New Delhi: The Indian Army displayed “unmatched bravery” and valour during the Galwan valley clashes and the recent face-off in the Tawang sector of Arunachal Pradesh and any amount of praise for them is not enough, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Saturday.
In an address at the industry chamber FICCI, Singh also said that India aspires to become a superpower to ensure global prosperity and it has no intention to capture even one inch of the land of any country but will respond if anyone tries to cast an evil eye over it, in comments seen as a thinly veiled message to China.
The defence minister also made an indirect dig at Rahul Gandhi over his comments on the border row with China, a day after the Congress leader accused the government of downplaying the threat posed by the Chinese military along the Line of Actual Control.
“Any amount of praise is not enough for the armed forces the way they displayed unmatched bravery and valour, be it in Galwan or Tawang,” Singh said.
“We have never questioned the intention of any leader in the opposition, we have only debated on the basis of policies. Politics should be based on truth. Politics cannot be done on the basis of falsehood for a long time,” he said without naming anyone.
“The process of taking the society towards the right path is called ‘rajniti’ (politics). I do not understand the reason behind doubting anyone’s intention always,” Singh said.
Citing stiff opposition faced by the government in rolling out the Goods and Services Tax (GST), Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme and agricultural reforms, he said the trend of opposing any decision and scheme for the sake of opposition should stop as it is not a good sign of a healthy democracy.
The Indian and Chinese troops were engaged in a fresh clash in Yangtse area of Arunachal Pradesh’s Tawang sector on December 9, in first such major flare-up after the deadly hand-to-hand combat in the Galwan Valley in June 2020 that marked the most serious military conflict between the two sides in decades.
“When I am saying we aspire to become a superpower, it should never be construed that we want to dominate over countries in the world. We do not have any intention to even capture one inch of the land of any country,” he said.
“If we want to become a superpower, then we want to become a superpower for global good and prosperity. The world is our family,” he added.
The defence minister also referred to former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi’s famous remark in 1985 that only 15 paise of every rupee meant for the welfare of the downtrodden reaches them and said now, with some systemic changes, the entire rupee goes to the people.
“I am not doubting his (Rajiv Gandhi’s) intention. He genuinely expressed his concerns. I can now say that because of some changes in the system, now if 100 paise is sent from above, that entire 100 paise reaches the poor or people of the country,” the defence minister said.
Referring to the Indian economy and its growth in the last eight-and-half years, Singh said the country has entered the category of ‘fabulous five’ from ‘fragile five’, coined by investment firm Morgan Stanley.
“India is now among the top five economies of the world. It took us 31 years from 1991 to become a USD three trillion economy. I am confident that the next three trillion dollars are going to be added in the next seven years,” he said.
Singh listed out a number of reforms undertaken by his ministry to strengthen the Indian defence sector, including simplifying FDI norms and increasing the limit to 74 per cent under the automatic route and 100 per cent under the government route.
He added that 68 per cent of the capital procurement budget has been earmarked for the domestic industry in 2022-23 to promote the participation of the private sector.
He exhorted the captains of domestic industry and foreign original equipment makers to invest in the defence sector and become integrated in the global supply chain.
He pointed out that the reforms have delivered desired results and defence exports have registered a seven-fold increase in the last six years.
Singh said all efforts are being made to increase defence production from USD 12 billion to USD 22 billion by 2025.
“It is a golden period for the defence sector as it has demonstrated its capabilities by manufacturing fighter aircraft, aircraft carriers, main battle tanks and attack helicopters,” he said.
“Indian defence industry is growing by leaps and bounds and is making its global presence felt. It is attracting not only big corporates but also start-ups and MSMEs. Many start-ups have emerged in recent years,” Singh noted.
The defence minister also said that India’s economy was among the six-seven large economies during the time of Independence and when China witnessed a new system following the 1949 revolution, its GDP was less than that of India.
Singh said though India and China kept marching together till 1980, the neighbouring country went ahead riding on economic reforms.
“In the year 1991, economic reforms started in our country too. But China has made such a long jump in a short time that, except the US, it has left behind all other countries of the world in the pace of development,” he said.
“India returned to the list of top 10 economies in the 21st century. But the kind of development that should have happened in India was not happening,” the defence minister said, adding a new era of development began in 2014 when Narendra Modi became the prime minister.
Singh said when Modi took charge of the government, the Indian economy used to be the ninth largest economy globally and the size of the Indian economy was about two trillion dollars.
“Today India’s economy has become the fifth largest economy with a size of three and a half trillion dollars,” he said.
In his address, Singh also gave a detailed account of the achievements of the Modi government in areas of infrastructure, health, education, banking, trade and investment, foreign direct investment and overall economic reforms.
“Remember the time of 2013, when investment firm Morgan Stanley coined the term ‘Fragile Five’ which is the five countries of the world whose economy was faltering badly. The countries in this ‘Fragile Five’ were Turkey, Brazil, South Africa, Indonesia and India,” he said.
“Today India has moved out of the category of ‘Fragile Five’ and joined the ‘Fabulous Five’ economies of the world,” he said.
Singh said India’s stature has increased significantly on the world stage under Prime Minister Modi’s leadership.
Now India is working on setting agenda on the world stage, he said.
At the same time, the defence minister talked about some problems facing the nation including inflation.
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He said inflation has gone up due to disruptions in the global supply chain and other logistical bottlenecks resulted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the Ukraine conflict.
“The problem of inflation is before us as a major issue. In fact, the world had not fully recovered from the supply chain disruptions and logistical bottlenecks caused by COVID-19, when the Ukraine conflict came before us,” he said.
“Whatever may be the reason, if the problem is in front of us, then we have to find a solution for it. Not only India, but the economy of the whole world is passing through a very difficult phase, but if you see, inflation is less in India as compared to other major countries,” he said.
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