"A nation is condemned if it forgets its past and does not
learn lessons from it," warns the distinguished author of this book which
provides a distinctive, critical look at why India repeatedly faltered and
stumbled in the past. The book is not another narration of the rise and fall of
kingdoms and dynasties. It is an analysis of India’s shortcomings and weaknesses
since the dawn of history and the lessons that need to be learnt in order for
India to emerge as a strong, proud and modern nation.
The book highlights certain habits and tendencies of the
Indian people which have time and again held India back; a spirit of
self-righteousness, a blind belief in fate or destiny, general passivity and
timidity, self-imposed isolation from the outside world, an inability to keep
pace with the advancement in strategy and technology made in other countries,
particularly in warfare. From the time of Porus to the Sino-Indian war of 1962,
India repeatedly fought its adversaries with outmoded weapons and faced debacle.
Even Indira Gandhi, one of the country’s strongest Prime Ministers after
independence, failed to negotiate a favourable settlement on Kashmir despite an
overwhelming victory in the 1971 war against Pakistan — underlining a long
history of compromises at the cost of national interests.
Despite all the efforts made by some of India’s great
rulers, saints and scholars, Indians have yet to develop a sense of shared pride
in their civilisation. There is, in fact, a tendency to repudiate the past
worsened by a notion of secularism which has come to mean the giving up of
India’s spiritual values and heritage. Instead of making efforts to integrate
Indian society, contemporary politicians continue to exploit the distortions
spread earlier by foreign rulers about racial divisions, linguistic and regional
differences and religious incompatibility in order to win elections. They also
appear oblivious to the vital historical lesson that this vast country has
always faced disintegration whenever its central leadership grew weak.
"It is a sad fact that all through their history, Indians
never developed a sense of nationhood," cautions the author. "Indians also lack
a sense of history, and have failed to learn from it." It is a caution worth
heeding in order to build India’s political unity and cultural solidarity.