The army's importance has diminished because the country hasn't gone to battle in the past 40-50 years, defence minister Manohar Parrikar said on Sunday, but made it clear that his remarks should not be taken as endorsement for war.
Soldiers were facing immense difficulties because people's respect for the army has reduced during peacetime, he said at a seminar in Jaipur where information and broadcasting minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore was also present.
"I have written to many chief ministers (over defence matters). Some have acted on it and at many places it (response) has ended. The primary reason for this is that we have not been to war for 40-50 years. I don't mean to say that we should go to war. I mean to say that without war the army's importance has diminished."
He said two generations of officers have retired without seeing a war, but that doesn't mean the army should not command the respect it deserves. "A country that fails to protect its army cannot progress."
Rathore targeted former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf for his comments that his country's nuclear weapons were not meant for use on Shab-e-Baraat, an oblique warning to India.
"General Musharraf saab cannot enter his own house how he would enter India," he said, referring to treason charges slapped against the Pakistani leader.
"Chot kahin aur mari dard kahin aur huya. (We hit somewhere else, it hurt somewhere else). We warned that whoever harbours terrorism should be afraid. So why Pakistan spoke up?" he said, reacting to Pakistan's uncalled-for response to India's operation in Myanmar after militants killed 18 soldiers in Manipur.