Upgrading India’s Think Tanks

November 11, 2009
Event: 
Round Table
Type: 
Only by Invitation
Time: 
9:30 am to 2 pm

Venue: Seminar Hall-1, IDSA

The relevance of India’s think tanks and the measures needed to strengthen them for meeting India’s growing need for security and foreign policy research has come under some focus in academic and media debates in recent months. Most commentators have opined that the current capacity of the academia and think tanks to contribute to policy debates and policy formulation is less than satisfactory. Our universities’ and think-tanks’ infrastructure and quality of intellectual output needs to significantly improve to meet growing challenges of India’s complex security and foreign policy needs. What can we do to improve our collective capacities to enhance qualitative contributions for informed and rational policy choices both in government and civil society sectors?

We hope to assemble in a Roundtable some experienced policy makers, academics, think-tanks analysts and media experts to discuss a way forward on 11 November 2009 from 9:30 am to 2 pm at IDSA. The objective is to generate some ideas that can help shape future strategies of think-tanks and key stake holders.

We hope to have a free and unfettered discussion in the roundtable. However, in order to focus the debate, it is proposed to organize the roundtable as under:-

0930-0940: Introductory Remarks: Shri N.S. Sisodia (DG, IDSA)

Chair: Shri K. Subrahmanyam

Panel I: Perspectives from the Policy Makers (0940 h to 1100 h)

Speakers (5-7 minutes each)

  • Ambassador M.K. Rasgotra
  • Ambassador K.S. Bajpai
  • Ambassador Kishen S. Rana
  • Air Marshal S.C. Mukul

Chair may wish to request the following also to speak should they desire to do so:

  • Ms. Leela Ponappa
  • Shri A.K. Pandey
  • Shri Alok Prasad
  • Col. Peter Garretson (CFR Fellow)
  1. What are the key issues that research institutions should focus on so that they can add value and be useful for policy makers?
  2. What measures can help establish better relations between the academia, think-tanks and policy makers?
  3. What kind research products will the policy makers find useful?
  4. General Comments

Panel II: Perspectives from Academia (1100-1200 h)

Speakers (5-7 Minutes Each)
Chair: Dr Sanjaya Baru

  • Professor Amitabh Mattoo
  • Professor Ajay Darshan Behera
  • Professor Rajesh Rajagopalan
  • Professor Madhu Bhalla
  • Dr. Patrick Bratton
  1. How can we make our higher education relevant for the policy world?
  2. How can we design research agenda that addresses the important questions in the policy world?
  3. How can we forge stronger institutional linkages between policy makers and academia?
  4. What can academia do to make multi-disciplinary research viable?
  5. How can think-tanks and academia establish institutional linkages that would be mutually beneficial?
  6. General Comments

Panel III: Perspectives from the Media (1200-1300h)

Speakers (5-7 Minutes Each)
Chair: Mr. B.G. Verghese

  • Dr. Sanjaya Baru
  • Dr. Manoj Joshi
  • Dr. Siddharth Vardarajan
  • Shri Raj Chengappa (tbc)
  1. What are the key issues that are likely to focus media and public attention in the coming years?
  2. How can media and think-tanks work together to inform security policy debates?
  3. What kind of institutional arrangements will help foster better flow of information and analysis between the media and the think-tanks?
  4. General Comments

Panel IV: Perspectives from the Think-Tank Community (1300-1400 h)

Speakers (5-7 Minutes Each)
Chair: Professor PR Chari

  • Shri N.S. Sisodia, DG, IDSA
  • Amb. Rajagopalan
  • Ambassador Sudhir Devare
  • Brig (retd) Gurmeet Kanwal (tbc)
  1. How can think-tanks make their work relevant to the key concerns of policy makers?
  2. What are the core research issues think-tanks should focus on in the coming years?
  3. What can be done to recruit, retain and train talent for policy relevant research work?
  4. What kind of institutional arrangements will help enhance utility of think-tank research for policy work and public debates?
  5. Should think-tanks develop a more focused research agenda and how should that be done?
  6. How do we create multi-disciplinary research teams that can address complex policy issues? What are the key challenges in building multi-disciplinary teams?
  7. Is there a case for coordination in think tanks work/activities?
  8. What should be the role definition of governing structures of the think-tanks in order to increase their effective management?
  9. What can think-tanks do to foster closer relations with the academic institutions?
  10. General Comments