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

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Military Professionalism and Effectiveness

The military’s input to national security may be swayed by ideological winds if it loses its apolitical grounding. The government and military must thus maintain the status quo on civil–military relations.

The author would like to thank attendees for comments on the content of my presentations at Carnegie India, New Delhi, on 28 June 2019, the Centre for Gandhian Thought and Peace Studies, Central University of Gujarat, Gandhinagar, on 2 August 2019, and at the Human Resources Development Centre, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, on 3 August 2019.

The Indian military takes pride in its reputation as a professional force, defined in civil–military theory as valuing expertise, corporate autonomy, and social responsibility (Huntington 1967: 8–18). The military is also known for being secular and apolitical. While “secularism” reflects the anchoring of the military in the Indian culture and social environment, “apoliticism” owes to its staying out of politics unlike many peer militaries such as in Pakistan (Wilkinson 2015: 3). The three pillars—professionalism, secularism, and apoliticism—contribute to its effectiveness or ability to provision military security for its client, variously defined as the state and the nation.

Of late, there are concerns over the possible erosion in its two characteristics: secular and apolitical. As regards secularism, the apprehensions spring more generally from secularism being under assault in Indian politics by votaries of Hindutva or cultural nationalism. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) continuing in power with a renewed mandate—earned by a larger voting percentage than in 2014—could embed cultural nationalist verities into the Indian political culture. There is threat of a decisive turn away from civic nationalism that has defined the proverbial “idea of India” so far towards ethnic nationalism (Ansari 2019).

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Updated On : 16th Sep, 2019
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