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Friday, 24 May 2013

From Today's Papers - 24 May 2013





http://www.tribuneindia.com/2013/20130524/edit.htm#4
Mending India-China ties
Outcome of talks with Li 'positive'
by Inder Malhotra

THINGS do change sometimes. Hardly a fortnight after the three-week India-China "face-off" over China's intrusion into Indian territory in the Depsang valley in Ladakh, Asia's two largest and fastest-growing countries have once again smoothened their relationship as a result of the visit of China's Prime Minister, Li Keqiang. After intense talks with his host, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh — first at a "restricted session" where very few aides were present and then at a delegation-level meeting — both sides declared the outcome of the visit "positive" and "useful".

This assertion is not without basis. India has been able to drive home to China the message that the border issue remains vital and that if peace along the border areas is disturbed, the entire relationship would be impacted. The distinction between the styles of Dr Singh and Mr Li could not have been greater.

At a joint Press conference at the end of the delegation-level talks, Dr Singh stated that having "learnt the lessons of the recent incident in Ladakh" the two sides had asked their Special Representatives — National Security Advisor, Shiv Shankar Menon of India and former Foreign Minister, Yang Jichie of China — to meet soon and find ways of strengthening the mechanism for the maintenance of peace and tranquillity along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) over which there is no agreement because the Chinese reneged on their commitment to "confirm" and "clarify" the LAC. From the Indian side the clear message to the Special Representatives is that must find ways to ensure that incidents like Depsang intrusion are never repeated.

Although 15 meetings between the SRs over the years have produced little result, a significant mandate to them, emanating from the Delhi talks, is that they should try and settle the boundary question speedily. This is easier said than done.

While responding to Dr Singh's remarks on the utmost importance of peace and tranquillity along the border, Mr Li conspicuously refrained from acknowledging any "incident", recent or remote. This is entirely in keeping with the standard Chinese policy of total denial of Chinese presence on Indian soil and of the Chinese troops ever violating any treaty between the two countries.

However, he admitted that though the two countries had much in common and shared many interests, there are "problems also between them", especially over the border issue "left behind by history". Therefore, the agreement between the two to tell their Special Representatives to expedite their efforts to achieve the goal assigned to them.

One fear on this score is that the Chinese side might use the quest for peace along the border to discuss India's attempts to improve and add to its dangerously inadequate infrastructure on the Himalayan border. Defence Minister A. K. Antony's public statements on this issue should be a warning.

Dr Singh's "tough talk" and "plain speaking" to his Chinese counterpart were in sharp contrast to the Indian government's squeamish and namby-pamby policy during the Ladakh crisis. What is the most important problem, according to the Prime Minister, was dismissed by the Foreign Minister, Salman Khurshid, then as no more than "acne" that could be easily cured by "ointment".

After the latest talks at the level of prime ministers, the Indian strategic community has expressed satisfaction that the irate public opinion had at last produced the desired result. Yet, some are still angry that Dr Singh should call the Chinese violation of Indian sovereignty a mere "incident".

Next only to the issue of peace along the border, the two other major concerns Dr Singh emphasised were the question of Bramhaputra and other cross-border rivers and that of great imbalance in the burgeoning bilateral trade (China is already India's largest trading partner and the India-China trade is expected to exceed $ 100 billion by 2015) almost entirely in China's favour.

As for river waters, the Chinese still refuse to accept the Indian suggestion of having a "joint mechanism" of experts like the one that exists between India and Pakistan under the Indus Water Treaty. But they have belatedly agreed to share hydrological data denied to India so far. Mr Li also spoke reassuringly of China's respect for the rights of the lower riparian states. This, Indian officials concede, is a "movement forward" but no one can say to what extent.

On the crucial problem of acute imbalance in bilateral trade also the visiting Chinese Premier showed receptivity and reasonableness. A number of proposals were made, and these included greater Indian access to the gargantuan Chinese market, investment in each country by the other, and exploring ways to allow Indian manufactures to find their way to China so that India does not merely export raw materials, including iron ore, while Chinese consumer goods flood the Indian market. China also offered to invest in and build infrastructure in this country. This has given satisfaction to many. But some experts are apprehensive that construction of roads, railways and bridges, etc, by China would be "at the expense of Indian firms".

No less important than what was included in the joint statement is what was excluded from it, largely at India's insistence. For instance, the Chinese wanted the usual statement by India on "One China" and Tibet being an integral part of the People's Republic of China. The Indian side refused and pointed out that this oft-repeated statement was omitted also from the joint statement with the then Chinese Prime Minister, Wen Jiabao, in 2010. Early reports about the Chinese reaction to this suggest that there are many "raised eyebrows" in Beijing.

Similarly, China wanted a mention of its "core concern" over South and East China Seas. Again India declined because it cannot endorse the Chinese claim to these seas being under its sovereign control.

Despite the "candid and cordial" atmosphere all through the Singh-Li talks and a certain amount of optimism these have generated, and notwithstanding a genuine desire of both India and China to improve their relations, there is widespread and legitimate feeling in the country that the Indian government's China policy lacks realism. New Delhi, many feel with some justification, tends to push difficult issues with Beijing under the carpet. Why, they asked wasn't a word said to Mr Li about what China is doing in so-called "Azad Kashmir" or indeed in Pakistan where he went from Mumbai.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2013/20130524/nation.htm#7
4 new colleges to come up on defence varsity campus
Tribune News Service

Binola (Gurgaon), May 23
The Indian National Defence University (INDU) will be set up as a fully autonomous institution constituted under an act of Parliament. While the President of India would act as the Visitor, the Defence Minister will be its Chancellor. The vice-chancellor, who will carry the rank of President of INDU, will be an officer in the rank of the Army Commander or equivalent from the IAF or the Navy. The vice-chancellor's selection will be based on merit and qualifications. Rank-seniority, a major factor in deciding postings in the forces, will not be a determining factor.

The varsity would develop and propagate higher education in defence studies, defence management, defence science and technology and promote policy-oriented research related to national defence. Four new colleges will be set up under the varsity at its Binola Campus -- National College of Defence Studies (NCDS), Indian Institute of Defence Technology (IIDT), Indian Institute of Defence Management (IIDM) and Defence Institute of Distance & Open Learning (DIDOL).

Existing defence institutions such as the National Defence College, New Delhi; College of Defence Management (CDM), Secunderabad; Defence Service Staff College Wellington; and National Defence Academy, Pune; are proposed to be brought under the ambit of the Indian National Defence University without diluting their powers or autonomy for award of degrees and diplomas. These existing institutions will continue to function in the existing administrative set up and will continue to enjoy existing powers, academic freedom and autonomy.

The varsity will conduct courses of varying durations on subjects ranging from strategic studies, war gaming and simulation, neighbourhood studies, counter insurgency and counter terrorism, Chinese studies, evaluation of strategic thought, international security issues, maritime security studies, Eurasian studies, South East Asian studies, material acquisition, joint logistics, national security strategy in peace and war, etc.

Diverse faculty

Teaching faculty will for the varsity be drawn from the armed forces, civil services, paramilitary forces, friendly foreign countries, diplomats, academics and strategic planners, among others

Existing defence institutions such as the National Defence College, New Delhi; College of Defence Management, Secunderabad; Defence Service Staff College Wellington; and National Defence Academy, Pune; are proposed to be brought under the ambit of the Indian National Defence University

These existing institutions will continue to function in the existing administrative set up and will continue to enjoy existing powers, academic freedom and autonomy

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2013/20130524/main4.htm
Pak soldiers 'assault' porters carrying BSF supplies near LoC in Poonch
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria/TNS

Jammu, May 23
Soon after the killing of two Indian soldiers by Pakistani soldiers in Poonch and a 19-km incursion into Ladakh by the Chinese, nine suspected Pakistan Army Border Action Team (BAT) men roughed up a group of porters in the Sabjian belt along the Line of Control (LoC) in Poonch district and let them off after snatching supplies meant for the BSF.

The incident happened on May 14, but came to light yesterday. Poonch district SSP Shamsheer Hussain said the incident took place on Zero Line, 2 km ahead of the barbed wire fence, but no FIR has been registered.

"The incident happened near the Zero Line at least 2 km ahead of the barbed fence some eight to ten days ago in Sabjian belt. The porters were carrying supplies to the BSF forward posts. We have not registered an FIR because of their contradictory statements," he said.

Porters carrying ration and milk cartons to a forward post in Khet area of Sabjian belt that is manned by the BSF were intercepted by nine armed Pakistani Border Action Team troops on the morning of May 14. The troops are said to have snatched the porters' I-cards and supplies. Of the nine armed men two were in Pakistani Army fatigues and the rest in Pathan suits, a source said.

The Army, which has operational responsibility of the 776-km LoC, remained tightlipped. A senior Army officer from the Northern Command said, "We neither deny nor confirm the incident.

We are trying to confirm from quarters concerned about what happened on May 14." Northern Command's PRO Colonel Rajesh Kalia promised to get back with complete information.

A Defence spokesperson in Jammu said the porters had reported the incident to the Army. "The porters reported to the Army that they had seen some persons in Pak Army fatigues and were also roughed up by them, but the Army's surveillance led to nothing of this sort," said the spokesperson.

The BSF neither denied nor confirmed the incident. A senior officer said only the Army was authorised to speak on the issue since it has operational responsibility of the LoC.

"The incident took place on May 14 around 8 am. Pakistani troops snatched the porters' identity cards, rations and milk cartons and beat up two of them. In fact, they had intentions similar to what they did on January 8 in Balnoi (Pak soldiers had killed and mutilated two Indian troopers in Balnoi sector of Poonch), but when they came to know that the porters were locals engaged by Indian security forces they let them off," a source said.

The eight porters have been identified as Khadim Hussain, Javed Ahmed, Jahangir Hussain, Mohammed Qasim, Showkat Hussain, Altaf Hussain and Nazir Hussain -- all residents of Brari -- and Zahoor Ahmed of Gagriyan. Khadim Hussain and Nazir Hussain were severely beaten up with butts of automatic weapons.

IntruSIOn AGAIN

    May 14: Nine Pakistan Army Border Action Team men cross Zero Line and intercept a group of eight porters in the Sabjian belt along the LoC in Poonch
    The men, some in Pak Army fatigues, snatch the porters' I-cards and supplies meant for BSF forward posts and let them off after thrashing two of them
    Poonch SSP Shamsheer Hussain confirms incident took place on Zero Line; Army, BSF tightlipped
    On January 8, Pak soldiers had brutally killed and mutilated two Indian troopers in Balnoi sector of Poonch


http://www.tribuneindia.com/2013/20130524/main1.htm
Difficult neighbourhood poses multiple security challenges: PM
Lays foundation stone of country's first defence university in Gurgaon
Ajay Banerjee/TNS

Binola (Gurgaon), May 23
Twelve years after the Kargil Review Committee recommended setting up of a specialised defence university to build a strategic culture in the country, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday laid the foundation stone of the Indian National Defence University (INDU) here.

The varsity will come up over 200 acres on the Delhi-Jaipur National Highway at Binola village near Gurgaon, some 52 km from New Delhi and a short distance from Manesar. It will be fully functional in 2018 with accommodation for students as well as faculty. A total of 65 per cent seats will be for defence personnel and the remaining 35 per cent will be for IAS, IPS and IFS cadres.

Speaking on the occasion, the PM warned of a spectrum of security challenges to the country due to its difficult neighbourhood. "We face a full range of conventional, strategic and non-traditional challenges," he said, reminding that India was situated at the strategic crossroads of Asia and astride one of the busiest shipping sea lanes of the world. "Our dependence on the sea is to grow. In defending our homeland, we have to be prepared to preserve India's expanding international assets."

He said the country's deterrent capabilities had increased and it is in a position to be a net provider of security in the Indian Ocean Region. "We have assumed responsibility for stability in the Indian Ocean Region. We are well positioned to become a net provider of security in our immediate region and beyond," Manmohan Singh said.

Asia, he said, was witnessing multiple security challenges on account of the intersection of fragile states, internal conflicts also transforming defence capabilities.

"India's security has never been stronger than it is today and our international relationships have never been more conducive to our national development efforts. Our defence cooperation has grown and today we have unprecedented access to high technology, capital and partnerships," the PM added.

Singh said India's relations with all major powers have become stronger and more productive and "we are also particularly participating in key global and regional fora, ranging from the Group of 20 to the East Asia Summit and the ASEAN groupings".

Amid scams such as the VVIP helicopter scandal, the PM said the government was working towards making defence acquisitions "transparent" and "less vulnerable to unethical practices".

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

The Prime Minister said the government was conscious of the fact that adequate defence preparedness was critically dependent on sound defence acquisition policies. "We have paid close attention to this and have continually reformed those policies to ensure that our armed forces have the best equipment," he said.

Defence Minister AK Antony said, "INDU will promote and nurture intellectual strength to our security concerns and cater to our needs of defence technology and management."

Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda said the defence university was a tribute to the country's soldiers. "It will create awareness about security concerns as well as challenges confronting the country," he said.

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

Functional by 2018

    The Indian National Defence University will come up over 200 acres on the Delhi-Jaipur National Highway at Binola village near Gurgaon
    A total of 65% seats will be for defence personnel and the remaining for IAS, IPS and IFS cadres when it becomes fully functional in 2018
    The varsity would develop and propagate higher education in defence studies, defence management, defence science and technology and promote policy-oriented research related to national defence


http://www.hawaiiarmyweekly.com/2013/05/22/yudh-abhyas-enhances-u-s-indian-army-partnership/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=yudh-abhyas-enhances-u-s-indian-army-partnership
Yudh Abhyas enhances U.S., Indian Army partnership
FORT BRAGG — U.S. Army-Pacific sponsored a bilateral training exercise with the Indian army, May 3-17, that focused on the two countries' cultures, weapons training and tactics.

Yudh Abhyas, Hindi for "training for war," is an annual exercise that brings together two battle-hardened armies beyond the typical footprints of war.

After nine years of conducting this operation, lifetime bonds between U.S. and Indian Soldiers have developed.
The Indian army's 99th Mountain Brigade and the 1st Bde. Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, participated in this year's exercise at Fort Bragg, N.C. Other units represented were the 3rd Squadron, 73rd Calvary Regiment, from the U.S. forces, and from India, the 2nd Battalion, 5th Gurka Rifles; the 50th Independent Para Bde.; and the 54th Engineers Regt.

"This partnership is one of the very good things that has happened between the United States and India," said Brig. Gen Jagdish Chaudari, commander, 99th Mt. Bde. "We have interacted with at least 500 Army personnel here, if not more, and I think those interpersonal relationships will carry on for a long time."

The Soldiers trained and planned side-by-side during a series of field and command post exercises.

"That was the highlight for me," said Maj. Greg Phillips, USARPAC's India desk officer. "It demonstrates that our Soldiers can work with anyone anywhere in the world."

For this training scenario, Indian and U.S Soldiers operated together under a United Nations mandate and had to overcome operational, logistical, humanitarian and legal challenges to achieve mission success.

"We (sought) to integrate our troops, our equipment and focus our training, so we will be able to achieve such a task if the future ever presents it," said Col. Anindya Sengupta, planning officer, 99th Mt. Bde.
This planning process is what helped develop the bond between the Soldiers, Sengupta said. Despite a bit of a language barrier between some of them, they were all on the same accord when it came down to understanding the objective.

"As (Soldiers), we have a common thing about language. We understand each other," explained Sengupta. "The Americans have operated less in the U.N., where the Indians have operated more. However, the U.N. procedures are more common to the American procedures. So therefore, there is a lot of understanding that is inherent.

"Since the language is common and since many of the procedures are similar, our understanding of the operation and our understanding of the execution is there," Sengupta added.

This exercise will shift to India next year and may involve different units from both sides. Incorporating different units and shifting back and forth between the two countries helps Soldiers get a broader aspect of one another's culture and helps to maximize bilateral readiness and the understanding of capabilities between the two armies, Phillips said.

"They are teaching us their culture and values, so we can understand how to evaluate them," Phillips said." It was a delight to work with the Indian Army because they are professional, competent Soldiers who are able to teach us a lot and learn from us while doing so."

http://www.business-standard.com/article/economy-policy/defence-ministry-seeks-spectrum-in-900-mhz-band-113052301040_1.html
DoT asks DefenceMin to justify demand of more GSM spectrum
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has asked for telecom spectrum in the 900 MHz band, to use for a vehicular-based GSM network for the army.

It asked the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to allocate spectrum of one pair of 1.2 MHz for the Delhi telecom zone and one pair of 2.4 MHz pan-India, either in the 890-915 MHz frequency band  or in 935-960 MHz, commonly identified as the 900 MHz band.

DoT, however, asked it to justify the request for GSM in the 900 MHz band. MoD is yet to reply.

According to a recent communication, the MoD had never earlier projected the requirement of airwaves in the 900 MHz band. So, the 900 MHz band was not included in the 'Defence band' being formulated. This band has 150 MHz in the 1,700-2,000 MHz band, 20 MHz in 2,300-2,400 MHz and 15 MHz in 698-806 Mhz. For, MoD had earlie said it would require airwaves in 1920-1980 MHz or 2,110-2,170 MHz band for third-generation (3G) services, the 2,300-2,400 MHz band for broadband wireless access (BWA) services and the 698-806 MHz band for long-term evolution (LTE) services.

However, DoT also said in a recent communication that it could consider a specific request to allocate spectrum outside the defence band on a case to case basis, after it got details from the MoD.

According to a separate note, the requirement of 2.4 MHz in the 900 MHz GSM band for pan-India cannot be considered due to existing allotments.

On the other hand, a 1 MHz band is available (912.4-913.3 MHz) that the fovernment can assign to MoD in the Delhi telecom zone only, according to a recent discussion. The railways use the 913.4-914.8 MHz band across India.

Last week, Sam Pitroda, advisor to the Prime Minister on public information infrastructure and innovations, had reportedly said the government should initiate measures to get the defence, space and broadcasting agencies to vacate 100 MHz of airwaves for various mobile services.

He had urged the PM to constitute an Empowered Group of Ministers to work out how this was to be done.

MoD had earlier released 20 MHz of second-generation (2G) spectrum and 25 MHz of 3G spectrum.

http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-05-21/india/39418251_1_admiral-edouard-guillaud-defence-rafale
Army chief to head for France to bolster bilateral strategic partnership
NEW DELHI: Army chief General Bikram Singh will be heading for Paris next week to further bolster the already strong strategic partnership with France, which is one of the biggest arms suppliers to India.

During his trip from May 26 to 30, Gen Singh will hold talks with French defence minister Jean Yves Le Drian, chief of general staff Admiral Edouard Guillaud and Army chief General Bertrand Ract-Madoux, apart from visiting defence establishments like the Land Forces Command in Lille.

"France â€" which did not impose sanctions after the 1998 Pokhran-II nuclear tests â€" and India already have a strategic dialogue at the national security advisor-level. Apart from being the first country to enter into a formal understanding with India after the Nuclear Suppliers' Group exempted us from its guidelines, it also supports our bid for permanent membership of the UN Security Council as well as G-8," said an official.

The bilateral defence relations have also transformed from just military cooperation to comprehensive defence cooperation. Apart from the navies and air forces of the two countries holding regular Varuna and Garuda series of combat exercises, the two armies have also begun to conduct the Shakti wargames now.

Defence procurements and joint R&D projects constitute a critical element of the bilateral partnership. France already has two major defence projects underway with India, while it also negotiates to bag the almost $20 billion MMRCA (medium multi-role combat aircraft) project to supply 126 Rafale fighters to IAF.

India is building six French Scorpene submarines at Mazagon Docks under the Rs 23,562 crore 'Project-75' at Mumbai. The project, however, has been dogged with huge time and cost overruns. The Navy now hopes to get the desperately-required new submarines in the 2015-2020 timeframe, over four years behind schedule.

Allegations of kickbacks had also swirled around the October 2005 contracts signed with the two French companies â€" Rs 6,135-crore with M/s Armaris (a DCN-Thales joint venture) for transfer of technology and construction design, and Rs 1,062-crore with M/s MBDA for sea-skimming Exocet missiles â€" but nothing much came out of them.

The other big ongoing project is the one for the upgrade of the 51 French-origin Mirage-2000 fighters, which were first inducted in the IAF fleet in the mid-1980s. The overall upgrade programme of the Mirage-2000s is pegged at Rs 17,547 crore, with the first two fighters being upgraded in France and the rest 49 by Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) under transfer of technology.

The upgrade programme has been dubbed very exorbitant by many critics but the IAF says Mirage-2000s will be virtually new and potent fighters after undergoing it. First in July 2011, the upgrade programme was finalized at Rs 10,947 crore, which included both the French and HAL work-shares.

Then, early last year, the second contract worth around Rs 6,600 crore for 490 advanced fire-and-forget MICA (interception and aerial combat missiles) systems to arm the fighters was finalized with French armament major MBDA. The overall upgrade package may even cross the Rs 20,000 crore-mark over the decade it will take to complete it, as was earlier reported by TOI.

But defence minister A K Antony, holding that major upgrade decisions are suitably negotiated in a competitive environment, says the Mirage upgrade programme also includes fitment of advanced multi-mode target radar, reconfigured glass cockpit and advance avionics, state-of-the-art electronic warfare system and capability to launch advanced missiles.

The real prize for France will, of course, be the MMRCA project. There have been several problems in the final negotiations with French aviation major Dassault, which have been meandering for well over an year now after the Rafale defeated Eurofighter Typhoon in the commercial bid stage. The two jets had earlier outclassed the American F/A-18 'Super Hornet' and F-16 'Super Viper', the Russian MiG-35 and Swedish Gripen in extensive field trials

The defence ministry, however, says the workshare problems between Dassault and HAL have now been sorted out to a large extent. Under the project, while the first 18 jets will come in fly-away condition, the rest 108 fighters will be manufactured under licence by HAL over six years.

Dassault was earlier demanding that it would be responsible only for the first 18 jets, while HAL will have shoulder responsibility for the other 108 fighters once the kits for them are supplied to the defence PSU. MoD, however, had rejected this contention, holding that Dassault will be responsible for the execution of the entire project. But even now, it will still take several months before the MMRCA contract is finally inked.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/India-set-to-become-net-provider-of-security-in-region-PM-Manmohan-Singh/articleshow/20222203.cms
India set to become net provider of security in region: PM Manmohan Singh
GURGAON: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday said India's deterrence capabilities have ``matured and have been given concrete shape'' in the last nine years, even as the country has become ``better equipped'' 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, after laying the foundation stone for the Indian National Defence University here.

``India's defence and security are a fundamental obligation of the government to our people and an essential prerequisite for our national social and economic transformation. Our government has attached the highest priority to these tasks. We seek to advance peace, stability, friendship and cooperation in our region and beyond, and we do so with the confidence that our armed forces can defend our country against any threat. This confidence is based on the many steps that the government has taken to strengthen our nation's defence capabilities,'' he said.

``In the last few years, we have added significantly to the land forces to protect our borders and inducted new equipment to increase the Army's firepower. Our ability to service our frontiers with improved infrastructure and enhanced air mobility is considerably greater today than in the past. We have enhanced the full spectrum of capabilities of our Air Force and are equipping it to remain at the cutting edge of technology for the decades that lie ahead,'' he said.

``Not only are our borders stronger, our seas are also more secure. The capabilities of our sea-borne forces to guard our coastline and offshore assets has seen enormous expansion in the last five years. We have placed special emphasis on strengthening the capabilities of our Navy, which is fully equipped to operate at great distances from our shores, protect our maritime interests, respond to natural disasters and provide humanitarian assistance to the need,'' he added.

The PM said the government was conscious of the fact that adequate defence preparedness is critically dependent on sound defence acquisition policies. ``We have paid close attention to this and have continually reformed those policies to ensure that our Armed Forces have the best equipment. We have also been guided by the objective of making our defence acquisition transparent, smooth, efficient and less vulnerable to unethical practices. We will continue to seek the highest standards of probity in defence acquisition,'' he said, in the backdrop of a series of defence scams erupting in the last few years.

``Another issue to which we have paid close attention is indigenisation of defence procurement. Our government is committed to taking further steps to stimulate the development of our domestic defence industry, including the Indian private sector. This is important not only to enhance our security, but also to spur industrial development and economic growth of our country. We must fully utilize the sophisticated management and technological capacities that are already present in our private sector, including in the defence field, not just for production but also for defence research and development,'' he said.

India faces the entire spectrum of security challenges. This is inevitable as India lives in a difficult neighbourhood, which holds the full range of conventional, strategic and non-traditional challenges. The country is also situated at the strategic crossroads of Asia and astride one of the busiest sea lanes of the world. ``We inhabit a networked and digital world. Our dependence on imported energy is significant and is likely to grow. We are also living at a moment of history when the world is witnessing change on a scale and at a speed rarely seen before,'' he said.

``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. The nature of conflict and competition is changing at the same time when national boundaries are 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 added.

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