Introduction to Indian Strategic Thinking and its Determinants
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In 2018, The Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF) held the first of its kind of Certificate Programme to bring together students from Indian Universities, academicians, researchers from think-tanks and other disciplines and introduce them to the conceptual frameworks and thought processes of India’s strategic outlook. The second Certificate Programme was held this year from 07-09 August. From an audience of around 28 last year, this three days’ workshop saw the participation of 60 people from all over the country. The audience comprised of a wide range of individuals, from university students to young professionals and from researchers in sister think tanks to serving officers from the Defence Services as well as Police and Judiciary. The lectures were so designed that each member in the audience benefited from the knowledge and interaction with our distinguished speakers.

The tone for the programme was set by Lt Gen Ravi Sawhney, who emphasized on our values which motivate us to thrust our will via words instead of a sword. The first session taken by Col DPK Pillay picked up from there to throw some light on the convergence of Indian philosophy, culture and civilization and its linkages with current narrative on our strategic and security affairs. Lt Gen Ata Hasnain presented an eye opener in the context of Art 370 and Jammu and Kashmir. The entire picture got clearer with the lecture on Pakistan and Afghanistan by the author Tilak Devashar on the last day. The participants were run through the civilizational thoughts and concepts by Col PK Gautam and Prof Gunjan Pradhan Sinha in their respective lectures, while a complete panorama of India’s foreign policy was captured by Amb. Rajagopalan.

Contemporary themes like the Role of (Social) Media in National Security were covered by practitioners such as Nitin A Gokhale and Shruti Pandalai. The importance of Science and Technology in upholding the very sovereignty of the nation was explained by the Vice Admiral Puri. Also, the upcoming and most pertinent Non-Traditional Threats were touched upon by Dr. Uttam Sinha. He emphasized on the importance of the Human Development Index in the present times. His presentation on the water crisis in South Asian region caught the audience’s full attention.

A holistic picture of the National Security framework sustained by the Indian Armed Forces was presented by Lt Gen GS Katoch. He gave an elaborate account of the Higher Defence Organization in the country while addressing the very basics of the military strategy. With regards to the maritime strategies, Vice Admiral Satish Soni introduced the participants to various existing concepts/strategies as that of SAGAR, Mausam, Sagarmala and others.

Forming an indispensable part of the national security architecture, the foreign policy of India, especially with regards to its neighbourhood, was well-articulated by the former diplomat Amb Veena Sikri. While Prof Sujit Dutta gave a historical overview of China to augment the already known facts about the country.

Each day concluded with a group discussion on selected topics. On day one, the audience was divided into groups to discuss the role of youth in national security. Maj Gen P K Mallick provoked the young minds to reflect on the impact of technology in the present days on day two. The last day was commenced with an interactive and stimulating discussion on the relevance of Swami Vivekananda in the contemporary times. The discussions saw an active participation from the audience who presented their personal experiences and thoughts on the subject.

The objective of the workshop was well achieved with the involvement of each participant, from a freshly minted graduate to an experienced specialist, in the audience. The participants were quite inquisitive and participated actively in the question answer and interactive sessions. Most of them keenly looked forward to the next level of this course, with the inclusion of more specialized subjects like Internal Security, Terrorism and matters relating to Legal Concerns. Overall, the programme was well received and a positive feedback from the participants on various aspects of the course would help the VIF Faculty to further improve the content for the next such workshop.

Event Date 
August 7, 2019

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