The increase in the number of demands for smaller states is a threat to national unity to a “certain extent,” said former Lt. Gen. Niranjan Singh Malik. The veteran soldier, who is now a member of the Samskritik Gauvrav Samsthan, spoke to students of various colleges about the defence of the nation and the problems involved.

Talking to The Hindu on Tuesday Lt. Gen. Malik said that the demands for division of states were arising because people were “feeling left out”. Integrity came when everybody, no matter the caste, creed or region, felt a part of the country. “If one of the children is weaker than the others, what does the parent do? More attention is given to the weak child. Similarly Andhra Pradesh should give more attention to Telangana,” he said.

He said that economy, education, homeland security, food security were all interconnected. Good governance required strong leadership. Without strong leadership the country would lose everything. There was a severe dearth of good leadership in the country, he opined.

There should be leaders, who put the country first, but most of them were of the type that put their party first. Unless leaders, who put the country before their party, their religion and their region, are born the integrity of the country was in danger, he added.

He said that India was a very lucky nation because 65 per cent of the country’s population was youth. But, the way the youth power of the country was used was important and even in the armed forces there was no dearth of ‘Jawans’, but there was severe shortage of officers.

Since the armed forces have a pyramidal structure, persons who are interested in joining the short service commission, should be encouraged. The Government should ensure that these officers were well-placed after they retire from the army.

About manufacturing of arms, he said that many countries had benefited by making it their business and cited the United States of America as an example. Defence and development were not mutually exclusive. There was no need to sacrifice on development to strengthen Defence, he said.

Before 1947 India was the base for manufacture of arms for the entire South East Asia. There were several factories that manufactured military equipment, but now the Armed Forces in India did not have the required number of big guns.

Lt. Gen. Malik said that military conflict would only grow in the world because religious militancy was on the rise.

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