India striving to prevent Mumbai-style terror strike: Antony (Roundup)

February 11th, 2009 - 8:47 pm ICT by IANS  

Bangalore, Feb 11 (IANS) India is making concerted efforts to prevent another Mumbai-style terror attack by adequately equipping its security forces and beefing up the intelligence network, Defence Minister A.K. Antony said Wednesday. He hoped the budgetary allocation for defence would be hiked in the fiscal 2009-10.
“After the Mumbai attack Nov 26, we are making all-out efforts to prevent similar kind of incidents by making our armed forces, security forces and intelligence agencies working together as a team, and equipping them with the latest arms and ammunition,” Antony told reporters after inaugurating the Aero India 2009 international air show at Yelahanka air base near here.

In a veiled reference to the latest Al Qaeda terror threat against India, Antony said there would not be any change in the security scenario in the Indian sub-continent.

“Considering the present day situation around India, I don’t think there will be a remarkable movement in the security scenario around us. Hence, we have to be prepared for any eventuality by strengthening our armed forces, security forces and intelligence agencies more than ever before,” Antony asserted.

Asked if India was rethinking on its defence requirements and preparedness following the Mumbai terror attack, the defence minister said the government has decided to modernise and strengthen its armed forces in the light of series of terror attacks across the country even prior to 26/11 and the deteriorating security scenario in the neighbourhood over a period.

“Anybody seriously looking out at the prevailing security scenario in South Asia, especially in the neighbourhood, India has no alternative, much less choice to beef up its security to face any external or internal threat - be it from terrorists, militants or Maosits - to ensure the safety, security of its people and the country’s economic growth,” Antony noted.

In this context, he hoped that the defence budget for the fiscal 2009-10 beginning April 1 would rise despite the recession the Indian economy was going through.

“The percentage of defence expenditure in terms of the GDP has been almost constant. For the last two years, it (the defence budget) has been increasing. I hope this year also it will increase,” Antony said.

The defence outlay for the fiscal 2008-09 was 1.97 percent of the GDP. Antony has often said this should be at 2-3 percent of the GDP.

Reiterating that modernisation and upgradation of armed forces was a continuing process, Antony said the government has accorded top priority after the Mumbai attack to equip the services and security agencies with the best of machinery and material, including additional reinforcements.

“After 26/11, we are more vigilant. Security and armed forces are in a state of preparedness not only to prevent repeat of such a dastardly attack, but also counter any such (terror) elements anywhere, anytime,” Antony affirmed.

Speaking about three big-ticket indigenous projects - a nuclear-powered submarine, the Tejas light combat aircraft (LCA) and the Arjun main battle tank (MBT) - he said these were on the right track.

“Things (the project) are in the final stage,” he said of the nuclear submarine project.

“Some years back, there were some bottlenecks in terms of supply of parts. It is over now,” the defence minister asserted.

“We will announce it (the vessel’s launch) whenever it is ready,” Antony added.

As for the Tejas, it turned out to be the star attraction at the inauguration of Aero India, performing a breathtaking series of aerial manoeuvres.

While Tejas has flown at previous editions of the air show, this was the first time it displayed its prowess in aerobatics.

Antony hailed the success of the Tejas, saying: “I am excited to see the LCA flying in the Indian skies. This is the most exciting day as far as I am concerned.”

“For the last 10 years people have been making noise about the project. But LCA and MBT (main battle tank Arjun) have become reality,” he said.

The two projects have been marked by considerable delays, with the Arjun MBT dragging on for the last 36 years.

“I am delighted that we have seen light at the end of the tunnel. The products will be inducted in the services soon,” Antony added.

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