Man vs. Machine: Day 2 of Indian Military Heritage Festival Unveils Future of Defence Industry – News18

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Under the spotlight, the festival’s first session explored the dynamic interplay between man and machine, encapsulating the essence of the Make in India campaign.

The second day of the Indian Military Heritage Festival, on 22 October ’23, at the Manekshaw Centre, New Delhi, unveiled profound insights into the ever-evolving realm of military technology, reflecting the theme “Man vs Machine.” As the festival delves into India’s rich military heritage, it provides a platform to explore the future of the Indian defence industry and its role in shaping global defence innovation.

Under the spotlight, the festival’s first session explored the dynamic interplay between man and machine, encapsulating the essence of the Make in India campaign. This initiative promotes domestic defence manufacturing, reducing dependence on foreign suppliers and embracing research and development to bolster India’s security and global presence in defence innovation.

Distinguished speakers, including Air Marshal Surat Singh, AVSM, VM, VSM, Director General Air (Operations) Lt Gen V G Khandare, PVSM, AVSM, SM (Retd), Principal Advisor to MoD, Lt Gen Anil Bhatt, PVSM, UYSM, AVSM, SM, VSM (Retd), Indian Space Association and Lt Gen Anil Kapoor, AVSM, VSM (Retd) discussed the transformative potential of AI, robotics, and unmanned systems in shaping modern military strategy. They highlighted the need for India to become a formidable player in the global defence industry, focusing on AI-enabled weapon systems and decision support systems.

The festival also hosted Dr Jitendra Singh, Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Science & Technology, MoS, PMO, wherein he shared his thoughts about India’s military legacy and India’s emergence as a global frontline leader today. In his speech, the minister focused upon India’s ascendance in space and defence sector. He expressed his solidarity and gratitude to the Indian armed forces who perform tough jobs in the most difficult circumstances. Speaking on the importance of technology in defence, he highlighted how India today is producing hi-end defence products from drones to UAVs and is ready to adapt to new frontiers like Quantum Computing, Artificial Intelligence and Cyber Security. While expressing his support to the initiative, the minister said that adapting to and harnessing these technologies will be essential for maintaining military superiority and national security in the modern era.

In the second session, the Indian Military Heritage Festival delved into the complex relationship between war and media. The festival highlighted that modern conflicts transcend the battleground and are increasingly waged in the digital arena. Media’s role in shaping public perception, influencing international opinion, and even impacting the outcomes of conflicts was discussed.

With the ever-accelerating pace of news delivery and the challenges posed by fake news, both media and stakeholders, including the armed forces, grapple with the demands of the digital age. While traditional media remains relevant, the rise of social media has introduced new challenges. The festival emphasised the importance of traditional media’s role in verifying and authenticating news in an era where misinformation can spread rapidly.

The festival also took a poignant detour as it journeyed into India’s military history. It revisited a crucial segment in India’s quest for independence in the session titled: The East India Company: Rebellion and Revolt. At a historical juncture stood the Santal Revolution of 1855, Professor Peter Stanley provided unique insights into the rebellion, discussiong it as a military phenomenon. He described it as a sustained and violent act and made the rebellion’s complexities vividly clear through engaging character portrayals and vivid descriptions. Professor Peter Stanley elucidated how the Bengal Army skillfully recruited soldiers, even during the challenging monsoon and explored the techniques employed against the local population, providing essential insights into this forgotten episode in the nation’s military history.

Swapna Liddle proceeded to delve into the intricacies of the rebellion of the Bengal Army against the British. She highlighted the absence of kinship bonds and the colonial “divide and rule” strategy. In doing so, she illustrated these struggles’ significant role in shaping the broader struggle for independence.

The panel underscored the point that the battles against the East India Company remains a defining moment that continues to inspire and shape India’s identity as a sovereign, self-reliant nation, forging ahead into a promising future.

The festival elegantly weaved in sessions focusing on the contribution of women in wars. It saw discussions on the women warriors of yesteryears to the women officers of Indian armed forces today who are taking charge at multiple levels in key operations.

In his valedictory address, the Chief Guest on Day 2, General Anil Chauhan, PVSM, UYSM, AVSM, SM, VSM, Chief of Defence Staff expressed his pleasure to be part of the event and recognised USI’s role as the country’s oldest defence think tank to curate a first-of-its-kind festival like this. He complimented USI for its endeavour to preserve the history and heritage of the armed forces through this initiative while adding gravitas and charm to the event.

During his speech, General Chauhan talked about India’s rich military heritage and the selfless service of soldiers. He also highlighted India’s ethos and legacy from ancient times and how it is deeply rooted in India’s military culture today. While mentioning about all the initiatives undertaken by USI, he also endorsed the need for festivals like this for the nation to be proud of its culture and heritage.

The Indian Military Heritage Festival, with its “Man vs. Machine” theme, not only bridges the past and the future of defence but also opens up a world of possibilities for India’s role in defence innovation. It showcases India’s commitment to self-reliance, innovation, and its rich military heritage, wherein ancient wisdom and modern technology merge seamlessly.

As the festival unravels modern warfare’s complexities and the media’s role in shaping perceptions, it underlines the need for evolving journalism in response to technological advancements and shifting war dynamics. The event, crowned by the remembrance of India’s fight for freedom, underscores the nation’s journey from a colonial past to a self-reliant, forward-looking future. The Indian Military Heritage Festival is not just a celebration; it’s a testament to India’s unwavering spirit and its embrace of a brighter, self-reliant tomorrow.

Day 2 of the Indian Military Heritage Festival can be accessed here:

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