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DEFENCE STRATEGY MUST LOOK BEYOND PRESENT THREAT : PANT

Press Information Bureau 13 October 1999

    India's economic policy should further its defence and foreign policy interests and vice-versa while the country's defence strategy must look beyond present threats and capabilities, Planning Commission, Deputy Chairman, Shri K.C. Pant said here today.

    "A holistic approach to national security demands that the nation strengthen both its economy and its defences and that defence policy, foreign policy, trade policy and internal security policy - all buttress each other," Pant said. "India's economic policy has to further its defence and foreign policy interests and vice-versa," he said the various strands of policy should reinforce each other to maximise the effectiveness of national policies.

    He was delivering the Sardar Patel Memorial Lecture on "Dimensions of India's security concerns" at the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration in Mussorie.

    The biggest lesson of Kargil, he said, is that a unilateral desire for peace is not enough and durable peace can come only if India is strong enough to deter aggression and maintain internal security with requisite capabilities.

    "Our defence strategy must look beyond present threats and capabilities. In a period of declining defence outlays, India has to wisely spend its resources to shore up its defences. It should be ensured that lack of resources do not affect current military preparedness, research and development and self-reliance in key areas, which has become all the more essential in view of technology denial policies of developed count5ries," Pant said.

    The Planning Commission Deputy Chairman said India policy and strategy have to be dynamic and able to adapt to and gain from the emerging world order by exercising the right choices in every situation.

    "A country of India's size, with about one-sixth of the world's population, cannot be a global player if it lacks of adequate defences against external aggression, blackmail or interference," Pant said.

    Pointing out that some major powers were trying to confine India in a narrow sub-continental power equation with Pakistan, he said because of its size and location, India's security concerns and interests extend to regions far beyond its immediate neighbourhood.

    Another core issue of national security, Pant said, is how India protects and promotes its economic and commercial interests under World Trade organisation (WTO).

    "All WTO member countries will soon have to re-adjust their laws relating to trade matters to conform to WTO rules. In the short run, such readjustments could cause economic dislocation and create socio-political unrest,: he said.

    Food security and energy security were other critical dimensions of national security, Pant said.

    "The impact of substantial increase on oil prices and, more importantly, on political and economic alignments or frictions, need to be monitored closely and continuously by India with a view to ensure energy security for the country at an affordable prices," he said.