“India Peace-Loving, But If…”: On National Security, Rajnath Singh, Defence Minister

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh stated on Monday that while India is a “peace-loving nation that does not seek conflict,” the country can “provide an appropriate response.”

“It (India) has never attacked another country or taken even a smidgeon of their territory. If someone casts an evil eye on us, however, we would respond appropriately “Mr Singh was speaking at the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA) in Mussoorie, Uttarakhand, at the 28th Joint Civil-Military Training Programme.

Though he did not name the “evil eye,” India’s boundary dispute with China in Ladakh has been a source of anxiety. Since May 5, 2020, when a violent clash erupted in the Pangong Lake region, troops from both countries have been involved in a tense standoff in eastern Ladakh. According to US Defense Secretary Lloyd James Austin, China is hardening its stance along the Line of Actual Control with India.

Rajnath Singh used the ongoing Russia-Ukraine crisis as an example of how the globe now faces difficulties “far beyond traditional combat” in his Monday speech. According to a press statement released by the Press Information Bureau, he stated that “war and peace are no longer two distinct entities, but rather a continuum.”

“Even in times of calm, battle rages on multiple fronts. A full-scale conflict is as deadly to a country as it is to its adversaries. As a result, full-fledged battles have been avoided in recent decades. Proxies and non-combat battles have taken their place “Rajnath Singh went on to say more. He was concerned about the militarization of technology and trade.

Mr Singh said that the creation of the post of Chief of Defence Staff and the establishment of the Department of Military Affairs “are proving to be helpful in keeping the country ready for future challenges,” which was the focus of the training programme.

Since December 2021, when the first holder, General Bipin Rawat, died in a helicopter mishap, the position of Chief of Defence Staff has been vacant. The Defence Ministry recently expanded the eligibility criteria and pool of candidates for the CDS position. Aside from recently retired service chiefs and vice-chiefs who fit the age condition, any active or retired Lieutenant General, Air Marshal, or Vice Admiral under the age of 62 is now eligible.

“Synergy does not mean encroaching on each other’s autonomy,” he stated, while advocating for improved civil-military cooperation.

“Following independence, India continued to pursue the ancient path of administration, which resulted in the establishment of different social, economic, and political organisations… While job division was important for the proper functioning of a large country like India, departments and ministries began to work in silos over time “Mr. Singh explained. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he asserted, had modified this approach.

He also discussed the defence industry. He asserted that efforts to modernise the troops and make the defence sector “aatma-nirbhar” (self-sufficient) have begun to bear fruit. “Now, India is not just manufacturing equipment for its armed forces, but also for allied countries,” he stated, praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “concept of Make in India, Make for the World.”

He commended the Mussoorie academy for its “unparalleled” service and paid tribute to former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, who is the academy’s namesake. “This collaborative civil-military effort, which has been going on for two decades, is carrying forward Shastri ji’s vision,” Mr Singh added. Participants are from the civil service, the military forces, and the central police forces, and the programme began in 2001.

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