New Delhi, Oct 19: Describing India’s security challenges as “diverse and serious”, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Friday underlined the need for bolstering the country’s capabilities to tackle new threats in areas of cyber and space and called for an integrated response and weaponry to deal with them.
Addressing the annual combined commanders conference here, he told the top military brass that growing complexities must be met by comprehensive responses.
“We should aim to abandon single or segmented approaches and develop synergies across services. Compartmentalised views will only delay our response and dilute its impact,” he said.
“Our security challenges, including cross-border terrorism, transnational crime and drug trafficking, remain diverse and serious. Added to these are new challenges in areas that constitute the ‘global commons’ – such as space, the high seas and cyberspace,” he said.
“In particular, there is a need to increase our capabilities in emerging areas like cyber and space, which can be the sources of new threats. We must therefore reorient our mindsets and define a long-term integrated perspective that aligns these capabilities with envisaged outcomes,” he said.
The prime minister stressed integrated decision-making structures and weaponry to deal with new threats. “Addressing these challenges will require addressing issues of jointness and skills, of training, doctrines and strategies, and of integrated decision-making structures and weaponry, all of which will need to be supported by indigenous research and production capabilities.”
Alluding to India’s immediate geo-strategic environment, he said India’s strategic calculus has long encompassed the waters from the Gulf of Aden to the Straits of Malacca. He, however, rued that these areas have recently turned into “fresh theatres of contestation.”
“In the political arena too, our neighbourhood remains complex with elements of instability. All around us, we see a churning of the political, economic and social systems of various countries with uncertain outcomes,” the prime minister said.
He, however, stressed on dialogue and diplomacy to resolve all issues among nations. “India has been a strong proponent of efforts to promote international peace, security and development and to act as a factor of stability in our region and beyond,” he said.
“Our size, technological capabilities and standing as a responsible state contribute to our ability to engage in regional and global efforts to shape responses to existing and emerging challenges,” he stressed.
The prime minister also underlined the need to protect “new found equities” like securing the sea lanes for energy security.
Stressing that security will remain a “pre-eminent and key pillar” of national strength, Manmohan Singh said the services will have to equip themselves to meet the evolving challenges.
He also spoke about accelerating modernisation and indigenisation of the defence research, production and acquisition infrastructure. “The Defence Public Sector Undertakings and Ordnance Factories too need to do more in absorbing technology and building capacities.”
The prime minister also envisaged a role for the Indian private sector in contributing to the defence industrial base.
Besides the Task Force, led by Naresh Chandra on security structures and decision-making processes, another Task Force led by Ravindra Gupta to look into the issue of defence modernization and self reliance have submitted their reports. “It would be in our national interest to evolve an early consensus on their recommendations,” he said.