New Delhi: India remains a “bright spot” in the world amid an unprecedented churn in the global landscape arising out of geopolitical upheavals such as the escalating conflict in West Asia and the Russia-Ukraine war, Army Chief Gen Manoj Pande said on Friday.
In an address at the Chanakya Defence Dialogue, he said New Delhi’s outlook for engagement with the world is focused on respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations as well as peaceful resolution of disputes, comments that came against the backdrop of the festering border standoff with China in eastern Ladakh.
Gen Pande also said 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.
“The globalised world that we once applauded is now fraught with difficulties. It is moving towards decoupling, de-risking and perhaps de-globalisation…Amidst such despondency, it is my belief that India remains a bright spot,” Pande said in his address at the inaugural edition of Chanakya Defence Dialogue. The two-day dialogue has been organised by the army in partnership with the think tank Centre for Land Warfare Studies.
It seeks to carry out a comprehensive analysis of security challenges in South Asia and the Indo-Pacific and will 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.
Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar was the guest of honour.
“The dialogue will afford a productive platform where defence strategy and collaborative partnership will converge to forge a secure, stable and prosperous future in the vibrant landscape of Southeast Asia and Indo-Pacific. It will serve as a vital platform for the exchange of insights and discussions on critical security matters,” Dhankhar said.
Technology is driving geopolitics like never before and transforming not only strategic competition but also war fighting, Pande said.
“Technology is emerging as a new strategic arena of geopolitical competition. Even as grey zone contestations in non-traditional domains seem to be expanding, so is the probability and arc of all-out conflicts,” the army chief added.
Amid the unprecedented churn in the global landscape that has set into motion a chain of events as well as some new trend lines, it is important to take note of the growing salience of national security in international affairs and the renewed currency of hard power, the army chief said.
“The Covid-19 pandemic, which began as a health crisis and ended up as a national security event, closed on the heels of the cataclysm in Ukraine. We are now faced with an escalating conflict in West Asia. These instabilities and challenges are compounded by notable economic turbulence and the weaponisation of a multitude of attributes and domains from information to supply chains,” Pande said, adding that issues like radicalisation, terrorism, piracy, illegal migration, refugees and climate change add to the bouquet of global concerns.
He said the Cold War peace dividend was dwindling, and the world seemed to be fracturing in myriad ways. “New divisions are coming to the fore between the East and the West as also between the Global North and the Global South.”
He touched upon how India’s resolve, resilience and diverse capacities were put to a test during the pandemic. “Not only did we ride the storm rather well, but the outreach through Vaccine Maitri also won universal acclaim. An agile, resilient, consumer-driven economy has enabled us to brave the economic downturn of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.”
The country’s pursuits under the International Solar Alliance, Global Biofuel Alliance, and Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure reflect India’s intent to find solutions to global problems, he said. “Today, India 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. The successful conduct of the G20 summit demonstrated India’s ability to bridge divides and achieve consensus on some very knotty issues,” Pande added.
India understands its role in the multilateral engagement architecture, and it is keen to enhance the scope and scale of joint 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 at new locations across the world. Our national resolve to achieve self-reliance in defence hardware is also being enabled by a resurgent Indian defence industry.”