Wednesday, February 8th, 2023 16:35:09

“India is determined to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity”

By Rajnath Singh
Updated: November 18, 2020 3:37 pm

The National Defence College (NDC), which is the highest seat of strategic learning in our country, has produced many strategic leaders not only from India, but also from many friendly foreign countries. Some of the alumni have risen to become Heads of their respective countries and many have occupied prominent positions of responsibility in their respective fields.

Perhaps the most fundamental lesson that the roller-coaster of the rise and fall of nations taught us was that peace cannot necessarily be achieved by a desire for peace but by the ability to deter war. The last six years provide a blueprint for India’s approach towards national security over the next decade. Let me try and outline four broad principles that are likely to guide our quest for national security in the future.

The first is the ability to secure India’s territorial integrity and sovereignty from external threats and internal challenges. Second, the ability to create secure and stable conditions that can facilitate India’s economic growth, thereby, creating the resources for nation building and to meet individual aspirations. Third, we remain steadfast in the desire to protect our interests beyond the borders in areas where our people reside and our security interests converge. And finally, we also believe that in a globalised and interconnected world, a country’s security interests are interlinked by shared and secure commons.

Based on these principles, we have brought about drastic changes in our security policy which are oriented towards strong, legally and morally tenable actions. We have undertaken a three-pronged approach towards internal security challenges as well. This includes development of areas affected by terrorism along with the provision of justice to the aggrieved. We are also willing to challenge status quo, if the status quo becomes a tool for the exploitation of helpless citizens and the provisions of governance. We are cognizant of the fact that India’s stability and security are closely associated with the ability to grow economically at a desirable rate. We have unleashed the potential of agricultural marketing revolution through marketing reforms through important agrarian legislations which you witnessed recently. The recent labour codes- ‘Social Security Code’ (SS Code), ‘Occupational Safety, Heath and Working Conditions Code’ (OSH Code), ‘The Industrial Relation Code’ (IR Code) will go a long way in uncluttering the image of a labour, market beset with old  and unnecessary regulations. On the capital front, the Govt. has been increasingly and consistently bringing about major changes such as banking sector reforms, Insolvency & Bankruptcy Code, etc. with a view to provide liquidity and opportunity to Indian Industry to grow at a much higher pace.

As India grows, there is a simultaneous movement of people beyond our shores and a growth of our interests worldwide. This entails that we should be able to safeguard Indian citizens who now work across the globe. Our interests to secure trade routes, shipping lines of communication, fishing rights and communication networks also require the ability to contribute to the global effort, to maintain open and free oceans.

India has fostered close relationships and partnerships with like-minded friends to further the common interests of countries in the region and beyond. Our strategic partnership with the U.S. is stronger than ever before. The India-Australia virtual summit in June 2020 has provided a fillip to our already strong comprehensive strategic partnership. We share common concerns with Australia and shared values. India also has strong, traditional and deep-rooted relations with Russia. Our two countries have weathered many a challenge in the past through our close understanding and appreciation of each other’s concerns and interests.  India has also forged a very special partnership with reliable friends like France and Israel. We value their support and will continue to build upon it in the future as well. Prime Minister Narendra Modi took special interest in reaching out to our partner countries in West Asia, South East and East Asia. We have enhanced the scope and quality of our relations with Saudi Arabia, UAE and Oman in the West and with Indonesia, Vietnam and South Korea in the East. One of the most important elements of India’s foreign and security policy is characterised by the “Neighbourhood First” initiative.

With the exception of Pakistan, given its agenda of fuelling terrorism, India has improved its relations with all neighbours. We have invested heavily to help and support our friends to forge a relationship of mutual-respect and mutual-interest. We have achieved substantial success in working with progressive and like-minded countries to not only expose Pakistan’s regressive policies but also make it increasingly difficult to continue with its previous business as usual approach. Recently, India has been facing other challenges on its borders. India is a peace-loving country. We believe that differences should not become disputes. We attach importance to the peaceful resolution of differences through dialogue. India is determined to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of unilateralism and aggression, no matter what the sacrifice. Peace can only be ensured through the ability to deter war. We have attempted to build this deterrence through a judicious combination of capability development and an emphasis on long term policy of indigenisation.

Our vision for Make in India for defence manufacturing is being implemented with the long-term of making India more self-reliant. We have received a very encouraging response in this regard & further changes will be undertaken to improve the existing policy as and when needed. India has a more closely interlinked and coordinated security network. We have not only created the appointment of CDS and established the DMA, but are also in the process of further integrating the armed forces through both theatre and functional commands. It has always been a challenge to foresee future security challenges. However, the ability to think through possibilities, create capabilities and redundancies is possibly the best way forward to prepare for them. I am sure that all of you, as the present and future leaders of the countries you represent, will play a critical role in the achievement of this vision. I wish you the very best in your future endeavours.

(The article is based on Raksha Mantri Rajnath Singh’s speech on the occasion of Diamond Jubilee of National Defence College)

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