Prime Minister's Office23-May, 2013 10:51 IST
PM's speech at the Foundation Stone Laying Ceremony for the Indian National Defence University at Gurgaon

Following is the text of the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh’s speech at the Foundation Stone Laying Ceremony for the Indian National Defence University at Gurgaon today:

“It is a great privilege for me to join you today on this auspicious occasion of laying the foundation stone for the Indian National Defence University. This is an idea that has been long in the making and I am very happy that today we are witnessing the first step towards its becoming a reality.

At the outset, I wish to thank my friend, the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Haryana for his generous support for this project and, in particular, for providing land. The proximity of this University to Delhi would facilitate the much needed close interaction between its faculty and students and defence policy makers and practitioners in the national capital. I would also like to thank my senior colleague Raksha Mantri ji, the senior leadership of the Armed Forces and the Ministry of Defence for the hard work they have done in realizing this project of national importance. I have no doubt that, when completed, this unique University will become a world-class institution for higher defence studies, in which we will be able to take justifiable pride.

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.

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. 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.

Over the last nine years, our 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.

Our government is 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.

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.

India faces the entire spectrum of security challenges. This is inevitable as we live in a difficult neighbourhood, which holds the full range of conventional, strategic and non-traditional challenges. We are 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.

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.

These multiple challenges notwithstanding, we must also be conscious of our strategic opportunities. 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 engagement in our immediate neighbourhood has increased. We have deepened political, economic and strategic relations in the Asia-Pacific, Indian Ocean and West Asian regions. Our relations with all major powers have become stronger and more productive. We are also particularly participating in key global and regional foras, ranging from the Group of 20 to the East Asia Summit and the ASEAN groupings.

Our defence cooperation has grown and today we have 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.

Taken together, these challenges and opportunities should prompt a reorientation of our strategic thinking and a reappraisal of our higher defence organisation. It is imperative that our defence professionals remain abreast of the complex environment we face and the avenues that are available as a result of the enormous transition taking place in India. On this occasion, I am reminded of a late 19th century observation by General Sir William Francis Butler. In a biography of the British General, Charles George Gordon, Butler wrote: “The nation that will insist on drawing a broad line of demarcation between the fighting man and the thinking man is liable to find its fighting done by fools, and its thinking done by cowards.”

That is where this great university comes in.

It is meant to ensure that our country, our government and our armed forces benefit from the best military advice that is available. It is meant to provide an avenue for our soldiers to think beyond the physical arts of war and for our thinkers and policymakers to understand the complexities of war and conflict. It is also meant to provide our defence professionals with a deep understanding of the interplay between all attributes of national power. Those who pass through the portals of this university will need to track regional and global trends, new and emerging technologies and developments in defence capabilities and strategies. They will also need to map the contours of future conflicts and understand the relationship between defence and finance, between external and internal security and between defence and diplomacy. Only then would they be able to fulfil the vision of the late Dr. K. Subrahmanyam who, in proposing the establishment of the National Defence University, had highlighted the need to educate and adequately prepare national security leaders to enable them to look at security challenges holistically and frame policies based on informed research.

Our expectations from this institution, therefore, are high. I am equally confident, that they will be met fully. I look forward to the Indian National Defence University emerging as an excellent platform to promote scholarship of a high order and train and equip future generations of leaders to meet India’s defence needs and fulfil our international responsibilities. The University, I hope, will set the highest standards of professionalism, creativity and debate. I am sure that it will also foster a climate of closer interaction between defence and civilian leaders.

Once again, it gives me great pride to be here on this auspicious occasion and I look forward to this campus coming up and becoming a great centre of defence studies in the quickest possible time.”

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(Release ID :96146)