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Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (Logo)Event Reports

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The Global Dialogue Review (GDR), which publishes a foreign policy journal, and the India office of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung organized a conference titled "Global Dialogue Security Summit: Securing India's Neighbourhood" from 13th-14th July, 2018, in New Delhi. The various sessions discussed over two days the impact of technology on defence strategies, the changing nature of warfare, security challenges in the Indo Pacific Region, overcoming the threat of global terrorism, developing a home grown defence industry and the promotion of India’s private sector in defence manufacturing.

The inaugural session was launched with a welcome address by Mr. Moses Manoharan, Chairman of GDR. Rear Admiral Peter Gumataotao (retd.), Director of the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies (DKI APCSS), emphasized the United States' commitment to security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region and stressed that the US would continue to engage for adherence to international law and freedom of navigation. General Vyacheslav Trubnikov, a Director of the Institute of World Economy and International Relations of the Russian Academy of Sciences, insisted that Russia has a major role to play in the strategic conception of the Indo-Pacific. He hoped it would lead to increased trust between the West and Russia. The keynote address by General V. K. Singh (retd.), Minister of State for External Affairs, set the tone for the conference. He sought definition of the Indo-Pacific concept and whether it is focused just on trade and economy or has more of a security aspect. He believed converging ideas on the Indo-Pacific would define India's role in it and its economic and strategic facets. Mr. Pankaj Madan, Deputy Head of the India Office of KAS, spoke of China looming in the international arena and the need to consider its intentions. He underlined the risk of long term projections, especially in light of the changes in the policies of the US and the UK's imminent exit from the EU.

In the first session about “The Changing Nature of Warfare”, Lt. General Satish Dua, Chief of Integrated Defence Staff to the Chairman of Chiefs of Staff Committee of the Indian Army, explained how drastic changes in technology would determine how wars would be fought in the future. These wars would be psychological, cyber and perception based. They would be fought using robotics, drones, etc. in areas which over half a century ago would have seemed incomprehensible to most of us. Commodore Uday Bhaskar, Director of the Society for Policy Studies, spoke of how technology has impacted military capability. He emphasized the vital need for India to understand the direction modern warfare is taking. Mr. Pratyush Kumar, President of Boeing India, pointed out that the evolution of warfare is increasingly focused on air and space. He also referred to the confluence in the years ahead of artificial intelligence, analytics, stealth and robotics, but emphasized that all are still in their stage of infancy of development. Dr. Gulshan Rai, National Cyber Security Coordinator of India in Prime Minister’s Office, spoke of how the cyber space has impacted the global geopolitical system and warfare. He named five technologies that came up between 1992-2000 that have impacted the above two vis-a-vis the conventional systems -- the World Wide Web, mobile technology, the search engine, artificial intelligence and virtual reality. These technologies are responsible for a paradigm shift in societies, geopolitics as well as cyber warfare. He also discussed how military conflict is no longer confined to the boundaries of the battlefield through cyber technology. He believed a proliferation of cyber weapons and cyber tools could be as destructive and lethal as other weapons.

The second session focused on “Security Challenges in the Indo Pacific Region”. Vice Admiral Shekhar Sinha (retd.), former Chief of Integrated Defence Staff and former Commander of Western Navy, focused on the rapidly evolving geopolitical realities in the Indo-Pacific region through which a major portion of world trade passes. According to Vice Admiral Sinha, the fulcrum in the region was ASEAN, which has hugely benefitted from the open market economy and rule based system. Professor Anuradha Chenoy, Professor in the Centre for Russian and Central Asian Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University, spoke of the terminological shifts in the use of Indo-Pacific and that it reflected the changes in the understanding of geopolitical strategy. In this transition, the shift from the understanding of the two oceans, the rise of Asia was inevitable and evident, though increasingly uneven. Professor Syed Munir Khasru, Chairman of The institute of Policy, Advocacy and Governance, pointed out that China's footprint in South Asia was increasing through its investments in ports in Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Pakistan as well as recently in Maldives. Professor Khasru believed India has a vision, but is still to craft a comprehensive strategy on how to use its soft power for its strategic goals. Dr. Christian Wagner, Senior Fellow of the German Institute of International and Security Affairs, explained that there has been a rethinking of China in Europe in the recent times. Dr. Wagner said that though Germany has no presence in Indian Ocean, it could be a partner in capacity building. He believed Germany would support India in establishing a cooperative security architecture. Dr. Christopher Snedden, Professor at the DKI APCSS, bringing in an Australian perspective, said the Indian Ocean region is important for a lot of nations in terms of trade. Dr. Snedden said the Indian Ocean region would not necessarily remain a zone of peace for long, as it was increasingly being contested.

In the third session about “Overcoming the Threat of Global Terrorism”, Lt. General S.L. Narasimhan, (Retd.), Member of the National Security Advisory Board of India, pointed out that though terrorism is being faced by many nations across the world today, there is still no universally accepted definition of it. India has proposed a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism in 1996 and, since then, it has been under discussion. The proposed convention by India criminalises all forms of terrorism and denies support to its perpetrators. Major General (retd.) Milinda Peiris said the global terrorist threat has grown significantly due to the geographic span of terrorist organisations, use of innovative methodology, modern technology and cyber platforms for terrorist activities. New technologies such as social media have unintentionally become a perfect tool for achieving terrorist objectives. Lt. General D.S Hooda, former Northern Army Commander, said the Global War on Terrorism launched by the US in 2001 has been heavily influenced by economic globalisation and technology, especially information technology that has significantly enhanced the reach and spread of terrorist propaganda.

The fourth session focused on “Developing a Home Grown Defence Industry”. Air Marshall M. Matheswaran (retd.), former Deputy Chief of Integrated Defence Staff, said that since 1999, following economic liberalisation, India has seen a privatisation of defence production, but it has not significantly enhanced India's defence capabilities and has remained import dependent in armaments and military equipment. Lt. General Ravi Thodge, former Master General Ordnance of the Indian Army, asserted that despite the "Make in India" initiative, strategic partnerships and increased research in academia, India has not been able to develop core technologies. Mr. Saurabh Kumar, Member of the Ordinance Factory Board, observed that India was the world's third largest importer of military hardware and equipment. Mr. Rajinder Singh Bhatia, President and CEO Defence and Aerospace Division of Bharat Forge, pointed out that in defence manufacturing, there were no start-ups in the country and that the Manufacturing Ecosystem has to become vibrant. He said the essentials for transformation are vision, capability, incentives, resources and an action plan. Mr. Yonatan Yaron, Senior Director of Elbit Systems, said his company -- as a world leader in technology-based systems for defence, homeland security and commercial applications – was well placed to meet the needs of both "Make in India", "Make with India" and "Make for India".

In the fifth session “Promoting India’s Private Sector in Defence Manufacturing”, Ambassador A. R. Ghanashyam pointed out that India's domestic defense industry floundered because no private partnership ecosystem has been built according to the demands of the armed forces. Several public sector enterprises have been created under the Ministry of Defense, but all of them fell short of meeting the demands of the time. Air Marshal (retd.) Krishna Kumar Nohwar described Germany’s partnership with India's defence sector. The HF24 fighter jet, an essential part of Indian Air Force in its formative years, was designed by Kurt Tank, a German aeronautical engineer. India has a record of collaborations with German expertise in the Air Force and related fields. Major General Sanjeev Loomba, Business Head of DCM Shriram Industries, described the way how his company has developed to serve the country's defence needs. Mr. Sameer Sonpavde, CEO of Aviohelitronics Infosystems Pvt. Ltd, criticized the fact that his company like others faces the lack of competent employees being turned out by Indian technology institutions.

The conference was concluded by a panel discussion titled "A Global Perspective on the Indo-Pacific Region", moderated by Mr. Moses Manoharan. Panelist Rear Admiral Gumataotao described the security environment of the 21st century as complex, with implications on air, land, sea, cyber and space. He emphasized the importance of innovation, the involvement of academia and the private sector and unceasing women's participation. Mr. Salman Khurshid, former Minister for External Affairs of India, believed China is an important factor in discussing any security architecture. He said the relationship India has with China contained enormous ambiguities that needed a "Win-Win" outcome for both countries. He stressed that India don't has any hegemonist designs on the Indo-Pacific, but wanted instead relationships based on reciprocity and equality. General Vyacheslav Trubnikov stated that India and Russia have always been strategic partners and that Russia has the longest sea shore in the Pacific. Global politics are in a transitional period, according to the General. Mr. Seshadri Chari, senior leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party, believed the Indo-Pacific concept is actually an old terminology that has acquired new dimensions. The emphasis, he said, is on framing a global security and economic architecture that benefitted all. Lt. General Rakesh Loomba pointed out China's increasingly assertive ambitions and wondered if they were benign.

In his valedictory address, Admiral Sunil Lanba, Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee, said the summit has provided innumerable insights to the regional security. He believed that we are at the onset of a poly-centric world order, coinciding with China's rise, Russia's resurgence and decline of the US military advantage. In the Indian Ocean region, there is the need to manage the security environment to prevent an escalation of tensions.


ImagePeter Rimmele
Resident Representative India
Phone +91 11 26113520

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