They say History teaches you. You can learn about so many things from the actions & the words of great men & women. These lessons from the past can be used to solve problems of the present.
India is a treasure chest of such notable personalities. We have a rich history and heritage and this past is a huge ocean of knowledge. It is like a gold mine from which we can extract nuggets of knowledge and use them to solve the problems of our country.
But the question is, do we?
Do we even remember our great warriors? Our great leaders?
Do we remember those brave men & women, those brilliant strategists, those rulers who were like parents to their subjects? Do we remember the harshest punishments given to the anti-social elements in those days?
I do not think so.
We take pride in understanding the exploits of Alexander the great, Napoleon Bonaparte, Genghis Khan and other foreign rulers and warriors.
In fact we should. They were extraordinary people too.
But the only problem is that we do not recognize our own heroes. Rather our education system is such that we do not get the chance to appreciate the fact that their acts in those days have defined our future. We do not publicize our own heroes, we do not preserve the monuments which are the evidence of their existence. These monuments should serve as inspiration to the young. Instead, in India, they serve as blackboards for the people to advertise their love and to proclaim the great names that their parents have given them.
Historians from other countries, Generals from foreign nations have understood the beauty of strategies employed by Indian heroes like Chhatrapati Shivaji, Peshwa Bajirao I and have employed them in modern warfare very effectively.
Just let me give you an example.
When the Americans meddled, as they always do, in the matters of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh, when he led the resistance against the USA, had only one thing hung on his bunker wall that gave him the inspiration to fight back by using Guerilla techniques.
It was the Royal Seal of Chhatrapati Shivaji.
Ho Chi Minh was so inspired by Shivaji’s Tactics that he used them to actually fight the USA and eventually to win the war!
I recently read a book called ‘ The Wisdom of Alexander the Great : Enduring leadership lessons from the man who created an empire ‘ by Lance B. Kurke. Ph.D. This book is an amazing book and it talks about how management lessons can be learnt from Alexander the Great’s campaigns and the tactics and strategies that he used to defeat his enemies.
Do we have any such book in India?
We have undefeated generals like the second Maratha Peshwa Bajirao I who fought 41 battles and never lost a single one. Bajirao’s tactics in the legendary Battle of Palkhed were so brilliant that the American soldiers have a case study on this great battle where his tactics are studied. The tactics about the mobility of Bajirao’s forces which ultimately wove a web around the Nijam and then dealt a crushing defeat to him are relevant still today!
In India, his tactics are not studied.
We attentively ignore our heroes and we ignorantly pay attention to things which are not worth the attention.
We like to be selective in praising our heroes.
Our textbooks for school children are biased. We educate them based on what we think is right for them. Moreover they hate history because the books that teach them history are boring and they have to remember long pages to write answers in meaningless exams.
The attraction towards history is automatically curbed in the childhood.
We forget Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev, three great sons of Mother India, who willingly sacrificed their lives so that people would get inspired from their sacrifice and would eventually drive out the British.
They always dreamt of a secular India. We never let that dream come true.
Today, we are Secular just for the sake of saying it.
We do not remember Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev on 23rd March each year. Our great free media also does not have time to focus on them. They would rather tell the people what is going to happen in a Saas-bahu drama or which phone a movie star is using or what he is posting on Twitter. Yes, that is more important for our nation!
I have been wanting to do this for a long time. I was going to write about something else but by the time I finished writing this article I changed my decision.
I have decided to make this into a series of articles. I will try to bring to highlight personalities from our history which have been forgotten by us.
We Indians have a great Present from the Past. A gift of culture.A gift of heritage. A gift of bravery, of valour. These presents of the past have to be used in the present to tackle the issues that the nation faces. This is what I will attempt to do.
This series of blog articles is a small and maybe insignificant attempt on my part to bring to the fore my observations on how the lessons could be learnt from the strategies of Great Sons & Daughters of this soil & how they could be applied to the present day problems that our country faces.
Watch this space.
(Part I Ends)
Disclaimer: Although this series may contain articles which may cover historical figures mostly from Maharashtra it does not imply that I do not have respect for heroes from other states. As and when possible I will update my knowledge and also write about them.
Next: The Present of the Past – II
How a dialogue from a serial Raja ShivChhatrapati which airs on Star Pravaah prompted me to think about the attitude of our great Government that needs to be changed drastically.
18 July 2010
This work by Pranjal A. Wagh is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License