Given India’s recent impetus on reforming higher defence management and undertaking a military transformation, the South Asia Programme hosted a one-day workshop to study the direction, pace and nature of the reforms in India. The workshop was held on 7 February 2023, and was divided into three sessions that covered the various facets/themes of proposed reforms in the Indian military.
The workshop brought together retired bureaucrats and military officers who were part of the senior levels of policy formulation in India, as well as noted academics on the subject.
The first session of the workshop focused on the efforts to reform India’s higher defence management. The three presentations focused on reforms both within Ministry of Defence and the Indian military. The presentations concluded that while the current steps are positive, further steps are required to streamline decision-making within the Ministry. However, the presentations also highlighted the differences and challenges of moving ahead with theaterisation within the Indian Armed Forces.
The second session of the workshop focused on India’s changing strategic posture in light of the growing threat from China. The first presentation spoke of India’s changing perceptions of China and how Indian foreign policy has reacted. The second presentation focused on how the Indian Army reacted to the 2020 Ladakh crisis and organisational and structural changes it has made. The final presentation focused on doctrinal and organisational changes in the Indian Air Force and Navy.
The final session focused on the impact of emerging technologies on the Indian military. The first two presentations highlighted how the Indian military is attempting to integrate cyber capabilities and artificial intelligence technologies into its force structure. The presentations assessed India’s capabilities as well as challenges in adopting these technologies. The final presentation presented the case for adoption of a responsible framework to deploy artificial intelligence in the Indian military and conduct responsible behaviour in cyberspace.