New Delhi: Achieving self-reliance in defence and reducing import dependency for military hardware is important for India to maintain its strategic autonomy and shoulder new responsibilities commensurate with its emerging stature, Chief of Defence Staff General Anil Chauhan said on Saturday.
In an address at a think-tank, Gen Chauhan noted that India’s economic growth coupled with its soft power, technological advancements and ability to stand up to coercion and intimidation to defend its territory are contributing to the rise of its comprehensive national power.
His reference to India’s ability to stand up to coercion and intimidation came in the backdrop of a three-year border row with China in eastern Ladakh.
“Our economic growth coupled with our soft power, technological advancements, demographic dividend, democratic and inclusive governance, acceptability at international and regional forums, ability to stand up to coercion and intimidation to defend our territory and consolidation of our diplomatic, information, military and economic instruments of national power are contributing to the rise of India’s comprehensive national power,” Gen Chauhan said.
The Chief of Defence Staff was speaking at the ‘Chanakya Dialogue’.
Gen Chauhan also highlighted the importance of self-reliance in defence, saying that reducing import dependency of the armed forces is important for India to maintain its strategic autonomy and shoulder new responsibilities commensurate with its size and economy.
“Our armed forces depended heavily on foreign OEMs (original equipment makers) for military hardware. I believe such a situation is not sustainable in the emerging geo-political environment,” he said.
Elaborating on the global geopolitical turmoil, Gen Chauhan said countries like Japan, the UK, Russia, China, Germany, Poland, South Korea and many others are significantly increasing their defence budgets and the situation could lead to a huge disruption in the global supply chains of military hardware.
He said there is an opportunity for Indian defence manufacturers to take advantage of the situation.
“I can visualise a huge demand for military equipment and hardware not only in Asia but also Europe. In such a situation, the indigenous defence ecosystem is the safest bet for us as it guarantees assured supplies,” he said.
There is a big opportunity for Indian companies to become part of the global defence supply chain, he added.
The Chief of Defence Staff said the remit of ‘Atma Nirbharta’ in defence should be the only mantra to deal with conventional and unconventional challenges facing India and that the approach of self-reliance is beyond “production, procurement and supplies” of military hardware.
It is about an Indian thought process, Indian ideas, Indian concepts and Indian strategy to meet challenges specific to India.
Gen Chauhan also spoke extensively on the global security environment.
“The global security environment currently is in a state of flux and the new order is yet to crystallise. New alignments, new alliances, new linkages, new partnerships are on the anvil which give rise to a sense of uncertainty among nations, among global and regional institutions, and even economic unions and alliances,” he said.
“Post World War II, the Trans-Atlantic Anglo-Saxon lands could not unite around Europe, the way actually the Russian invasion of Ukraine has done. On the other hand, Russia and China are getting closer with Iran, actually joining this particular bandwagon,” he said.