The resolute and firm manner in which the Indian troops stood up to the Chinese forces during the eastern Ladakh border standoff has made the world take notice of the “political and military resolve of a rising India”, Army Chief Gen Manoj Pande said on Friday.
In his address during an event held here, he also said “Chinese belligerence is evident in its continuing propensity to project power outside its region”, in turn presenting a “threat to the rules-based international order”.
Gen Pande in his speech mentioned the Indo-Pacific Army Chiefs Conclave, recently hosted by the Indian Army which witnessed the participation of army chiefs or delegation leaders from 30 Indo-Pacific littoral countries.
The next significant pointer is the “rise of China”. Position of political, economic, technological and military power has accorded it a “new position in the world order, which it intends to lead,” he said.
“With its economic heft, China has been looking at geopolitical and trade agreements as zero-sum games. Concurrently, Chinese belligerence is evident in its continuing propensity to project power outside its region, in turn presenting a threat to the rules-based international order.
“The resolute and firm manner in which we stood up to our northern adversary during the events of April-May 2020 has made the world take notice of our political and military resolve of a rising India. Many nations today also appear ready to take our northern adversary on various issues, head-on, especially post the pandemic, as realisation of its predatory economic pursuits sinks in,” he said.
The eastern Ladakh border standoff between the Indian and Chinese militaries erupted on May 5, 2020, following a violent clash in the Pangong Lake areas.
India today reflects a confident optimism about the future. There is an improved consumer affluence, better standards of living, higher literacy quotient and “rising aspirations of our people”, the Army chief said.
“We are also witnessing, our nation’s growing stature in the international environment, and a new perspective of how the world community views India,” he added.
As a nation’s influence expands, new challenges are bound to emerge, Gen Pande said.
Some will question our rise, some will contest it, while some will attempt to compete. Grey-zone pursuits by “our adversaries” continue even as we speak. Also, the country is dealing with internal security situations, which have a unique set of challenges, he said.
But, the most important pointer for us is that our legacy challenges of unsettled borders continue and stand amplified due to the collusivity between “our western and our northern neighbours,” he said.
“Speaking of conflicts, the character of war has undergone a profound change, disruptive technologies today have blunted the conventional force ratio superiorities. Kinetic weapons such as the guns and tanks too have witnessed, immense progression towards increased precision and destructive potential,” the General said.
Space, sea, electromagnetic as well cognitive domains of information warfare have assumed greater significance and “critically impacted the outcomes in today’s battlefield,” he said.
These developments are making the battle space more complex and contested, Gen Pande said.
“The lessons from recent conflicts have also shown that the security of a nation can neither be outsourced nor be dependent on the largesse of others. As a nation, we need to ensure our national interests remain secure as we pursue our national vision. The Indian Army remains fully aligned and integrated with the national vision and objectives,” he said.
The foremost mandate that emerges is that “we need to ensure that the nation’s security is not impacted in any way”, so that the nation’s progress continues unabated. With that as the bearing, the implication that accrues for the Indian Army is that “we need to transition into a modern, agile, adaptive and technology-enabled future-ready force,” he added.
And, to give effect to these imperatives, “we have undertaken initiatives for a holistic transformation,” the Army chief said.