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India ‘bright spot’ amid despondency and churn in geopolitical landscape: Army Chief Gen Manoj Pande

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NEW DELHI, Nov 3: 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.

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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’,” he said.

Delving into current geo-political upheavals, he emphasised on the need to take note of growing salience of national security in international affairs and the “renewed currency” of hard power.

“Our outlook emphasizes respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations, equality of all, peaceful resolution of disputes, avoidance of use of force and adherence to international laws, rules and regulations.”

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The Chief of Army Staff said India’s commitment towards positively engaging all stakeholders has been “unwavering and enduring” over the years.

“In the military domain, we understand our role in the multilateral engagement architecture. We are keen to enhance the scope and scale of our joint exercises, interoperability, sub-regional perspectives and sharing of best practices, with our 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.”

“The challenges we face are significant but so are the opportunities and collective wisdom and strength,” the Army Chief added.

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Gen Pande highlighted the “unprecedented churn in global landscape” that has set into motion a chain of events as well as some new trend lines.

“Amongst others, we need to take particular note of the growing salience of national security in international affairs and the renewed currency of hard power,” he observed.

“The pandemic, which began as the health crisis and ended up as a national security event, closed on the heels of the cataclysm in Ukraine,” he said.

“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,” he said.

The Army Chief said issues like radicalisation, terrorism, piracy, illegal migration, refugees and climate change, add to the bouquet of global concerns.

Strategic affairs expert, Lisa Curtis said that Indo-Pacific is turning out to be a region of growing competition. Towards this Quad, a non-military grouping is likely to emerge as a successful multilateral organisation.

She acknowledged that China’s influence in the region will continue to grow.

In his address, Gen Pande said India has a credible voice at the world stage, “one that is distinct rooted in Indian ethos and effective in articulating the concerns of the Global South”.

“India shares common interests and values such as democracy, human rights and rule of law with our partners and like-minded countries. This alignment of shared values creates a solid foundation for cooperative security efforts,” he said.

“The spin-offs of these collaborative efforts are not restricted to security but transcend into the economic realm, innovation and technology, capacity building, multilateral problem-solving and diplomacy as well,” he said.

“Our initiatives are bedrock in the Indian way.”

The Chief of Army Staff said the technology is driving geo-politics like never before transforming not only strategic competition but also war fighting.

“In fact technology is emerging as a new strategic arena of geo-political competition. Even as grey zone contestations in non-traditional domains seem to be expanding, so is the probability and arch of all out conflicts,” he said.

The Chief of Army Staff noted that not only is the “Cold-War” peace dividend “dwindling, the world seems to be fracturing in myriad ways.”

He said “new divisions” are coming to the fore between the East and the West as also between the global North and the Global South.

“An agile, resilient and consumer-driven economy has enabled us to brave the economic downturns of the Russia- Ukraine conflict,” he said.

The ‘Chanakya Defence Dialogue’ has been organised by the Indian Army in partnership with Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS).

The Dialogue aims to carry out a comprehensive analysis of security challenges in South Asia and the Indo-Pacific with a 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. (PTI)

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