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Need reorientation of our strategic thinking: PM

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Thursday that India was well positioned to become a net provider of security in its immediate region in the Indian Ocean and beyond.
By HT Correspondent | PTI, Gurgaon
UPDATED ON MAY 23, 2013 12:24 PM IST

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Thursday that India was well positioned to become a net provider of security in its immediate region in the Indian Ocean and beyond.

He said India's defence cooperation has grown and it now had unprecedented access to high technology, capital and partnerships.

"We have also sought to assume our responsibility for stability in the Indian Ocean Region. We are well positioned, therefore, to become a net provider of security in our immediate region and beyond," Singh said.

The prime minister was speaking after laying the foundation stone of the Indian National Defence University on the outskirts of this booming Haryana township adjacent to the national capital.

Noting that the world was witnessing change on a scale and speed rarely seen before, the prime minister said it was imperative for the defence professionals to remain abreast of the complex environment the country faced and the avenues that were available as a result of the enormous transition taking place in India.

"Taken together, these challenges and opportunities should prompt a reorientation of our strategic thinking and a reappraisal of our higher defence organisation... That is where this great university comes in," Singh said.

He said over the last nine years, India's deterrence capabilities have also matured and have been given concrete shape.

"At the same time, we are better equipped today to deal with non-conventional threats, especially in the cyber and space domains. We are implementing a national architecture for cyber security and have taken steps to create an office of a national cyber security coordinator," he said.

India, Singh said, faced the entire spectrum of security challenges and this was inevitable particularly in its difficult neighbourhood which held the full range of conventional, strategic and non-traditional challenges.

He said the world was witnessing a change and "nowhere is this change more pronounced than in Asia, where we are witnessing multiple security challenges on account of the intersection of fragile states, internal conflicts, proliferation of arms and terrorist groups".

"Explosive development of technology is also transforming defence capabilities. As our dependence on the cyber and outer space domains grows, new sets of challenges will emerge, which can also assume military dimensions," he said.

The prime minister said the nature of conflict and competition was changing at the same time when national boundaries were 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.

Singh said taken together, these challenges and opportunities should prompt reorientation of the strategic thinking and a reappraisal of the country's highest defence organisation.

He said the government was making defence acquisition less vulnerable to unethical practices.

"We have been guided by the objective of making defence acquisition transparent, smooth, efficient and less vulnerable to unethical practices. We will continue to seek the highest standards of the probity in defence acquisition," he said.

Singh said the defence university was meant to ensure that the country, government and armed forces benefit from the best military advice that was available.

"It is also meant to provide our defence professionals with a deep understanding of the interplay between all attributes of national power," he said.

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