ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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An Indian Defence University and Educational Reform

Educating Future Generals

As discussions surrounding the impending arrival of an “Indian National Defence University” gather pace with the draft Indian National Defence University Bill, 2015, the question of educating and training the future Indian military leadership hangs in the balance. The historical instances of military institutionalisation and the changing mandate and occupational profile of Indian military officership in the past decades have complicated the military educational policy framework. In addition to devoting attention to studying and recommending proposals for the smooth functioning of this space, there needs to be a more comprehensive analysis of the evolving conceptions that underlie officer education and “universities” today, and how this proposed “defence university” will emerge to meet institutional challenges.

The idea of a proposed defence university in India—the Indian National Defence University (INDU)—has attracted the attention of several defence analysts and policymakers. Beneath this proposal of an all-inclusive military university, with potential affiliating provisions for other military training institutions, lies an intricate network of institutions that have continued to provide the broad elements of what is now known as Professional Military Education (PME), a field that is fast emerging as a site for academic research in its own right. Institutions such as the Indian Military Academy (IMA) at Dehradun, the National Defence Academy (NDA) near Pune, and the National Defence College (NDC) in New Delhi are familiar names for those in the military. The IMA and the NDA especially stand as markers of India’s self-reliance on military training and preparedness and are also household names that come up in wide-ranging and rambling discussions on the public image of the Indian military.

Yet, what is overlooked in the ongoing discussions around the upcoming university is precisely this iconic matrix of institutions, whose historical experience in managing the changing patterns of officer training and military service ought to be taken into account while configuring a new military university whose name and stature belies the historical institutional continuities, as well as contingencies associated with establishing new sites for training officers for future roles since the turn of the 20th century.

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Updated On : 13th Aug, 2018

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