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Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi
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Management lessons from Rani of Jhansi

February 26, 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 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 second in a series of articles on management lessons drawn from Indian history. This one picks out management gems from the battle for Jhansi.

The battle for Jhansi (1858 AD)

The British government had decreed that all independent kingdoms which did not have a male successor had to merge with the Empire. An adopted son was not considered a successor.

This caused problems for Rani Lakshmibai whose adopted son, Damodar Rao, would not have been able to ascend the throne after her husband, Raja Gangadhar Rao, died.

She told the British envoy she would not part with her kingdom, Jhansi, despite knowing she could land into trouble. She had consulted her subjects, who had enthusiastically supported her in taking up the issue with British legally, if not militarily.

Residents of Jhansi were made aware of this new situation. If the legal battle didn't go in her favour, she would have to take to arms.

Lesson: Involve the team in any major decision-making process. When one has the buy-in, it yields far better results.

Image: Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi. | Rhotographs: Rediff Archives

Also read: Management lessons from the Battle of Haldighati


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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