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Presidential Address at the 45th Foundation Day Function

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  • Hon'ble Defence Minister, Shri A. K. Antony
    November 11, 2010

    Professor Kaushik Basu,
    DG, IDSA, Shri N.S Sisodia,
    Senior officers of our Armed Forces,
    Members of the IDSA fraternity,
    Friends from the Media,
    Scholars and Staff of the Institute

    It is a real pleasure to be in your midst for the 45th Foundation Day of IDSA. I express my warm greetings to all of you on the occasion. Our gratitude is also due to Professor Kaushik Basu, a renowned economist, for delivering the Foundation Day address today. I hope that the ideas expressed in his address will generate greater interest among our scholars on various issues and also in using other disciplines in their research.

    One problem plaguing our institutes, think-tanks and universities is that they often work within the narrow confines of their respective disciplines. Real life problems, as complex as security and its various dimensions require a multi-disciplinary approach. It calls for a thorough understanding of a wide array of disciplines like Political Science, Economics, Sociology, Geography, History, Psychology and Natural Sciences. The security challenges of today are far more complex than at any time in the past. These challenges are both - global and local and nearly always, interlinked. Mankind needs to grasp facts clearly and understand issues in the proper perspective to facilitate better and quicker policy making. In this context, Indian think-tanks will have to discharge an important responsibility by way of rigorous policy research to support more-informed policy making.

    I also take this opportunity to heartily congratulate Dr. Srikant Kondapalli for winning this year’s K. Subrahmanyam Award. This is the fourth award in the series and its conferment recognizes Dr. Kondapalli’s outstanding work on China, especially, its Armed Forces. We attach great importance to our relations with China. I hope that this award will provide impetus to other researchers to go in for more intensive research work on China. I also wish to compliment the winners of this year’s President Awards for their noteworthy contributions in journals of repute. I wish to strongly urge the younger scholars of IDSA to draw inspiration from such researchers and excel in their fields of study.

    I am told that for the third year in succession, IDSA has been ranked amongst Asia’s top ten and the world’s top fifty think-tanks. In fact, IDSA is the only think-tank from India to have been included in this list. Coupled with the rising popularity of the Institute’s Visiting Scholars’ Programme, this reflects its growing national and international stature.

    Despite these satisfactory developments, we cannot afford to relax and be complacent. There is still a lot of hard work ahead for all of us, if we really want to fructify the vision of becoming a ‘centre of excellence’. As I have said on earlier occasions, IDSA has to intensify its efforts to make the Institute’s work more relevant and useful to the policy-makers. You must be able to foresee the future challenges the country faces. You must strive tirelessly to continuously improve the quality and quantity of research work. IDSA scholars particularly need to increasingly tap the primary sources and field visits to add quality to your work. Original sources alone will provide new insights that are in touch with the ground reality. Last but not the least, research must not remain confined to being published in journals. You must make your research work more transparent and accessible to our policy makers, parliamentarians, the media, and to the general people. IDSA scholars need to reach out to as wide cross-section of the society, as possible. The ideas and findings need to be communicated in a substantial measure.

    Let me share some thoughts on the issues that in my view the Institute needs to focus on. You must utilize the available human resources to turn the focus on key areas for deeper research, rather than scattering them on a large number of issues.

    Among other things, your research work must factor in the rapidly changing geopolitical equations, geo-strategic developments and their implications for India’s security. You must pay special, critical attention to the developments in our immediate neighbourhood and beyond.

    Today, the security scenario is constantly evolving due to the changing nature of conflicts. You must focus your energy on the strategy and force structures needed to face these unconventional threats and asymmetric conflicts. There are other issues that merit attention like defence reforms focusing on jointness, acquisition, offsets, development of India’s defence industrial base, terrorism, climate change and energy security. The challenge lies in producing original, high quality research studies with in a form that is useful for the policy makers.

    Before I conclude, I wish to strongly emphasise the urgent need for high quality, analytical research work capable of anticipating threats, arriving at better-informed policy decisions and for defending India’s vital security interests.

    Five years from now, IDSA will be celebrating the 50th Foundation Day. You must set your sights on becoming not only the best in Asia, but also in the world by 2015. I assure you my full support to your endeavours and hope that you will take IDSA to even greater heights.

    Thank you and Jai Hind.