Gurgaon: There is need for reorienting the country’s strategic thinking and reappraising its higher defence organisations, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said today, noting that India was well positioned to become a net provider of security in its immediate region and beyond.
The prime minister, who laid the foundation stone of Indian National Defence University (INDU) at Binola village in Gurgaon district, said India faces the entire spectrum of security challenges as it lies in a difficult neighbourhood.
Binola is located on the national highway to Jaipur. About 200 acres of land for the university was acquired by the Haryana government in Binola, Bilaspur villages and handed over to the Defence Ministry in April.
The prime minister said India had today unprecedented access to high technology, capital and partnerships and had also sought to assume responsibility for stability in the Indian Ocean region.
“We are well positioned, therefore, to become a net provider of security in our immediate region and beyond,” he said.
The prime minister said challenges and opportunities for the country should prompt “reorientation of our strategic thinking and a reappraisal of our highest defence organisation.”
“It is imperative that the country’s defence professionals remain abreast of the complex environment we face and the avenues that are available as a result of the enormous transition taking place in India. That is where this university comes in,” he said.
Noting that India’s neighbourhood provides a full range of conventional, strategic and non-traditional challenges, the prime minister said world was witnessing change on a scale and speed rarely seen before.
“Nowhere is this change more pronounced than in Asia, where we are witnessing multiple security challenges on account of the intersection of fragile states, internal conflicts, proliferation of arms and terrorist groups,” he said.
He said explosive development of technology was also transforming defence capabilities and new challenges will emerge as dependence on cyber and outer space grows.
The prime minister said the university was meant to ensure that the country, the government and the armed forces benefit from the best military advise that is available.
“It is meant to provide an avenue for our thinkers and policymakers to understand the complexities of war. It is also meant to provide our defence professionals with a deep understanding of the interplay between all attributes of national power,” he added.
He said the students at the university would need to map the contours of foreign conflicts and understand the relationship between defence and finance, between external and internal security and between defence and diplomacy.
The university, which would inject much-needed strategic culture in governance, is expected to adequately prepare national security leaders to look holistically at security challenges and frame policies based on informed research.
Defence Minister A. K. Antony, in his speech, said the university will be ready by 2018-19 and would go a long way in enhancing the capabilities of security leaders.
The Indian Air Force chief, Air Chief Marshal N. K. Browne, who is the current head of the chiefs of staff committee, said there was need for making future civilian and military leaders adept at functioning in complex scenarios at the national and international levels.
The function was attended among others, by central ministers Salman Khurshid and Selja, National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon, Indian Army chief Gen. Bikram Singh, Indian Navy chief Admiral D. K. Joshi, Haryana Governor Jagannath Pahadia and Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda.
Officials said INDU will be a unique autonomous institution of national importance which will develop and propagate higher education in defence studies, defence management and defence science and technology and promote policy-oriented research related to defence.
The university, which was first mooted over four decades ago, will be instituted by an act of parliament with the defence minister as itschancellor.
The university will be headed by a president, who would be a three-star serving general or an equivalent officer from the other two services.
Sixty-six percent of the students would be from the armed forces and 33 percent students would be drawn from among civilians, police and other government agencies.
The present institutes of armed forces, including the National Defence College (NDC) in New Delhi, the Defence Services Staff College (DSSC) Wellington, College of Defence Management (CDM) Secunderabad and the National Defence Academy (NDA) Khadakwasla are proposed to be brought under INDU’s ambit.
The university’s constituent colleges would include the National College of Defence Studies (NCDS), Indian Institute of Defence Technology (IIDT), Indian Institute of Defence Management (IIDM) and Defence Institute of Distance & Open Learning (DIDOL).
The review committee set up by the government after the 1999 Kargil conflict, headed by eminent strategic expert K. Subrahmanyam, had reiterrated the need for a university to exclusively deal with defence and strategic matters.