Address by Shri Jagdeep Dhankhar, Honourable Vice President at National Defence College in New Delhi on November 15, 2023.

New Delhi | November 15, 2023

Good afternoon all of you,
I left this place on the last occasion fully surcharged, motivated and inspired. And trust me, there are not many occasions when you come face to face with people who are in this elite category, Joint Secretaries and above from civil services and from the defence fraternity at similar higher level. So from every consideration, this place today is a powerhouse, rich human resource that has capacity to bring about change and a change that can impact affirmatively our governance, ensure our security.
It was indicated to me that members of the course drawn from very senior positions in civil and military, when they go out of the country, have the benefit of wiser counsel as their spouses can accompany them but it doesn't happen in the country. I was not able to rationalise it, with the General tried to find some rationale. But we have agreed to discuss the matter further. From every consideration, I can assure you if your spouse is with you, you performance is much better. I am revealing it out your personal experience.
A delightful moment for me to be here, again. Your motto, I studied very carefully, has been very well thought out, as a matter of fact it encapsulate what you all are expected to do, it says बुद्धिर्यस्य बलं तस्य. It is translated in different forms in English. Wisdom is the strength, I think there could be no caveat on this- wisdom is strength, provided wisdom is exploited. But wisdom if it happens in the shape of an idea, which is parked in your mind is not acted upon. And perhaps it may be your weakness and your capacity to contribute to humanity may get diminished. So one of my suggestions is if an idea occurs to you – an out of box idea for innovation to try something big, your brain is the last place to be a parking slot for such an idea. Not executing that idea apart from being the personal injustice to you, is larger injustice to the society which we are committed to serve.
बुद्धि तलवार से अधिक शक्तिशाली है। This has been demonstrated time and again. I need no debate on this. This is a Moto. These venerable maxim servers as an enduring reminder of the paramount importance of knowledge and sagacity in fostering the empowerment of both individual and nations. Its relevance today is never as before, given the disruptive technology impacting security and defence and extremely challenging international environment. There is a paradigm shift.The age old mechanism of defence, the old traditional barriers of land, air and sea, they have yield it in favour of new emerging areas, invasive that being so we have to be ever prepared. If I look at the alumni who have been benefited out of your courses and contributed to profession, we have presently CDS General Anil Chauhan, a very fine man in uniform. I had benefit of his guidance and enlightened views when I was Governor and he was GOC-in-C at Fort William and he is presently CDS. He succeeded, General Rawat who unfortunately left us in between on account of a tragic accident, was also from this institute.
There have been many, including our current National Security Adviser. I don't want go to the entire list. You all know about it but one thing that emanates from this is that is your spine is very strong and well tested, when you get into defensive or civil services and the spine has a habit of getting weakened over the years. This is one place very spiny strengthened. Your spinal strength here is given a new lease of life and you are more ably equipped to contribute as compared to others who had not benefit to be here.
This institution for the comprehensive study of national security, strategy and challenges offers opportunity to unleash your energy, talent and give solutions to the problems that stare us by way of writing on the wall. We presently have it at national level and at global level.
There has been I would say sea change or paradigm shift. No comparison at all. The kind of scenario which existed from a security point of view, a decade or two ago, is having no relevance today. The challenges are emanating from sources that are now quite different. Conventional warfare mechanism has yielded and war is no longer fought these days on the frontier.
We are home to 1/6th of humanity. We are the largest democracy. When our rise is absolutely phenomenal, the challenges are multiplied manifold. We need to be aligned to them. Capacity building through different well thought out programmes is empowering the nation and individuals, enabling enlightened decision making and resilient leadership. I have no doubt if a decision maker is not aware or he is not awakened to the challenges or to modern technology, then surely evolution of policy will not be of a kind that can do justice to such a large nation and therefore, there has to be extensive mechanism to make people who formulate policies to be thoroughly cognizant of the changes we witness in technology. They have to be awakened, they have to be aware. Only an informed mind from that perspective can contribute qualitatively to the evolution of a policy that can come to the aid of the nation and nurture our security environment, secure it, sustain it, preserve it.
Your performance for last six decades has been remarkable. But now there is need for a makeover, changeover that is a global demand. The institute now has to be one of the front ranking institutions in the world and that can happen when you really go ahead as compared to others in contributing in adoption of policies, adoption of mechanisms and technology.
Deeper understanding of strategic, economic, scientific, political and industrial aspects have become integral to national defence but most of us, in my category not yours, have no idea where technology has taken us. There are not many places where I can reflect convincingly on the importance of quantum computing. India is among few countries engaged in this. Relevance of quantum computing can never be overstated. The government has made a good budget for it. We need to go ahead with it. When we talk of the subject I'm required to deal with (India’s Vision of Inclusivity), green hydrogen is one such initiative. Continuing damage to climate is something which we all must be wary of. Green hydrogen would mean by 2030, we will be in a position to bring about investments of about six lakh crores, opportunities for our youth that will bring about inclusiveness, that will be highly equitable for development and that will impact the climate so favourably that everyone will benefit out of it. Such kind of understanding have to emanate from institutions like this.
When an institution like this will engage into a brain scratching situation, scratching much below the surface. They are deep into the situation. Come out with a paper then decision makers at the state level, central level, civil, military, and diplomatic, they will come to know about it and they will be able to factor this knowledge into policy formulation and consequential execution. We get motivated, inspired only when we know there's something so useful to us. To give a simple example, we know the importance of remote access to a television because it helps us not to go to the television every time. That is at a crude street level, that is one is highly refined.
Earlier, today I had the privilege of addressing the 5th edition of Indo-Pacific regional dialogue at Manekshaw Centre, Delhi Cantonment. Few weeks ago, I had the grate fortune to address the Chanakya dialogue and earlier to that there have been two important think thank exercises in this country, this year itself. One was Raisina Dialogue,  Hon’ble Prime Minister was there and we had for the first time Indian Army initiating a dialogue where several chiefs of several other armies were present. Now I am making this point because to have these four important dialogues in a single year in our country reflects rise of India, relevance of India this was never before. And the subject of all this was dealing directly or indirectly with the disruptive technologies, breeding technologies, how they can be utilised for welfare, and how can they be utilised to neutralise the menacing forces that perniciously seek to destroy our ecosystem of peace.
Inclusive Growth, our civilizational ethos have focused on it for several centuries. When we had G-20, this was reflected in our motto of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam and ‘One Earth One Family One Future’. It was our emphasis on inclusiveness at a global level that we could have inclusion of African Union in G-20. That was a remarkable success for the first time global south voice which was not being heard earlier, became very prominent.
When the Prime Minister Modi came to power in 2014, he gave new dimension to our Look-East policy. Look-East policy was initiated sometime in early 90s. So I had nothing to do with it. But it happened immediately after I ceased to be Union Minister and our government collapsed but the Look-East remained just Look-East. Now it has become Act-East. An Act-East policy of the government of India is not confined to our frontiers only. When I attended ASEAN meet, I came to know about it. It has a huge potential and there is going to be road connectivity. Third, the Prime Minister had the occasion to go to small islands in Pacific Ocean. The islands are small but the heart is big. For the first time attention was paid to those small islands. That is again inclusiveness and equitable. Through inclusion India was to become a nation with Global stature and Global acknowledgement. COVID menace was non-discriminatory, it affected all nations. It affected all individuals - rich and high, high and mighty, of any colour and any creed, any sex, any religion but while India was successfully battling COVID menace, we believed in inclusive approach and helped as many as 100 countries, simultaneously with our vaccine.
It has been a gratifying moment for me when I've been on three visits abroad. The heads of the states said we are grateful to Mr. Narendra Modi, during COVID, he could make vaccine available to us. It is inclusiveness. During the G-20 we re-discovered India Middle-East Europe corridor which was in existence in some form because of our genius ages ago were trading through the sea that again is a part of global equitable system.
As a matter of fact, if you analyse the wholesome impact of inclusiveness, it secures equitable way of life. Inclusiveness is antithetical to iniquitous conduct and this government for last 10 years, I applaud it. I'm not a stakeholder in politics. I'm a stakeholder in governance and uploading anything that has been highly impactful. Look at our women; they were in shackles when they used to go to kitchen, tears in their eyes. No one took care of them but their empowerment has been so significant. That there is Gas connection. I come from a state where women used to travel kilometres with a pot on their head to get water, now we have massive planning implementation by and large already implemented – Har Ghar Jal. It was nothing sort of inclusive response of the government when he thought every household must have toilet. Toilet is a facet attached to the dignity of a woman. Imagine the helpless condition of girls, when there is no separate toilet for her. This illusionary change has taken place in this country.
Inclusive growth is the greatest asset to any nation in any field including security and defence. There was a time when we could not step into a bank for an account. The Manager will ask many questions. There was a time when manager would ask how much you will deposit? But just imagine a country opening over 400 million accounts under Jan Dhan. This banking inclusion has been absolutely an explosion in the arena of growth.
Just imagine all world leaders appreciating India for what, the World Bank president, who came here during G-20, said. He said what India has done in digital situations in six years, is not attainable in 47 years. The IMF President also reflected on this inclusion and said our digital transactions contribute 46% of global transactions.
If we take it in statistics, our transactions have been four times that of US, UK, France and Germany taken together in 2022, but I am in a different point. Inclusive Growth means the targeted person gets the relief he or she deserves. We had a Prime Minister who, I don't want to be critic of it, said what he send from Delhi reach only small fraction of people at large, but now it is direct, transparent, no liaison agent, no middleman, this has happened.
Look at the extent of inclusion. As on date more than 2 lakhs 60 thousands cores rupees have gone to farmers directly, more than 100 million farmers are getting three times in a year. I am not on what the government can do, what the service delivery can do but I am that the farmer who is fully equipped with the banking inclusion, technological penetration, that he is prepared to receive it. He receives it, that is a great achievement and this has accounted for our growth which we never imagined. In 2022 we have the occasion to be the fifth largest global economy, overtaking the UK and France. Could we ever imagine few years ago when we were party of Fragile Five, we were one of those countries that were taken as the burden on global economic system. We have traversed in a decade from fragile five to big five global economies and one of the fastest growing economies. By 2030, from all indications, we would be the third largest global economy and in the process will overtake Japan and Germany.
All these achievements are on account of the balanced, equitable, inclusive growth which the nation has seen. There was a time when the growth used to be pyramidical. Those at the top level receive benefits but now it is not the case. The growth is like a plateau, the facilities in relation to the internet are same as in the towns and metros. Same electricity, same roads, same connectivity. If a person can work from home in a metro, he or she can easily work from a village also. This is a big change that has taken place. All I'm suggesting is that we're very thoughtfully chosen a subject which touches every facet of human life. It is this kind of approach where things have taken place in a manner that takes place.
I'm not on a point that we earlier had Shatabdi, Rajdhani and now we have Vande Bharat.  We have other trains also. We have rapid rail. But just imagine those of you who are aware of NCR how cumbersome how painful it was to go to Meerut. What kinds of psychic impact it had on the vulnerable sections. Those who could go in their own vehicle at least had the satisfaction of getting the AC on. But that facility was not for ordinary men and now world class transport is available.
I had occasion to preside Rajya Sabha on 21stSeptember, historic day. For three decades, there could not be women reservation in Lok Sabha and legislatures but on 21st September we had the gratifying moment, vertical and horizontal reservation for women was provided and that again, secures inclusive growth. We are doing justice to 50% of humanity, they are entitled for this.
That is another step that has been taken. I don't think three decades ago we could think of, at least not during my time when I was in Sainikn School Chittorgarh, it was last year when girls were given admission to Sainik schools. They are now admitted to school. We have our girls as fighter pilots, they are combat positions. So kind of scenario when it appears, surely justice is the organic outcome and that is happening.
Let me give a thought to you. Because of this there is emergence of an ecosystem that allows every individual to unleash his or her his potentialto realise its dream and aspirations. And that is why if you look at the startups or unicorns, we are the highest company in the world in 2022. It is of ordinary people. I myself a product of education. But for education and scholarship in Sainik School, I would not have been here. I would not have been in the profession. This system which has changed has also impacted corporates. Now corporates are being controlled. Minds from the village, minds on the basis of meritocracy are taking control.
So, right now, we should take pride that inclusiveness is an aspect right from down the line to the top and that will bring about a sea change. And Bharat will be at pinnacle position it deserves by 2047. Already we had earned enough position by being the third largest economy by 2030, we will be at peak because there is no challenge to human genius of this country.
Let me give you a small illustration.People in the villages are not very well educated as such. But when it comes to internet use, per capita consumption in 2032. Per capita consumption of this country was much more than that of China and US taken together.That is the acceptability of our people in a magnetic manner to adopt technology. Therefore, I call upon you that the technology of use to them, but that kind of technology disruptive technologies artificial intelligence quantum computing, machine making 3d, 6G. 6G for a man like me would mean my mobile phone faster. But you, those concerned with your domain expertise or policymakers, you will know the human dimension of 6G. India is one of the few countries, and the number is not in double digit, which is put its growth in two phases. The second phase is commercialization. This will crystallise by 2030. It is on account of inclusive approach that our sportspersons are performing incrementally well, every time there is a global contest. Our medal number is rising. But number of our girls athletes is also on the rise. And this is also an account of the visionary leadership.
In Tokyo, we had our hockey team losing. The Prime Minister of the country talked to each and every member of the team. The girls were having tears in their eyes but they had the greatest satisfaction that the leader, the democratic leader was talking to each of them and received them in Delhi and that is what happened. This hand holding approach is fundamental to inclusive growth.
I was Governor, State of West Bengal in September 2019, when Chandrayaan-2 was supposed to land on moon. The landing was scheduled around 2am in September on a particular day. I along with my wife went to the Science City in Kolkata.
I had before me 500 boys and girls,I had especially invited them. We were too close but we could not land successfully. I looked in the eyes of boys and girls. Before I could see anything there was a message from the Prime Minister that we have succeeded 96%, we'll make it next time. We have made it.
On 23rd August, we created history. We created history because we became the first country on the planet to have landed a vehicle on the south pole of the moon and we left imprint of Tiranga and Shiv Shakti point there. The point I'm making is, some of you who are in 40s & can have some idea, I was part of the government, I was a minister. To sustain our credibility, our fiscal reserves, foreign reserves were dwindling between USD 1 billion and 2 billion, this country once known as “sone ki chidiya” had to send its gold in physical form, to be placed to two Swiss banks. Now our foreign reserves are USD 600 billion but I call upon a body like this that since your core concern is security, economic nationalism is a fundamental facet of security.
Just imagine if you were to analyse how much foreign exchange has been drained out of this country for kites, diyas candles, furniture, curtains. Just because a trader, a businessman thinks I can get it cheaper. The trader and business industry doesn't think that in the process, you are draining out blood out of our youth. If they were to buy local products, there will be employment, there will be entrepreneurship and that is why the Honourable Prime Minister last week particularly emphasised on the ‘Vocal for local’. Now these things have to be done. Not by Government. Governments are tied to a global regime. There are global bodies that have to provide playing fields at global level. We have to instil a sense in them.
For inclusive growth, it is also imperative that we debrief some people who think their pocket power, their money power is good enough to buy natural resources. They will buy as much petrol, gas and use as much water they like because they can afford. They will have to be sansitised that you are trustees. You have to engage in optimal utilisation of these resources.
I don’t want to take more time but all I'm suggesting is that this body is required to think now in a totally different format. Nowhere in a world has research and development taken place without corporate involvement. This is not happening in our country. Corporate sector gets enormous benefit out of research. We have to inculcate in them this kind of a system that they also come forward.
Ladies and gentlemen, I'll conclude by saying one thing, the greatest danger that is imperative for the nation, there's some people who will take as wise people, some people who have got iconic status, they trade to gain political equity on the ignorance of the people.
If I have to put it I use a word which is normally used for religion. It is nothing short of blasphemy on the social order that to exploit your position to gain mileage on the ignorance of others. So this body will have to rediscover itself. This body will have to devise mechanisms that empower our policymakers to be fully awakened and aware about challenges.
If there is a different person or person from civil services, he get trained here that will have geometric impact. He'll have the occasion to interact with his subordinates, with his seniors. When discussion takes place, he brings on the table, a new facet of policy formulation.
So I'm sure it is for the rich elite faculty of this organisation how the changeover, makeover takes place. But I look forward to a day. I am full of optimism and confidence that this is not far when this body will be reckoned at a global levelas being a nerve center, epicenter for big change in technological world will help us harness breeding disruptive technologies to secure our nation.
I am grateful for the time you all have given to me.
Thank you so much!