NEW DELHI: Mulling over emerging geo-strategic contours, which have relevance from India's perspective, India's Army Chief on Friday pointed, among others, to the rise of China adding that "Chinese belligerence" is presenting a threat to the "rules-based international order".
General MK Pande said, "Possession of political, economic, technological and military power has accorded it (China) a new position in the world order, which it intends to lead. With its economic heft, China has been looking at geo-political and trade engagements as zero-sum games."
"Concurrently, Chinese belligerence is evident in its continuing propensity to project power outside its region, in turn presenting a threat to 'rules-based international Order'," added General Pande.
The Army Chief, giving an example of the resolute and firm manner with which we stood up to the Northern adversary, during the events of April - May 2020, "has made the world take notice of the political and military resolve of a rising India." Many nations today, "also appear ready to take the China issue head-on, especially post-pandemic, and as the realisation of its predatory economic pursuits, sink in," he said.
The Chinese PLA clashed with the Indian Army Soldiers in May 2020 and moved its troops at multiple points leading to standoffs in Eastern Ladakh. Indian Army also mobilised more than 60,000 troops with commensurate firepower.
General MK Pande was delivering an address at the 118th Annual Session of the PHDCCI (PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry) at Vigyan Bhawan in Delhi.
Coming to Internal Security situations India is dealing with, the Army Chief said that they have their unique set of challenges. "But the most important pointer for us is that our legacy challenges of unsettled borders continue and stand amplified due to collusivity between our Western and Northern adversary. Infirmities in border management can lead to wider conflict," Pande highlighted.
Adding further, on examples displaying diplomatic ability, General Pande pointed to the 'complex global relationships' being witnessed, involving the interplay of Interests, Concerns and Aspirations. Chief also touched upon the Russia-Ukraine conflict and the growing strategic relevance of the Indo-Pacific theatre.
"Our stance on the Russia-Ukraine conflict is a fine example, where we stood steadfast and clear, towards addressing legitimate pursuits of our National Interests," he said.
The successful conduct of the G20 meeting heralded India's diplomatic ability to achieve consensus on a values-based approach to growth and development for all, despite intractable global agendas. This week, the Indian Army hosted the Indo-Pacific Army Chiefs Conclave, which witnessed the participation of the Army chiefs and Delegation Leaders, from 30 Indo-Pacific littoral countries.
Chief deliberated on the growing strategic relevance of the Indo-Pacific theatre and said, "Geo-political dynamics and challenges here encompass territorial disputes, disregard for international laws, interference in freedom of navigation, predatory economic pursuits, Grey Zone aggression, terrorism and piracy."
Pointing to the indigenisation of defence production, the Army Chief quoted the lessons from recent conflicts which "have shown us that the security of the Nation can neither be outsourced nor be dependent on the largesse of others."
With that as the bearing, "the implications that accrue for the Indian Army, is that we need to transition into a modern, agile, adaptive and technology-enabled future-ready force. To give effect to these imperatives, we have undertaken initiatives for a holistic Transformation."
"Our Transformation endeavour stands on the edifice of Five Pillars, which are Force Restructuring and Optimisation, Modernisation and Tech Infusion, Systems, Processes and Functions, Human Resource Management and Jointness and Integration," he added.
The Government has taken several enabling actions, and the Services have been a facilitator for policy execution and are providing a viable market for the indigenous defence manufacturers.
The Indian Defence Industry, Army Chief said, is rising up to the challenge. "We have 340 indigenous defence industries working towards fructification of 230 contracts by 2025, which entails an outlay of Rs 2.5 lac crores. Apart from weapon systems and equipment, we are also pursuing 47 niche technologies which we have identified for military application. 120 indigenous projects are underway to develop and absorb these niche technologies," he said.
The Army Chief also deliberated on the Indian Army's efforts to enhance the nation's global outreach, through defence diplomacy initiatives, saying these efforts are focused towards strengthening our linkages with partner nations.
"Just as the recently organized Indo-Pacific Army Chiefs Conclave, earlier this year, we also hosted a similar conclave where 31 African nations participated. Our pursuits, apart from training exchange programs, capability projection and soft power outreach, also include promoting the export of indigenous defence hardware." General Pande said