For a country like India, with multiple threats and a politico-bureaucratic establishment which treated mattersmilitary with utmost disdain, not tomention rank ignorance, Captin Bharat Verma made a very important contribution to the nation by founding Lancer Publishers and Indian Defence Review. His untimely death recently, owing to cancer, came as a great shock to many of his friends, associates and readers, all of who will miss his blunt and bold observations on national security and defence forces.
A bit of his story is best conveyed in an excerpt from his book, Fault Lines penned in his staccato style: “Two events impacted on me when my mother passed away. I was six plus. In 1958 I was sent to the Scindia School, Gwalior. Till 1968 this remained my new home. The school equipped me with extraordinary diverse skills. My mother left behind a large library of books. On long school breaks, I devoured them with zeal. These happenings equippedme with a streak of independence and analytical skills. My father’s honesty and integrity left a deep impression on me… By the time I reached Class VII, I was determined to join the Indian Army… During graduation at Indore Christian College, I was fascinated with Political Science and Geopolitics… The President of India was pleased to grant meCommission in the Army in 1972. Joined the 69 Armoured Regiment and later
transferred to the 84 Armoured Regiment. Returned my Commission to the President with gratitude in 1977. Army training instilled in me extraordinary stand-alone capabilities… I am neither a formally trained publisher nor an editor. These skills were learnt on the streets of Delhi. Set up Lancer in 1979, the first military publishing house in India. Launched Indian Defence Review in 1986. I am the editor since 1998… I contribute to newspapers like the Deccan Herald, www.sify.com and www.rediff.com and ppear on various television channels… I met a lovely and dignified lady, Anuradha. We married in 1982. She felt that I was incapable of writing more han a page ever. These extra pages are the result of such grave provocation! Our daughters Priyanka and Radhika continue to fill our lives with laughter, joy and the Next Gen ideas.”
True to cavalry form, Verma chose the name Lancer and set up shop in Delhi in 1983, as the foremost military publishing house, which later got added with “Military Bookshop”, enabling customers to order your books internationally at a click. Also, India emerged as the most economical destination in terms of publishing and printing and Lancer became ideal for producing your books and other literature at a fraction of the cost on all subjects and aspects. From design, layout, and printing to the end product, it could be shipped to you or your organization worldwide. Having published over 1000 books, in 2013 Verma opened a branch in New York under the able charge of Priyanka. Out of the over 1000 books published by Lancer, some of the outstanding ones are The Kaoboys of R&AW, India’s Wars since Independence, Indian Armed Forces, War in High Himalayas, Field Marshal KM Cariappa: His Life and Times, War Depsatches, In the Line of Duty, Indian Army After Independence, Prepare or Perish and 1962 and the McMahon Line Saga.
Prior to the launching of Indian Defence Review, Brigadier Gurmeet Kanwal (retd), former Director of Centre for Land Warfare Studies and a common friend, recalls a suggestion he made to Verma of beginning a journal of reproduced published articles/papers by well known foreign strategic writers. However after some time Kanwal expressed that much to his surprise, what Verma finally launched was the Indian Defence Review based entirely on original pieces written by Indian writers. The first and second Editors of Indian Defence Review were Lt Gen Mathew Thomas and Major General Afsir Karim, both Paratroopers. In 1997,
Verma himself took over. This journal, also a first of its kind in India, became increasingly popular, so much so, that one of the articles it carried provoked Indian Army to jump the gun and ban it only because it carried some irrefutable facts which the then top brass considered an embarrassment.
After Fault Lines was published, some comments Verma made when interviewed by Claude Arpi, author of 1962 and the McMahon Line Saga, merit mention here.
“At a time when very few in the country think of India as a unified whole, and vote anks are the only preoccupation of politicians, Verma spoke about the fault lines, not only in the defence sector but also in the nation’s psyche. “It is said that a long
time back, a king with an excellent military machine at his disposal could not stomach the violence involved in winning wars. So he renounced war. This led to the rise of the pacifist hilosophies, which created an ‘extreme’-where the state either refused to defend itself or neglected theinstruments that could defend it.
Pacifist philosophies may be good for the individual’s soul, but are suicidal for the ation’s security.
Any ‘extreme’ is dangerous, as it tends to create imbalance in statecraft. We saw ow the unjust unilateral aggression in Iraq diminished the American aura.
Pakistan’s over-aggressive agenda in the name of jihad haunts it now to the point of ragmentation of the state. China’s compulsory one- hild policy seems to be landing it in an extreme position where it will have 15 million young males who cannot find brides. This unnatural tilt in the male population could lead to war with its neighbours!
Similarly, pacifism is the other extreme. If it infects policymaking, then 26/11s will ccur on a regular basis. Or a ‘Tibet’ will happen.
Any thought process with an extreme edge would naturally create multiple fault lines in the subsystems of governance. Therefore, the creation of Pakistan based on an acute purity of thought process, vis-à-vis excessive pacifism of multi-cultural India, is contradictory. Such ‘extremes’ generate wars.
Armed with an aggressive Wahabi philosophy, Pakistan wants to destabilise a pacifist India. The latter’s instruments of state-steeped in pacifism-are unable to rise to its defence!
Of course, everyone promises to fight terrorism. But on the night of 26/11, if Home Affairs did not know that it could immediately request the military to activate the regular infantry battalion and the marine commandos stationed in Mumbai, then it is obvious nobody had done their homework in New Delhi! So without a concrete road map, I doubt these leaders are capable of waging a war against terrorism. It’s pure rhetoric meant for the consumption of the voter”.
Verma’s legacy has been courageously taken over by Anuradha, with daughters riyanka and Radhika as ardent supporters.