Global scenario giving mixed picture: Minister

June 2nd, 2008 - 5:14 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 2 (IANS) The global scenario today provides “a very mixed picture” to India’s defence policy makers, Minister of State for Defence M.M. Pallam Raju has said. And India had to engage with the rest of the world more and more as its economy became more globalised, he said while addressing the Shangri La Dialogue regional security forum in Singapore over the weekend.

The text of the address was made available here Monday.

Talking about the mixed global scenario, Raju said: “On the positive side, the post Cold War world marked a departure from structural rigidities that had significantly constrained India’s freedom of choice earlier.

“As a result, there is considerable scope for new partnerships and initiatives.

“At the negative end, we are staring at the prospect of state collapse and rise of non-state actors, including in our proximate region.

“Somewhere in between, there is the equally complicated challenge of establishing appropriate equations among nations at a time when their capabilities are changing,” Raju stated.

India was well placed in this regard, partly because it enjoyed cordial ties with the other major players, and also as the culture of non-alignment has given it “considerable experience” in “global political hedging”, the minister said.

The growing integration of India with the world economy “also imposes its own responsibilities” on the country’s defence forces, Raju said.

With India’s exposure to the external world tripling in the last 15 years and trade interests expanding steadily, “we have developed a legitimate interest in securing our supplies of external natural resources”, the minister pointed out.

Towards this, “we find that there is a new interest on the part of many countries in partnering India on security cooperation.

“Past historical connectivity and shared traditions have been helpful in forging new defence bonds, particularly in Southeast Asia and West Asia.

“The long term challenge for India, as indeed for every other major nation, is its ability and willingness to contribute to public good.

“We certainly have the latter, with a long and distinguished record in UN peacekeeping operations to show,” Raju stated.

The ability would rise with time and with India’s economic growth but in the meantime, the country would “remain focussed on responding to challenges within our capacity, such as ensuring safety of sea lanes, enhancing the security capacities of our partners, and responding to natural disaster situations,” the minister added.

He also noted that in Asia, unlike in Europe, an “acceptable security architecture is still far from being evolved” and added: “We not only need an open architecture but an open mind in undertaking joint activities as well.

“It is equally important that our responses to new challenges are not determined by old theologies. Nor indeed can we afford to overlook, as we have done in the past, critical threats such as WMD proliferation for tactical political considerations.

“Uncertain times require greater creativity and more jointness among nations. It would certainly help if decisions of global import were seen to have greater legitimacy, taken by institutions with a more representative character.

“Where India is concerned, our efforts in defence policy making will give particular priority to expanding the range of our defence contacts, enhancing confidence and comfort levels, building habits of cooperation and encouraging greater interdependence,” Raju contended.

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