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Presidential Address at the 47th Foundation Day Function

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  • Hon'ble Defence Minister, Shri A. K. Antony
    November 11, 2011

    I am really glad to be with you all for the 47th Foundation Day of IDSA. Such occasions provide us an opportunity to carry out a reality check and carry out a mid-course correction, as and when required. However, to be successful in this endeavour, you must be able to reflect on the past, but at the same time, be forward looking. Such introspections need to be carried out carefully, but critically. There is always room for improvement in every organisation and I am sure that IDSA is no exception to this rule.

    Ever since I took over as the President of IDSA, it has been my endeavour to guide you all to the best of my limited capacity. You all must set the benchmark to achieve targets a bit higher than what you can achieve. This will help you to stretch your strengths and capabilities and not rest contented with routine work and achievements.

    In another three years, IDSA will be celebrating its Golden Jubilee. You must utilise these three years to the maximum and ensure that the occasion of Golden Jubilee lives up to its name. You must increase your capabilities further and set yourself stringent timelines and try to achieve the desired results even before time, when possible.

    The birth of the symbolic seven billionth child has redefined the way the concept of security is perceived and defined in today’s world. The generations to come will be able to reap the fruits of the freedom struggle and economic growth. We have to ensure that the collective gains are optimised and far-reaching, as well as constantly reviewed and developed.

    Indian culture and civilisation are strongly rooted in history – and our famed ‘unity in diversity’ is an offshoot of our cultural ethos. At the same time, we must be open to influences from outside too, at the same time, maintaining our culture and civilisation. The words of Mahatma Gandhi immediately come to my mind and I quote – “I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the culture of all lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any.” Thus, the need of the hour is to be inclusive and with an open mind. We possess all the capabilities and the talents and also have the opportunity.

    You must strive to formulate a short-term and long-term view to all issues – whether global, regional or local issues. The solutions will require ‘out of the box’ thinking and are practical at the same time. This cannot be done till you remain confined to closed rooms. You must undertake high-class research by going into the field. In today’s Information Age, internet is a convenient tool. However, quality research and study should not be dependent on the ‘virtual net’, but through a network of real contacts at a personal level.

    I congratulate you for organising the South Asia conference to be held next week. The theme of that Conference – “Cooperative security” is relevant for all nations today, as all of us face similar challenges. The South Asia Conference will be a build-up to the Asian Security Conference to be held early next year, with cooperative security as its agenda for the continent.

    I will briefly touch upon the quality of the work that is evident from those who have won awards today. That the IDSA website has registered over three million hits indicates that the website is gradually catching pockets of public imagination. You must focus more and more on undertaking extensive research, along with quality analysis to help policy planners. I strongly urge you to carry on with your work, despite challenges such as access to official records and archival material. Hopefully, it will not be long when you will not face any such constraints in the future.

    Finally, I would like to congratulate the winner of the K Subrahmanyam award and the President’s award. I am particularly delighted that this year’s K. Subrahamanyam Award has been presented to Dr. Srinath Raghavan. It is heartening that his contribution has been recognised at such a young age. I congratulate him on this accomplishment and express the hope that he will carry forward the task left behind by Late Shri K. Subrahamanyam. I am sure that all the winners will motivate the other colleagues to come up with quality research and analysis.

    It is also satisfying to note that this year, seven articles have been published by IDSA scholars in journals of international repute. However, you must treat this as a starting point and focus on continually enhancing the quality of research and analysis.

    Farewells are always painful, as the DG just mentioned. After commendable service to IDSA and the strategic community, he is also leaving us. But he will be with us, around us. In his tenure, IDSA has touched new heights. IDSA has contributed a lot and many initiatives have been taken. In terms of infrastructure, now there are five-star facilities. Adding numbers is important, but we can’t leave it to market forces alone. The members of the strategic community should be dedicated to our security interests.

    Monopoly is a dangerous thing in any field – politics, security or even bureaucracy. Competition should be there. IDA should compete with others and become the tallest among them. India needs more strategic institutes. Interactions with veterans and experts have helped me in performing my duties as Minister of Defence. Security situation is changing, so we have to be careful. I am sure the future of IDSA will be bright. India of today is different and will meet all challenges successfully.

    I am sure all of you will continue to work with vigour and commitment to make IDSA a truly world class Institute by the time it celebrates its Golden Jubilee three years from now.

    Thank You and Jai Hind.