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India's Military: Evolution, Modernisation and Transformation

Ganguly, R. (2015) India's Military: Evolution, Modernisation and Transformation. India Quarterly: A Journal of International Affairs, 71 (3). pp. 187-205.

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The Indian military is the world’s fourth largest after the US, Russia and China. In the immediate aftermath of India’s independence from British rule, however, it was hard to imagine that in the span of six decades, a poverty-stricken, fragmented and deeply traumatised country would emerge as a military powerhouse. How and why has this transformation taken place? Has India’s growing military prowess resulted in a more robust and adventurist foreign policy, particularly within the South Asian region? What does India’s rapid military transformation, particularly the Indian Navy, in the twenty-first century say about India’s perception of threats to national security? In this article, I argue that the Indian military’s expansion and modernisation has happened in phases, mainly as a reaction to threatening developments within the surrounding region, the evolving global strategic environment and the perceptions and decisions taken by India’s political elites. I argue, further, that as India’s military prowess and self-confidence have grown, Indian leaders have at times felt tempted to flex the military muscles, particularly in low-intensity regional conflicts, but not always with expected results. I conclude that in the twenty-first century, the Indian military, particularly the Indian Navy, is undergoing rapid expansion and transformation. This suggests that in addition to threats coming across the western and northern land borders with Pakistan and China respectively, India’s security planners envisage a growing threat to national security emanating from the deep waters of the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Management and Governance
Publisher: Sage
Copyright: Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA)
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