Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India was in a “difficult neighbourhood”, but the country’s responsibility on the security scene was no longer limited to its borders and coastline.
The prime minister was onboard warship INS Vikramaditya, addressing the three service chiefs, and top commanders of the armed forces at the Combined Commanders’ Conference.
“In a world of rapid changes, India faces familiar threats and new ones. Our challenges cover land, sea and air at the same time. It includes the full range, from terrorism to conventional threat to a nuclear environment,” Modi said.
“Our responsibilities are no longer confined to our borders and coastlines. They extend to our interests and citizens, spread across a world of widespread and unpredictable risks,” he said.
The prime minister also outlined how India was establishing diplomatic relations across the globe, and trying to have friendly relations in neighbourhood, which he described as “difficult”.
“As the world seeks to deal with the rising threat of terrorism and radicalism, countries across all regions, including in the Islamic world, have reached out to seek cooperation with India.
“Above all, it is our neighbourhood that is most critical for our future and for our place in the world. But ours is a difficult neighbourhood with the full spectrum of security challenges,” he said.
Modi also expressed concern over the instability in West Asia.
The prime minister said “our region” was marked by uncertain political transitions, weak institutions and internal conflicts and “major powers” have increased their engagement in India’s land and maritime neighbourhood.
On Pakistan, Modi highlighted the beginning of new dialogue process, and added: “But, we will never drop our guard on security and we will continue to judge progress on their commitments on terrorism.”
“We are engaging Pakistan to try and turn the course of history, bring an end to terrorism, build peaceful relations, advance cooperation and promote stability and prosperity in our region,” he said.
Modi also mentioned China and said India was pursuing “closer relations” to harness the full potential of economic partnership.
Stating that India’s transformation was closely linked with international partnership, Modi mentioned both Russia and the US as important partners.
“Russia has always been a source of strength for us. It remains important for our future, too. With the United States, we have advanced our partnership in a comprehensive manner, including in defence. Our strategic partnerships in Europe have deepened,” he said.
Modi also talked about the changing nature of wars, and the emergence of new “theatres” like cyberspace.
The prime minister said as the world gets transformed, the nature of conflicts and the objectives of war will also change.
“We know that old rivalries can play out in new theatres such as space and cyber… So, we in India must be ready for the present and prepare for the future.”
He said India was confident that its defence forces were “prepared to deter and defeat any misadventure”.
This was the first time the Combined Commanders Conference was held onboard an aircraft carrier.
Modi inspected a Tri-services Guard of Honour in the morning at INS Garuda in Kochi, before arriving onboard INS Vikramaditya, where he was received by the three service chiefs.
“This aircraft carrier is the instrument of our maritime power and a symbol of our maritime responsibility,” the prime minister said about the ship.