Positioning India as a capable net security provider in the South Asian and Indian Ocean regions. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday spoke about the changing face of threats to national security and detailed how India has matured to face them all.
“The nature of conflict and competition is changing at the same time when national boundaries are being blurred by deepening global integration. Therefore, while defending and securing our homeland, we also have to be prepared to preserve India’s expanding international assets,” he said, addressing an event to mark the foundation stone laying for India’s first defence university in Gurgaon near here.
In this context, he said: “These multiple challenges notwithstanding, we must also be conscious of our strategic opportunities. India’s security has never been stronger than it is today and our international relationships have never been more conducive to our national development efforts.”
These challenges and opportunities, taken together, should prompt a reorientation of India’s strategic thinking and a reappraisal of higher defence organisation, the prime minister said.
“It is imperative that our defence professionals remain abreast of the complex environment we face and the avenues that are available as a result of the enormous transition taking place in India,” he added.
The recent procurement scams in the Defence Ministry notwithstanding, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday said the UPA government had focused on corruption-free military acquisitions through a process that was “transparent, smooth, efficient and less vulnerable to unethical practices”.
Singh’s government has been cornered by Opposition parties in recent months over allegations of `352-crore bribe paid in the `3,546-crore deal for 12 VVIP helicopters for the Indian Air Force.
The Prime Minister also claimed that the UPA government would “continue to seek highest standards of probity in defence acquisitions”.
Noting that the UPA government was conscious of the fact that adequate defence preparedness was critically dependent on sound defence acquisition policies, Singh said the government had paid close attention to this and had continually reformed those policies to ensure that the armed forces had the best equipment.
The Defence Ministry had only last month tweaked its 2011 Defence Procurement Policy to allow for more sourcing of military equipment from the Indian market, instead of relying on imports, which is incidentally over 70 per cent of all defence purchases made by India, the world’s largest arms importer since 2011.
Singh also noted that the government had also paid close attention to indigenisation of defence procurement. “Our government is committed to taking further steps to stimulate the defence of our domestic defence industry, including the Indian private sector.“This is important not only to enhance our security, but also to spur industrial development and economic growth of our country,” he said.