Dr. Arvind Gupta, DG, IDSA paper presented on "Careers Beyond Academia: Role of Think Tanks" at IAIS
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  • December 10, 2012

    Event: Annual Convention of Indian Association of International Studies

    Think tanks are natural allies of the academic world.

    Think tank culture in India is growing. Many new think tanks are coming up. Think thanks are of various kinds. Some are focus on strategic issues of foreign policy and international relations, other focus on national issues, some are focus on socio economic issues, some promote some specific causes, some play advocacy role.

    For efficient running of think tanks four things are necessary: an idea, human resources, funding and transmission of idea. Think tanks also need to communicate their ideas in an effective manner. They run websites publish books, monographs and papers, hold seminars and conferences promote discussion groups, do advocacy and so on.

    Think thanks provide forums and platforms for discussion and debate. Therefore, they are excellent vehicle for getting people together on a common platform.

    Thinks tanks also develop strong out reach programmes. They become part of expert community both at the national and international level.

    Eventually, think tanks must grapple with policy issues. That is their principal role. Think tanks provide a bridge between academia and policy makers.

    Thus think tanks bring together variety of skills together. These include:
    1. Area experts.
    2. Domain expertise.
    3. Linguistic skills.
    4. Statistics and data base management,
    5. Scenario building and net assessment
    6. Risk analysis
    7. Organisational skills like event management, administration, human resource management etc.
    8. Miscellaneous skills - IT including web, social media etc, communication, cartographic, book publishing etc.
    9. Fund raising, project management and delivery.


    IDSA is a premier think tank on strategic affairs. Set up in 1965, the think tank has contributed over years to debates on national security, defence and foreign policy.

    IDSA has a system of members. There are three kinds of members – Life Members, Members and Associate Members. Members can the institute’s various facilities and get its publications. They can also use the institute’s rich library and information resources. Many students become associate members on payment of a nominal fee and can use its library.

    Being a research institution, the IDSA has about 70 scholars engaged research on a variety of issues. About half of them have PhDs and M. Phils . The institute has 12 research centres focusing on area studies and other themes. Our researchers have been drawn from Indian universities. But, we also have experts from government departments.

    The institute also takes interns and visiting fellows on short term programmes.

    The vacancies are advertised, academic record scrutinised and interviews are held while selecting fellows.

    The institute’s fellowships are usually for two years during which fellows are required to write academic papers monographs and books. Research fellowships are extendable.

    IDSA seminars and conferences are usually open. The institute also organises by eminent persons and visiting dignitaries.

    There is a close link between IDSA and academia. While many of our scholars have strong academic background, many have gone on to take up senior academic positions in universities and other think tanks. The institute plays a role in the growth of strategic community in the country.

    To conclude, thus, think tanks provide a variety of openings for young students leaving university.