15 Sep :Following is the extract of the Keynote Address delivered by the Defence Minister Shri AK Antony to the seminar on ‘Indian experience in force projection,’ organized by the Centre for Joint Warfare Studies (CENJOWS) here today:
The term ‘Force projection’ provides an interesting context to the role of all the three wings of the Armed Forces in furtherance of National aims. Let me congratulate CENJOWS for choosing such a significant and relevant topic.
The world has changed drastically in the last century, living as we do, in a more integrated and globalised world. The comfort offered by national boundaries no longer constitute effective defence. On the other hand the quality of life is visibly improving, poverty rates have declined. Regional and international cooperation have grown, the benefits of technology are increasingly enjoyed by many, and a sense of global norms and interdependence has taken root.
India and Indians are increasingly becoming drivers of the global change and prosperity. Our exposure to external world trade has tripled in the last few years, as have our investments abroad. The Indian Diaspora who live and work abroad has also grown significantly. We find there is a new interest on the part of many countries in partnering India on security cooperation.
With its vibrant democracy and strong individualism, India has a natural ability to relate across cultures. We have developed the need and a legitimate interest and capability in securing our supplies of external natural and energy resources. An India specific waiver from NSG is a recognition of India’s relevance and profile in world affairs.
For its further growth and prosperity, India clearly needs a secure and peaceful periphery and unrestrained sources of energy. India is strategically located, overlooking the important sea lanes and in a very unstable region of the continent. We have unsettled territorial disputes with our largest neighbours. Some of them are seriously afflicted by terrorism, itself a cause for our concern as a neighbour. This is further aggravated when that terrorism spills over into India, through state sponsorship or otherwise.
A large number of non-state armed groups have sanctuaries in our neighbouring states who use these bases and resources to carry out acts of terrorism across India. The combination of these and other issues such as nuclear weapons proliferation compel us to be on constant vigil and preparedness to defend our vital interests and values. Even at a global level though the situation appears stable and tension free it is intricately complicated with divergent ideological beliefs, competing demands for scarce resources and conflicting goals which can become a basis for differences and burst into a conflict.
The real threats to international security would arise from states that would avoid interdependence, particularly with neighbours, and from non-state actors like the Taliban and LTTE.
India’s growing integration with the world economy imposes its own responsibilities on our defence forces. The long-term challenge for India, as indeed for every other major nation, is its ability and willingness to contribute to international peace and stability. With a long and distinguished record in UN peace-keeping operations to our credit India has demonstrated her commitment and willingness.
Our quick response to the Asian Tsunami, the Myanmar earthquake and evacuation of Indians from Lebanon and other parts of Middle East, demonstrated India’s ability to respond to a crisis anywhere in the world across the spectrum of emergencies, thereby raising the world’s expectation from us. This ability will, no doubt, rise with time and with our own economic growth. I would also like to congratulate the armed forces for their role during the initial stages of rescue and relief in flood-hit Bihar.
All operations of this nature would require greatest coordination between the three services and there can be no better forum than the CENJOWS to consolidate the lessons learnt and, as always, useful lessons can be drawn from the presence of distinguished soldiers who have been on the forefront in managing these operations.