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The Absent Dialogue: Politicians, Bureaucrats, and the Military in India

A Book Talk with the Author

Anit Mukherjee
Assistant Professor, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University; CASI Non-Resident Visiting Scholar
Thursday, October 31, 2019 - 12:00
Center for the Advanced Study of India Ronald O. Perelman Center for Political Science & Economics 133 South 36th Street, Suite 230 Philadelphia PA 19104-6215

Listen to podcast (in conversation with Gautam Nair, CASI Visiting Dissertation Fellow)

About the Author:
Anit Mukherjee is Assistant Professor at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, a Non-Resident Fellow at the Brookings Institution India Center, and a CASI Non-Resident Visiting Scholar. He has a Ph.D. from the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Johns Hopkins University and was formerly an officer in the Indian Army.

About the Book:
The Absent Dialogue: Politicians, Bureaucrats, and the Military in India (Oxford University Press, November 2019)
Civilian control over the military is widely hailed as one of the major successes of India's democracy. Because it is so rare, especially among post-colonial states, this control is rightfully celebrated. But has this come at a cost? In The Absent Dialogue, Anit Mukherjee argues that the pattern of civil-military relations in India has hampered its military effectiveness. Diving deep into understanding the organization and internal processes within the Indian military, he explains how Indian politicians and bureaucrats have long been content with the formal and ritualistic exercise of civilian control, while the military continues to operate in institutional silos. Yet, there has been little substantive engagement between the two. To support this claim, Mukherjee closely examines the variables most closely associated with military effectiveness-weapons procurement, jointness (the ability of separate military services to operate together), officer education, promotion policies, and defense planning. Further, Mukherjee shows how India's pattern of civil-military relations-best characterized as an absent dialogue-adversely affects each of these processes. While the book focuses on India, it also highlights the importance of civilian expertise and institutional design in enhancing civilian control and military effectiveness in other democracies. Informed by more than a hundred and fifty interviews and recently available archival material, The Absent Dialogue sheds new light on India's military and will reshape our understanding of both the history and contemporary dynamics of civil-military relations and recurring problems therein.

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