Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat on Friday said India is being able to keep pace with infrastructure development by its adversary along the northern frontier and it should be able to achieve its targets in the next three to four years.
In an interactive session at the India Economic Conclave, Gen Rawat said China has a terrain advantage over India in developing border infrastructure.
The Chief of Defence Staff said the government has been majorly focusing on development of infrastructure along the northern border in the last four-five years and the time is not far when India should be able to catch up with the neighbouring country.
“I think, now we are being able to keep pace with what the adversary is doing on the other side. We have not yet caught up with them. But the time is not far when we should be able to catch up,” he said.
“We should be able to achieve our targets in the next three-four years,” he said.
Asked about growing Chinese assertiveness in the Indian Ocean, Gen Rawat said India will not stand isolated if any nation confronts it in the region.
“India will automatically get support from nations which are also using the Indian Ocean for trade and other issues. I do not think we need to get completely overwhelmed by what the Chinese are doing,” he said.
He said the Chinese are developing naval power not just in the Indian Ocean but elsewhere as well in sync with their aspiration to become a global power.
The Chief of Defence Staff underlined the need for India to develop various islands like Andaman and Nicobar as “islands of resistance” so that the adversaries can be kept at bay.
“It will not be our sole responsibility to defend everything that happens in the Indian Ocean Region,” he said.
Asked about Quad, comprising India, the US, Japan and Australia, he said it is an arrangement among the nations which want to ensure free movement of trade through the Indo-Pacific region.
“Nations are coming together to ensure that no single nation dominates the region. I do not think there is a need to look at it from a military perspective or against a particular nation,” he said.
Gen Rawat also said that India always maintained strategic autonomy and it must continue to do it.
About military modernisation, the Chief of Defence Staff talked about the proposed integrated air defence command that he said is going to control the uses of the airspace.
Gen Rawat also emphasised the need for creating separate integrated theatre commands for the northern and western fronts.
The Chief of Defence Staff also stressed that no nation can ever be financially stable unless the external and internal security environment is stable.
“Particularly, for a nation like India, you need strong armed forces because you got belligerent neighbours on our northern and western borders,” he said.
Gen Rawat also said the military too needs to adapt to challenging times and transform its concepts and techniques of war fighting, and added that shifting focus to technology is very crucial to prepare for future challenges.
He also observed that the world seemed to be returning to a “great power contestation and conflict” even as global strategic uncertainties like trade re-balancing and standoffs, regionalism, climate change, transnational terrorism, popular protests and trade wars continue to loom large.
“We are witnessing seismic changes in geo-politics shaped by a nation-first approach and economic re-balancing on the centre-stage,” Gen Rawat said.
He also said that militaries around the world, while hiding behind the veil of confidentiality, have often failed to take advantage of the success made by the civilian industry in developing state of the art technologies that can be put to dual use by the military.
Gen Rawat said the time has come for the Indian military to look at their organisations and structures so that they can prepare for future challenges.