Who is he?
A.K. Antony is the current Indian Minister of Defence and MP of the Indian National Congress in the upper house of the Indian Parliament. Having retained the post since 2005, Antony is the longest-serving defence minister in Indian history.
In recent years Antony has pursued an ambitious modernization campaign of India’s defense forces and strengthened defense ties with other countries in the region. He is noted for his steadfastness against corruption or impropriety, earning him the moniker “Saint Antony” in India.
Why is he in the news?
Beginning October 15, Antony will lead a three-day Ministerial delegation to Indonesia for the first biennial dialogue on bilateral defense cooperation and maritime defense issues. While India already holds joint exercises with Indonesia, this move points to India’s (and Antony’s) desire for a more formal architecture for regional security.
Antony was also in the spotlight in June 2012 when U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta visited India for talks aimed at strengthening and promoting the already-strong U.S.-India defense partnership.
What can we expect from him?
Antony will continue to play a key role in bolstering India’s defense ties with other countries in the Indo-Pacific region and pursuing a balanced approach to modernizing India’s armed forces. While India’s relationship with the United States and other countries has been moving forward steadily in recent years, Antony is unlikely to advocate for any alliance-type relations with regional partners.
This is a reflection of the Indian political establishment’s view that India should maintain its ‘strategic autonomy.’ Likewise, Antony will continue to be a strong advocate for the building-up of India’s indigenous defense-industrial base in order to reduce India’s reliance on foreign defense purchases.