“Disturbed Area”

The Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) was enacted by the Indian Parliament in 1958 and came into force on the 11th of September 1958. The act initially came into force to address the situation in Assam but was later extended to some of the other states to counter any threats that may arise there.

The act is synonymous to the term “disturbed area” which in itself is wide and ambiguous and the scope and ambit of the term is undetermined. The act enables the legislative body to confer upon the armed forces the powers of search and arrest should it see fit to do so.

In 1972 the power to declare an area, state or territory, a “disturbed area”, was extended to the Central Government and as per the 1972 amendment the Central Government does not need parliamentary approval or the approval of the legislative body to declare an area, territory or state a “disturbed area”.

While there is no definition of what constitutes a disturbed area (a disturbed area as per section 2 (b) is an area declared by notification under section 3 of the act), it would be fair to surmise that an area could be designated a “disturbed area” if the lives of ordinary citizens in the area, or those going about their day to day business or lives of members of the armed forces and members of the civil service was put at risk, or an area where the general public are subjected to a higher level of risk than normal or risk other than that which would be deemed acceptable and that risk is a result of, ethnic conflicts, riots, protests or a general lack of law and order.

The special powers conferred on the members of the armed forces, under the act, is to help them or to assist them in bringing the situation under control as soon as possible and to contain and prevent the situation from spreading or escalating.

Copyright © 2019 by Kathiresan Ramachanderam

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Can India another afford another era of coalition politics?

Coalition politics by definition is where political parties, often with similar interests, but not always, form a bloc and are represented collectively as an individual entity, as opposed to a conglomeration of various parties, which normally tends to be the case, and usually it is because the major parties, as far as India is concerned there are only two major parties, the BJP and the INC, have failed to obtain a clear majority or a decisive victory.

It not something that is new or unheard of and it common enough, but what makes India different is that it has 29 states with varying interests and while the national aspirations may be the same or similar, the state interests are anything but.

The term coalition itself implies that there has to be some behind the scenes negotiations between the parties who are members of the coalition or who have agreed to be a part of the coalition and that to some extent means that the major parties can’t have it all their own way, i.e. there has got to be some give and take, and with India entering an era of regionalism, the chances of either of the major parties gaining an overwhelming majority, without the help of its local allies, in any of the states, looks modest at best.

The burgeoning of regional parties that are proliferating like wild mushrooms with no clear national objectives in mind, and are limited to regional objectives, which is not necessarily a bad thing, as long those objectives are acceptable objectives, tends to suggest that India is indeed looking at an era of coalitions, one that is more conspicuous than the previous.

Can India afford another era of coalition politics? Well, for starters India hasn’t been dominated by coalition politics for all that long, and most of the parties, with exception of the INC and parties like the Indian Communist Party, only came into existence in the mid 70’s and early 80’s. The BJP itself, despite its at times overwhelming national presence only came into existence in 1980, though it has to be said that the Arya Samaj and the Brahmo Samaj have been around for a lot longer than that. Both these organizations, it is not fair to call them parties because they are more focused on social reforms than anything else, but they do act as feeder parties to the BJP, have been around for some time. The Brahmo Samaj was founded in 1828 and the Arya Samaj some forty-seven years later in 1875. The former was founded in Kolkata and the latter in Mumbai.

Coalition politics only became a facet of Indian politics after 1984 and even then, it didn’t have much of an impact until about a decade ago.

Many of the regional parties that we see today didn’t develop organically and their births were to some extent induced by the enactment of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act 1958 (AFSPA) which initially came into force to address the troubles in Assam but was later extended to cover “disturbed areas” in Arunachal Pradesh, Bengal, J & K, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Punjab, and Tripura and the sudden sprouting of many of the regional parties that we see today was to some degree stimulated to quell the ethnic and racial tensions there.

At this stage it doesn’t look like there is much of a choice not at state level anyway. Nothing is going to stop the birth and growth of these regional parties, unless of course there are some legal or constitutional changes made and the number of political parties in the country are limited or individuals are prohibited from forming new political parties, but to do that would be to go against the principles of democracy, and for obvious reasons it is something that most people don’t want to see happen.

India is entering a phase where regional politics is gaining ground and the two major political parties are faltering at state levels. However, that in itself is not necessarily a bad thing and as long as the regional parties can be limited to state assemblies, then the federal issues can be ironed out by the two major parties i.e. the BJP and the INC.

In all fairness it is not practical to expect total and complete coverage of all 29 states, and even writers and journalists restrict themselves to specific states, they would have to if they wanted to do their jobs effectively, and that is because of the overwhelming number of issues that each state is faced with and many of these issues have to be addressed at state levels because a majority of these issues involve ethnic and racial interests.

Copyright © 2019 by Kathiresan Ramachanderam

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Protests in Arunachal Pradesh

Arunachal Pradesh is currently rocked by a string of protests that have been sparked by the government’s decision to grant permanent residency certificates to six communities that are not included in the Arunachal Pradesh scheduled tribes list. Permanent residency certificates have also been granted to ex-servicemen who are from the Gurkha community.

While some view it as a move to gain some sort of political leverage, the fact remains that there isn’t any reason why any of them, especially if they have been domiciled in the state, should not be granted permanent residency certificates.

A scheduled tribe, as per Article 342 of the Constitution of India, is a tribe that is indigenous to a particular locality (the scheduled tribes list varies from state to state).

It is an important move, given the fact that it will affect the rights of the six tribes and the ex-servicemen to own land and unless they’ve been issued permanent residency certificates, they may not get titles or deeds to land even if they have purchased the land or have occupied the land for a period of more than ten years (it effectively negates or does away with squatters rights).

It may sound harsh, but it does protect the rights of those that belong to indigenous or rural communities. All too often we hear stories of tribes-people who are forced to sell their land because of a bad harvest or a series of bad harvests to some rich developer who has no roots in the state and have to relocate somewhere else as a result. From that perspective, the current laws with regards to ownership of land in the state are not at all bad.

Five of the tribes in question, the Deoris, Sonowals, Kacharis, Misings, and Morans are from Assam or are listed as Assamese tribes while the sixth tribe, the Adivasis, makeup 8.6% of India’s total population, so they are by no means a small community, and granting them permanent residency certificates is especially important because of their perceived links to the Marxist and Maoist movements in India.

To alienate them, or any other tribe for the matter, any further, might push them closer to the Marxists and the Maoists whose influences both the major parties are doing their best to curb.

Politically both the major parties, the BJP and the INC are active in the state, and the state’s only regional party, the People’s Party of Arunachal Pradesh which is based or founded on regionalism is content to shuffle between the two major parties with its members occasionally defecting from one party to another.

Loosely translated regionalism means putting the rights of those that come from a specific region or the region that the party represents ahead of others. Regional parties rely on the support of those who share the same ethic, cultural and linguistic traits and this trend is more apparent in the north-east where ethnic conflicts are very real than anywhere else in India and it makes policing these states all the more difficult.

Overall, while there have been concerted efforts at inculcating nationalism, there is a growing trend that points in exactly the opposite direction and regionalism appears to be thriving amidst the two bigger parties and maybe it’s because some of the more isolated communities feel that their concerns and grievances are not being addressed or are not being addressed in the correct and appropriate manner.

The era of a single party dominating the scene looks like it is coming to an end and we are possibly looking at an era of coalitions with some parties going the BJP’s way and others going the way of the INC, which to some extent removes the sting from the scorpion’s tail and now, while the two major parties can push their objectives, the others do not necessarily have to accept them.

Regional parties are quickly emerging as influential players in the Indian political sphere or arena, and though they operate in a limited area and pursue limited objectives or objectives that are only relevant to the region that they represent, as opposed to national objectives or wider, all-encompassing objectives, they are still a force to be reckoned with.

Copyright © 2019 by Kathiresan Ramachanderam


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The girl from Allahabad – 2

Indira became the prime minister of India in 1966 following the death of India’s second prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri on the 11th of January 1965. Both Nehru and Shastri were from the Gandhi camp and they were no doubt inspired and influenced by his non-violent stance and his rather peaceful approach to things.

While both men were able administrators, and were more than capable of governing the country in times of peace neither were suitable candidates to govern in times of war and could be blamed at least partly for India’s relatively poor showing in the first Indo-Pakistan war (1947 – 1948) or the war of Kashmir, the Sino-India War of 1962 and the Indo-Pakistan war of 1965. Despite the fact that almost little or no territory changed hands in all three wars there was a significant loss of lives.

Things however were vastly different in the Liberation War of Bangladesh 1971. The Nixon administration fearing a rise in Soviet influence, primarily due to affairs in Afghanistan where the Soviet Union was gaining a firm foothold, encouraged their then allies to send supplies to Pakistan and were prepared to overlook or ignore the 1971 genocide of Bangladesh.

It is also worth adding that in the aftermath of 1947 it was obvious that India needed to bolster its defense capabilities and that to some degree explains the BJP’s success in recent times i.e. the willingness to spend extensively on defense. This coupled with the fact that there have been significant improvements in indigenous defense systems and the BJP’s willingness to maintain the trend has helped increase the BJP’s popularity. As far as the average Indian is concerned there are certain sectors that he or she wants to see significant improvements in and defense is one of them.

Indira was introduced to Mahatma Gandhi at an early age and was no doubt familiar with him, his work and his teachings but she could never be described as a leader in the Gandhi mold or even as a leader who was in the Nehru or Shastri mold for that matter and despite having served under both of them – she served as her father’s personal assistant and following her father’s death in 1964 she was appointed the minister of information and broadcasting by the Shastri government, she was nothing like them. She was also appointed the president of the congress party in 1959 and served in the capacity for a year.

There was nothing in her past to indicate that there would be a gradual move away from democracy towards a more state based economy, but that was in effect what happened following the 1966 elections, when the congress party won the elections, albeit by a smaller number of seats and Indira became the prime minister of India. I suspect that the move towards socialism was spurred on not by a sudden fixation for communism but rather a need to address the countries more pressing problems i.e. poverty, illiteracy and gender inequality. Despite the constant criticisms that are hurled at it, socialism does in fact advocate for a more equal distribution of wealth.

As soon as she was appointed the prime minister of India, Indira showed a boldness that would take many of her congress allies by surprise especially those that were expecting a docile leader who would accede to all their wishes because her actions clearly told the congress party that she was prepared to throw party politics out the window.

I am not going to say that she didn’t create a class of hyper rich, I think she did but not intentionally. It happens with nationalization i.e. when ownership is transferred from the private sector to the state and then back to the private sector it tends to create a class of hyper rich people who have a monopoly over certain sectors.

She also entrusted certain key people with the development of certain sectors for example the iron and steel sector and pioneered the growth of the Tatas, the Birlas and numerous other multinational companies like them.

In 1969 Indira nationalized the fourteen largest banks in India and while her popularity with the congress party especially its president was going downhill, her popularity among the regional parties was growing especially the DMK and that started the south’s long-standing love-affair with Indira.

Copyright © 2019 by Kathiresan Ramachanderam


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Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF)

Sikkim is the least populated stated in India, and one of the more manageable states, in terms of political presence. The landlocked Himalayan Kingdom, post the British pullout of 1947 and prior to formally becoming a part of the Indian Union, retained some measure of autonomy and while India dealt with all matters relating to foreign affairs and the military, the internal governance of the state was left entirely in its own hands with almost little or no central government intervention.

Sikkim became an Indian state on the 16th of May 1975 and post its amalgamation with India it has remained trouble free, and it would be fair to say that the transition has been one of the smoothest to date.

The state is bounded by Tibet in the north, Bhutan in the East, Nepal in the West and West Bengal in the south and south-east. It appears to be, on paper anyway, one of the most politically manageable states in India, and if one intended to stand for elections, as far as India goes, Sikkim would be, one of the better bets.

The two dominant religions in the state are Hinduism and Buddhism, there appears to be very little between them. Sikkim is also one of the most environmentally conscious states in the subcontinent, with an emphasis on being environmentally friendly.

The state has a literacy rate of 83% and is ranked 13th in the all India literacy index. Despite the troubles with cross-border insurgents, and ethic divides which tend to boil over at times, some of the north-eastern states have managed to maintain higher than average literacy rates, and the drop-in population or the smaller population might have something to do with that.

The two major parties in India, the BJP and the INC are active in the state and as far as regional parties go, the biggest regional party in the state is the Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) which maintains a healthy margin, it controls 22 of the 33 seats, in the state assembly, and it has one seat in the lower house of parliament (Lok Sabha) and one seat in the upper house of parliament (Rajya Sabha), so it is fair to say that the party doesn’t really have much sway or influence outside the state but that doesn’t really make much of a difference and as long as it can govern the state effectively, which at times is too much to ask, the bigger parties can iron out central government policy.

The party has been in power since Sikkim was accorded the status of becoming an Indian state and very little has changed in terms of governance or governing styles and the state rarely makes the headlines, which tends to suggest that whatever it’s doing, it seems to be doing it rather well.

The SDF brand themselves or label themselves as democratic socialists and in its most simple form democratic socialism means that the population collectively owns and controls the means of production, in most instances that means that production is controlled by the state, and the end result is distributed proportionately, usually in the form of underlying social welfare, with emphasis on housing, education and health care, which coincidentally are some of the more pressing issues that need to be addressed in the subcontinent, among the population.

The party however does not seem to be in the good books of West Bengal’s power woman, Mamta Banerjee, the founder/leader of the All India Trinamool Congress (AITC), which is listed as one of the minor regional parties in the state. The AITC having firmly established itself in Bengal is seeking to widen or broaden its support base, and is branching out to other states in India, and the party is seeking to make its fervid and fiery brand of politics more palatable nationally.

Take nothing away from them, Bengal is a difficult state to take control of especially in light of the Communist Party of India’s, both Marxist and Maoist, extensive influences there.

The source of the troubles is the spate of unrests in Darjeeling which has resulted in tourists abandoning Darjeeling for Sikkim and an outflow of income derived from tourism which has hit businesses especially those centered around the tourist industry quite hard.

Matters were further exacerbated by the Sikkim Chief Minister’s (Pawan Chamling) support for Gorkhaland, something the AITC is at present for obvious reasons, opposed to. The matter has been the subject of heated debate since it first came up in 1907.

Copyright © 2019 by Kathiresan Ramachanderam

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The girl from Allahabad – 1

This is my first attempt at writing something that remotely resembles a biography and the person I have selected is none other than the iron lady of India, its second longest serving prime minister and perhaps the most complex person to serve as the prime minister of India, Indira Gandhi.

Of all the prime ministers of India, I am most fascinated by Indira and unlike most prime ministers who served in times of peace, she was one of the few women prime ministers who served during a war – a war that India was never expected to win, and if it wasn’t for her tenacity, India in all probability, would have lost the war.

At the onset, I have to admit that it is impossible to cover her whole life in an article or a series of articles because it was a long and illustrious career and her tenure as prime minister spanned more than a decade. Her first tenure lasted for ten years and her second tenure for four.

The events that we will be looking at here will be the events that piqued my interest as a young boy reading the New Straits Times between the age of 10-14 and we will look at the 1971 Liberation War of Bangladesh, the death of her son Sanjay – a death that rocked the nation and a death many believe was an assassination, the subsequent fall-out with her daughter in law Maneka, who remains the only member of the Nehru dynasty who is not associated or affiliated to the Congress Party of India. Maneka who has had a long and illustrious political career herself serves with the BJP and finally the events that led to Indira’s death.

The events that I have mentioned here are by no means complete or comprehensive and for anyone who wants to acquire an insight to the life of India’s iron woman, it is best that they get a copy of her biography (there are a few in the market).

I read one of her biographies many years ago and to date I have never really managed to grasp the depths of it. Her life was by no means simple.

Indira was India’s third prime minister; her father Jawaharlal Nehru was India’s first and longest serving prime minister and Indira was his only daughter. Indira in fact was an only child and being born in one of the most politically influential families in India, it would be fair to say that she would have come to terms with the intricacies and the subtleties of Indian politics at an early age.

India is one of the most difficult countries in the world to govern, not only because of the size of its population but also because of its diversity and each of its 29 states often demand separate attention and it is more often than not difficult to appease all the parties in the mix, but despite that Indira managed to keep a lid on things. This coupled with India’s external foes make governing India challenging to say the least.

Indira was a Kashmiri Pandit or a Kashmiri Brahmin and she was born in Allahabad a district in the state of Uttar Pradesh, a state rich in history but not without its share of unrest. Even at birth Indira could never be described as the contemporary Indian because Indians today are normally associated with states like Gujarat, Punjab, Haryana or Bengal and places like Mumbai and Delhi from the western perspective of things anyway.

The young Indira could aptly be described as the orthodox Brahmin girl and she was without doubt conservative but that was only to be expected given the strict upbringing most Kashmiri Pandit girls have.

Indira however was very, very intelligent, and I remember reading somewhere that she loved reading and she was very knowledgeable and that she’d even read works like the arthashastra, something that most people don’t read. So it is fair to say that even at a young age, well before being elected the prime minister of India, the concepts of conflict and war were not alien to her and she was to a very large degree or extent able to accept conflict and war for what it was, and that would have no doubt helped her during her tenure as prime minister where she would have had to face conflict and war over and over again.

Copyright © 2019 by Kathiresan Ramachanderam

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Order granting Assam Rifles sweeping powers of search and arrest put on hold

The government has put on hold its order allowing the Assam Rifles to search and arrest anyone in the north-east.

The order, issued three days ago granted the Assam Rifles, a counter insurgency and anti-guerilla type outfit comprising of slightly over 64 thousand members and some 49 divisions sweeping powers of search and arrest and empowered the Assam Rifles to arrest anyone in the north-east to counter the threat of insurgents operating along the Indo-Myanmar border though we were made to understand that all detainees must be produced at a police station within 24 hours of their arrest.

The order was issued by the Central Government following the withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from various districts. Any member of the Assam Rifles, regardless of rank, was under the order allowed to arrest anyone in the states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland and Mizoram.

Copyright © 2019 by Kathiresan Ramachanderam

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Dowry

The issue of dowries has long dominated the Indian wedding scene and despite the passage of time there appears to be no respite for girls born in lower income families. Parents who want to marry their daughters off are forced into making payments that are often beyond their means and a failure to do so often leads to abuse and other forms of mistreatment in the hands of husbands or in-laws. In some parts of India and in certain communities’ dowry appears to be an accepted norm.

Approximately 8,000 deaths are recorded each year as being dowry related, some are suicides and others are the result of abuse, often in the hands of husbands and in-laws. The figure however does not accurately reflect the number of deaths and it is fair to surmise that the figure is in reality much higher because many cases of abuse go unreported.

A lot of these women are educated, professional women, who are more than capable of bringing home a decent wage but that doesn’t seem to make much of a difference in some communities because despite the fact that the wife is able to bring home a decent salary or contribute equally towards the household expenses, she is still required to make some sort of a lump sum payment prior to getting married either in terms of cash, jewelry, chattels or property in order to be bestowed with the title of a good daughter in law.

Sounds like a business? Well in some instances it is. In some communities the prevalent attitude seems to be that a boy can make demands prior to getting married and there are many instances where even when the demands are met; the girl is still abused and mistreated and despite the passage of time and the advent of modern technology and the numerous advances in many other fields, there appears to be no escape for women born in lower income families.

Let’s go back to the basics. Is it illegal to ask for dowry in India? Well according to the Dowry Prohibition Act 1961, with the exception of Jammu and Kashmir, it is. For some reason or other it is legal in Jammu and Kashmir.

The act goes on to define dowry as any property or valuable security given or agreed to be given either directly or indirectly prior to marriage.

However, it is not illegal for obvious reasons, to give gifts and these gifts could be gifts of cash, jewelry, chattels or property. The act itself isn’t entirely convincing and while it says that would-be grooms cannot demand items of value as a precondition to marriage it does not say anything about receiving gifts and in all instances, it only becomes an issue if the aggrieved party makes or lodges a complaint. If no complaint is made, then nothing else is ever said about the matter and even if the marriage breakdowns at a later date there is nothing to compel the husband to return any items of value that he received prior to the marriage.

Obviously, no one gets married or enters into the ceremony of marriage expecting it to breakdown, but nothing is certain and there are many compelling stories that suggest that the law should somehow make these gifts returnable if the marriage breaks down.

However, the penalty for accepting dowry is quite steep and if convicted the accused can be jailed for a term that is no less than 5 years so the law does to some extent protect women but then again it is a matter of these women stepping up and lodging a complaint but in most instances, many of them just put it down to hard luck.

Likewise, parents can refuse to give dowry but in most cases most parents if they can afford it and some even if they can’t, agree because it is a social and cultural norm and a lot of families are just happy to marry their daughters off regardless of whether their daughters are happy or not.

The way things stand at present, it is not only important to give a girl an education, but it is also important to make sure that there is enough left in the kitty for her wedding and that can be quite strenuous especially considering the fact that education is not cheap, and a good college degree is quite costly. It is a vicious cycle that women in the subcontinent get trapped in.

Is the situation going to get any better in the near future? From all accounts no. With the exception of a handful of writers and the odd rhetoric from aspiring politicians no one really seems to want to address the matter.

 Copyright © 2019 by Kathiresan Ramachanderam

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India’s Waning Vulture Population

India’s waning vulture population has set its Zoroastrian community on edge and in response the government has provided 5 million in aid to help built aviaries to help increase the number of vultures in the wild. There are nine specific vulture species that are native to India, Pakistan and Nepal and seven of those are found in the Thar desert.

An ailing vulture population wouldn’t normally pique the interest of most people and it is something that even the most ardent wildlife advocate wouldn’t too zealously pursue but the fact remains that these bald-headed scavengers do perform a very important function, a function so important that some writers have even dubbed the fall in the vulture population a national crisis.

The number of vultures in the wild has dropped dramatically from the early 80’s when the vulture population was estimated to be at about 4 million, a rather healthy total when compared to the 100,000 it stands at today.

Interestingly enough the prime cause for the fall in numbers is not urbanization due to a booming population but rather a drug called diclofenac that is used as a pain killer for cattle and when the vultures feed on the remains of dead cattle the residues of the drug that remain in the carcasses seep into the bodies of the vultures and that in turn kills the vultures. Fortunately, the drug has been banned and that should help somewhat in reviving the vulture population of India.

In 2016 the Union Environment Minister Shri Prakash Javadeka launched Asia’s first Gyps Vulture Reintroduction Program aimed at restoring the vulture population to what it was in the early 80’s i.e. to approximately 4 million.

The decline in the vulture population is especially distressing to India’s Parsi or Zoroastrian community because vultures are part of the Zoroastrian funeral rite and it is obviously something that the community wants to preserve and see continue.

Parsis who are Zoroastrians by faith neither bury nor cremate the remains of their dead but rather leave the body under the scorching heat for the sun to absorb the liquid in the body and for the vultures to feed on the flesh. From all accounts, it is over within a few hours but obviously it is very dependent or reliant on the vulture population.

According to the Zoroastrian faith upon death or once the soul leaves the body, the body becomes impure and evil spirits come to attack the flesh of the dead and these spirits precipitate disease and pestilence.

From a more contemporary or scientific perspective this believe is not wrong because decaying and decomposing flesh does promote sickness, disease and pestilence. By allowing vultures to feed on the flesh, the possibility of the decomposing flesh precipitating any type or sort of disease or illness is reduced and the vultures because of their strong beaks not only eat away at the surface flesh but also gnaw away at the bones, and consume the marrow and whatever remains inside and thereby not only arrest the spread of disease and any other forms or sickness and pestilence that may result from decaying and decomposing flesh but from a religious perspective also allow the soul to continue with the journey thereafter.

It is a common believe that as long as the body remains the soul may be prohibited from continuing with the after-death journey. In some Zoroastrian cultures the remains or what is left, though it is difficult to see vultures leaving anything behind, these scavengers normally do an extremely good job at eating away at carcasses, is thrown into a pit and left to turn to dust.

Similarly, vultures also eat away at carcasses of other animals especially remains that most people would ignore, and that further reduces the risk of plagues and disease outbreaks. All in all, these vultures perform a very important task.

It is fairly easy to see why a drop in the vulture population would be distressing to the Zoroastrians of India and hopefully with renewed attempts at reviving the population we will see a boost in numbers and even if it does not get to the 4 million it was at in the early 80’s, it should hopefully in the not too distant future get to at least half that number.

Copyright © 2019 by Dyarne Jessica Ward

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Warfare-Excerpts from the Arthashastra

Warfare is the art of deception. Therefore, if able, appear unable, if active, appear not active, if near, appear far, if far, appear near. If they have the advantage, entice them; if they are confused, take them, if they are substantial, prepare for them, if they are strong, avoid them, if they are angry, disturb them, if they are humble, make them haughty, if they are relaxed, toil them, if they are united, separate them. Attack when they are not prepared, go out to where they do not expect. Generally, in warfare, keeping a nation intact is best, destroying a nation second best; keeping an army intact is best, destroying an army second best; keeping a battalion intact is best, destroying a battalion second best; keeping a company intact is best, destroying a company second best; keeping a squad intact is best, destroying a squad second best. Therefore, to gain a hundred victories in a hundred battles is not the highest excellence; to subjugate the enemy’s army without doing battle is the highest of excellence. Therefore, the best warfare strategy is to attack the enemies plans, next is to attack alliances, next is to attack the army, and the worst is to attack a walled city. Laying siege to a city is only done when other options are not available. To build large protective shields, armored wagons, and make ready the necessary arms and equipment will require at least three months. To build earthen mounds against the walls will require another three months. If the general cannot control his temper and sends troops to swarm the walls, one third of them will be killed, and the city will still not be taken. This is the kind of calamity that befall an army when laying siege to a walled city. Therefore, one who is skilled in the principles of warfare subdues the enemy without doing battle, takes the enemy’s walled city without attacking, and overthrows the enemy quickly, without protracted warfare. His aim must be to take all intact. Therefore, weapons will not be blunted, and gains will be intact. These are the principles of planning attacks. Generally in warfare: If ten times the enemy’s strength, surround them; if five times, attack them; if double, divide them; if equal, be able to fight them; if fewer, be able to evade them; if weaker, be able to avoid them. Therefore, a smaller army that is inflexible will be captured by a larger one. A general is the safeguard of the nation. When this support is in place, the nation will certainly be strong. When this support is not in place, the nation will certainly not be strong. There are two ways the ruler can bring difficulty to the army: To order an advance when not realizing the army is in no position to advance, or to order a withdrawal when not realizing the army is in no position to withdraw. This is called entangling the army. By not knowing the army’s matters, and administering the army the same as administering civil matters, the officers and troops will be confused. By not knowing the army’s calculations, and taking command of the army, the officers and troops will be hesitant. When the army is confused and hesitant, the neighboring rulers will take advantage. This is called a confused and hesitant army leading another to victory. Therefore, there are five factors of knowing who will win: One who knows when he can fight, and when he cannot fight, will be victorious; one who knows how to use both large and small forces will be victorious; one who knows how to unite upper and lower ranks in purpose will be victorious; one who is prepared and waits for the unprepared will be victorious; one whose general is able and is not interfered by the ruler will be victorious. These five factors are the way to know who will win. Therefore I say: One who knows the enemy and knows himself will not be in danger in a hundred battles. One who does not know the enemy but knows himself will sometimes win, sometimes lose. One who does not know the enemy and does not know himself will be in danger in every battle. Encampment is on a site declared to be the best according to the science of buildings, the leader, the carpenter and the astrologer should measure a circular, rectangular, or square spot for the camp which should, in accordance with the available space, consist of four gates, six roads, and nine divisions. Provided with ditches, parapets, walls, doors, and watch towers for defense against fear, the quarters of the king, 1,000 bows long and half as broad, should be situated in one of the nine divisions to the north from the centre, while to the west of it his harem, and at its extremity the army of the harem are to be situated. In his front, the place for worshipping gods; to his right the departments of finance and accounts; and to his left the quarters of elephants and horses mounted by the king himself. Outside this and at a distance of 100 bows from each other, there should be fixed four cart-poles pillars and walls. In the first (of these four divisions), the prime minister and the priest (should have their quarters); to its right the store-house and the kitchen: to its left the store of raw products and weapons; in the second division the quarters of the hereditary army and of horses and chariots: outside this, hunters and keepers of dogs with their trumpets and with fire; also spies and sentinels; also, to prevent the attack of enemies, wells, mounds and thorns should be arranged. The eighteen divisions of sentinels employed for the purpose of securing the safety of the king should be changing their watches in turn. In order to ascertain the movements of spies, a time-table of business should also be prepared during the day. Disputes, drinking, social gatherings, and gambling should also be prohibited. The system of passports should also be observed. The officer in charge of the boundary (of the camp) should supervise the conduct of the commander-in-chief and the observance of the instructions given to the army. The instructor with his retinue and with carpenters and free laborers should carefully march in front on the road, and should dig wells of water. Having prepared a list of the villages and forests situated on the road with reference to their capacity to supply grass, firewood and water, the march of the army should be regulated according to the program of short and long halts. Food and provisions should be carried in double the quantity that may be required in any emergency. In the absence of separate means to carry food, the army itself should be entrusted with the business of carrying them; or they may be stored in a central place. In front the leader; in the centre the harem and the master (the king); on the sides horses and bodyguards; at the extremity of the (marching) circular-array, elephants and the surplus army; on all sides the army habituated to forest-life; and other troops following the camp, the commissariat, the army of an ally, and his followers should select their own road: for armies who have secured suitable positions will prove superior in fight to those who are in bad positions. The army of the lowest quality can march a 5 5/44 miles a day; that of the middle quality and a half and the best army double that. Hence, it is easy to ascertain the rate of the march. The commander should march behind and put up his camp in the front. In case of any obstruction, the army should march in crocodile array in the front, in cart-like array behind, and on the sides in diamond-like array (i.e., in four or five rows, each having its front, rear and sides) and in a compact array on all sides. When the army is marching on a path passable by a single man, it should march in pin-like array. When peace is made with one and war is to be waged with another, steps should be taken to protect the friends who are bringing help against enemies, such as an enemy in the rear, his ally, a king, or a neutral king. Roads with obstructions should be examined and cleared. Finance, the army, the strength of the armies of friends, enemies, and wild tribes, the prospect of rains, and the seasons should be thoroughly examined.  When the protective power of fortifications and stores (of the enemies) is on its decay, when it is thought that distress of the hired army or of a friend’s army (of the enemy) is impending; when intriguers are not for a quick march; or when the enemy is likely to come to terms (with the invader), slow march should be made; otherwise quick march should be made. Waters may be crossed by means of elephants, planks spread over pillars erected, bridges, boats, timber and mass of bamboos, as well as by means of dry sour gourds, big baskets covered with skins, rafts. When the crossing of a river is obstructed by the enemy, the invader may cross it elsewhere together with his elephants and horses, and entangle the enemy in an ambuscade.  He should protect his army when it has to pass a long desert without water; when it is without grass, firewood and water; when it has to traverse a difficult road; when it is harassed by an enemy’s attacks; when it is suffering from hunger and thirst after a journey; when it is ascending or descending a mountainous country full of mire, water-pools, rivers and cataracts; when it finds itself crowded in a narrow and difficult path; when it is halting, starting or eating; when it is tired from a long march; when it is sleepy; when it is suffering from a disease, pestilence or famine; when a great portion of its infantry, cavalry and elephants is diseased; when it is not sufficiently strong; or when it is under troubles. He should destroy the enemy’s army under such circumstances. When the enemy’s army is marching through a path traversable by a single man, the commander (of the invader’s army) should ascertain its strength by estimating the quantity of food-stuffs, grass, bedding, and other requisites, fire pots, flags and weapons. He should also conceal those of his own army. Keeping a mountainous or river fortress with all its resources at his back in his own country he should fight or put up his camp. He who is possessed of a strong army, who has succeeded in his intrigues, and who has applied remedies against dangers may undertake an open fight, if he has secured a position favorable to himself; otherwise a treacherous fight. He should strike the enemy when the latter’s army is under troubles or is furiously attacked; or he who has secured a favorable position may strike the enemy entangled in an unfavorable position. Or he who possesses control over the elements of his own state may, through the aid of the enemy’s traitors, enemies and inimical wild tribes, make a false impression of his own defeat on the mind of the enemy who is entrenched in a favorable position, and having thus dragged the enemy into an unfavorable position, he may strike the latter. When the enemy’s army is in a compact body, he should break it by means of his elephants; when the enemy has come down from its favorable position, following the false impression of the invader’s defeat, the invader may turn back and strike the enemy’s army, broken or unbroken. Having struck the front of the enemy’s army, he may strike it again by means of his elephants and horses when it has shown its back and is running away. When frontal attack is unfavorable, he should strike it from behind; when attack on the rear is unfavorable, he should strike it in front; when attack on one side is unfavorable, he should strike it on the other. Or having caused the enemy to fight with his own army of traitors, enemies and wild tribes, the invader should with his fresh army strike the enemy when tired. Or having through the aid of the army of traitors given to the enemy the impression of defeat, the invader with full confidence in his own strength may allure and strike the over-confident enemy. Or the invader, if he is vigilant, may strike the careless enemy when the latter is deluded with the thought that the invader’s merchants, camp and carriers have been destroyed. Or having made his strong force look like a weak force, he may strike the enemy’s brave men when falling against him. Or having captured the enemy’s cattle or having destroyed the enemy’s dogs, he may induce the enemy’s brave men to come out and may slay them. Or having made the enemy’s men sleepless by harassing them at night, he may strike them during the day, when they are weary from want of sleep and are parched by heat, himself being under the shade. Or with his army of elephants enshrouded with cotton and leather dress, he may offer a night-battle to his enemy. Or he may strike the enemy’s men during the afternoon when they are tired by making preparations during the forenoon; or he may strike the whole of the enemy’s army when it is facing the sun. A desert, a dangerous spot, marshy places, mountains, valleys, uneven boats, cows, cart-like array of the army, mist, and night are temptations alluring the enemy against the invader. The beginning of an attack is the time for treacherous fights. As to an open or fair fight, a virtuous king should call his army together, and, specifying the place and time of battle, address them thus: “I am a paid servant like yourselves; this country is to be enjoyed (by me) together with you; you have to strike the enemy specified by me.” His minister and priest should encourage the army by saying thus:– “It is declared in the bibles that the goal which is reached by sacrifices after performing the final ablutions in sacrifices in which the priests have been duly paid for is the very goal which brave men are destined to attain.” About this there are the two verses–  Beyond those places which priests, desirous of getting into heaven, attain together with their sacrificial instruments by performing a number of sacrifices, or by practicing penance are the places which brave men, losing life in good battles, are destined to attain immediately. Let not a new vessel filled with water, consecrated and covered over with grass be the acquisition of that man who does not fight in return for the subsistence received by him from his master, and who is therefore destined to go to hell. Astrologers and other followers of the king should infuse spirit into his army by pointing out the impregnable nature of the array of his army, his power to associate with gods, and his omniscience; and they should at the same time frighten the enemy. The day before the battle, the king should fast and lie down on his chariot with weapons. He should also make oblations into the fire pronouncing the verses of the war godand cause prayers to be offered for the good of the victors as well as of those who attain to heaven by dying in the battle-field. He should also submit his person to priests; he should make the central portion of his army consist of such men as are noted for their bravery, skill, high birth, and loyalty and as are not displeased with the rewards and honors bestowed on them. The place that is to be occupied by the king is that portion of the army which is composed of his father, sons, brothers, and other men, skilled in using weapons, and having no flags and head-dress. He should mount an elephant or a chariot, if the army consists mostly of horses; or he may mount that kind of animal, of which the army is mostly composed or which is the most skillfully trained. One who is disguised like the king should attend to the work of arraying the army.  Soothsayers and court bards should describe heaven as the goal for the brave and hell for the timid; and also extol the birth, corporation, family, deeds, and character of his men. The followers of the priest should proclaim the auspicious aspects of the witchcraft performed. Spies, carpenters and astrologers should also declare the success of their own operations and the failure of those of the enemy. After having pleased the army with rewards and honors, the commander-in-chief should address it and say:– A hundred thousand for slaying the king (the enemy); fifty thousand for slaying the commander-in-chief, and the heir-apparent; ten thousand for slaying the chief of the brave; five thousand for destroying an elephant, or a chariot; a thousand for killing a horse, a hundred for slaying the chief of the infantry; twenty for bringing a head; and twice the pay in addition to whatever is seized. This information should be made known to the leaders of every group of ten (men). Physicians with surgical instruments, machines, remedial oils, and cloth in their hands; and women with prepared food and beverage should stand behind, uttering encouraging words to fighting men. The army should be arrayed on a favorable position, facing other than the south quarter, with its back turned to the sun, and capable to rush as it stands. If the array is made on an unfavorable spot, horses should be run. If the army arrayed on an unfavorable position is confined or is made to run away from it (by the enemy), it will be subjugated either as standing or running away; otherwise it will conquer the enemy when standing or running away. The even, uneven, and complex nature of the ground in the front or on the sides or in the rear should be examined. On an even site, staff-like or circular array should be made; and on an uneven ground, arrays of compact movement or of detached bodies should be made. Having broken the whole army (of the enemy), (the invader) should seek for peace; if the armies are of equal strength, he should make peace when requested for it; and if the enemy’s army is inferior, he should attempt to destroy it, but not that which has secured a favorable position and is reckless of life.  When a broken army, reckless of life, resumes its attack, its fury becomes irresistible; hence he should not harass a broken army (of the enemy). Favorable positions for infantry, cavalry, chariots, and elephants are desirable both for war and camp. For men who are trained to fight in desert tracts, forests, valleys, or plains, and for those who are trained to fight from ditches or heights, during the day or night, and for elephants which are bred in countries with rivers, mountains, marshy lands, or lakes, as well as for horses, such battlefields as they would find suitable (are to be secured). That which is even, splendidly firm, free from mounds and pits made by wheels and foot-prints of beasts, not offering obstructions to the axle, free from trees, plants, creepers and trunks of trees, not wet, and free from pits, ant-hills, sand, and thorns is the ground for chariots. For elephants, horses and men, even or uneven grounds are good, either for war or for camp. That which contains small stones, trees and pits that can be jumped over and which is almost free from thorns is the ground for horses. That which contains big stones, dry or green trees and ant-hills is the ground for the infantry. That which is uneven with assailable hills and valleys, which has trees that can be pulled down and plants that can be torn, and which is full of muddy soil free from thorns is the ground for elephants. That which is free from thorns, not very uneven, but very expansive, is an excellent ground for the infantry. That which is doubly expansive, free from mud, water and roots of trees and which is devoid of piercing gravel is an excellent ground for horses. That which possesses dust, muddy soil, water, grass and weeds, and which is free from thorns (known as dog’s teeth) and obstructions from the branches of big trees is an excellent ground for elephants. That which contains lakes, which is free from mounds and wet lands, and which affords space for turning is an excellent ground for chariots. Positions suitable for all the constituents of the army have been treated of. This explains the nature of the ground which is fit for the camp or battle of all kinds of the army. Concentration on occupied positions, in camps and forests; holding the ropes (of beasts and other things) while crossing the rivers or when the wind is blowing hard; destruction or protection of the commissariat and of troops arriving afresh; supervision of the discipline of the army; lengthening the line of the army; protecting the sides of the army; first attack; dispersion (of the enemy’s army); trampling it down; defense; seizing; letting it out; causing the army to take a different direction; carrying the treasury and the princes; falling against the rear of the enemy; chasing the timid; pursuit; and concentration–these constitute the work of horses. Marching in the front; preparing the roads, camping grounds and path for bringing water; protecting the sides; firm standing, fording and entering into water while crossing pools of water and ascending from them; forced entrance into impregnable places; setting or quenching the fire; the subjugation of one of the four constituents of the army; gathering the dispersed army; breaking a compact army; protection against dangers; trampling down (the enemy’s army); frightening and driving it; magnificence; seizing; abandoning; destruction of walls, gates and towers; and carrying the treasury–these constitute the work of elephants. Protection of the army; repelling the attack made by all the four constituents of the enemy’s army; seizing and abandoning (positions) during the time of battle; gathering a dispersed army; breaking the compact array of the enemy’s army; frightening it; magnificence; and fearful noise–these constitute the work of chariots. Always carrying the weapons to all places; and fighting–these constitute the work of the infantry. The examination of camps, roads, bridges, wells and rivers; carrying the machines, weapons, amours, instruments and provisions; carrying away the men that are knocked down, along with their weapons and amours—these constitute the work of free laborers. The king who has a small number of horses may combine bulls with horses; likewise when he is deficient in elephants, he may fill up the centre of his army with mules, camels and carts. Having fortified a camp at the distance of five hundred bows he should begin to fight. Having detached the flower of the army and kept it on a favorable position not visible (to the enemy), the commander-in-chief and the leader should array the rest of the army. The infantry should be arrayed such that the space between any two men; cavalry with three; chariots with fourand elephants with twice or thrice as much space (as between any two chariots). With such an array free to move and having no confusion, one should fight. A bow means five. Archers should be stationed at the distance of five bows (from one line to another); the cavalry at the distance of three bows; and chariots or elephants at the distance of five bows. The intervening space between wings, flanks and front of the army should be five bows. There must be three men to oppose a horse; fifteen men or five horses to oppose a chariot or an elephant; and as many (fifteen) servants for a horse, a chariot and an elephant should be maintained. Three groups of three chariots each should be stationed in front; the same number on the two flanks and the two wings. Thus, in an array of chariots, the number of chariots amounts to forty-five, two hundred and twenty-five horses, six hundred and seventy-five men, and as many servants to attend upon the horses, chariots and elephants–this is called an even array of troops. The number of chariots in this array (of three groups of three chariots each) may be increased by two and two till the increased number amounts to twenty-one. Thus, this array of odd numbers of chariots gives rise to ten odd varieties. Thus the surplus of the army may therefore be distributed in the above manner. Two-thirds of the (surplus) chariots may be added to the flanks and the wings, the rest being put in front. Thus the added surplus of chariots should be one-third less (than the number added to the flanks and wings). This explains the distribution of surplus elephants and horses. As many horses, chariots, and elephants may be added as occasion no confusion in fighting. Excess of the army is called surplus); deficiency in infantry is called absence of surplus; excess of any one of the four constituents of the army is akin to surplus; excess of traitors is far from surplus; in accordance with one’s own resources, one should increase one’s army from four to eight times the excess of the enemy’s army or the deficiency in the enemy’s infantry. The array of elephants is explained by the array of chariots. An array of elephants, chariots, and horses mixed together may also be made: at the extremities of the circle (array), elephants; and on the flanks, horses and principal chariots. The array in which the front is occupied by elephants, the flanks by chariots, and the wings by horses is an array which can break the centre of the enemy’s army; the reverse of this can harass the extremities of the enemy’s army. An array of elephants may also be made: the front by such elephants as are trained for war; the flanks by such as are trained for riding; and the wings by rogue elephants. In an array of horses, the front by horses with mail amour; and the flanks and wings by horses without amour. In an array of infantry, men dressed in mail amour in front, archers in the rear, and men without amour on the wings; or horses on the wings, elephants on the flanks, and chariots in front; other changes may also be made so as to oppose the enemy’s army successfully. The best army is that which consists of strong infantry and of such elephants and horses as are noted for their breed, birth, strength, youth, and vitality, capacity to run even in old age, fury, skill, firmness, magnanimity, obedience, and good habits. One-third of the best of infantry, cavalry and elephants should be kept in front; two-thirds on both the flanks and wings; the array of the army according to the strength of its constituents is in the direct order; that which is arrayed mixing one-third of strong and weak troops is in the reverse order. Thus, one should know all the varieties of arraying the array. Having stationed the weak troops at the extremities, one would be liable to the force of the enemy’s onslaught. Having stationed the flower of the army in front, one should make the wings equally strong. One-third of the best in the rear and weak troops in the centre–this array are able to resist the enemy; having made an array, he should strike the enemy with one or two of the divisions on the wings, flanks, and front, and capture the enemy by means of the rest of the troops. When the enemy’s force is weak, with few horses and elephants, and is contaminated with the intrigue of treacherous ministers, the conqueror should strike it with most of his best troops. He should increase the numerical strength of that constituent of the army which is physically weak. He should array his troops on that side on which the enemy is weak or from which danger is apprehended. Running against; running round; running beyond; running back; disturbing the enemy’s halt; gathering the troops; curving, circling, miscellaneous operations; removal of the rear; pursuit of the line from the front, flanks and rear; protection of the broken army; and falling upon the broken army–these are the forms of waging war with horses. The same varieties with the exception of (what is called) miscellaneous operations; the destruction of the four constituents of the army, either single or combined; the dispersion of the flanks, wings and front trampling down; and attacking the army when it is asleep–these are the varieties of waging war with elephants. The same varieties with the exception of disturbing the enemy’s halt; running against; running back; and fighting from where it stands on its own ground–these are the varieties of waging war with chariots. Striking in all places and at all times and striking by surprise are varieties of waging war with infantry. In this way, he should make odd or even arrays, keeping the strength of the four constituents of the army equal. Having gone to a distance of 200 bows, the king should take his position together with the reserve of his army; and without a reserve, he should never attempt to fight, for it is by the reserved force that dispersed troops are collected together. Wings and front, capable to turn (against an enemy is what is called) a snake-like array; the two wings, the two flanks, the front and the reserve (form an array) according to the school. The principal forms of the array of the army, such as that like a staff, like a snake, like a circle, and in detached order, are varieties of the above two forms of the array consisting of wings, flanks and front. Stationing the army so as to stand abreast is called a staff-like array. Stationing the army in a line so that one may follow the other is called a snake-like array. Stationing the army so as to face all the directions is called a circle-like array. Detached arrangement of the army into small bodies so as to enable each to act for itself is termed an array in detached order. That which is of equal strength on its wings, flanks and front, is a staff-like array. The same array is called breaking the enemy’s array, when its flanks are made to project in front. The same is called firm when its wings and flanks are stretched back. The same is called irresistible when its wings are lengthened. When, having formed the wings, the front is made to bulge out; it is called an eagle-like array. The same four varieties are called “a bow,” “the centre of a bow,” “a hold,” and “a strong hold,” when they are arranged in a reverse form. That, of which the wings are arrayed like a bow, is called victory.  The same with projected front is called conqueror; that which has its flanks and wings formed like a staff is called big ear; the same with its front made twice as strong as the conqueror, is called vast victory; that which has its wings stretched forward is called face of the army; and the same is called face of the fish when it is arrayed in the reverse form. The staff-like array in which one (constituent of the army) is made to stand behind the other is called a pin-like array. When this array consists of two such lines, it is called an aggregate; and when of four lines, it is called an invincible array–these are the varieties of the staff-like array. The snake-like array in which the wings, flanks and front are of unequal depth is called serpentine movement. When it consists of two lines in front and has its wings arranged as in the staff-like array, it is called a cart-like array; the reverse of this is called a crocodile-like array; the cart-like array which consists of elephants, horses and chariots is called cart –these are the varieties of the snake-like array. The circle-like array in which the distinction of wings, flanks and front is lost is called facing all directions, or all auspicious, one of eight divisions, or victory–these are the varieties of the circle-like array. That, of which the wings, flanks and front are stationed apart is called an array in detached order; when five divisions of the army are arranged in detached order, it is called diamond, or alligator; when four divisions, it is called park, or crow’s foot; when three divisions, it is called half-moon,–these are the varieties of the array in detached-order. The array in which chariots form the front, elephants the wings, and horses the rear, is called auspicious. The array in which infantry, cavalry, chariots and elephants stand one behind the other is called immovable. The array in which elephants, horses, chariot and infantry stand in order one behind the other is called invincible. Of these, the conqueror should assail the breaking of the enemies’ army by means of the firm; firm by means of the irresistible; eagle-like array by means of an array like a bow; a hold by means of a strong-hold; victory by means of conqueror; big ear by means of vast victorycart by means of all auspicious. Of infantry, cavalry, chariots and elephants, he should strike the first-mentioned with that which is subsequently mentioned; and a small constituent of the army with a big one. For every ten members of each of the constituents of the army, there must be one commander, called commander; ten commanders under a general; ten generals under a leader. The constituents of the array of the army should be called after the names of trumpet sounds, flags and ensigns. Achievement of success in arranging the constituents of the army, in gathering the forces, in camping, in marching, in turning back, in making onslaughts, and in the array of equal strength depends upon the place and time of action. By the display of the army, by secret contrivances, by fiery spies employed to strike the enemy engaged otherwise, by witch-craft, by proclaiming the conqueror’s association with gods, by carts, by the ornaments of elephants; By inciting traitors, by herds of cattle, by setting fire to the camp, by destroying the wings and the rear of the enemy’s army, by sowing the seeds of dissension through the agency of men under the guise of servants; Or by telling the enemy that his fort was burnt, stormed, or that some one of his family, or an enemy or a wild chief rose in rebellion–by these and other means the conqueror should cause excitement to the enemy. The arrow shot by an archer may or may not kill a single man; but skillful intrigue devised by wise men can kill even those who are in the womb.

Copyright © 2019 by Kathiresan Ramachanderam

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