Thursday, December 14, 2017

What Good Are the Indian Navy's Aircraft Carriers Against Pakistan?(R)


                                                                  PART  I

What Good Are the Indian Navy's Aircraft Carriers Against Pakistan?


                             Robert Farley

Wednesday, December 13, 2017


                                        CHINA'S INDIA WAR  
                WHY BHARAT IS  MAHAN !! 
                            SARKAR'S WAR
                            ITS  OWNSELF

                      CHINA'S INDIA WAR

                                     [ ]

Published on Dec 11, 2017



06 December 2017






1. Wealth without work 2. Pleasure without conscience 3. Knowledge without character 4. Business without ethics 5. Science without humanity 6. Religion without sacrifice 7. Politics without principle

                           SARKAR'S WAR

                            ITS  OWNSELF

11 DEC 2017

Tuesday, December 12, 2017




 “To the soldier, O Rajadhiraja you owe a debt: please therefore, see to it on your own, that he continuously gets his dues in every form and respect, be they his needs or his wants, for he is not likely to ask for them himself”. He also warned the king, “the day the soldier has to demand his dues will be a sad day for Magadha.”



                                                                                                                                            VASUNDHRA the Shrewd Brahmin


Defence Ministry Needs an Image Overhaul

Over the years and for many reasons, the defence ministry (MoD) has been viewed as a stumbling block in national security, rather than being the prime mover. It has been viewed as being antagonistic to the armed forces, rather than a supporter. Amongst all the ministries of the government, it has faced the most flak for this reason.

The UPA regime refused to clear any defence deal, creating capability shortfalls and leaving the armed forces with such shortages of ammunition that even fighting a ten-day war was difficult. For years, A K Anthony only saw the Bofors ghost lurking around each corner, viewed every deal with suspicion and worried about his clean image being damaged. It led to the ministry losing even the basic respect it deserved.

The present government appeared to begin on a positive note, with Prime Minister Modi addressing the Rewari veterans' rally, promising to pay special attention to the military and its veterans. He gained full support in his campaign. With no defence minister at the helm for prolonged periods, the MoD continued with its antics. It gave false details to the pay commission, without clearing it from service headquarters leading to servicemen being degraded in status and salary in the seventh pay commission report, which the government accepted despite strong objections from the service chiefs.

It was the joint decision of the service chiefs against issuing the letter of acceptance which compelled the PMO to step in.

Other issues which dominated headlines were letters degrading the status of the armed forces vis-a-vis their civilian counterparts, refusing to process their case for the grant of NFU (Non-Functional Upgradation), propelling a group to approach the courts for a decision and even supporting government decisions on cancellation of rations. It has claimed to be studying the Reddy commission report a year after it was submitted. It kept silent while veterans were hounded out of Jantar Mantar, not once but twice, and has ignored OROP anomalies.

Every day there are reports of war widows, including those of gallantry awardees and aged veterans challenging the government in courts for their rightful pensions, being denied by the accounts department of the MoD finance. This despite having obtained justice from the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT). Some officers sitting in MoD prefer to challenge these humane and just decisions of AFTs in higher courts, while the defence minister keeps quiet, adding to the suffering of widows and veterans.

Are these deliberate actions or accidental or being done to compel service headquarters to waste time and reams of paper only on resolving non-issues? It is a fact that those who serve in the MoD have little knowledge of matters military, seek privileges which flow from being a part of the armed forces but battle to remain at their helm. The impression being conveyed to the nation is that the MoD is a monster, seeking to dominate the services, subdue their voice and lower their status, while denying them the capabilities they need to ensure national security.

For every ill, the MoD is blamed, because as an organisation it has neither amalgamated the service HQs nor have its representatives as a part of it. Yet it continues to take decisions impacting the armed forces with a lack of understanding and knowledge. Publicly it is visualised as being aloof, uncaring, unresponsive and insensitive.

At the same time, the present defence minister has shown her desire to interact more with service chiefs and veterans than her predecessors and appears to be concerned about service-related issues. She is possibly the first defence minister in a long time with minimum outside responsibilities and hence is able to devote complete attention to the armed forces. If this is the truth, then the MoD must make efforts to change its image from that of an opponent to one of a friend in the eyes of the common Indian, who supports the armed forces because of its sacrifice and commitment.

The first action that the defence minister must take is to direct her staff to stop approaching higher courts, especially in cases of pensions and disability issues which concern war widows and veterans. Unless special focus is given to veteran and war widows' welfare, the ministry would continue to be criticised for being insensitive. If George Fernandes, as defence minister, could threaten sending erring defence ministry officials to Siachen, she could do the same with those adding to the agony of war widows and veterans.

The next action is to withdraw the challenge of the government in the NFU case. It would resolve much of the anger which presently permeates throughout the service and would be an immense morale booster. On similar lines is the case of 'Military Service Pay (MSP)' for Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs), a small issue but one that has immense impact on morale.

The veteran community today stands with the serving. Those in service today are veterans of tomorrow. A positive approach to their problems, resettlement and pensions would enhance the image of the MoD and of the government.

The minister must pull up ordnance factories for their tardiness and hold them accountable for their lapses, especially their poor-quality products. Decisions on defence procurements must be based more on service HQ inputs than on suggestions of her scientific advisor, who would invariably support the DRDO in its development. This would not be difficult as both these organisations directly function under her ministry.

Finally, the armed forces need to be amalgamated into the MoD. By keeping them away, they are neither in decision making, nor are their interests ever considered, only enhancing the swelling anger against the ministry. Functionally too, the present system is obsolete, especially for a rising superpower.

The MoD needs to alter its image, which has in recent times been negative. Nirmala Sitharaman has proved to be an able administrator and has indicated a desire to act. But unless she puts in concerted efforts to change the outlook of her own staff, the MoD would continue to face criticism.

(The writer is a retired Major-General of the Indian Army.)


             Dignity is What the Military Seeks

                             Harsha Kakar 

There has been rising discontent within the armed forces on reports of likely degradation in their status as against other central services. There are fears of it being downgraded to Group B, rather than remaining the Group A service it presently is.
Over decades, governments under the influence of a powerful bureaucracy, have been lowering the status of the armed forces who have silently endured it. Now they have decided that enough is enough and began raising their voice. The ‘Equivalence Committee’ created by erstwhile defence minister Manohar Parrikar is to give its verdict on parity in ranks between the armed forces and civilian employees of the central government.
The committee was set up after the military objected to issue of a letter on 18 October 2016 by the Ministry of Defence (MoD), wherein it brought military officers serving in service HQs down by a notch. The three member committee is headed by Additional Secretary (Defence production) and includes the Director General Military Operations (DGMO) as a member.
The issue of the letter was an internal unilateral action without even seeking concurrence of the MHA, which maintains the warrant of precedence. The service HQs protested, compelling the MoD to act. In addition, the 
Cabinet recently created additional vacancies for the Armed Forces HQs (AFHQ) civil service by allocating seven posts of Principal Director and thirty-six posts of Director. 
Hence, they would need to create additional slots or grab some in service HQs, causing further imbalance. This increase could possibly be one of the reasons behind the proposed downgrading.
There are also reports that attempts are being made to ensure the armed forces are not granted Non-Functional Upgradation (NFU), allocated to other central services. NFU was being scuttled by the bureaucracy despite service HQs regularly raising it through official channels, compelling a few to approach the Supreme Court for justice.
The court saw merit and the battle is presently in its final stage with the government likely to be forced to comply. 

The only way the bureaucracy can scuttle the case is by downgrading the military from Grade A to a Grade B service.

 Such an action, if taken, would impact civil-military relations adversely, which the government must step in to prevent. Hence the importance of the ‘Equivalence Committee’ report.

Every day there are reports of aged war widows and war- wounded veterans being compelled to approach the apex court for justice, after the MoD refuses to accept the verdict of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) in their favour.

The army has been repeatedly approaching the MoD saying that soldiers martyred while handling operational issues on any front, eastern or western, deserve the same terminal benefits but to no avail, forcing many to approach courts. The MoD, supposedly the guardian of the armed forces, is battling its own widows and wounded veterans in court for their legitimate dues, solely because it is in competition with its own subordinate HQs.

 There are also rumours that the AFHQ cadre is seeking a share of administrative member vacancies in the AFT.

The administrative member is tasked to advice the judicial member on military rules, ethos, service constraints and regulations. An AFHQ cadre with zero experience of matters military would only make the provision of justice from the AFT a mockery. The rising discontent within the military is away from public glare as the servings are compelled to maintain silence knowing that veterans would raise their voices on their behalf. The battle for who controls whom stems from misunderstanding the political versus bureaucratic control over the military. Logically it should be the political class alone but in India, inexperienced politicians, holding multiple responsibilities leave it to the MoD (civilian staffed) to manage daily functioning.

Further, most politicians are exposed to defence for the first time and avoid dealing with beribboned generals. They are more at ease with civilian MoD personnel.

MoD staffers only seek to enjoy military perks including canteen and transportation, while aiming to control it without responsibility and accountability. Civilian bureaucrats, who have possibly never visited a military establishment other than on a holiday, and have no understanding of tactics, strategy, equipment profile, capacity and capability development sit on judgement on military matters.

They are always at the receiving end of CAG and parliamentary committee of defence reports, yet refuse to act or respond.

By downgrading, they hope to gain more privileges and add insult to serving military officers, senior in age and service with much more experience. 

Governments have historically been degrading the military, solely because it lacked a voice, was bound by rules and could never agitate. The OROP agitation shook the government and it conceded this demand in part. 
Another veterans’ agitation if the military is downgraded would hit the government hard, especially with elections around the corner.
Governments are aware that the military would stand tall in its responsibility and never let its guard down. It has been at the forefront in all crises and would continue to remain dependable. Hence it ignores military requests and acts on the seemingly illogical advice of the bureaucracy. The armed forces have never demanded to be senior to other services. They have never demanded higher perks and privileges, despite placing life and limb in danger, while those seeking to control it never leave the safety of their plush offices. They have only requested for equivalence with other central services considering their experience and seniority. If equality in status in the Indian system flows through pay, then so be it.
As Chanakya had advised his king,

 “To the soldier, O Rajadhiraja you owe a debt: please therefore, see to it on your own, that he continuously gets his dues in every form and respect, be they his needs or his wants, for he is not likely to ask for them himself”. He also warned the king, “the day the soldier has to demand his dues will be a sad day for Magadha.”

Will the defence minister fight for the common solider and take a stand against her ministry? Will the government ensure the military gets its due or support the bureaucracy and let it down once again or will the veterans agitate and shake the government?
The nation is watching.
(The writer is a retired Major-General of the Indian Army)



                        [ ]

                      NATION WILL BE VICTORIOUS

Saturday, December 9, 2017

INDIAN HISTORY MUSLIM PERIOD ; India Should Be Grateful to Alauddin Khilji for Thwarting the Mongol Invasions (r)


India Should Be Grateful to Alauddin Khilji for Thwarting the Mongol Invasions

9 Sep 2017

Depiction of the Mongol siege of Baghdad, 1258. credit: Wikimedia

For the past month, Rajasthan has been convulsed by a controversy over the Bollywood movie, Padmavati, based on Padmavat – a prose-poem written by Malik Muhammad Jayasi in 1540 CE which uses Alauddin Khilji’s conquest of Chittor in 1303 CE and his supposed obsession with Rani Padmini of Chittor as a backdrop for its ficitional tale.
None of the politicians and activists accusing the film maker of denigrating the honour of the Rajput queen of Chittor, Padmini, and glorifying the “Muslim conqueror Khilji” has even seen the film yet.
Much of the controversy is fuelled by ill-feeling towards Khilji, based on the fact that he was an oppressive ruler to his subjects, who were mostly Hindu. So the possibility of romance – or even unrequited love – between a Muslim “villain” and a Hindu queen being depicted on screen, even as a fantasy, as has been rumoured, infuriates Hindu right-wing groups.

What is not well-known, however, is that Khilji, for all his faults, saved India from a fate much worse than even his own oppressive rule – that of the murderous Mongols, who tried to invade the Indian subcontinent six times during his reign as the sultan of Delhi, and failed miserably, thanks to his brilliance as a general, the quality, discipline, and bravery of his army and its commanders, and their superior military tactics.

A portrait of Allauddin Khilji, made in the 17th century. Credit: Wikimedia
What the Mongol invaders inflicted on Persia, the Caliphate of Baghdad, Russia, and elsewhere is well documented – genocide, the destruction of infrastructure, and the destruction of native culture, literature, and religious institutions. Their habit of leaving conquered countries as wastelands that would not spring back for at least a hundred years, and their tendency to rule even the regions they settled in, such as Russia, in an exploitative and backward way, are well-known to historians and laypersons alike.
Against this backdrop, one can safely argue that Alauddin Khilji, for all his faults, actually saved the syncretic culture of the Indian subcontinent of that time – which included Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, and Jain subcultures – from enormous destruction, even if preserving the culture of India may not have been what motivated his resistance to the Mongols.
Indeed, Khilji is a classic study in the layered and complex nature of historical figures whom it is impossible to portray in the black-and-white terms that modern politics seems to demand.

Khilji is rightly viewed negatively for his cruelty and brutality; but he should also, in fairness, be seen as the saviour of Hindustan that he unwittingly ended up being, by repelling the formidable and ruthless Mongol hordes.

The Mongols, scourge of God
The Mongols were largely illiterate, so much of their history was written by the people of the territories they conquered, such as the Islamic lands of the near east, and of China and Russia. Much of what we know about them is based on the writings of scholars such as Rashid al-Din and other Islamic scholars who lived in the time of the Mongols.
The Mongol dynasty was founded in 1206 CE, when a council of Mongol tribesmen elected the warrior Temujin as their leader and conferred upon him, at the age of 44, the title of Genghis – meaning “Mighty” – Khan. In the Indian subcontinent, he is known as Changez Khan. Radiating outwards from Mongolia, the Mongols, first under Genghis and, after his death in 1227 CE, under his sons and grandsons, embarked upon a plan of global conquest that resulted in the largest land empire in history – conquering China, Russia, Central Asia, Persia, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Kashmir, and eastern Europe (parts of Hungary and Poland), and left a trail of death and destruction behind them.
The map below shows the extent of the Mongol empire in 1294 CE, which is just two years before Alauddin Khilji ascended the throne of Delhi.

The extent of the Mongol empire, circa 1294

Upon Genghis Khan’s death, the Mongol empire was partitioned into four parts. Eventually, these became the [a] Yuan dynasty in China, famous for Genghis’s grandson Kublai Khan; [b]  the Golden Horde in Russia, which was founded by Genghis’s grandson Batu Khan; the [c ] Chaghatai Khanate of Central Asia, headquartered around Uzbekistan, founded by Genghis’s son Chaghatai Khan; and the [d ]Ilkhanate of western Asia, founded by Genghis’s grandson Hulagu Khan. The Mongols were the dominant military power in the world from the rise of Genghis Khan until at least the middle of the 14th century. With the exception of a few minor defeats involving small forces in battle, such as the 

Battle of Ayn Jalut, click/google  url to read further ]    no military could defend itself against their onslaught.

The Mongols, being nomads, usually did not settle in the lands they conquered. Their goals were simple: exact tributes and treasure from the kingdoms they had conquered, and take from them the latest technology they possessed, in addition to the most beautiful women for their harem and the most able-bodied men for their military. They would demand all this from any nation before actually attacking them. If the ruler accepted their suzerainty and paid the stiff tribute demanded, the Mongols would leave his kingdom unharmed. If he refused, they would raze that kingdom to the ground and leave behind a wasteland. As Curtin describes it,

“The Mongols destroyed every living thing; even the cats and dogs in the city were killed by them.”

The Mongols themselves had no unique religious identity, and the Mongol nation was a fairly secular multi-ethnic meritocracy from the time of Genghis Khan. Hence, religion was not a strong motivating factor in their attacks. As an example, Hulagu was a mixture of the traditional Mongol religion of Tengrism and Buddhism, and his wife was Nestorian Christian.

Hulagu Khan. Credit: Wikimedia
The Mongols did not just invade and conquer; they exterminated civilisations. To give just an idea, during Genghis’s invasion of the Persian Empire, these were the number of people put to death in some of the cities overcome by the Mongols in 1222 CE: Urgench, 1 million; Merv, 700,000; Nishapur, 1.7 million; Rey, 500,000 (an estimate based on the order that every male should be killed in a city of approximately a million people); and Herat, 1.6 million. That’s nearly 6 million people just from these cities, at a time when the world population is estimated at 400 million. In other words,

the Mongols are said to have killed 1.5% of the world population in a single campaign.

When Hulagu Khan – known in the Indian subcontinent as ‘Halaku’ – sacked Baghdad in 1258, he is believed to have killed several hundred thousand people. His own estimate of the death toll was 200,000. He single-handedly ended what is known as the Islamic Golden Age. Ibn Iftikhar, quoting Islamic scholars, writes

the Mongols stormed the country and killed everyone they were able to find, including men, women, children, old, young, sick, and healthy. People would try to hide inside wells, gardens, and they even fled towards the hills and mountains. However, the Mongols would continue on, finding even people on the rooftops of their homes and inside the mosques. The streets ran blood ‘like rainwater in a valley.’
He also reports, “The Mongols destroyed mosques, palaces, grand buildings, hospitals, and libraries. The Mongols raided the House of Wisdom itself. The Tigris river ran black from the ink of the books that were thrown into the river, mixed with the blood of the slain.” The destruction the Mongols wreaked on the Muslim world was so great – it came close to wiping out Islamic civilisation – that most Muslims of the time viewed it as a form of divine retribution for the sins they had committed.
The Golden Horde under Batu Khan invaded Russia in 1238-1240 CE with the same brutality as in the other cases described above. Entire populations of towns like Ryazan and Kiev were massacred. But what is even more interesting about the Russian invasion is the effect of Mongol rule on a country in which they actually settled and ruled for 250 years. As Cicek explains,
“Soviet historians argued that the Mongol invasion greatly delayed Russia’s economic development. Tribute payments and the destruction of commercial centers delayed the growth of a money economy. The town economies based on handicrafts were completely destroyed, throwing Russia back by several centuries. The economy of Europe, however, flourished in this period, preparing the necessary ground for the industrial revolution. The Mongols also prevented the agricultural development of Russia, which further worsened the commercial position of Russia, especially in comparison to the West. Russia not only lost the vital trade route of the Dvina River but also lost some of its territories in the west to Lithuania, Sweden, and the Teutonic Knights. To summarize, the net effect of the Tatar yoke on the Russian economy, according to Soviet historians, was overwhelmingly negative. The Mongols gave nothing but destruction and looting to the Russian people.”
The sacking of Suzdal by Batu Khan. Credit: Wikimedia

What they did was plunge Russia into its ‘Dark Age.’ Another destructive legacy of the Mongols in their 250-year rule of Russia was the institution of serfdom.

         Khilji’s repulsion of the Mongol                                   
                     invasions of India

Alauddin Khilji was born in Delhi in 1266 CE, lived his entire life in the Indian subcontinent, and ruled as sultan of Delhi from 1296 CE – 1316 CE. By any definition, he would have to be called an Indian monarch, not a foreign invader. As a ruler, he would prove himself to be one of India’s greatest warrior kings and one of the world’s great military geniuses.

Historical details about the Khiljis are obtained from fundamental sources such as Ferishta, who lived during the time of the sultan of Bijapur, Ibrahim Adil Shah II, and Ziauddin Barani, who lived at the time of Mohammad Bin Tughlaq and Firuz Shah Tughlaq. These accounts are well-summarised in the works of eminent contemporary historians such as K.S. LalSatish Chandra, and Peter Jackson.

Khilji greatly expanded the empire that he inherited from his uncle, Sultan Jalaluddin Khilji, after killing him. Many of his conquests were of kingdoms ruled by Hindu kings, including Chittor, Devgiri, Warangal (from where he acquired the famous Kohinoor diamond), Gujarat, Ranthambore, and the Hoysala and Pandya kingdoms. He was able to do all this not because these other kingdoms were weak, but because he was a great soldier and general with a well-trained and disciplined army, using superior Turkic cavalry and infantry tactics, and had built a solid economic base which provided him with the resources to finance these campaigns.

During Khilji’s rule, the Mongols of the Chaghatai Khanate under Duwa Khan repeatedly tried to invade the Indian subcontinent. The attacks that occurred during the reign of Alauddin Khilji were not the first time that the Mongols had invaded India. But, as Lal puts it, “All these were minor invasions as compared with those that occurred in the time of Alauddin; and it was the good fortune of India that the most tremendous assaults were delivered to this country when a strong monarch like Alauddin was the ruler.”

Khilji, by his military brilliance, managed to defeat the Mongols not once, but five times, and avoided defeat a sixth time even when taken by surprise, as the Mongols attacked with massive forces.
The first invasion attempt was carried out in 1298 CE, and involved 100,000 horsemen. Alauddin sent an army commanded by his brother Ulugh Khan and the general Zafar Khan, and this army comprehensively defeated the Mongols, with the capture of 20,000 prisoners, who were put to death.
In 1299 CE, the Mongols invaded again, this time in Sindh, and occupied the fort of Sivastan. Alauddin despatched  Zafar Khan to defeat them and recapture the fort, which he did, even without the need for siege machines.
The Battle of Kili
This humiliating defeat prompted Duwa Khan to attempt another full-scale assault on India in 1299 CE, and he sent his son, Qutlugh Khwaja, with 200,000 soldiers, determined to finish off the Delhi Sultanate once and for all. The Mongol army came fully equipped for this assault on Delhi and for a long campaign, with sufficient food provisions. Alauddin’s own advisors were panic-stricken and advised him not to confront the dreaded Mongols who had come in such force.
It should be mentioned here that Alauddin’s predecessor, Jalaluddin, had averted war with the Mongols in a previous attack by agreeing to humiliating demands from them. But Alauddin was determined to fight to the end. As Lal describes it, he told his advisor,
“How could he hold the sovereignty of Delhi if he shuddered to encounter the invaders? What would his contemporaries and those adversaries who had marched two thousand kos to fight him say when he ‘hid behind a camel’s back’? And what verdict would posterity pronounce on him? How could he dare show his countenance to anybody, or even enter the royal harem, if he was guilty of cowardice, and endeavoured to repel the Mongols with diplomacy and negotiations? … ‘Come what may, I am bent upon marching tomorrow into the plain of Kili, where I propose joining in battle with Qutlugh Khwaja.’”
Alauddin met Qutlugh Khwaja at Kili, and the day was won by the bravery and martyrdom of his general Zafar Khan. (That the Mongols retreated because of Zafar Khan’s actions is the only explanation postulated by Barani, and quoted by Lal and Chandra; however, Jackson doubts this explanation and says the real reason the Mongols withdrew was that Qutlugh Khwaja was mortally wounded in the battle, a fact confirmed by other sources.) The defeated Mongols went back to their country without stopping once on the way.
After Chittor, a surprise challenge
However, Duwa Khan was not satisfied. In 1303 CE, he again sent a huge force of 120,000 horsemen to attack Delhi, under General Taraghai. This was, unfortunately for Alauddin, immediately after his long battle with and victory over the kingdom of Chittor. That Alauddin was busy with his attack on Chittor was known to Taraghai, and was one of the key factors in his planning. Alauddin was taken completely by surprise. His army was greatly depleted and had suffered great losses in equipment in the battle for Chittor. He tried to get reinforcements from other parts of the empire, but the Mongols had blocked all the roads to Delhi.

Yet Alauddin did not lose heart, and fought a gallant defensive battle. Lal explains it thus:
“Sultan Alauddin gathered together whatever forces he had in the capital, and arrayed his forces in the plains of Siri. As it was impossible to fight the Mongols in an open engagement with so small an army, Alauddin decided to exhaust the patience of the besiegers by strengthening his defence lines. On the east of Siri lay the river Jamuna, and on the south-west was the old citadel of Delhi, although by the time of Taraghai’s invasion it had not been repaired. In the south lay the dense jungle of Old Delhi. The only vulnerable side, therefore, was the north, where the Mongols had pitched their camp.”
Alauddin dug trenches and built ramparts and created a strong defensive position that made it impossible for Taraghai to defeat him. After two months of trying hard to break Alauddin’s defences, Taraghai lost patience and returned home. This was clearly brilliant generalship under extremely adverse circumstances which would have meant certain defeat for anyone who was not as resolute and as resourceful.
This close shave made Alauddin realize the need for stronger defence of the capital, and he took various measures, such as constructing a wall, repairing forts, and the like. As a result, Delhi was never again at risk of conquest by the Mongols.
In 1305 CE, seeking to avenge their previous defeats, the Mongols invaded again, under the leadership of Taraghai, Ali Beg, and Tartaq, with a force of 50,000 horsemen. Taraghai was killed in a preliminary clash even before arriving in Delhi, but Ali Beg and Tartaq pushed on. Knowing Delhi to be strongly defended, they started plundering the countryside of Avadh.  Alauddin sent a force of 30,000 to 40,000 horsemen with the general Malik Nayak to meet the Mongols and inflicted a crushing defeat on them on December 30, 1305. Twenty thousand horses belonging to the enemy were captured, and most of the soldiers were slaughtered. 8000 prisoners of war were brought to Delhi, including the two generals, who were subsequently beheaded.
The last attempt to invade the Delhi Sultanate was made by Duwa in 1306 CE, just before his death, when he sent the generals Kubak and Iqbalmand with an army of 50,000 to 60,000 horsemen. Kubak advanced in the direction of the Ravi river, and Iqbalmand advanced in the direction of Nagor. Alauddin dispatched his favorite general, Malik Kafur, to deal with the Mongols. Kafur defeated Kubak in a battle on the Ravi and captured him alive. He then intercepted the second force at Nagor and defeated that as well. Only 3000 or 4000 soldiers remained of the Mongol invasion force.
Thus, Alauddin Khilji achieved what no other ruler in the world, east or west, had achieved. He repeatedly repulsed and defeated large-scale invasions by the Mongols, who had been an unstoppable force wherever they had gone — Russia, China, Persia, Iraq, Syria, Europe. He was able to repel forces of up to 200,000 Mongol horsemen. In comparison, the force that Hulagu took with him to Baghdad and used to completely destroy the Caliphate had only 150,000 horsemen.
The Mongols had not become weak and feeble since the sack of Baghdad in 1258 – this was not the reason for Alauddin’s success. As an illustration, his uncle who preceded Alauddin as Sultan of Delhi preferred to “make a settlement, giving the Mongols very favourable terms”, to use Lal’s words. Alauddin’s own advisors advised him in 1299 CE to submit rather than fight the feared Mongols; but Alauddin Khilji proved superior to his formidable Mongol foes.

The Alai Darwaza in delhi, commissioned by Alauddin Khilji. Credit: Wikimedia
Khilji’s legacy to the Indian subcontinent
From the knowledge of how other countries fared under the Mongols, it is fair to say that had the Mongols conquered India, India would have likely been set back at least two or three hundred years in its development. A large part of the knowledge and culture that had been accumulated in India over millenia might well have been destroyed. Every library, school, temple, mosque and even home would have likely been burnt to the ground. As the Russian experience shows, even if the Mongols had settled down in the Indian subcontinent (an unlikely proposition, given the hot Indian weather), the consequences for India would probably not have been savoury.
So the Mongols were not like any other invader. If Khilji had lost to the Mongols, the outcome would not have been as benign as when Ibrahim Lodi lost to Babur. In that case, one ‘foreign’ ruler who had recently made India his home was replaced by another, but the Indian subcontinent itself did not suffer greatly. If the Mongols had won against Khilji, they would probably have wiped a large percentage of India’s cultural heritage off the map of the world. 

If we have ancient traditions in India that survive to this day, a large part of the credit for that has to go to Alauddin Khilji, one of history’s greatest warrior-kings.

By all accounts, Alauddin Khilji was not a benevolent king to his subjects. But he also was a brave soldier and a brilliant general who saved the Indian subcontinent from certain destruction. Of course, Khilji did not resist the Mongols to save Indian culture and civilisation; he did what he did to save himself. But that is true of every ruler who defends their kingdom against a foreigner, whether that be Shivaji, Rana Pratap, or Laxmibai of Jhansi.

These days, it is becoming increasing common to paint one-dimensional portraits of people: “Hindu hero,” “Islamic tyrant,” “Islamic hero,” etc. But the problem with such stereotypes is that people are not monolithic — they are complex and layered.

The man you hate as a Muslim bigot may also be the reason you are a Hindu today.

Was Alauddin Khilji a bigot?
The story of Alauddin Khilji shows us that we need to understand history in its entirety. Just as most Indians are unaware of Alauddin Khilji’s role in stopping many Mongol invasions, even the image of Khilji as someone who persecuted Hindus is based on an incomplete understanding of history.
To be sure, Khilji was an extremely cruel, suspicious and vindictive man, and meted out barbaric punishments to those who antagonised him. But his cruelty was impartial, and made no distinction between Hindus and Muslims.
Historians are generally agreed that while Alauddin Khilji was a cruel despot, he was not a bigot. He was a pragmatist.
One statement that has been widely circulated in recent times as proof of Alauddin’s bigotry comes from Ziauddin Barani, who mentions (Kulke and Rothermund) that Alauddin asked wise men to 

“supply some rules and regulations for grinding down the Hindus, and for depriving them of that wealth and property which fosters rebellion. The Hindu was to be so reduced as to be left unable to keep a horse to ride on, to carry arms, to wear fine clothes, or to enjoy any of the luxuries of life.”
The first thing one needs to understand about this statement is the source. As Peter Jackson explains, Barani himself was an extreme bigot, writing in his Tarikh-i-Firuz-Shah that Hindus should be looted and enslaved and the Brahmins, in particular, should be massacred en masse. Some of what Barani writes about Alauddin, therefore, reflects his own prejudice more than Alauddin’s. In fact, there are many places where he disapproves of Alauddin as having been too soft on Hindus.
The next thing to understand is that the main revenue of the state came from agriculture, and most of the farmers were Hindus. Alauddin needed to finance his expensive military campaigns, and for this, he levied heavy taxes on the farmers — and hence the Hindus. This was rightly viewed as oppression; but the motivation for the oppression was fiscal, not religious.
An additional motivation for Alauddin in impoverishing the farmers was that there was a constant threat of rebellion against him. This threat arose both from the wealthy farmers as well as from the Muslim nobility. Alauddin acted with equal brutality in suppressing both threats. A poor farmer was not a threat.
Other instances of brutality that Alauddin engaged in were during his conquests. It just happened that many of his conquests were of Hindu rajas and, as Lal explains it, “It is true that during the process of conquest, atrocities were committed, but in times of war suffering is inevitable. With the establishment of peace and order, no organised persecution of Hindus was possible.”
That religion and religious doctrine were anyway secondary to administrative policy for Alauddin are clear from an exchange that Barani notes between Alauddin and the cleric Qazi Mughis, in which Alauddin says:
To prevent rebellions in which thousands perish, I issue such orders as I conceive to be for the good of the state, and the benefit of the people. Men are heedless, disrespectful, and disobey my commands. I am then compelled to be severe and bring them to obedience. I do not know whether this is according to the sharia, or against the sharia; whatever I think for the good of the state or suitable for the emergency, that I decree.
Even the much-reviled religious tax, the jaziyah, was levied rather inconsistently, as Chandra points out: “Jaziyah as a separate tax affected only a small section in the towns. As such, it could hardly be considered a device for forcing conversion to Islam.”
In conclusion, it seems clear from various historical sources that the rule of Alauddin Khilji was not characterized by bigotry. And it would not have been practical, in any case, to indulge in large-scale discrimination against the Hindu majority — not only for Alauddin, but for any sultan, for the rulers were in the minority. As Barani says, Iltutmish, one of Alauddin’s predecessors, once explained to his clergy that Muslims were as scarce in India as “salt in a dish of food,” and hence he could not afford to be too harsh with the Hindus.

Seshadri Kumar is an R&D Chemical Engineer with a BTech from IIT Bombay and an MS and a PhD from the University of Utah, U.S. He writes regularly on political, social, economic, and cultural affairs at www.
The author would like to thank the following people for reading drafts of this article and offering valuable suggestions that have greatly improved it: Ajoy Ashirwad, Anirban Mitra, Prof. Harbans Mukhia, Prof. Partho Sarathi Ray, Ramdas Menon, and Sandhya Srinivasan. The author would also like to thank all those who participated in discussing an earlier and much shorter version of this article that he had posted on Facebook — those discussions have helped sharpen the focus and improve this expanded version