Growing Scope And Emerging New Career Opportunities: Defence And Strategic Studies In India – Analysis


National defence is not only the obligations of peoples who are in armed forces but it is a responsibility of the all citizens of a nation. Admissions for the new session is likely to kick start in colleges and universities the Defence and strategic studies (DSS), begin to grow or increase rapidly as a discipline in India would be a correct choice for students who wanted to make career in defence and strategic analyses. It is a prospective subject that any potential scholar who studied can not only become a common social scientist (subject expert) but can grow as an internationally renowned strategist. This course not only provides the opportunity to educate and research simply on strategic issues, but also supports stakeholders and security establishments in planning grand strategic policies of the nation.

Mostly Military science as a single optional subject in BSc or Defence studies as a single choosen optional subject in BA is offered by various colleges/Universities in India, some rare colleges also offered BA in Defence studies (specialization) or BSc in Military science also. Traditionally at Post Graduation level it is mainly offered as M Sc in Military Science and for MA as Defence and strategic studies. Most newly established Central Universities offered this course now as National Security studies (NSS) in India after the Jasjit Singh Committee report in 2010. First and foremost, this committee concluded that the nomenclature of defence and strategic studies was outdated and limiting; that this needed to be replaced with a more comprehensive, contemporary and generic title of National Security Studies. To incentivize this change the report suggested giving large, one-time, grants to few existing prominent departments. They also recommended recasting of all teaching courses to reflect contemporary themes and perspectives. Indeed, the committee recommended setting up of a separate apex Council on National Security Research and Studies as overarching body to guide and direct National Security Studies across India’s universities.

Finally, while it urged for upgrading and renaming of existing departments as Departments of National Security Studies, it recommended setting up of at least five new such departments to be opened up in selected other universities. All these departments were to receive additional funding directly from the union government to revamp their research and teaching. Every year UGC conducted NET test jointly for all under the name of Defence and strategic studies twice in a year conducted through CBSE. This course is currently not offered through distance mode for PG students (earlier Kurukshetra and Madras university offered) and only offered as a regular masters course, some Distance education departments of Punjabi university Patiala, PU Chandigarh, MDU Rohtak, Kurukshetra University Kurukshetra and some more offered this course to UG students only.

There are nearly 30 universities in India that offer Defence and strategic studies research and teaching programmes and award ‘degrees’ in their defence and strategic studies departments either at college level or in their university departments. In addition to these more than 150 other colleges ‘associated’ with 27 other universities offer ‘courses’ covering various aspects of the security studies—like military history, military studies, military science, strategic studies, diplomacy, disarmament, peace and conflict or war and peace, etc.—largely at the undergraduate level. Most military institutions also run higher command and other training courses which conclude with writing of a dissertation on themes of security studies and result in award of research degree from universities to which these are affiliated.

Then many deemed-to-be universities and other recognized and unrecognized private teaching institutions offer diplomas and degrees that include courses covering several sub-themes of security studies. Starting from late 1950s, an overwhelming number of these institutions offer security studies under the nomenclature of defence and strategic studies and most of these are located in northern and central India though there are few well-known university departments located in metropolitan cities in west (Pune) and south of India (Chennai) that as well offer specialization in security studies teaching and research. Over the years, University Grants Commission (UGC) has also encouraged and groomed several ‘area studies’ programmes in various universities specializing on various regions and countries.

These too have often had though only a limited focus on the teaching and research which overlaps with concerns of security studies. Indeed, this has been the regular complaint against ‘area studies’ that these remain confined to only studying foreign, security and economic policies instead of dwelling deeper with issues relating to their region’s cultures, classics, sociology, anthropology and languages.

India’s rise as an emerging power, since early 1990s and especially India’s nuclear tests of 1998, has given a boost to ever-expanding interest and infrastructure for India’s teaching and research in security studies. The proliferation of new think tanks and growing coverage of security-related issues in visual, print and online media has been more than noticeable. This has since transformed the nature and nurture of India’s security studies. Ex Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on 23 May 2013 led down the foundation stone of the Indian National Defence University (INDU) at Binola in Gurgaon district, Haryana, as an unique autonomous institution of national importance. The INDU would provide higher education for management of defence forces and keep military leadership abreast of emerging security challenges through scholarly research and training.

According to an official statement, the INDU would develop and propagate higher education in defence studies, defence management, defence science and technology, and promote policy-oriented research related to defence. The university will provide inputs for policy formulation and prepare officers for high-level leadership, staff and policy responsibilities. It will promote coordination and interaction between armed forces and other institutions in the country. It will focus on higher education in defence studies, defence management and defence science and technology. The university will offer post-graduate studies, and doctoral and post-doctoral research in defence and security related studies. The constituent colleges of the university would include the National College of Defence Studies (NCDS), Indian Institute of Defence Technology (IIDT), Indian Institute of Defence Management (IIDM) and Defence Institute of Distance & Open Learning (DIDOL). The review committee set up by the government after the Kargil conflict, headed by eminent strategic expert K. Subrahmanyam, had recommended establishment of a university to exclusively deal with defence and strategic matters.

What is the scope of Defence and StrategicStudies/ National Security studies (NSS)?

After independence, India has faced many ebbs and flows in the fields of defence and developments. Wars with Pakistan and lost to China in 1962 highlighted the neglence and unawareness of the India’s security policy. Our decision makers within the exception of very few, lack adequate knowledge of defence and security matters. Although our political leadership exercise greater care in their utterance on defence and security matters, these are essentially confined to generalities and are not the outcome of a well though out policy.

There is a lack of a well informed public opinion on defence and security related matters. In the absence of a well define defence policy in India; this state of affairs is likely to continue. So this requires a sound background based on study, research and in depth understanding. In India, the government and the armed forces and the average civilian debars them from the understanding of the defence of the nation, which is requirement of the day. So to bridge these types of gap the subject helps civilians to understand the National security and other defence related issues. The understanding and support of informed citizens is the basis of public confidence in the armed forces. Such confidence is essential to the effective performance of their military mission to preserve peace and repel aggression.

The public has the right to complete information about the plans and progress of armed forces, subject only to limitations of essential security. A knowledgeable and resolute citizen is as important as a highly motivated military force in meeting an aggression. Public understanding of the ever changing military situation is dependent upon truthful and current status of their defence force. The desirability of a military service as a carrier is not appreciated by many young men and women. These reasons further accentuate the importance of understanding of defence studies and its role in keeping the public informed of the contribution of the services to the peace and prosperity of the nation. There is a deep divide between the armed forces and an average civilian. Defence studies here plays a the role of a moderator thereby bridging the gap between the two and creating a better understanding of the defence services in the minds of people.

As the 21st century is in progress the need for more serious thinking about the theoretical and practical aspects of security and developmental programmes have become self-evident. In realizing the goals of security and development as two faces of a single coin the subject finds a special role-rather a duty to play. Academic strategists, like their professional counterparts, have the opportunity to think in long term perspective and take hold of problems of national and international life, which very few policy makers have a chance to think about. It covers all strategic and domestic issues that affect the security and defence of the nation, and helps a student gain adequate military education – mainly the historical and geographical aspects.

By gaining awareness on war and its associated problems, one can help the government in strategic policy development. Defence Studies expose the individuals to an in-depth analysis of contemporary events and issues in this multilateral, unpredictable world. This provides the broad field within which Nations of States and non-state factors interact. An attempt is made to provide for both of theoretical understanding of how and why Nations behave as they do and also a historical survey of the Major Trends in World Affairs. It also includes an understanding of Indian Military History, The Defense Organisation of India, India’s National Security, Civil Military relations, Indian Military Psychology and Sociological analyses, and the Economics of Defense budgeting and expenditure. Indian Armed Forces have facing problem of shortage of more than 25000 officers, the youth having a basic understanding and aptitude for security matters can contribute in a better way by joining the Indian Armed Forces.

What are the career options for students after doing DSS/ NSS Course?

Today’s youngsters may be attracted to the armed forces, but few know that defence studies also offers career opportunities in a world in which the line between traditional and upcoming careers has become blurred. Defence studies have established itself as a subject to be reckoned with as most universities have introduced it at the graduate or postgraduate levels in the country. The multi-disciplinary approach of the course ensures that it is helpful not only in making a career but also in preparing for competitive examinations. It is also being chosen as an optional subject in the state/central services. The candidates who have passed bachelor’s / master’s degree in this subject, can start career as lecturers and go for research fields like international relations, geostrategic, geopolitical socio-economic and tactical aspect of war. One can get jobs at Lecturer / Professor in Universities or Colleges, Indian Army, Navy, Air Force, Education corps, Para Military, Defence journalism, Research, Policy Making, Defence Analysts, Security Advisors, Military Psychologists Military Intelligence Specialist, and many more fields. Writing and publishing books with Government and UGC sponsored grants, articles and blogs is also a considerable option for young students.

There are a number of research institutes as well as universities ready to enroll postgraduates for research on defence-related subjects. The premier among these is the Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis, New Delhi. Students of Defence studies can also join Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA), New Delhi as Research Associate / Research Fellow, Research Officer. The greatest contribution of India’s universities has been in generating mass-scale general consciousness, interests and expertise in security matters, while much of focus in India’s think tanks remains on the policy debates. This policy research in India has happened mostly in various think tanks led by Ministry of Defence supported Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) and United Services Institution of India (USI), lately joined by Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS), National Maritime Foundation (NMF) and Centre for Air Power Studies (CAPS) all in New Delhi. Similarly, Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) functioning under the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and Institute for Conflict Management (ICM) associated with Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) are also premiere research centres that the scholars can be employed.

There are also several private think tanks that provides internship and job positions namely, the Observer Research Foundation (ORF), Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS), Centre for Policy Research (CPR), India Foundation (IF), Ananta Aspen Centre (AAC), South Asia Analysis Group (SAAG) and Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF) in New Delhi, Gateway House in Mumbai and Global India Foundation (GIF) in Kolkata. In fact, India’s top security brasses have the background of these premiere think tanks. The current NSA Ajit Dhoval (IPS, Retd) and his deputy Arbind Gupta (IFS, Retd) were the heads of VIF and IDSA respectively just before they occupied the powerful positions in the NSCS. Interested aspirants can also work with renowned international bodies such as United Nation Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS) and United Nation Department of Political Affairs (UNDPA). Separately the Hills and Associates, and Control Risks are also important foreign private risk assessment or strategic analyses companies that have offices in India where intellectuals from security studies background are recruited with high payment. The International College for Security Studies (ICSS) or the Orion School of Security & Intelligence Managements, both based in New Delhi, offer training and Security Education for all levels of personnel in every facet of the subject whether it be on land, sea or air. Their major advantages include their recent origins, their having multiple branches as also affiliations and partnerships with various reputed international agencies of similar kind. You enter as a research associate or political/defence analyst, drawing a salary of Rs. 20,000 per month. And as you rise up as senior researcher with PhD in hand, you can expect Rs. 40,000 to Rs. 60,000 per month. Of course, the salary levels and perks vary drastically, if you are interested to join politics or become a diplomat/Ambassador through foreign services. Being a diplomat gives you a lot of responsibilities which are closely related to domestic and international happenings. However, the field of strategic analysis gives a lot of satisfaction to professionals in this field.

There are many scholarships for research positions in foreign think tanks, research institutions and universities as Research Associates/Research Fellow/ Research Officer/Intern. Some of the institutes offering research opportunities are: French Institute of International Relations, Institute for International and Strategic Relations (France); Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies (Israel); Japan Institute of International Affairs, National Institute for Defense Studies (Tokyo Japan); Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies; Institute for Strategic Studies; Stockholm International Peace Research Institute; Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research, Chatham House; the Brookings Institution (USA); Center for Strategic and International Studies (USA); Council on Foreign Relations (USA); Foreign Policy Research Institute USA; Institute for National Strategic Studies (USA); Kings College London; and The RAND Corporation.

New avenues

The concept of security has changed now. The military protects the country. But who protects the Corporates, Malls, Senstive installations and big Hotels? This is where a degree in Defence and Strategic Studies with Diploma in Security and safety management helps, where you get trained in civil defence, comes in handy. But there is a certain mindset at work, “Strangely, security is not considered a proper occupation for an educated person. But, if you realise that this mindset is not correct, then there are a wide range of opportunities available.”

In the corporate sector, many opportunities are opening up nowadays. With security forming a huge concern for all, trained professionals are very much in demand. The remuneration is also good. Write the next episode of the Terminator franchise or be the Tom Clancy of 2020. As someone with a depth of knowledge in the area of warfare and defence, it would make you an ideal candidate to write and publish fictional books / screen plays on this matter. The general public has a good appetite for war fiction (as attested to by the innumerable Hollywood films on war). If you manage to squeeze in future warfare and technology into the equation, postulating a war or a future that has yet to occur. The defence experts should act as a bridge between the academic community and policymaking functionaries. More importantly, they should provide independent, credible and candid analysis to the public for informed debate of national security issues.

Who can study this course?

  • Candidates who have passed 10+2 examination in any discipline are eligible to pursue this course at UG level in BSc/BA (Minimum required marks may be differing in regions/universities/colleges).
  • Candidates who have passed Bachelor’s degree in Military / Defence Studies can pursue MA/MSc degree in DSS/ NSS Course in various Indian universities.
  • After MA/MSc degree they can do PG Diplomas/MPhil/PhD/DLitt and JRF in DSS/ NSS Course in various Indian universities. The courses offered in this field are BA (as a subject), MA, M. Phil., Certificate Courses, PG diplomas and Ph.D. Defence and Strategic Studies is an interdisciplinary subject which includes, among other topics, the study of National security, Military history, International relations, Military geography, Science and technology, Modern strategic thought, Military psychology, Military sociology, Area studies (South Asia-China-Pakistan), Research Methodology, International law, Theory and practice of war, Disaster management, Indian Ocean, Conflict resolution & peace studies, Map reading, Water security, Environment protection, Energy security, Security management and Defence economics etc. Students from different disciplines opt for this course and wide arrays of opportunities are available once you complete it.

Top Universities in India offering Defence and StrategicStudies/ National Security studies

  1. Allahabad University-# Senate Hall, Allahabad-211002, Uttar Pradesh, Department of Defence and Strategic Studies, Courses offered-BA/BSc, M.A, Ph.D,
  2. Central University of Gujarat- # Gandhinagar – 382030, Centre for Security Studies (CSS) at the School of International Studies, Courses offered- integrated M.Phil / Ph.D programme,
  3. Central University of Jammu- # Jammu- 180011, Department of National Security Studies, Courses offered- integrated M.Phil / Ph.D programme,
  4. Central University of Kerala recently opened a Centre for Defence and Strategic Studies
  5. Deen Dayal Upadhyay Gorakhpur University-# Gorakhpur-273009, Uttar Pradesh,  Department of Defence and Strategic Studies, Courses offered- B.A, M.A, PhD, PGDDNSM (Post Graduate Diploma in Disaster and National Security Management)
  6. Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University- # Garhwal University, Srinagar Garhwal-246174, Defence and Strategic Studies Department, Courses offered- B.A/B.Sc, M.A/M.Sc, PhD, PGDMSD (Post Graduate Diploma in Military Studies & Defence Management Only for Gentlemen Cadets of Indian Military Academy, Dehradun, P.G Diploma in Defence Studies and Boarder Management- Only for Gentlemen Cadets of I.T.B.P.Academy Musoorie. Uttarakhand)
  7. Kurukshetra University- #Kurukshetra 136119,Haryana, Department of Politica Science and Defence and Strategic Studies, Courses offered- B.A in affiliated colleges, M.A
  8. Maharshi Dayanand University-# Rohtak-124001, Haryana, Department of Defence and Strategic Studies, Courses offered- M.A, Ph.D,
  9. Meerut College -#Meerut- 250003,Uttar Pradesh, Affiliated to Chaudhary Charan Singh University, Meerut, Department of Defence and Strategic Studies, Courses offered- BA/M.A, Ph.D,
  10. University of Madras-# Chepauk Campus. Triplicane, P.O- Chennai-600005, Tamilnadu, Department of Defence and Strategic Studies, Courses offered- M.A, M.Phil, Ph.D, www.unom.
  11. Savitribai Phule Pune University # Pune-411007, Maharashtra, Department of Defence and Strategic Studies, Courses offered- M.A/M.Sc, M.Phil, Ph.D, also have Yashwantrao Chavan National Centre of International Security and Defence Analysis (YCNISDA)
  12. Panjab University-# Chandigarh-160014, Department of Defence and National Security Studies, Courses offered- M.A, Ph.D, Postgraduate Diploma Course and Three-months Executive Certificate Course in Disaster Management & Security incl., One year Postgraduate Diploma Course in Homeland Security which is only of its kind in the country served by this department.
  13. Punjabi University-# Patiala- 147002, Punjab, Department of Defence and Strategic Studies, Courses offered- B.A in affiliated colleges, M.A, M.Phil, Ph.D,
  14. Chhatrapati Shahu Ji Maharaj University-Kalyanpur-208024, Kanpur UttarPradesh, Courses offered through affiliated colleges – B.A/B.Sc, M.A/M.Sc, PhD,
  15. University of Calcutta- # Senate House 87/1, College Street, Calcutta-700073, West Bengal, Military Studies; Courses offered-B.A (for NCC Candidates as option)
  16. M.J.P. Rohilkhand University- #Dori Lal Agarwal Marg,  University Campus. Bareilly-243001, UttarPradesh,   Military Studies & Military Science, Courses offered- B.A/B.Sc, M.A/M.Sc, PhD, The course is running under its Affiliated Colleges
  17. Manipur University- # Canchipur, Imphal-795003, Manipur, Defence Studies, Courses offered in affiliated colleges-B.A/B.Sc,
  18. North Maharashtra University-# PO Box No.80, Umavinagar, Jalgaon-425002, Maharashtra, Defence and Strategic Studies, Courses offered-B.A/B.Sc, M.A/M.Sc, PhD,
  19. Tripura University- #PO.-Agartala College, Tripura West, Suryamani Nagar, Agartala-799004, Defence Studies, Courses offered in affiliated colleges – B.A/B.Sc,
  20. Osmania University, Hyderabad in its Affiliated College of Defence Management, Secunderabad. offered course in Higher Defence Management Course (HDMC), Senior Defence Management Course (SDMC), Defence Management Course (DMC). www.
  21. University of Lucknow- # Lucknow 226 007, Department of Defence Studies, Courses offered-BA/MA.
  22. Jai Narain Vyas University-# Central Office, Residency Road, Jodhpur 342011 Rajasthan, Courses offered- MA.
  23. Jawaharlal Nehru University- #New Delhi-110067, School of International Studies, Course Offered- MPhil/PhD,

Asif Ahmed

Asif Ahmed is Assistant Professor at the University of Kurukshetra, teaching defense and strategic studies. He holds an MA in Defence & Strategic Studies (Punjabi University) with couple of other post graduate degrees in Mass Communications and Journalism. Professor Asif Ahmed has published one book on national security of India and authored articles in English, Punjabi, and Hindi languages in various newspapers, magazines journals, and has also edited chapters in books at the national and international levels. For some time he also participated in Live Radio Talks and Phone in counseling programs at the AIR Patiala station in India. Professor Ahmed's areas of interests are National Security of India, Distance Education, Human Rights Education, and Environment Education. He may be reached at [email protected]. and blogs at

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