Indian Army

Rawat push not enough. Military & bureaucracy must set aside rivalry for defence university

The long-pending proposal of setting up a National Defence University is getting a renewed push now under Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat. The idea is half-a-century old, and got lost in the lazy labyrinth of Indian policymaking.

This is particularly important because India, by and large, does not have a strategic culture. This is also reflected in the strategic behaviour of the Indian state, particularly with respect to national security. The fact that we do not have a formal national security strategy and struggle to fit a burgeoning mediocre military into a limited defence budget without any meaningful structural reforms reflect poorly on our strategic thinking.

Indian National Defence University (INDU) is meant to promote strategic culture and excellence in the field of national security and defence policy. Our approach to establishing the same is symptomatic of our strategic ignorance.

There is no disagreement on the urgent need for the establishment of the INDU, but the project has been languishing due to procedural delays and political inertia.

Inordinate delay

The idea of this autonomous institution of national importance was first mooted by the Chief of Staff Committee in 1967 and again endorsed by the in-house Lt Gen Sethna Committee in 1982. It was revived by the Kargil Review Committee and endorsed by the Group of Ministers (GoM) Report.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) on 23 July 2001 appointed a Committee on National Defence University (CONDU) under the chairmanship of Late K Subrahmanyam.

Based on GoM approval and recommendations of CONDU made in 2002, headquarters Integrated Defence Staff was tasked to process the case through the MoD for the establishment of INDU.

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