New Delhi: Highlighting multiple challenges faced by the country, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday said the task of coordinated response to global problems has become more difficult as major powers are "pre-occupied" and India must strengthen its capabilities and "stand on our own feet". (Agencies)
He told top commanders of the armed forces that international strategic and political environment has deteriorated and it must be factored in the policies that India adopts internally or externally.
Singh cautioned that terrorist groups were now "highly networked, nimble-footed, more lethal" and said there was need for appropriate responses.
He described cyber threats as an emerging "major source of worry" as he pointed out that cyber and information warfare could "qualitatively change" the concept of a battlefield.
"Your conference is taking place at a time when the country is faced with multiple challenges. In this age of rapid information flows and explosion of technologies, one of the most important security imperatives is our ability to respond to these challenges quickly and in an integrated fashion," Singh said.
He said most major powers are today pre-occupied with their own domestic problems, which has made the task of "effective and coordinated global response to international issues much more difficult."
While India must work with the international community to address global issues, "we must strengthen our own capabilities and be ready to stand on our own feet, whenever required", he said as he listed the challenges like terrorism, Left-wing extremism and piracy.
"We must, therefore, consolidate our own strategic autonomy and independence of thought and action," he said.
"Broadly speaking, the international strategic and political environment has deteriorated from our point of view.
The policies we adopt, whether internally or externally, must factor this in," Singh said addressing the Combined Commanders Conference here.
He said the government has paid attention to the immediate neighbourhood, which is based on the conviction that the task of India's socio-economic transformation will "always be more difficult and less likely to succeed if we do not manage relations with our neighbours properly".
"We have a long history in fighting terrorism. Today terrorist groups are highly networked, nimble-footed and more lethal. This calls for appropriate responses," Singh said.
The Prime Minister also highlighted nuclear proliferation and nuclear security as a "serious threat in our neighbourhood".
"It is equally the responsibility of the government to equip our armed forces with all the necessary means to meet all threats to our nation, including those which go beyond conventional warfare," he said.
Listing out internal challenges, Singh said, "We have to work assiduously to address problems in the North East and deal with left-wing extremism in a comprehensive manner."
He stressed that armed forces have to be sensitive to the needs of the weaker sections of society and ensure that the fruits of progress reach them.
"Issues relating to use of scarce resources such as land and water and strengthening institutions of governance require much closer attention than they have received in the past," Singh said.
The Prime Minister told the Commanders that the government would never fight shy of finding the funds for modernisation of the armed forces.
"At the same time we have to recognise that resources are not unlimited. I would urge upon you to optimise the use of scarce resources," he said.
Singh suggested that advance and long-term planning and the creation of common institutions, communication networks and infrastructure were some examples of how this could be achieved.
"We should keep this in mind, particularly when we build new capacities for meeting emerging threats," he said.
Singh said modernisation of the armed forces should not be limited only to acquisition of foreign equipment or foreign technologies.
"We have to progressively reduce our dependence on external sources. This has to be a national effort, involving our armed forces, our scientists and captains of Indian industry," he said, adding that development of an indigenous defence industry was a national security objective.
"We have succeeded in persuading many of the advanced countries to dismantle their export control regimes targeted at us which will give us access to high technology, but we need to gear up our own efforts," he said.
Singh asked the Commanders to ensure transparency, probity and accountability in procurement procedures and constantly work towards reducing time for processing the same.
The Prime Minister also highlighted the Commanders' special responsibility to inculcate the finest qualities of character, integrity and professionalism among junior officers, men and women.
New Delhi: Highlighting multiple challenges faced by the country, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday said the task of coordinated response to global problems has become more difficult as major powers are "pre-occupied" and India must strengthen its capabilities and "stand on our own feet".