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Special Address at the 9th Asian Security Conference

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  • Hon'ble Defence Minister, Shri A. K. Antony
    February 09, 2007

    Hon'ble Vice President of India Shri Bhairon Singh Shekhawat ji,

    Hon'ble External Affairs Minister and President of IDSA, Shri Pranab Mukherjee,

    Director IDSA, Shri N. S. Sisodia

    Excellencies, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,

    I am delighted to be here on this historic occasion of the inauguration of the IDSA's new premises. The occasion becomes even more special as it coincides with the opening of the 9th Asian Security Conference.

    IDSA has come a long way since its beginning in 1965. It now enters a new phase through this premises. I am glad that the new IDSA campus is located next to the United Service Institution of India. This is not a coincidence. Indeed, it was envisaged that physical proximity between the two institutions will enable greater synergy through increased access to each others' facilities. It will also enhance their ability to work together in diverse areas.

    Apart from this building, the Institute's state-of-the-art library will be the pride of the institute. I am told that IDSA library has added to its collection some of the best works in contemporary strategic and security studies. The strategic studies community will find it even more useful once the new Library building becomes operational.

    The IDSA has adopted a vision statement to develop as a world-class institute. This is the beginning of long and arduous journey. The Institute will need full support of all its stakeholders. The improved infrastructure and new facilities should prove an important step forward to achieve this goal.

    IDSA provides a useful interface between civilian scholars and service officers. It is a long-standing convention for serving defence officers to be deputed on fellowship to the Institute, to provide crucial military inputs to civilian scholars. This has given the civilian scholars much needed exposure to defence-related issues. Similarly, the service officers also benefit immensely from their association with IDSA, resulting in a better understanding of global and regional strategic issues. However, this interaction needs to be further strengthened by encouraging academically inclined officers of the Armed Forces to work with IDSA. Without access to classified information and experience of working in defence establishments, it is difficult for civilian scholars to work meaningfully on issues related to defence policy. It is therefore, vital that our military officers, having an aptitude for research and analyses take greater interest in this field.

    I have been told that the IDSA has decided to launch a new journal on defence policy studies. This would enable the institute to focus its attention on defence-related issues.

    We have decided to establish a new chair in defence economics in the IDSA. The formalities have been completed and Rs.50 lakhs have been earmarked as the initial corpus for this chair. This should help in creating a nucleus in defence economics, an area, which has been neglected till now. The nation should get maximum value for the money spent on its defence services. This goal can be achieved by analysing the present utilization of defence budgets, by exploring more cost-effective ways of doing this; learning from success stories of other countries; and most importantly, through new ideas and innovation. It is my firm belief this chair will initiate the process of analytical studies in the area.

    The biggest challenge facing us is the modernization of our Armed Forces. Security challenges in the 21st century are different from those we faced in the past. The nature of warfare has undergone large-scale transformation. Conventional wars are less likely, yet complex threats are emerging. The defence forces have to adapt themselves to the changing nature of warfare. This challenge is by no means unique to our country alone. Indeed, this changing nature of warfare and the threat scenario are compelling defence forces all over the world to transform themselves adequately.

    Innovative thinking is the need of the hour. There is also a need to evaluate the pioneering work done by other countries in this regard. While defence planners in the Government continuously look at these issues, think tanks like IDSA, the USI and other Foundations can help this process through their research findings and perspectives.

    I will be addressing some issues being considered by this year's Asian Security Conference at the Valedictory Session tomorrow. However, I would, like to take this opportunity to congratulate the IDSA for holding this conference on an extremely relevant theme. This year's conference on South-east Asia has come at a time when India is looking to increase and deepen its relations with the East and South-east. India's Look East policy has fostered closer economic relations with the South-east Asian region. It has paid rich dividends and today India has a booming economic and defence partnership with the nations of this region. I wish to quote from Hon'ble Prime Minister's speech at the Third India-ASEAN Business Summit in October 2004 in New Delhi: "A decade ago we unveiled our "Look East" policy. We wish to "Look East" because of the centuries of interaction between us. This tradition, and our faith in principles of democracy and pluralism, bring us together. We also share a desire for a stable, secure and equitable new world order."

    Our history, common values and a common vision make the deliberations of the conference important for both India and South East Asia. I once again congratulate IDSA on the inauguration of its new premises. I wish the 9th Annual Asian Security Conference all success.

    Thank you and Jai Hind.