Security scenario around India matter of concern: Antony (Lead)

May 25th, 2009 - 6:42 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, May 25 (IANS) Advocating “eternal vigilance”, A.K. Antony Monday expressed concern over the security scenario around India and spelt out priority areas in his second term as defence minister — infrastructure development in northeast and border areas, modernisation of the armed forces and welfare of the troops.
“The security scenario around India is getting more and more challenging. Developments around us are a cause of concern to us. So eternal vigilance is must for us,” Antony said, referring to the instability and violence in neighbouring Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

“Further strengthening of the security apparatus around us is the priority of my ministry,” Antony said after taking over assuming office.

“To meet these challenges India needs to push modernisation of armed forces. Modernisation does not mean only procuring of equipments. Along with that, training of the armed forces is also important,” he added, underscoring the need for strengthening land-border security, air defence and coastal security.

Referring to the Mumbai terror attack, when terrorists used the sea route to access the city, the minister stressed the need for paying more attention to coastal security.

He said his ministry had taken note of the rapid development of infrastructure by China on its side of the border.

“Infrastructure development in northeast and other border areas, modern equipments in coastal area is more important and will require fast track procurement.”

“India wants to have friendly relations with all its neighbours. We have to not only maintain but improve relations with China. At the same time, we have to be eternally prepared for any challenges to our security,” Antony added.

With Left parties out of the picture, Antony is expected to give impetus to defence ties with the US and Israel.

“We are developing defence ties with all the important countries. It is not one or two countries centric. We have good defence ties with the US, UK, Russia, France, Germany, Israel, Italy and Ukraine. We have defence cooperation with 45 countries, including China,” the minister added.

Antony, 68, also discussed the welfare of troops.

“Equipment and training alone will not keep the morale of the armed forces high. The welfare of the armed forces who are deployed in the far-flung difficult areas like Siachen, Nathu-La and in deep sea in submarines and dense forest have to be protected.

“I will take personal interest to improve their service conditions, including their accommodation, ration, food and clothing,” he added.

Antony was received by Defence Secretary Vijay Singh and senior officials when he arrived at the ministry’s headquarters in South Block. Later, the three service chiefs also called on him.

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