National security is the Government’s top-most priority and it is committed to protect the sovereignty, unity & integrity of the country. This was stated by Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh while addressing a ‘National Security Conclave’ in Jammu on June 26, 2023. He asserted that India has witnessed a paradigm shift in its security scenario in the last nine years. He pointed out that India’s image in 2013-14 was that of a weak nation which allowed its adversaries to create problems, but today the country has the ability to overcome every threat.
Elaborating on the blueprint on national security, the Raksha Mantri stated that the Government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has been working on four directive principles- to enable the country to deal with threats to its security & sovereignty; to take every action to protect national interests; to create safe conditions within the country to facilitate progress, improve the lives of the people & fulfil their aspirations and to build an environment with friendly countries to tackle global challenges such as terrorism unitedly.
Shri Rajnath Singh stated that no stone is being left unturned to equip the military with latest weaponry and modern technology, assuring the Nation that the Armed Forces are fully capable of protecting the borders and the seas. “Our goal is to bring our Armed Forces in the frontline of modern militaries,” he said.
“Since long time, Pakistan has tried to destabilise peace and harmony in the country through cross-border terrorism. However, when we came to power, we launched an effective action against terrorism. We showed the world the meaning of ‘zero tolerance against terrorism’. The bold and first-of-its-kind moves to eliminate terrorists following the Uri and Pulwama incidents are proof of India’s ‘zero tolerance against terrorism’ policy and the unmatched valour of the Armed Forces. Today, most of the countries are united against terrorism. The joint statement issued after the Prime Minister’s meeting with US President Mr Joe Biden is an indication of how India has changed the mind-set of the world on the issue of terrorism,” the Raksha Mantri said.
Shri Rajnath Singh added that the network of terrorism in Jammu & Kashmir has substantially weakened in the last few years as strict and consistent action is being taken. “Terror funding has been curbed. Supply of arms & drugs to terrorists has been stopped. Along with elimination of terrorists, work is being done to dismantle the network of Under Ground workers,” he said.
On the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu & Kashmir, the Raksha Mantri stated that the decision has connected the people of the Union Territory with the country’s mainstream and helped them to usher in a new era of peace & progress.
On PoK, Shri Rajnath Singh said, Pakistan does not have a locus standi there as it has illegally occupied the area. The Indian Parliament has unanimously passed at least three resolutions, which state that PoK is a part of India, he said.
The Raksha Mantri termed the border situation with China as a matter of perceptional difference, but there are agreements & protocols, based on which the armies of both the countries carry out the patrolling. Referring to the stand-off in East Ladakh in 2020, he said, the Chinese Army ignored the agreed protocols and unilaterally tried to change the status quo on the LAC. He lauded the valour and dedication of the Indian Army which prevented the attempts by PLA to change the status quo.
Shri Rajnath Singh reiterated the Government’s stand to resolve the border issue through dialogue and in a peaceful manner. He added that the talks are continuing at military and diplomatic levels to resolve the dispute. He assured the nation that the Government will never compromise on India’s border, its honour and self-respect. “We will never let the sanctity of our borders be violated,” he added.
The Raksha Mantri touched upon the measures taken by the Government to bolster national security, including strengthening border infrastructure and achieving ‘Aatmanirbharta’ in defence. He listed out a number of steps taken to attain self-reliance, namely notification of positive indigenisation lists and earmarking 75% of defence capital procurement budget for domestic industry in Financial Year 2023-24. “India does not want to depend on imported weapons. Our national security will only strengthen when we become self-reliant in defence manufacturing. Our aim is to ‘Make in India, Make for the world’. Our efforts are bearing fruit. Today, we are manufacturing tanks, aircraft carriers, submarines and various kinds of weapons. Defence exports have crossed Rs 16,000 crore from a meagre Rs 900 crore before 2014. The exports will soon touch the Rs 20,000 crore mark,” he said.
Shri Rajnath Singh also enumerated the structural reforms undertaken by the Government, including the appointment of Chief of Defence Staff and setting up of Department of Military Affairs. He added that the Government continues to move forward and work is being done to set up theatre commands, which will be another revolutionary reform.
The Raksha Mantri also shed light on the transformed image of India on the global stage under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. He stated that today the world keenly listens to India on international forums due to the Prime Minister’s credibility on the global stage.
Shri Rajnath Singh underlined the importance of coordination with major world powers, such as the US & Russia, to protect India’s security interests in this globalised world. He stated that India and US are being seen as natural allies and their strategic partnership is being further cemented.
The Raksha Mantri added that India-US defence cooperation has grown rapidly with the expansion of military-to-military engagements, information sharing and cooperation in the fields of Artificial Intelligence, cyber, space and mutual logistics support. He termed the Prime Minister’s recent visit to the US as a landmark event, which ushered the bilateral defence cooperation in a new era.
Shri Rajnath Singh called for integrated and united response to deal with global threats & challenges. “India is a major regional power. Therefore, it is important for us to align our security concerns with other countries in our extended neighbourhood,” he said.
Shri Rajnath Singh mentioned about the General Electric (GE) Aerospace-Hindustan Aeronautics Limited deal to co-produce F-414 fighter jet engines in India. “With this deal, we will become the fourth country to manufacture jet engines. Tejas aircraft will be fitted with these Made in India engines,” he said.
Rejecting speculative reports on the price and other terms of purchase of MQ-9B drones from the US, the Raksha Mantri stated that the Ministry of Defence will compare the acquisition cost of the drones with the best price General Atomics (GA) offered to other countries. He added that the acquisition will be made only by following the established procurement procedure.