and usurped the powers of the political class. That such a state of affairs still exists reflects poorly on India's polity which continues to display a poor understanding of the use of military power in attaining strategic objectives. When dealing with the culture of command in the ...


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