A staunch believer in the adage, 'strength begets respect', former Indian Army chief and Arunachal Pradesh governor, Gen JJ Singh (retired) stressed on modernisation of the armed forces, building the required defence infrastructure along the country's borders and improving intelligence gathering.
Talking to the media on the sidelines of the annual convocation of the Khalsa College here on Sunday, Gen Singh said that no doubt the nation was capable enough of meeting any external threat perception but still efforts must continue to make the country stronger.
Modernisation of the armed forces must always be given a priority and the roads, airports and other infrastructure along the country's borders must be strengthened and the intelligence agencies must be further strengthened so that timely and correct information is always available, he added.
“We must always remain alert and never lower our guard. We must remember that a nation is respected because of its strength,” he added.
The northeast state governor, while advocating a strong military mechanism, at the same time felt that all outstanding issues with neighbouring nations, including China, could be resolved through peaceful means. Though war is not likely with China in near future, India must keep modernising and strengthening its defence mechanism as a formidable 'deterrent', he added.
He said Buddhism, the 'religion of peace' travelled from India to China and there existed ample opportunity that India and China resolve border issues peacefully, but India must stay prepared for any eventuality.
Replying to a query on the tensions along the borders with Pakistan and India, Gen Singh said, “Our patience should not be viewed as our weakness. India is no longer the country which you could just trespass into.”
He said the present century belongs to Asia and China and India must work together as most powerful nations of the continent. “We have shared history of peaceful co-existence despite border tensions in 1960s. There are ample opportunities that issues pending are resolved peacefully,” he added.
Earlier Gen Singh while addressing the 107th annual convocation of the historic Khalsa College stressed a great deal on education particularly on the need to improve the literacy rate among women. Countries and societies can only progress if they invest in the field of education, he opined.
“So, India wants to become a major world power, importance must be given to education,” he added.
He also expressed concern over rising trend of drug addiction in Punjab, especially in border areas and sought corrective measures from government and society itself through awareness regarding the menace.
On the occasion, the Gen Singh bestowed 450 degrees on students in presence of Punjab secretary, higher education, Chander Gaind; Khalsa College governing council (KCGC) president Satyajit Singh Majithia, vice-president Charanjit Singh Chadha, honourary secretary Rajinder Mohan Singh Chhina.
Giving a brief detail about Arunachal Pradesh, the Governor sought educational exchange programmes between the northeast state and Khalsa College and Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU).
Gen Singh was earlier welcomed by Majithia and other members of the KCGC and principal Daljit Singh on his arrival at the function. Gaind, who addressed students, also highlighted the programmes of Punjab government and how students must adopt professional approach in life. The former army chief was so overwhelmed on seeing the grandeur the college building that he announced that if he had the option to be born again, he would like to study at this prestigious institution.
Majithia in his welcome address said that the nation was proud of Gen Singh who was the first Sikh general of the Indian army and an inspiration for the youth. Daljit Singh read out the annual progress report of the college, highlighting achievements in academics, extra-curricular activities and sports. The outstanding students were given gold medals and merit certificates. KCA also honoured Chhina and Santokh Singh for their contributions to the KCGC and society at large.