India’s outlook emphasizes respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations as well as peaceful resolution of disputes and adherence to international rules, Chief of Army Staff Chief Gen Manoj Pande said on Friday, against the backdrop of the festering border row with China in eastern Ladakh.
In an address at the Chanakya Defence Dialogue, Gen Pande also said that India is establishing defence wings in new locations around the world and that the Army is keen to enhance the scope and scale of joint military training and exercises with friendly foreign partner nations.
Delving into current geo-political upheavals, he emphasized the need to take note of the growing salience of national security in international affairs and the ‘renewed currency’ of hard power.
The Chief of Army Staff described India as the ‘bright spot’ amidst despondency and geopolitical flux.
“Our outlook emphasizes respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations, equality of all, peaceful resolution of disputes, avoidance of the use of force, and adherence to international rules, laws, and regulations,” Gen Pande said without making any specific references.
The Chief of Army Staff said India’s commitment towards positively engaging all stakeholders has been ‘unwavering and enduring’ over the years.
“In the military domain, we understand our role in the emerging multilateral architecture. We are keen to enhance the scope and scale of our joint training and exercises, interoperability, sub-regional perspectives, and sharing of best practices with friendly foreign partner nations,” he said.
“To give a fillip to our defence cooperation outreach, we are establishing defence wings in new locations around the world,” he said.
“The challenges we face are significant but so are the opportunities and collective wisdom and strength,” the Army Chief added.
Gen Pande highlighted the ‘unprecedented churn in the global landscape’ that has set into motion a chain of events as well as some new trend lines.
“Amongst others, we need to take particular note of the growing salience of national security in international affairs and the renewed currency of hard power,” he observed.
“The pandemic which began as a health crisis ended up as a national security event. Close on the heels of cataclysmic events in Ukraine, we are now faced with an escalating conflict in West Asia,” he said.
Gen Pande said these instabilities and challenges are compounded by ‘notable economic turbulence and weaponization of multitudes of attributes and domains, from information to supply chains.’ “Issues like radicalization, terrorism, piracy, illegal migration, refugees, and climate change add to the bouquet of global concerns,” he said.
Talking about India’s rising stature, he said it has a credible voice on the world stage, ‘one that is distinct, rooted in Indian ethos, and effective in articulating the concerns of the Global South.
“India shares common interests and values such as democracy, human rights, and rule of law with our partners and like-minded countries. This alignment of shared values creates a solid foundation for cooperative security efforts,” Gen Pande said.
“The spin-offs of these collaborative efforts are not restricted to security but transcend into the economic realm, innovation, and technology, capacity building, multilateral problem solving, and diplomacy as well,’ he said and added, ‘Our initiatives are bedrock in the Indian way.” The Chief of Army Staff said technology is driving geopolitics like never before transforming not only strategic competition but also warfighting.
“In fact, technology is emerging as a new strategic arena of geo-political competition even as grey zone contestations in non-traditional domains seem to be expanding so is the probability and the arc of all-out conflict,” he said.
“Amidst such despondency, it is my belief that India remains a bright spot.’ The Chief of Army Staff noted that not only is the ‘Cold-War’ peace dividend dwindling, the world seems to be fracturing in myriad ways.” He said ‘new divisions’ are coming to the fore between the East and the West as also between the global North and the Global South.
“An agile, resilient, and consumer-driven economy has enabled us to brave the economic downturns of the Russia-Ukraine conflict,” he said.
The ‘Chanakya Defence Dialogue’ has been organized by the Indian Army in partnership with the Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS).
The Dialogue aims to carry out a comprehensive analysis of security challenges in South Asia and the Indo-Pacific with a focus on crafting a roadmap for collaborative security measures in the region to fortify India’s position as a ‘ready, resurgent, and relevant’ stakeholder in the region.