​​​​​​1. STAY THE COURSE: India’s stand on Ukraine is shaped by its national interest. It should continue to do so —with us or against us doesn’t work


  • PRIME MINISTER NARENDRA Modi’s phone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin underlined that Delhi will for now stick to a path of strategic ambivalence on the Ukraine crisis.
  • This is a pragmatic choice, one that reflects the complexities of a realist world and Delhi’s own positions on territorial integrity and sovereignty, its own concerns about its unresolved borders, its difficult relationship with its two northern neighbours.

India’s Compulsions:

  • Russia remains India’s biggest and time-tested supplier of military hardware: At the height of the crisis with China in Ladakh, it was to Moscow that Defence Minister Rajnath Singh travelled to ensure that there would be no cut-back in military supplies.  Since then, Russia has boosted India’s defence capability against China with the S-400 air defence system.
  • Moscow is also a reliable ally in the UN Security Council: India-Russia ties have ensured that Delhi has not been entirely left out of the conversation on Afghanistan, and in Central Asia, while also providing some leverage with the US.

Importance of partnership with the Western Nations(NATO members)

  • At the same time, the US, the European Union, and UK are all vital partners, and India’s relations with each of them, and the Western world in general, go far beyond the sum of their parts.
  • Moreover, in the UNSC, India has counted on France’s unstinted backing on many issues. It has relied on western support as it deals with an aggressive China on the Line of Actual Control(LAC).

Indian Response:

  • Indian is more critical of Russia this time: Prime Minister Modi’s appeal to President Putin on Wednesday night for a “cessation of violence” and for all sides to return to the dialogue table was certainly a notch up from India’s earlier explicitly neutral stance, and carried a hint of the compulsions to get off the fence, though still largely maintaining a balance.
  • India’s position may change even further: As the situation develops, it cannot be ruled out that Delhi’s position may change or get calibrated further, especially if confronted by large-scale civilian casualties.
  • During the UNSC resolution on Russia’s “special military operations” in Ukraine, and India’s line was tested. India rightly abstained from the vote.

Way Forward for India

  • Delhi must talk continually to all sides, and engage with all of its partners, keeping in mind that there is no justification for the violation of any country’s territorial sovereignty.
  • We must remember that distance from the theatre of conflict no longer insulates any country from its effects — India’s economy has already felt the shock of this “regional” conflict in a corner of Europe, and other consequences are apparent, as in the ongoing evacuation of thousands of students.
  • For the same reasons, India must also make it clear to coercing countries that their “with us or against us” formulations are hardly constructiveThere are no innocents in this conflict. The best course is for all parties to step back and focus on preventing an all-out war, rather than divide the world and return it to the days of the Cold War.

2.  Ahom warrior Lachit Borphukan and the battles of Alaboiand Saraighat

Rising Cultural Importance of Lachit Borphukan in the recent times

  • In Assam on a three-day visit, President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday inaugurated the year-long celebration of the 400th birth anniversary of Lachit Borphukan, commander of the Ahom forces and an icon of Assamese nationalism.
  • He also laid the foundation stone for the Alaboi war memorial, a tribute to soldiers who had fought and suffered a setback against the Mughals at Alaboi, two years before Lachit’s decisive victory at the battle of Saraighat in 1671.
  • Earlier this week, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had announced a number of projects in connection with the anniversary. Along with the Alaboi war memorial at Dadara, a Lachit Samadhi would be built this year over 22 bighas of land.

Mughal- Ahom Conflicts:

  • Ahom kings ruled large parts of what is now Assam, and parts of what are neighbouring states today, for nearly 600 years between the 13th and 19th centuries.
  • Between 1615 and 1682, the Mughal Empire made a series of attempts, under Jahangir and then Aurangzeb, to annex the Ahom kingdom
  • In January 1662, Mughal Governor of Bengal Mir Jumla’s forces engaged with the Ahom army and went on to occupy part of the territory under Ahom rule.
  • Between 1667 and 1682, the Ahoms under a series of rulers, starting with Chakradhwaj Singha, (reigned 1663-70) launched a counter-offensive to reclaim lost territories. This included the battles Lachit is remembered for.

Battle of Alaboi(1669), Aurangzeb dispatched the Rajput Raja Ram Singh I to recapture territories won back by the Ahoms. The battle of Alaboi was fought on August 5, 1969 in the Alaboi Hills near Dadara in North Guwahati.

  • While the Mughals preferred an open battle, Borphukan relied on his knowledge of the territory and engaged in guerrilla warfare, carrying out assaults on the Mughals.
  • After initial setbacks, Ram Singh sent his entire battery of Rajput soldiers and Mughal veterans and turned the tide of the battle. Ten thousand Ahoms died in the battle, according to a paper posted on the website of Assam’s archaeology department.

Battle of Saraighat(1671):

  • Unlike in Alaboi, where he was forced to fight on land instead of a naval battle, Lachit in Saraighat enticed the Mughals into a naval battle.
  • According to the historian H K Barpujari (The Comprehensive History of Assam), Ahom forces combined a frontal attack and a surprise attack from behind. They lured the Mughal fleet into moving ahead by feigning an attack with a few ships from the front.
  • The Mughals vacated the waters behind them, from where the main Ahom fleet attacked and achieved a decisive victory.
  • Lachit Borphukan (1622-72) was a  Borphukan(position with executive & Judicial power) in the Ahom kingdom, who commanded the battle.

Battle of Itakhuli(1682) : It was when Ahoms could completely defeat Mughals and recover all territories from them.  

Description of the Valour & tactical superiority  of the Ahoms by Mughals:

  • Historians describe how Ram Singh wrote to Aurangzeb that every Assamese soldier had expertise in rowing boats, shooting arrows, digging trenches and wielding guns and cannons.
  • “I have not seen such specimens of versatility in any other part of India. Glory to the King. Glory to the Commander. One single individual leads all the forces.
  • Even I, Ram Singh, being personally on the spot, have not been able to find any loophole,” historians quote his letter as saying.

Importance of Lachit Barphukan in the Assamese history:

  • Arup Kumar Dutta, author of The Ahoms, opines that Lachit Barphukan represented a time when the “Assamese race was united and able to fight an alien, formidable force such as the Mughals”. Years later, the British reduced a brave race to an abject state, he said. “Even in free India, we had to fight for everything.”
  • Dr Jahnabi Gogoi, a Dibrugarh University professor who specialises in medieval history, opines that “He [Lachit] was an able commander and his courage is all the more lauded because he was terribly ill during the war.”
  • Dr Gogoi said Lachit Divas has been celebrated on November 24, his birth anniversary, in Assam since the 1930s. He was “invoked under Congress too”, Dr Gogoi said. In 2017, former Assam Chief Minister Sarbananada Sonowal announced that Lachit Divas would be celebrated across the country.
  • He wasn’t only a “Hindu” warrior, as this misses the fact that many Muslims fought in the Ahom forces, including navy general Bagh Hazarika (Ismail Siddique) in a decisive role. Moreover, the attack on the Ahoms was led by a Rajput ally of Aurangzeb.
  • Today, Lachit Barphukan’s victory is honoured with a gold medal given every year to the best cadet graduating from the National Defence Academy (NDA). A bust of Lachit stands at the NDA’s entrance.


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