File photo: Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh Photograph:( PTI )
The defence minister, addressing an online seminar, also said the government was willing to challenge the status quo if it becomes a tool for the exploitation of helpless citizens and the provisions of governance
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday said a three-pronged approach is being adopted to address internal security challenges that includes development of areas hit by terrorism and a desire to go "more than half way" to negotiate with dissatisfied groups to secure political settlements of issues.
The defence minister, addressing an online seminar, also said the government was willing to challenge the status quo if it becomes a tool for the exploitation of helpless citizens and the provisions of governance.
Though the defence minister did not refer to any specific situation or issue, his comments come in the backdrop of the government's renewed push for socio-economic development in Jammu and Kashmir as well as in the militancy-infested states of the northeastern region.
"We have undertaken a three-pronged approach towards internal security challenges as well. This includes the development of areas affected by terrorism along with the provision of justice to the aggrieved," he said.
"It also includes the ability and desire to go more than half way to negotiate settlements with dissatisfied groups to enable a political settlement. And finally, we are also willing to challenge status quo, if the status quo becomes a tool for the exploitation of helpless citizens and the provisions of governance," Singh said.
In his address at the seminar at the National Defence College, the defence minister also noted that the government was cognisant of the fact that India's stability and security are closely associated with the ability to grow economically at a desirable rate.
"This progression can only be sustained through our ability to adapt, innovate and strengthen the fundamentals that contribute to this process. On the larger issue of economic security, the government has focused on all aspects of development in sectors of land, labour, capital and industry," he added.
Talking about the country's overall approach in dealing with multiple security challenges, he said the government has developed a blueprint to confront them over the next decade.
"The first is the ability to secure India's territorial integrity and sovereignty from external threats and internal challenges. Second, the ability to create secure and stable conditions that can facilitate India's economic growth," he said.
"Third, we remain steadfast in the desire to protect our interests beyond the borders in areas where our people reside and our security interests converge. And finally, we also believe that in a globalised and interconnected world, a country's security interests are interlinked by shared and secure commons," he added.
The defence minister said each of these principles is defining the way in which India is approaching various elements of its security policy.
"Based on these principles, we have brought about drastic changes in our security policy which are oriented towards strong, legally and morally tenable actions," he said.
"We have proved that countries that employ terrorism as an instrument of national policy can also be deterred through options that were considered unimplementable in the past," the defence minister said, in a clear reference to Pakistan.
Singh also listed various reform measures undertaken by the government to stimulate the economy including in areas of infrastructure, health, education, sanitation, drinking water, energy and defence.
"As India grows, there is a simultaneous movement of people beyond our shores and a growth of our interests worldwide. This entails that we should be able to safeguard Indian citizens who now work across the globe," he said.
"In the past, we have displayed the ability to not only evacuate Indian citizens but also people of different nationalities from war torn and calamitous areas. In fact, we have also successfully provided support and relief as the first responders in our neighbourhood as well," the defence minister said.