Text of the Hon'ble Vice-President’s address at The Chanakya Defence Dialogue in New Delhi

azadi ka amrit mahotsav

Good Morning! My Greetings to all of you.

General Manoj Pande, Chief of the Army Staff,Admiral R. Hari Kumar, Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice-Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal A P Singh, Lt. Gen. P.S. Rajeshwar (Retd.) Director General, Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS), Vice-Chief of the Army Staff,Lieutenant General MV Suchindra Kumar, Ambassadors, High Commissioners,Excellences, General V.N Sharma, Former Chief of the Army Staff, Admiral S. Lamba, Former Chief of Naval Staff,Distinguished Delegates & Guests from Bharat and Abroad,Officers from the Defence Services, Think Tanks & the wider Strategic Community,Members of the Media,Friends,Ladies and Gentlemen.

The Chanakya Defence Dialogue, this inaugural flagship event, conceived by the Indian Army, could not have come at a more critical moment in International Affairs. I strongly commend this pioneering initiative of the Indian Army.

This will afford a productive platform where defence, strategy, and collaborative partnership will converge to forge a secure, stable, and prosperous future in the vibrant landscape of South Asia and the Indo-Pacific.

This innovative initiative will serve as a vital platform for the exchange of insights and discussions on critical security matters, further enhancing the nation’s strategic awareness and expectedly catalysing resolutions of complex issues. 

The two-day defence dialogue with six thought provoking sessions would certainly traverse varied aspects of regional and global security unfolding a roadmap to address situations.  

There would be focus on evolution of a strategy for security measures in the region to fortify India’s position as a ready, resurgent, and relevant stakeholder among the nations of this region.

When the world is somewhat on an edge, perhaps on a powder keg, with many a cliff hanging situations, the conception of an Ideation Forum to dissect contemporary challenges to global security and peace, is indeed thoughtful and timely.

My compliments to the Indian Army, the Chief of Army Staff and the Army leadership for orchestrating this event.

Friends, this platform is eminently suited to meticulously analyse the complexities of security challenges in South Asia and the Indo-Pacific and define a way forward stance for collective security within the region.

Quintessentially, India historically has been and is a land of peace, a significant global player, whose most profound ambition is to structure a secure and peaceful environment in order that our people thrive, our nation prospers and thereby humanity gains.

‘VasudhaivKutumbakam’ – essence from our Upanishads – the concept of ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future’, embodies both, our way of life as also our global outlook.

सुलह, सलामतीऔरअमन (reconciliation, security and peace) have for ages been central to all our endeavours.

The spirit also undergirded our yearlong impactful stewardship of the G-20, making it a historic success, converging into the consensually evolved Delhi Declaration.

Friends, Raisina Dialogue, a multilateral annual conference, committed to addressing the most challenging issues facing the global community,  has over the years become a  nerve centre of focus on geopolitics, geo-strategy, geo- technology and geo-economics- dotted with conversations in foreign policy.

The Raisina Dialogue 2023 theme “Provocation, Uncertainty, Turbulence: Lighthouse in the Tempest” was indeed of considerable contemporaneous relevance. Thought leaders of the world engaged in several conversations of various formats.

Another potentially significant event ushered in September 2023, the Indo-Pacific Army Chiefs’ Conference hosted first time by the Indian Army. It was here General Manoj reflected “The Indo-Pacific region is not merely a collection of nations but a “web of interdependencies”

There was global convergence of seventeen Chiefs of Armies and twelve Heads of Delegations from countries as geographically diverse as Brazil, Tonga, UK, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Indonesia and the USA.

In this perspective the Chanakya Defence Dialogue, will for sure complete the circle by emerging as an insightful global platform that not only identifies emerging trendlines in National Security, but also demonstrates the astuteness to find solutions that can ride them.

It is a matter of satisfaction that New Delhi is coming into its own as this global epicentre for deep, thoughtful, well rounded, comprehensive ideation that soaks in diverse perspectives from distant corners of the world. In a sense it signifies India’s role in global affairs. 

The platforms that I alluded to have enabled the vocalisation of viewpoints from the G-7 to the Global South while providing networks and pathways to wade through some of the most vexed problems of our times – from climate change to green energy, digital divides, accelerating power transitions, economic coercion, debt instruments, critical and emerging technologies, connectivity and infrastructure.

In the fullness of time, these forums have potential to emerge as laboratories/hubs for the exploration of a range of new ideas, projects and global best practices in Foreign / Strategic Policy and National Security.

Ladies& Gentlemen, India is singularly gifted with civilisational ethos of thousands of years.

While the world rightly acknowledges India as land of great spiritual thinkers, it has also been the ‘Karmbhoomi’ of some of the finest strategic minds and hardnosed realists.

Acharya Chanakya, after whom this Dialogue has been christened, happened to be one such imaginative strategic thinker and a skilled exponent of statecraft, always prescient in his observations and advice.

His reflections:


औरशास्त्रनहींपढ़ोगेतोअपनीसंस्कृतिकोखो‌ दोगे।”

“If you don’t take up arms, you will lose your nation.”

And if you don’t read the scriptures, you will lose your culture.”

bearhuge contemporaneous relevance. 

In a somewhat similar vein, another brilliant Indian mind and global icon, Swami Vivekananda, observed that “the world was a gymnasium where nations come to make themselves strong,” suggesting thereby that in the International System strength matters. He had capsuled everything that was relevant, what he meant was that’s strength does matter and you need to be possessed with strength to be relevant and to secure a proper Global order.

Strength of a nation is most impactful defence and deterrent. Leveraging of nation’s soft power and economic prowess have become facets of strengthening security environment. 

Today’s India while cherishing and practicing the principle of ‘VasudhaivKutumbakam’ also subscribes to securing such noble aspirations in strength.

Our Prime Minister, Narendra Modi while reflecting   “this is an era not of war but of dialogue and diplomacy” defined the wholesome global order. These facets are essence of our civilisation and nectar of India’s position. He echoed sentiments much beyond Bharat that is home to one sixth of humanity.

Friends, emergence of Bharat as a leading global economy coupled with its phenomenal growth is a stabilising factor for global peace and harmony. 

Peace is not an option. It is the only way. Its disruption leads to human misery and global challenges. There is need to seek peace at all costs – through ideation, advocacy, outreach, persuasion and dialogue – as also through strength, the later one being of extreme importance.

In such a scenario the wisdom of such a worldview is reinforced by the worrying turn of global events in recent times – more specifically, the expanding arc of conflict and the failure of deterrence, first in Ukraine and now in West Asia. It is worrisome that globalisation and economic interdependencies are failing to preclude conflict.

The skill and finesse with which nations convert economic surpluses into currencies of hard power are becoming equally salient. There is a concurrent need therefore to revisit the metaphysics of the international system and debate as to how we could possibly strengthen deterrence and re-vitalise diplomacy in imaginative ways to contain and resolve conflagrations.  The traditional mechanisms have nearly collapsed, they have not been able to neutralise the ill effect of these conflagarations.

This forum initiation at this juncture with their being cliff hanging situations at places is significant as it will delve deep into various facets of National Security, much beyond surface scratching and dealing with the issues that stare us as writing on the wall.

Two dimensions of the domain in particular appear to be striking and need attention. The first is the enlarging ambit and we have seen it it’s enlarging day by day the second is its growing complexity and sophistication.

National Security today is an aggregation of myriad attributes and capacities unlike the past – the military is just one part of the pie. Indeed a paradigm shift from the past. I would go to the extent of saying a massive paradigm shift where we have to give our total attention to find out the solution that can fit in present environment.

Economic strength, diplomacy, an innovative military-industrial ecosystem,  industrial ecosystem a resilient supply chain architecture, critical materials, rare earths, scientific prowess, ideational acuity, a strong R&D base, private sector competencies in both capacity building & warfighting; these diverse pieces must all come together to create a robust power dynamic.

Collaborative security and innovative partnerships seem to be the way forward, and it appears perhaps the only way. 

Emerging deep technologies like artificial intelligence, robotics, quantum India is focusing on that semiconductors, India is focusing on that biotech, drones and hypersonics are not only rewriting the very character of war, progress and mastery of these domains will determine the strategic haves and have nots of the future.

To meet such like changes and challenges, we have to capacities in space, cyber and the electromagnetic spectrum. These are complementing the traditional domains of land, sea and air like never before a totally new area. There will have to be mindset change, there will have to be micro analysis and there will thereafter have to be convergence a varied points of view, to look for as resolution.

To meet such like challenges along with the structural corrections, we need a series of cultural transitions.  New talent pipelines and civil military fusion seem to be the new mantras.

There would inevitably be focused on some of these issues and flesh out their final nuances. I have no doubt, I hope, optimism and confidence that this dialogue will do great justice to the person on whose name it has been questioned. The deliberations will rise to the level of Chanakya’s philosophy is the strategy, and his craft.

 The ChanakyaDefense Dialogue may well be a good place to begin. And I’m sure a worthy place to begin an appropriate forum that will catalyze human minds to think of strategies for larger global welfare. That Chanakya defence dialogue is planned to be a regular event is chaired by Indian Army in the years ahead is a wholesome development. I congratulate Chief of Army Staff and his team for having so visualized and at a very, very appropriate time.

Friends, it has been several ages reminded us, peace is well secured from a position of strength that is something what Vivekananda reflected. That is the essence of what Chanakya is all throughout stated.

To be prepared for war is a passage to peace emergence of Bharat has an economic power And it’s enhanced soft diplomacy. And I can assure you the soft diplomatic power of Bharat has been so announced in recent times, that it has become a real factor in the stability of the globe, which you all must have noticed, and I’m sure in one of your sessions. You will have the occasion to bestow your attention on that.

Rise of Bharat’s phenomenal growth, technological penetration, world level achievements economic development of a time which was beyond dream and contemplation few decades ago certainly not. When I was in Parliament in 1989. As a Minister when I created the scenarios. I know my capacity to dream was not to that extent, as to dream what I see as a ground realisation. This will be helping the country at large. It will augur well for peace and stability in the region.

Friends I am grateful to the organizers for affording me an opportunity to share some of the thoughts with the people who are here. Each one of you is an epicentre, nervecenter of a thought process that can contribute massively for larger welfare of the world to find solutions to the conflagrations that are afflicting human society and for which right now, most of us find in perception. There is dead end and we have to find some light at the end of the tunnel. Right now for two issues on which there had been reflections. The tunnel seems to be endless. It is only such kind of platforms where there will be brainstorming exchange of ideas. You will bring on the table various technologies, thought processes, and that we need hopefully, for a solution so that this planet we can give to our future generations as trustees in some shape. I have every hope that deliberations will not only be productive and fruitful, they will be result oriented. They will be of a nature to outreach. Those who are in driver’s seat. Those who formulate policies and generate awareness, the urgent need to tackle the problem.

Thank you. Jai Hind!



Source PIB