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Management lessons from wars in India

February 18, 2009

Text: Utkarsh Rai

Throughout history, wars have left an indelible mark on human psyche. Serious debates have been held on the morality of and the strategic necessity for war. And yet, like every dark cloud that has a silver lining, wars too at times leave a society wiser.

India too is no stranger to wars. And there are many lessons to be learnt from each of those battles -- management lessons, to be precise. Here we present the first of a series of articles on management lessons drawn from Indian history. This one picks out management gems from the Battle of Haldighati.

Battle of Haldighati (1576 AD)

Mughal Emperor Akbar had captured Chittorgarh (Chittor fort) from Maharaja Udai Singh II in 1568. But before this, Udai Singh sensed the Mughals' intention to capture Chittor and the strength of the army. Thus, he built a new town at Udaipur near the foothills of the Aravali mountains. Udai Singh II, father of Maharana Pratap, shifted his capital to Udaipur, when Chittor fell.

Lesson: Prepare a backup plan to face any contingency. This plan should be executed at an appropriate time when the current plan fails to deliver the desired result. This is what Maharaja Udai Singh II had done by building a new town and seamlessly shifting the capital when Chittor fell.

Image: Chittorgarh fort as it stands today. | Rediff file photographs

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The author, based in Bangalore, is the managing director of an IT multinational firm. He has also written two books: Offshoring Secrets, and the forthcoming Myths & Realities @ the Office.

Disclaimer: Since history is replete with different versions of the same event, chances are that some of the stories written here might not match with the version that the reader is conversant with. However, the article has been written not with the intention of being unerringly accurate on the historic account, but to use the event as a source of information from which to draw strategic management lessons.

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