India's Wars

A Military History, 1947-1971
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Published:September 15, 2017

Read Subramaniam's tribute to Marshal of the Indian Air Force Arjan Singh in ThePrint.

India’s armed forces play a key role in protecting the country and occupy a special place in Indian people’s hearts, yet standard accounts of contemporary Indian history rarely have a military dimension. In India’s Wars, Air Vice Marshal Arjun Subramaniam seeks to rectify that oversight by giving India’s military exploits their rightful place in history. Subramaniam begins with a frank call to reinvigorate the study of military history as part of Indian history more generally. The author surveys the development of India’s army, navy, and air force from the early years of the modern era to 1971, then considers conflicts from 1947 to 1962 as well as those with China in 1962 and Pakistan in 1965 and 1971, and concludes by assessing these conflicts through the lens of India’s ancient strategist, Kautilya, who is as revered in India as Sun Tzu is in China.

Not merely a wide-ranging historical narrative of India’s military performance in battle, India’s Wars also offers a strategic, operational, and human perspective on the wars fought by independent India’s armed forces. Subramaniam highlights possible ways to improve the synergy between the three services and argues in favor of declassifying historical material that pertains to national security. The author also examines the overall state of civil-military relations in India, leadership within the Indian armed forces, and training, capability building, and other vitally important issues of concern to citizens, the government, and the armed forces. This objective and critical analysis provides policy cues for the reinvigoration of the armed forces as a critical tool of statecraft and diplomacy. Readers will come away from India’s Wars with a greater understanding of the international environment of war and conflict in modern India. Laced with veterans’ intense experiences in combat operations, this deeply researched and passionately written volume unfolds with surprising ease and offers a fresh perspective on independent India’s history.

List Price: $40.00
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Product Details
  • Subject: Military History
  • Hardcover : 576 pages
  • ISBN-10: 1682472418
  • ISBN-13: 9781682472415
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 X 9.3 in
  • Shipping Weight: 38.72 oz
  • “Retired Indian Air Vice Marshal Subramaniam, who is now an instructor at the Indian National Defence College, has produced a comprehensive history of India’s armed forces and their wars, from the First Indo-Pakistan War in 1947, which was sparked by partition and independence through the Third, sometimes known as the Bangladesh War in 1971…. Subramaniam’s treatment of policy, strategy, and operations is very good, and his description of tactical encounters are well written, integrating air, ground, and naval operations as appropriate, and are pretty easy to follow…. India’s Wars offers an excellent overview of Indian military history since independence for both the professional military historian or the interested layman.” —StrategyPage
  • "[Subramaniam] offers a richly detailed history of India's wars with Pakistan, China, and Portugal as well as a balanced appraisal of India's military wartime performance, highlighting successes and failures." —Military Officer
  • “The battle for Goa was an early example of a combined operation for the Indian military, combining land, air, and sea elements. It is one small piece of a growing heritage for that nation, a history that is well told in this book. The work is impressive in its readability and clarity, as the author does not presume any foreknowledge of his subject and strives to make clear a subject relatively unknown in the Western world. The work deftly traces India's military origins in the 20th century.” —Military Heritage
  • India’s Wars is an eminently readable work on the Indian military and India’s experiences with wars over a period of roughly twenty-five years after independence. Given the serious neglect of military history in the understanding of India’s contemporary history (post-1947), this is a notable contribution…. Subramaniam has provided us with a useful and thought-provoking book on India’s wars until 1971, and one hopes that the next volume on the period after the Bangladesh War will be equally engaging.” —H-Asia
  • “In this turbulent twenty-first century, the rise of India will be critical for understanding global geopolitics. This superb overview of India's military history in the twentieth century is essential to appreciate the role of India in the decades to come.” —Adm. James Stavridis, USN (Ret.), sixteenth Supreme Allied Commander, NATO; Dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University
  • "India’s Wars is a very readable and fascinating book that is not simply a recitation of events, but a work punctuated with insights that can be realized only by someone who participated in the events. Providing views of India’s military pioneers not previously available, it also addresses the political interactions that are integral to conflict. This is a timely book yielding understanding of India’s military history when India’s influence on critical geopolitical events is growing." —Lt. Gen. David A. Deptula, USAF (Ret.); Dean of the Mitchell Institute of Aerospace Power Studies
  • "Arjun Subramaniam has blazed a trail for other Indian military officers to follow. By carefully analyzing India's early post-independence wars from a joint perspective, he has contributed toward improving not only professional military education in India, but hopefully the conduct of Indian national security policy itself. A magnificent achievement!" —Ashley J. Tellis, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • “Deftly telescoping six decades of India’s conflicts in a single volume, Arjun Subramaniam presents an objective and compelling tri-service narrative which I found hard to put down. He joins a select band of service officers who have, in the tradition of Thucydides, shown the intellectual acumen as well as courage and perseverance to put pen to paper while still in uniform.” —Admiral Arun Prakash, Indian Navy, (Ret.), former Chief of Naval Staff and Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee
  • “This book is a good introduction to the subject. It is generally quite detailed when it comes to the IAF…. The author has a definite political and ideological agenda [and] the details are accurate…. Well worth a read.” —Brown Pundits

Air Vice Marshal Arjun Subramaniam (Ret.) is a recently retired fighter pilot with a PhD in Defence and Strategic Studies from the University of Madras, India. He is the author of three books, including the well-received India’s Wars: A Military History 1947-1971, and is currently a Visiting Fellow at the Harvard Asia Center.

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