17 Jul 2019 17:45 IST

IIM Bangalore hosts talk on ‘Army and nation’

Prof Steven Wilkinson explains what led to India’s civil military success

“India’s civil-military success and the country’s happier history compared to other post-colonial states is an even bigger achievement than you think,” said Prof Steven Wilkinson, Nilekani Professor of India and South Asian Studies, and Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at Yale University. He was delivering the keynote lecture on ‘Army and Nation: Explaining India’s Civil-Military Success’, at the Foundation Day Inaugural Lecture of the Centre for Public Policy (CPP) at Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIM-B).

Many post-colonial states inherited unrepresentative and conservative armies that have posed a real threat to democracy. India has succeeded in avoiding such a situation. Exploring the reasons for this democratic success, Prof Wilkinson said, “India looked ahead towards the end of British rule, and addressed the deep nationalist concern over the imbalanced colonial army. India gauged the kind of impact that the role of the pre-1947 army may have on independent India’s democracy and saw this imbalance as an urgent problem. The country also devised effective civil-military strategies. Political conflict moderation was also adopted. India's regional hegemony and strategic position also helped the country deal a better hand.”

Prof Wilkinson also pointed out that such policies did not rule out some amount of military and strategic inefficiency on India’s part. “Even after defeat by China in the 1962 War or the Kargil War, and the desire for jointness, there is little change in the situation and the post of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) is yet to be created.”

Push towards research

Discussing India’s achievements vis-à-vis its neighbouring countries, Prof Wilkinson said that civil-military balance in Pakistan is unlikely to change without growth of a cohesive political party or movement, and significant domestic or external military reverse that discredits its military as in 1971.

Prof Hema Swaminathan, Chair, Centre for Public Policy, IIM-B, said, “Today, IIM-B offers a doctoral programme in public policy that provides rigorous training in various aspects of policy processes. CPP faculty serve on government committees and task forces. CPP, through its contribution to cutting-edge research, teaching and training, capacity building, its international collaborations, the annual conference on public policy and management, and other activities, provides a vibrant academic ambience for scholarly engagement and a platform for ideation, debate and exploration.”

IIM-B Director Prof G Raghuram said, “The past decade has seen a strong push towards research where publication in high-end journals is an expected outcome and impact. CPP promotes such endeavours.”

Capacity building for government

Prof Chiranjib Sen, Founding Chair, CPP, currently a faculty member at Azim Premji University, stated that CPP as a centre, through sheer outstanding performance, has survived, flourished and is moving to better days. “CPP worked on the belief that the country’s bureaucracy should move away from the old system towards public management. The focus should be on boosting capacity building for government, teaching public policy, how policies should be formulated and implemented, and how to remain abreast of latest developments in the area. A lot of people worked together to make CPP a success, people outside the IIM-B community like practitioners, who contributed as visiting faculty, and there were other forms of external support too. The attitude towards building the centre was openness — to external review and supervision. Long standing external collaborations were also instrumental in sustaining the centre’s calibre.”

The CPP was founded in 2000, through an agreement between the Centre’s Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and IIM-B. It works on improving development outcomes across the country and has pioneered the application of management disciplines in influencing public policy and improving governance.