Country facing multiple security challenges
Pointing out that India faces the entire spectrum of security challenges as it is surrounded by a difficult neighbourhood, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday said that notwithstanding the multiple challenges country was well positioned to become a net provider of security and stability in the Indian Ocean Region and beyond.
“Our defence 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,’’ he said.
The Prime Minister said that “these challenges and opportunities should prompt a reorientation of our strategic thinking and a reappraisal of the country’s higher defence organisation. It is imperative that our defence professionals remain abreast of the complex environment we face and the avenues that are available as a result of the enormous transition taking place in India,’’ he said , addressing a gathering after laying the foundation stone of the Indian National Defence University (INDU) at Binola in Gurgaon district of Haryana. Defence Minister A. K. Antony and top brass of the three wings of the armed forces were present.
Cautioning about multiple security challenges being faced by India, the Prime Minister said it was “inevitable as we live in a difficult neighbourhood, which holds the full range of conventional, strategic and non-traditional challenges.” He told the defence community that India was situated at the strategic crossroads of Asia and astride one of the busiest sea lanes of the world.
“We inhabit a networked and digital world. Our dependence on imported energy is significant and is likely to grow. We are also living at a moment of history when the world is witnessing change on a scale and at a speed rarely seen before,’’ Dr. Singh said. However, he said that in the last nine years, “our deterrence capabilities have also matured and have been given concrete shape.’’
The Prime Minister said the change was more pronounced in Asia which was witnessing multiple security challenges on account of the intersection of fragile States, internal conflicts, proliferation of arms and terrorist groups. “Explosive development of technology is also transforming defence capabilities. As our dependence on the cyber and outer space domains grows, new sets of challenges will emerge, which can also assume military dimensions,’’ he cautioned.
Noting that the nature of conflict and competition was changing at the same time when national boundaries were being blurred by deepening global integration, he said while providing security and defending “our homeland, we also have to be prepared to preserve India’s expanding international assets.’’
Dr. Singh said the country was “better equipped today to deal with non-conventional threats, especially in the cyber and space domains. We are implementing a national architecture for cyber security and have taken steps to create an office of a national cyber security coordinator.’’
He said the government was making defence acquisition less vulnerable to unethical practices and had made policies to ensure that the armed forces have the best equipment.“We have been guided by the objective of making defence acquisition transparent, smooth, efficient and less vulnerable to unethical practices. We will continue to seek the highest standards of the probity in defence acquisition,” he said.
Stressing upon indigenisation of defence procurement, Dr. Singh said: “Our government is committed to taking further steps to stimulate the development of our domestic defence industry, including the Indian private sector.’’
The defence university, Dr. Singh said, would be a unique autonomous institution of national importance. Mr. Antony said that setting up of INDU shows the priority that the government attaches to the national security.
“INDU will promote and nurture intellectual strength to our security concerns and cater to our needs of defence technology and management. It will be of international level and will be ready by 2018-19,’’ the Defence Minister said.
INDU is the first university of its kind in the country which will focus on military studies only and will be headed by a three-star general of the rank of Army Commander or equivalent. Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, Minister of State for Defence Jitendra Singh were also present.
Air Chief Marshal N.A.K. Browne, who is also Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, said that India’s overall preparedness to counter threats to national security must be assessed in terms of new war fighting capability as well as coherent strategic thought. The definition of national security would continue to evolve and so should “our mindset in a fast and uncertain world.’’