Statements, Speeches, Interviews

Field Marshal KM Cariappa Memorial Lecture 2008 delivered by Shri Pranab Mukherjee, External Affairs Minister On "Emerging India - Economic and Security Perspective"

- September 17, 2008 -

My distinguished colleague in Council of Ministers, Finance Minister Mr. P. Chidambaram, Guest Speaker; General Deepak Kapoor, COAS; Lt. Gen. Rajender Singh, Director General, Infantry; Members of the Diplomatic Corps; Ladies and Gentlemen, before I make my short observations I would like to compliment my young colleague Shri P. Chidambaram for a brilliant exposition and particularly for thinking in a bit non-conventional way. He has raised a number of questions and these need to be answered. He has very strongly and adequately advocated for moving from gradualism to transformation. Even for timing he has indicated time has come. In regard to time Shri Aurobindo once explained and particularly quoted German Philospher Shaufin Hoffer that the right moment perhaps can be distinguished when it has just passed. I will not say the correct time is right now. I would like to confirm my observation to his brilliant exposition particularly and by raising lot of thoughts and ideas which this distinguished gathering will have to bear and mind and will have to ponder over it.

It is indeed an honour to be with this distinguished gathering on the occasion of the 13th Field Marshal KM Cariappa Memorial Lecture. It is only befitting that the Indian Army is perpetuating the memory of a great soldier of India through these annual lectures on issues of national importance. I must compliment the organizers for selecting a relevant topic - "Emerging India - Economic and Security Perspective" - for today's lecture. Recent developments, particularly the terrorist acts in Delhi last Saturday and in other parts of India recently, serve to emphasize both the critical importance of the subject of this years lecture as also the umbilical link between economic progress and the security environment.

India stands at the threshold of exponential economic growth which will help us keep our 'tryst with destiny', as envisioned by our first Prime Minister, Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru. Though economic growth is undoubtedly the engine for development, many other momentous changes are also taking place in the country. It is a tribute to successive Indian governments that we were able to adjust to the momentous economic and strategic changes ushered in during the 1990s.

It is with a sense of satisfaction and pride that we see the fruits of our decisions to liberalize our economy and integrate globally. As the balance of economic power shifts to Asia, India is referred to as one of the engines of global growth. Economic forecasts and surveys routinely describe India as a lead economic player in the years to come. For the last 3 years, economic growth has clocked 9% as India is hailed as the fastest-growing free-market democracy of the world. Here I would like to emphasize word democracy as this is being difference with Chinese model.

As you are aware, globalization has many benefits, but it also throws up challenges. Volatility in financial, capital and currency markets, as well as energy and commodity prices can have an unsettling effect not only on corporates but also national economies. Inflation, which has become a global phenomenon, can also wipe out hard-earned economic gains.

India's economic stature has well deservedly risen manifold. Steady industrial growth, rising exports and sound foreign exchange reserves are all signs of growing economic strength and resilience. Robust investments and sizeable capital inflows are other indicators of strong economic fundamentals. World over, there is a growing realization that India's business environment is changing. We are being watched with great interest and both developed and developing countries have shown considerable eagerness to forge economic partnerships with us.

At the same time, it is even more important that we ensure domestically that the gains of our new growth are spread across all sections of society to make them irreversible and sustainable. The rising tide of economic growth does not lift all boats equally. For this, our rapid economic growth is not an option but an imperative. India's economy needs to grow at a sustained rate of above 8% over the next decades to make a significant dent on our poverty and meet our human development needs. India also has to address its infrastructure deficiencies to secure our economic achievements.

Our focus is now on faster development of infrastructure, rural development, increase in agricultural productivity, further development of the education and health sectors and small and medium enterprises. We have ably demonstrated to the world, how India - a developing nation of more than a billion people - can give its people a better quality of life within the framework of a secular democracy. It is a tribute to the greatness of the people of India that amidst all trials and tribulations, we have made rapid progress as a nation. As members of the largest thriving democracy in the world, it is our duty to meet the challenges of security while achieving prosperity of the nation.

We have always maintained that an economically resurgent India is a growth opportunity for others, including in our neighbourhood. By resurrecting the ancient trade template of South Asia, we can once again bring natural trade partners who can benefit immensely from negligible distances and low transport costs into a mutually beneficial economic framework. In the international domain of trade and economics, India seeks an open, fair, equitable, inclusive and rule-based economic order. India is ready and confident of assuming new roles and responsibilities that the new economic order will create.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the topic of today's lecture underscores the fact that economic prosperity and security are interlinked and go hand in hand. Our national aim is to ensure a conducive internal and external environment for unhindered economic progress and socio-political development so as to enable India to assume its rightful role as a major power in the comity of nations. Security is thus the sine qua non for all economic activity and prosperity.

A number of factors are shaping the global and regional security environment. The dynamics of globalization has resulted in a blurring of the traditional boundaries between international and national security. The global war on terrorism, proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, rising crime, considerations of food and energy security are defining new threat perceptions.

In this emerging global scenario, security is an evolving concept. It has undergone a profound change, and still continues to do so. No longer can security be viewed in terms of traditional threats to sovereignty, territories and borders. It is increasingly being defined in terms of a wider, concept which encompasses both the traditional military dimension but has necessarily to include vital aspects of human and economic security, where aspects like human and economic security find an important place.

Changes in our perceptions of threats and conflicts first came to the fore in the post-Cold War era. The future security environment will be determined not only by the traditional military paradigm, but also by a complex interaction between geo-strategic elements, technological advancements, economic development, environmental trends and demographic factors.

How does all this impact on India? As India grows economically, the need for a conducive and supportive environment, to sustain this growth, becomes an absolute necessity. All of you would agree that only an environment of peace and prosperity can guarantee the economic development that our country would like to achieve on its path.

Let me highlight a few implications of the changing dimensions of India's security calculus. The traditional threats, the defence of our airspace and protection of our maritime energy supply routes are important components of our traditional security calculus. But there are additional and equally compelling other threats that we have to deal with on a daily basis.

We believe that terrorism is the greatest security threat that haunts the world today. We have been facing this scourge since almost three decades. Terrorists are increasingly and deliberately targeting symbols of our national pride and economic dynamism to disrupt normal life. The dastardly perpetration of violence against innocent citizens on Saturday in the heart of our capital deserves to be condemned in the strongest language. More than twenty innocent lives were lost and many times that number injured. The nation has rallied in support. The resistance and calm shown by the people of Delhi and earlier by other cities is a message to the perpetrators of the violence that their desires will not succeed. A zero tolerance policy which we will follow is the only logical response to these cowardly acts. The calibrated targeting of commercial centres is calculated to undermine and disrupt our economic security. They should realize that their attempts will be met with resolute counter measures by a determined government and people of India. We propose to fully utilize all the provisions of law to contain, curb and finally eliminate this scourge.

The linkages and relationships among terrorist groups, their support structures and funding mechanisms today often transcend national borders. Global cooperation to break the links between terrorist groups and their financing channels has therefore become most critical. We have consistently underlined the need for a unified international response to terrorism.

Clandestine nuclear proliferation continues to be another major cause of concern in recent years. Recent reports have underlined the risk of nuclear proliferation and passing of Weapons of Mass Destruction into the hands of terrorists. It also underscores the fact that the security challenges of terrorism and nuclear proliferation are inter-linked and the international community must take immediate steps to cut supply links of WMDs to terrorists.

Further, we have been targeted by various forms of fourth generation warfare, of which the proxy war and cross-border terrorism have been the primary manifestations. Cyber attacks on our critical networks, as also the possibility of financial dislocation through manipulations of our stock markets or circulation of counterfeit currency, are other potent threats which India needs to guard against.

India's efforts at achieving high economic growth, as part of its national aspirations, can, as I have observed earlier, be hampered as easily by non-military security threats, as by the traditional ones. Today, India stands ready to take off and occupy its rightful place both as a regional and global player. You are all aware of India's success in enlisting the support of member countries of the IAEA and NSG to grant an India-specific waiver to enable resumption of civilian nuclear commerce with the international community. The support for India clearly indicates our standing in the world. As we engage more globally, it will bring a new set of security challenges and responsibilities. Thus, India will need to address both the traditional, as well as the emerging non-traditional security challenges effectively, if it is to achieve its aspirations of a rightful place in the world order of the future.

In conclusion, let me take this opportunity to express our gratitude to the brave personnel of our Armed Forces whose eternal vigil and protection of our borders, seas and skies under challenging circumstances have ushered in a climate of peace enabling us to plan the path of future progress and development of the nation.

Ladies and gentlemen, it was a great privilege for me to be with you. Thank you very much.