Prime Minister Narendra Modi is known to be not just an orator, but also someone who often throws in a few surprises in his speeches, or even shocks, depending on where you stand. His recent speech at the Combined Commanders’ Conference, the most vital annual meeting in terms of India’s defence, could come into either category.
Many were outraged at the breaking with convention in inviting personnel below officer rank, while most others found aspects of his directives puzzling, to say the least. But in the general discontent, there is one aspect that deserves attention and critical analyses — Modi’s reference to an indigenous military doctrine.
Doctrines decide what you buy, produce, or prioritise, all of which flows from deciding your best fighting foot. At one level, it’s simplicity itself; at another, it’s the most complicated exercise in the world, because it needs you to think for yourself, and not unthinkingly rely on exotic language and catchy slogans used by other countries, all enticingly available on the internet.
Doctrines and the like
First, what Modi said is available only as an official précis that says he “stressed the importance of enhancing indigenisation in the national security system, not just in sourcing equipment and weapons but also in the doctrines, procedures and customs practiced in the armed forces”.
The reference in this article is only to the doctrine, and not the rest. The armed forces have more history and ‘indigenisation’ in their customs than any other government department. For instance, the Punjab Regiment’s history profiles the evolution of the Indian Army with that of the nation itself. Doctrines are, however, another matter and evolve continuously even while resting on historical precepts.
The dictionary defines doctrine as ‘teachings’. Russia defines it as “a system of officially adopted State views on the preparation for armed defence and armed protection of the Russian Federation”.