Defence Industry

Defence University for India: an appraisal of the proposition
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Issue Vol 22.4 Oct-Dec2007 | Date : 25 Mar , 2011

Establishment of a defence university in India was first suggested in an article that appeared in College of Defence Management Journal in 1978. The article evoked considerable interest and was often debated in academic circles of the services. However, there was little progress on ground and the matter lay dormant till resurrected in the wake of the Kargil War.

The Task Force constituted in May 2000 to review the Management of Defence observed that there was no synergy between academic research and the requirements of the Government. It felt that advisors to the Government in security matters needed a great deal more information and analysis, as defence policy formulation was a constantly evolving exercise owing to the ever changing nature and increased complexities of security threats and challenges.

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The Task Force, therefore, suggested that a National Defence University (NDU) be established to carry out research and impart education. It wanted some of the existing institutions to be affiliated to NDU. It also recommended establishment of a College of National Security Management, Information Resource Management and Maritime Security.

“¦training components towards the advancement of military officers in their careers ““ professional service training, training for joint operations/planning and training for combined military-civil leadership roles in national security policy and planning at the strategic levels.

The Group of Ministers (GoM) studied the Task Force report and concluded that university research in India in the field of defence was not managed, funded, or structured effectively. It further observed – “Whereas academic research is carried out more or less in a policy vacuum, official agencies undertake their policy making tasks in the absence of the wealth of information available with the academic community. There is a need to ensure that the Government’s policy and decision making processes are informed by the findings of rigorous analyses and research.” Therefore, it recommended setting up of NDU, which could undertake long term defence and strategic studies, as “the development of country/region specialisation along with associated language skills and studies in strategic areas need to be ensured.”

The Government accepted recommendations of GoM regarding the need to have NDU on 11 May 2001. A 13-member expert committee (Committee on NDU or CONDU) was constituted to examine the issue in its entirety. It visited the USA and China to learn about functioning of their defence universities and recommended adoption of the US model, albeit with modifications to suit Indian needs.

CONDU based its recommendations on the following two primary issues:-

Deficiencies in Existing Security Policy Making Mechanism. A primary requirement for the attainment of India’s national security aims and objectives is the existence of an effective and focused policy planning mechanism, which has to be long term, integrated and anticipatory in nature. The committee felt that national security policy architecture with formal processes and structure was needed to provide synergy between academic research in the field of security and the Government’s requirements for inputs for security policy formulation.

Training Needs of the Services. There are three training components towards the advancement of military officers in their careers – professional service training, training for joint operations/planning and training for combined military-civil leadership roles in national security policy and planning at the strategic levels. The committee felt that higher education in the fields of national security and security policy was non-existent in India.

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CONDU felt that the above considerations necessitated establishment of Indian National Defence University (INDU). Its salient recommendations were as follows:-

  • INDU should be established as a multi-disciplinary Centre of Excellence in the country in education and research on national security issues.
  • The President of INDU should be a serving three-star officer of the armed services and the Vice-President should be an officer from the Indian Foreign Service. The faculty should consist of 70 officers from the armed forces and 65 from the civil services.
  • INDU should have a mix of existing and new institutions. Three new institutions should be created for education and research on national security and technological issues. As part of these new institutions, a new “think tank” for defence and security issues should be established with a focus on policy-oriented research.
  • Three existing institutions should be affiliated to it for award of degrees, while another existing institution should be upgraded.
  • A War Gaming and Simulation Centre should also be established.
  • INDU should accord recognition by awarding degrees, short-term diplomas, and credits for courses undertaken by serving personnel from the armed forces, paramilitary forces and officers from various civil services.

The estimated cost of establishment of INDU was pegged at Rs 226 crores in 2003-04, excluding the cost of land as defence land was proposed to be utilised for the purpose. The total expenditure was proposed to be spread over seven years. See box for the proposed outline structure.

It is learnt that the Finance Ministry has not cleared the project and wants the proposal to be deferred. It feels that existing facilities in Indian universities and defence training institutions can perform these functions with suitable augmentation and fine tuning.

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Maj Gen Mrinal Suman

is India’s foremost expert in defence procurement procedures and offsets. He heads Defence Technical Assessment and Advisory Services Group of CII.

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