Date: Jul 18, 2023
ORF-RSIS Special Report Launch | Momentous Changes: Defence Reforms, Military Transformation, and India’s New Strategic Posture

The Indian military is currently undertaking perhaps its most radical transformation in decades. This is occurring primarily due to two unrelated events—the 2019 defence reforms and, a year later, the 2020 Ladakh crisis. On 15 th August 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi surprised many by announcing his intention to establish the post of a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS). Within six months, India not only had a CDS but also a Department of Military Affairs and was given an explicit mandate to create joint theater commands. Currently, there is speculation regarding the imminent creation of theater commands. In addition, because of the 2020 Ladakh crisis, which is still ongoing, the Indian military has undertaken a significant reorientation, and redeployment, towards the Chinese frontier. Taken together, these two events have left the military poised at the cusp of a radical transformation.

What are the main elements, and debates, that arise from such an effort? How consequential is the military’s shift, doctrinally and in force structures, towards the frontier with China? How does the military take advantage of emerging technologies to enhance its powers? While engaging with these questions, this Special Report, titled, Momentous Changes: Defence Reforms, Military Transformation, and India’s New Strategic Posture, examines some of the current changes in the Indian military. Relying on contributions from former officials and prominent analysts, it shows that the military, both in terms of its internal structures and its strategic posture, is undertaking its most significant shift in decades.


10.00 - 10.30 am Registration and coffee
10.30 - 10.35 am Welcome Remarks
10.35 - 10.40 am Formal launch of the Special Report
10.40 - 10.45 am Remarks by the Editors
10.45 - 13.00 pm

Panel Discussion

CHANGING STRATEGIC ENVIRONMENT (10.45-11.30) Strategic Clarity after Galwan: Analyzing India’s Difficult Choices – Shruti Pandalai Rising to the Challenge: Rebalancing the Indian Army – M. M. Naravane Preparing for a Two-Front Conflict: The Role of the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy – Amit Gupta


Raji Rajagopalan  INSTITUTIONAL REFORMS (11.30-12.15) Perspectives on Recent Institutional Military Reforms and the Way Ahead – Karambir Singh A Cautious Embrace: IAF Perspective on Institutional Reforms – Anil Golani


Anit Mukherjee  IMPACT OF EMERGING TECHNOLIGIES (12.15-13.00) Passive Observation: Responsible AI in the Indian Military – Shimona Mohan The iCET and the future of U.S.-India Defence Ties – Raj Shukla and Rudra Chaudhuri


Raji Rajagopalan

Closing Remarks

13.00 onwards Lunch
  Closing Remarks Lunch (13.00 onwards)

Venue Address

ORF Conference Room, 20, Rouse Avenue Institutional Area, New Delhi