Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday said that deterrence of war is important to achieve peace and reiterated that though India wants peaceful resolution of differences, it is committed to protect its sovereignty, irrespective of the sacrifices. He also said that that differences should not become disputes and that deterrence of war is important to achieve peace.
Speaking at a webinar to mark the 60th anniversary of the National Defence College, the country’s premier strategic thinking institute, the defence minister laid down the steps taken by the government to counter any external and internal security challenges in front of the nation.
Though Singh mentioned several countries that India has good relations with, and brought up Pakistan, for using terrorism, it did not mention China. However, he did bring up some recent challenges on the border, without naming any country.
“Recently, India has been facing other challenges on its borders,” Singh said. “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. We are committed to respecting various agreements and protocols that India has entered into for the maintenance of peace and tranquillity on our borders. However, India is determined to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of unilateralism and aggression, no matter what the sacrifice.”
Regarding Pakistan, he said that it “continues to remain adamant in the use of terrorism as state policy” but India has “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”.
The armed forces, Singh stressed, have “ensured the defence of our borders and interests during this period despite obvious challenges, as a result of their well thought out policies, and the ability to continue with their operational responsibilities despite the pandemic”.
“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,” Singh said. “Unfortunately, the mere desire to seek peace, if not reciprocated by others, does not necessarily succeed in building a harmonious environment in a world beset by conflicting ideas of security, sovereignty and national interests”.
The last six years have laid down a blueprint for India’s approach towards national security over the next decade, Singh said, and explained the “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… 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.”
He said that each of these define how India approaches various elements of its security policy, and said the government has brought in “drastic changes in our security policy which are oriented towards strong, legally and morally tenable actions” based on them.
“We have proved that countries that employ terrorism as an instrument of national policy can also be deterred through options that were considered un-implementable in the past” Singh said.
For internal security, he stated that the government has taken a “three-pronged approach” including development of terrorism affected areas “along with the provision of justice to the aggrieved”; the “ability and desire to go more than half way to negotiate settlements with dissatisfied groups to enable a political settlement”; and the willingness to “challenge status quo, if the status quo becomes a tool for the exploitation” of citizens and provisions of governance.
“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. That is the essence of our initiative to be a part of the Indo-Pacific initiative.”
India is building deterrence through a combination of developing capability and “an emphasis on long term policy of indigenisation”. About reforms in defence he cited that the “process of further integrating the armed forces through both theatre and functional commands” is ongoing, and all initiatives, he said, will be “accompanied by an improved defence planning process, which will allow us to be better prepared for contingencies”.
The changing character of war, Singh said “is being driven by the multiplicity of challenges and the proliferation of technology that has empowered both the constructive and destructive tendencies of its users” and it “clearly suggests a widening scope of conflict and its manifestations”.
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