India’s Strategic Think Tank: The Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses
The Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses (IDSA) was established in the context of the 1962 Sino-Indian war, when the Indian government demanded the creation of an independent think tank dedicated to strategic affairs. The major difficulty with which IDSA has been dealing since its early years lies in the non-cooperativeness of both the Indian armed forces and civilian bureaucracy. This lack of cooperation mainly arises from the bureaucracy’s fear of IDSA’s “contaminating effect” on its own structure and the prevailing mistrust between the different parties. In the post–Cold War scenario, the situation has slightly improved as a consequence of the retirement of some governmental officials and of part of the military personnel who had a significant role in IDSA. Meanwhile, IDSA focuses its activity on policy research, training, and public education, expanding its research foci beyond traditional national defense issues into some unconventional threats facing India. This chapter highlights several factors that might affect IDSA’s institutional autonomy. Firstly, IDSA is entirely funded by the Ministry of Defense. Secondly, resource scarcity debilitates the balance between maintaining research independence and respecting the government’s security concerns. By enhancing network-building, public dissemination, policy research, and interaction with government, IDSA will be able to play its due role in the future.