Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has said that India is committed to peace but is also prepared to defend its sovereignty in the face of unilateralism and aggression, no matter what the sacrifice it entails, in a reference to the current border situation with China in Ladakh.
Speaking on the Diamond jubilee seminar of the National Defence College (NDC), the defence minister said that India has forged close relationships with like minded nations like US, Australia and Japan that have common interests on security.
“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 respect for 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,” the defence minister said, referring to the border situation.
Singh said that in the past six years, India has focused on forging partnerships with like minded nations that shows its commitment to be a part of the Indo-Pacific initiative. While the minister did not mention China, he referred to recent initiatives and partnerships that have raised concerns in Beijing.
“Our strategic partnership with the U.S. is stronger than ever before. Similarly, India’s friendship has grown tremendously with Japan over the last few years as well. 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,” the minister said.
He also made special mention of old ally Russia, a country he has visited twice since the recent round of tensions with China. “Our two countries have weathered many a challenge in the past through our close understanding and appreciation of each other’s concerns and interests. We continue to build upon our relationship with Russia and especially in the military sphere,” he said.
The minister also touched upon special partnerships with France and Israel and referred to PM Narendra Modi’s outreach to nations in West, South and East Asia.
The minister said that progress has not been made with Pakistan that continues to use terrorism as a method of statecraft. “Pakistan continues to remain adamant in the use of terrorism as state policy. However, 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,” he said.
The minister said that peace can only be ensured through the ability to deter war and for this, a long term policy of indigenisation is key. “This will not only be achieved through encouragement of public and private sector industries in India as has been outlined in the recent procurement policies, but also by forging partnerships with major OEMs who are keen to invest and build in India,” he said.
The minister identified key reforms taken by India in the recent past, including the creation of the post of Chief of Defence Staff, the ongoing process to create theatre and functional commands and an improved defence planning process.