Project Udbhav:seminar cum exhibition ‘Historical Patterns of Indian Strategic Culture’

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Exhibition ‘Historical Patterns of Indian Strategic Culture’ at National Museum in New Delhi .

As part of ‘Project Udbhav’, a seminar-cum-exhibition on ‘Historical Patterns of Indian Strategic Culture’ was held at the National Museum in New Delhi on May 21, 2024. The event witnessed the inauguration of an exhibition on ‘Evolution of Indian Military Systems, Warfighting, and Strategic Thoughts, from Antiquity to Independence’, besides the release of ‘Udbhav Compendium’ and a book ‘Alha Udal – Ballad Rendition of Western Uttar Pradesh’.

While addressing the gathering as Chief Guest , the State Defence Minister , Ajay Bhatt  commended the Indian Army and the United Service Institution of India (USI) for the ‘Project Udbhav’ initiative, which aims to explore the country’s ancient texts and oral traditions to unearth invaluable insights into its strategic culture. “The geopolitical landscape is ever-evolving, and it is imperative for our Armed Forces to be adaptive and innovative in their approach. By delving into our ancient texts and traditions, projects like Udbhav not only enrich our understanding of strategic culture, but also provide valuable insights into unconventional warfare strategies, diplomatic practices and ethical considerations in warfare,” he said.

Old weapons used by soldiers

Sharing his views on the road ahead, Shri Bhatt underlined the importance of recognising the strength of the nation’s defence which, he said, lies not only in its military might, but also in the ability to adapt to changing circumstances and leverage the cultural heritage as a source of power. He described initiatives like ‘Project Udbhav’ as a guiding light for a future where India is self-reliant, and deeply rooted in its cultural heritage.

Shri Bhatt  emphasised that the spirit of Aatmanirbhar Bharat is not limited to merely production and consumption of Indian goods, but also to make sincere endeavours to imbibe the essence of Indian thought and values in the current actions and decisions. He added that the goal of Viksit Bharat can only be realised when the nation as a whole grasps the invaluable wisdom of ancient past and apply it contextually to shape modern-day ambitions and policies.

The State Defence Minister appreciated the fact that the ‘Project Udbhav’ has strengthened the ‘Whole of Nations’ approach by deepening civil-military collaboration at the intellectual level, bringing academia, scholars, practitioners, and military experts on a common table. He emphasised that the findings of the project will not only enhance the strategic capabilities of the Indian Army, but also serve as a testament to the timeless relevance of India’s ancient wisdom.

Speaking on the occasion, Chief of the Army Staff General Manoj Pande said Project Udbhav has revealed substantial intellectual convergences between eminent Indian and Western scholars, highlighting the resonance between their thoughts, philosophies and perspectives. He added that the endeavour has catalysed exploration into new areas by unveiling India’s tribal traditions, the Maratha Naval legacy, and the individual heroic exploits of military figures, particularly women.

“The Project has delved deep into ancient texts such as Vedas, Puranas, Upanishads and Arthashastra, which are rooted in inter-connectedness, righteousness and ethical values. Furthermore, it has explored the epic battles of the Mahabharata and the strategic brilliance practiced during the reigns of Mauryas, Guptas and Marathas, which has shaped India’s rich military heritage,” said General Manoj Pande.

Exhibition

The Exhibition on ‘Evolution of Indian Military Systems, Warfighting, and Strategic Thoughts, from Antiquity to Independence’ visually portrayed the evolution of Indian military systems and the philosophical underpinnings of the nation’s military culture. The exhibition utilised artifacts, prints, manuscripts and miniature paintings from the rich collections of the National Museum and is open for everyone for the next ten days.

Compendium

The ‘Udbhav Compendium (2023-2024)’ is designed to be a record for future scholarship and education on India’s ancient wisdom for military affairs in particular and statecraft in general. It comprises six chapters & multiple appendices encompassing the key findings and takeaways from the activities & events organised as part of Project Udbhav. It also gives out the way forward for future research and deliberations to provide a base for subsequent studies.

Panel Discussion

The event concluded with a healthy discourse on a thematically-designed Panel Discussion on ‘Ancient Indian Traditions of Military Ethics and Culture’ to revive and reassess the country’s ancient corpus of wisdom on state and war-craft.