‘Despite 1962 setback against China …’: Jaishankar targets past governments for ‘neglecting’ border infrastrucutre | India News

NEW DELHI: External affairs minister S Jaishankar on Saturday said that India is bolstering its border infrastrucutre significantly to counter China, with the construction of new roads, bridges and tunnels along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
Jaishankar said that compared to earlier decades, the Modi government has expedited work along the borders “with the seriousness it deserves.”
The minister said that the previous governments failed to learn from its mistakes after India suffered a setback in the 1962 war against China and continuted to display “complacency” and “neglect” towards border infrastructure.
He added that this changed after PM Modi came to power in 2014, with the BJP government approaching the domain of security with the seriousness it deserves.
Speaking at the third convocation of Rashtriya Raksha University (RRU), the Union minister said India has deeply embedded security factors into its diplomatic strategy.
“Acquiring and developing weapons, and building related capacities have not only been at the core of our defence policies, but also of our diplomacy,” he said.
Even when logistics has been a key to security and warfare, it remained a neglected dimension till recently, he said.
“Take our border areas facing China as an illustration. And let the figures speak for themselves. Today, road construction is 2x, bridging and tunnelling 3x, and the border infrastructure budget 4x compared to what was the commitment and achievement of the last decades,” he said.
“But it is not just the length and number of the roads, tunnels and bridges, but the consequences that they have for our operational capabilities. In the last decade, we have seen all-weather connectivity to Ladakh and to Tawang, focus on access to critical passes along the LAC (line of actual control), and the construction, in fact, of the world’s highest motorable road,” he said.
Jaishankar said the application of new technologies and construction techniques has yielded visible results, accompanied by a reform of entities like the Border Roads Organisation (BRO).
Jaishankar said that even by the traditional metrics of security assessments, India faces exceptional challenges.
“Strenuous efforts have since been made, especially in the last decade, to correct the shortcomings of the previous decades. The overall development of our national strengths that we have seen since 2014 have clearly had positive repercussions in the security field,” he said.
Focusing on acquiring and developing weapons and building related capacities has not only been at the core of India’s defence policies, but even of its diplomacy, he said.
“Indeed, a large part of our geopolitical calculations rests on which nations are likely to be reliable partners during times of stress. We, therefore, embed the security factor deeply into our strategy, and into our diplomacy,” he said.
“We have long been conversant with the concept of dual technology that has extended even more to encapsulate critical and emerging technologies. It has been a signal achievement of Indian diplomacy that we have been successful in forging relationships with multiple and often competing powers to our side,” he said.
The external affairs minister said that economic and technological capacities go hand in hand, and both are equally crucial for India’s security. The progress of nations and history is to a great measure reflected in the progress of technology, he said.
“In the post-1992 reform era, we understandably opened up our economy, but we did not pay adequate attention to safeguarding and upgrading our manufacturing. Without robust manufacturing, a nation like India can never be updated on technology, let alone emerge as a leader in a particular domain,” he said.
Reversing the indifference of the past, India has given thrust to manufacturing through various schemes, Jaishankar said.
With progress comes accompanying downside and increasing vulnerabilities, such as cyber security in the digital age, he said.
“We have since moved on to debates about deepfakes using AI (artificial intelligence). Another is the impact of fake news and disinformation that can shape mass opinion in a dramatic way. The COVID-19 pandemic, too, is a reminder of how exposed we are in a globalised environment,” he said.
India is also addressing the concern for external dependence in terms of equipment required for building infrastructure or weaponry for its armed forces that has long dogged it, he added.
(With inputs from PTI)

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