India does not believe in a hierarchical world order where few countries are considered superior to others, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said addressing the 2nd India-Africa Defence Dialogue (IADD) at the DefExpo 2022 while inviting African countries to explore Indian defence equipment and technologies, stating that India has emerged as a leading defence exporter in recent years.
“We do not believe in making or becoming a client or satellite state, and so, when we partner any nation, it is on the basis of sovereign equality and mutual respect. Forging relations comes naturally to India, as we work towards mutual economic development,” he said.
Africa, South East Asia and Middle East have emerged as major focus areas as India looks to emerge as a major global arms exporter.
Stating that peace, security and development are inter-related, he said security is essential for enabling development in the region. “We have created a robust public and private defence industry. A defence manufacturing ecosystem has been created in India which has the advantage of abundant technical manpower. Our defence industry can work with you to fulfil your defence requirements,” Mr. Singh told his African counterparts.
The IADD adopted a ‘Gandhinagar declaration’ as an outcome document. It proposes to enhance cooperation in the field of training in all areas of mutual interest by increasing training slots and deputation of training teams, empowerment and capability building of the defence forces of Africa, participation in exercises and humanitarian assistance during natural disasters, the Defence Ministry said in a statement. India offered fellowship for experts from African countries through Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis.
Mr. Singh termed India and African countries as important stakeholders in ensuring a safe and secure maritime environment, especially in the Indian Ocean Region while reiterating India’s support to Africa to deal with challenges of conflict, terrorism and violent extremism. “India remains united with African countries in their quest for peace, security, stability, growth and prosperity. Our partnership with Africa is centered on the 10 guiding principles articulated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his address to Parliament of Uganda in 2018.”
Speaking of India’s support to Africa during the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr. Singh said India has been the first responder in providing Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief to several African countries.
Fifty African countries, including 20 Defence Ministers, seven Chiefs of Defence Staff and Service Chiefs and eight Permanent Secretaries participated in the dialogue.
Later in the day, Mr. Singh inaugurated Manthan 2022, an event organised by Innovations for Defence Excellence-Defence Innovation Organisation (iDEX-DIO) of the MoD.
He said that since the inception of iDEX, over 6,000 applications have been received in the last seven editions of Defence India Start-up Challenge and Open Challenge. More than ₹300 crore have been approved for over 100 iDEX winners to develop products and technologies in more than 50 technological areas, Mr. Singh.