Subjects for 2018


For millennia the Ancient Silk Road served as an important network of trade and culture between East and West, facilitating the peaceful movement of people, trade, wealth and ideas between Asia and Europe from the third century BC till its collapsein the 15th-16th century AD, when the Maritime route to Asia was discovered by the Europeans. The OBOR / BRI has been billed by the Chinese government as an effort to revive the economic integration that nations along the historic Silk Road once enjoyed.The plan, which seems to have political, strategic and geo-economic shades,has gained much attention worldwide, but questions remain on what China’s initiative actually implies and what would be its larger security implications for the IPR and the world. The OBOR / BRI itself is not a new construct, but connecting the old, ongoing and some future projects under one narrative. President Xi Jinping first proposed developing the “Belt and the “Road in separate speeches shortly after taking office in 2013. In his speeches he drew on history to promote the idea of stronger economic interconnectivity between China and its neighbours. It was unveiled in September and October 2013 during Xi Jinping’s visits to Kazakhstan and Indonesia revealing the SREB and MSR respectively, the land-based "Silk Road Economic Belt" (SREB) and the oceangoing "Maritime Silk Road" (MSR). The plan took concrete form in March 2015, when Premier Li Keqiang announced in his National People’s Congress government work report that China would be promoting the OBOR / BRI by developing regional infrastructure networks between China and its neighbours. The action plan released in March 2015 clarified the routes envisioned by the new network:  “The Belt”,also known as the Silk Road Economic Belt, refers to the land-based routes that pass into Southeast Asia, link Central Asia with Russia and Europe, and link the Middle East with Southern Europe.  “The Road”,also known as the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, the refers to the sea-based routes from the South China Sea into the South Pacific Ocean, and into the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean via the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea. The Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, or BRF was held on May 14–15, 2017 in Beijing, and drew 29 foreign heads of state and government and representatives from more than 130 countries and 70 international organizations. It appeared more as a showcase event to indicate that a Rising China was ready to take on leadership at the global stage. On October 24, 2017, the Communist Party of China (CPC) adopted a new version of the Party Constitution. Along with the Thought of Secretary General Xi Jinping, the constitution now includes the OBOR / BRI concept as the basis for China’s economic growth — Xi’s trademark geo-economic concept that is now used to explain almost every move that China makes outside its borders. The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has been nominated as the flagship of China’s OBOR initiative. China under Xi is determined to show the developing and the under-developed nations that a contrarian model to the Western narrative exists for economic and overall growth – socialism with Chinese characteristics. Xi Jinping showcased the same during his speech to the 19th Congress in Oct 2017 and in his New Year speech to the nation, wherein he stated that socialism with Chinese characteristics could be the path for developing nations to follow to achieve modernisation. It sees a great opportunity of expanding its sphere of influence in Asia and Africa, amongst the global South, where it could sell this narrative and so realise its ‘Dream’. The OBOR / BRI, with CPEC as its flagship, appear to be the initiative to secure this opportunity. With the above as background, carry out an analysis of the OBOR / BRI to assess the security implications for India and the IPR and what should be the response strategies to the same. The essay should address the following issues, (a) Analyse the architecture of OBOR / BRI, what are the projects, how is it to be funded and how is it to be executed? What are the geo-strategic, geo-political and geo-economic implications for the countries that are part of it, for India and for the IPR? (b) What does CPEC consist of and how does it impact India’ssecurity? How does it impact the geo-strategic and geo-political balance in South Asia and what are the possible consequences toPakistan’s future? (c) What are the overall security implications for India and the IPR? What are the response strategies available to counter the same for India and the IPR?

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Group B : Open to Officers upto 14 Years of Service

India – A Net Provider of Security In Indian Ocean Region (IOR) – A Road Map

The first time that such a sentiment was formally expressed on an international stage was at the 2009 edition of the “Shangri La Dialogue” organized by International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), wherein Mr. Robert Gates, who was then Secretary of Defence of the United States, said, “We look to India to be a partner and net provider of security in the Indian Ocean and beyond….”. The most categorical and unequivocal declaration of this intent occurred at the Prime Ministerial level, when the erstwhile Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh said — “…We live in a difficult neighborhood, which holds the full range of conventional, strategic, and non-traditional challenges ……….. Our defense cooperation has grown and today we have unprecedented access to high technology, capital, and partnerships. We have also sought to assume our responsibility for stability in the Indian Ocean Region. We are well positioned, therefore, to become a net provider of security in our immediate region and beyond…”. Prime Minister Modi during his address to the Combined Commanders Conference in 2015 said “ India’s transformation is closely linked with our international partnerships. And so is our security….. Across the world, India is seen not just as a new bright spot of the global economy, it is also seen as an anchor for regional & global peace, security and stability…… Our responsibilities are no longer confined to our borders and coastlines. As our security horizons and responsibilities extend beyond our shores and borders, we must prepare our forces for range and mobility”. This is relatively a new term and we need to analyse what it implies and what are the nuances of the term. It is commonly said that securing India’s national interests and addressing security concerns of ourneighbouring governments would constitute providing net security in our strategic area of interest. But it is much more than this. The term net security provider is usually meant as enhancing mutual security of more than one country by addressing common security concerns, including dealing with transnational piracy, or responding to disasters, etc. Specifically, it encompasses four different activities: capacity building, military diplomacy, military assistance and direct deployment of military forces to aid or stabilise a situation. Capacity building refers to the training of foreign forces—both civilian and military, either at home or by deploying trainers abroad. Historically, India has a good track record at conducting this type of assistance as it allows personnel from various countries to avail of its training and educational institutes. In relative terms, this is not only cost effective, especially for developing countries, but also convenient as English is used as a medium of instruction. Second type of activity which enhances security is military diplomacy, mainly through military visits and exercises. Such activities can bolster foreign militaries and signal strong bilateral relations and partnerships. India has been very active in this regard, as it engages various militaries in exercises, port calls and visits. Third type of activity is that of military assistance, primarily by supplying equipment. India has displayed some ambivalence in undertaking these activities. India has displayed a reticence in exporting lethal arms and ammunition and is currently ranked 41st among top arms exporting countries in the world. Explanation given is that India’s domestic arms industry has not been able to produce marketable items. Fourth type of activity is the direct deployment of military forces to stabilise a situation arising either out of an environmental disaster, trans- national threats, and evacuation of citizens from conflict areas or to protect self-defined national interests. Such deployment of troops has the potential to be the most controversial, both domestically and diplomatically. There will be Acceptance if troops are deployed in Humanitarian and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations or evacuation of citizens from unstable areas. However, using military force for operations outside one’s territorial borders may attract negative attention. In view of the above, carry out a study to draw a road map for India to fulfil its goal of becoming a net provider of security in IOR. The essay should also address the following :- • India’s national interests and the role of the armed forces. • Efficacy of building Defence Industry under ‘ Make in India’ programme. • Contours of Defence Diplomacy in our context. • Capacity building for an Out of Area Contingencies.

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  1. Competition Group 'A' is open to all commissioned officers of the Armed Forces of India, officers of the Territorial Army and the Senior Division of National Cadet Corps, and Gazetted Officers of the Civil Administration in India including retired officers.
  2. Competition Group 'B' is restricted to officers upto 14 years of service.
  3. Essay may vary in length between 3,000 to 4,000 words. The word length should be shown in brackets at the end of the essay. Entries violating the length are liable to be rejected.
  4. Essays should be typed on one side of the paper in double space and should be submitted in TRIPLICATE.
  5. Entries will be strictly ANONYMOUS. No detail pertaining to the officer is to be mentioned on the essay or in the covering letter. The officer is to select a MOTTO (which should not be more than ten words) and type it on all copies of the first page of his essay. One sealed envelope is to accompany the essay with a paper indicating the MOTTO, personal number, rank, name, date of commission, unit, address and e-mail written on it. On the outside of the envelope, only the MOTTO is to be written. These envelopes will be opened during the USI Council meeting, after the judges have given their decision. Essays violating anonymity rule will be rejected.
  6. The essay must be an officer's personal and original effort without plagiarism and cut-paste job. Jointly written essays are not accepted.
  7. Three judges chosen by the USI will adjudicate. Marks will be given on the basis of the following:-

    1. The extent to which the contribution throws fresh light on the subject.
    2. Whether in the whole or in large part it is in a form suitable for publication.
    3. Understanding of the subject.
    4. Thought, logic, development of theme.
    5. Language / expression.
  8. The award of the judges will be final. They may recommend the Gold Medal to the winners and/or a cash prize of Rs.15,000/- as well as cash prize of Rs 10,000/- to the runner-up The names of the winners of the essay competition will be published in the USI Journal. Winning Essay in each Group, if found suitable will be published in the USI Journal.
  9. The Institution reserves the right not to make an award, if none of the essays submitted is of a standard which the judges consider adequate. Cases of plagiarism will invite disqualification.
  10. Copyright of all essays submitted will be reserved by the United Service Institution of India.
  11. All essays should be sent to the Director, United Service Institution of India, Rao Tula Ram Marg, Post Bag No.8, Vasant Vihar PO, New Delhi-110 057, to be received not later than 15 September 2018. The envelopes should be marked as follows:-

    • OPEN TO ALL OFFICERS : Essay Competition Group 'A'.
    • OPEN TO OFFICERS UPTO 14 YEARS OF SERVICE : Essay Competition Group 'B'.

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  1. General

    1. All diagrams, charts and graphs should be referred to as Figures and consecutively numbered. Tables should carry only essential data and should complement the text rather than repeat what has already been said. They should carry a short title, be numbered and carry the source at the bottom.
    2. The paper should have centre, group, paragraph and sub-paragraph headings to make it more reader-friendly.
    3. Use British spellings.
    4. Write dates by beginning with the day followed by the month and the year (e.g. 11 September 2006).
    5. In the text, write numbers in words till the number nine and then in numerals (e.g. two, four, nine; then 10,11,12 and so on).
    6. Write 'per cent' and not % or percent.
    7. Acronyms and abbreviations should carry the full form at the first mention with the acronym in bracket; and thereafter the abbreviated version.
    8. Names of books, journals, newspapers and foreign terms in the body of the text should appear in italics, e.g. : Asian Security in the 21st Century; Strategic Analysis; The Hindu..
    9. While referring to currency, use Rs. 2,000 crores, not 2000 crores of rupees. Similarly, $ 8.5 million, not 8.5 million dollars.
  2. References / End Notes

    1. It is desirable that the author furnishes complete details of the books/journals referred to in the article as end notes. This includes full name of writer of article or book referred to, title of book/article, journal in which published (in case of articles); issue details, and page numbers. Besides end notes, if the author so desires, bibliography may also be included.
    2. While referring to a book, follow the example below:- Lt Gen CK Kapur, Chinese Military Modernisation, (New Delhi: Manas Publications, 2003), pp. 17-18.
    3. While referring to an article in a journal, follow the example below:- Lt Cdr Neeraj Malhotra, 'Pratap Singh of the Indian Legion'. The Journal of the United Service Institution of India, Vol. CXXXIV, No. 556, p.283.
    4. While referring to a website, follow the example below:- "Escalation Control in a Nuclear environment", Report of a seminar organised by the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies on 17 November 2004 at New Delhi. Accessed on 08 February 2005.
    5. If two successive citations/references refer to the same source, use Ibid.
    6. If the same reference is to be cited after a few other references or citations, write the name of the author followed by the citation number e.g.: Imran Khan, op. cit.

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Personal No. : 04584 T, Capt T Sugreev, IN, Locker No 83, Naval Wing, DSSC, Wellington, Nilgiris – 643 231, (Tamil Nadu) Email:
Personal No. : 52028 W, Commander Apoorv Pathak, IHQ MoD (Navy) / DASE, ‘A’ Block Hutments, Dara Shukoh Road, New Delhi – 110 011, Email:, Mob No. : 94968 85635
IC – 67907 A, Maj SK Misra, AMS – 2 C, MS Branch, IHQ of MoD (Army), DHQ PO New Delhi – 110 011, Email :, Mob No : 99583 64437
IC – 69587 P, Lt Col Dhiraj Kumar, 203 Engr Regt (Attending DSSC – 74 Course), Qtr No 17 / 1, Wellington Hall, DSSC, Wellington, Nilgiris – 643 231 (Tamil Nadu) Email :

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MacGregor Medal