NEW DELHI: India is facing constant attacks through “misinformation and disinformation” as it establishes itself on the global stage, PM Narendra Modi said Monday, stressing the need for a “whole of country” approach to combat new forms of warfare.
The country has to “anticipate future challenges” and “thwart” all efforts of forces, be they from within India or abroad, who want to harm India’s interests, the PM said, while underlining the criticality of indigenously developed weapons to fight wars of the future at a naval ‘Swavlamban’ seminar on self-reliance in defence production.
National defence and security are not limited to the borders but have a much broader ambit, with the expansion in the number of conventional and unconventional threats and the changing methods of warfare. “Earlier, we used to imagine our defence only till the land, sea, sky. Now, the scope is moving towards space, cyberspace, economic and social space,” Modi said, adding even rare earth elements, crude oil and the like are being weaponised now.
The fact that “warfare is becoming invisible, more lethal” from the earlier face-to-face one has to be kept in mind, with all citizens also becoming more vigilant.
Turning to defence production, the PM said India was firmly moving towards becoming a major arms exporter from languishing as the world’s largest importer. “We had developed the habit of being dependent on foreign countries for even the simplest products. Like drug addicts, we were addicted to the imported products,” he said.
The government has increased the defence budget and ensured it is largely used for domestic procurements. While arms imports have come down by 21% in last four-five years, exports are up by seven times in eight years.
The PM said it’s a matter of pride for all citizens that India’s arms exports touched a record Rs 13,000 crore in the financial year 2021-22, with 70% contribution coming from the private sector and the remaining 30% from the public sector.
“The goal of self-reliance in the Indian armed forces is very important for the India of the 21st century,” the PM said, adding that the country has the requisite “talent” to develop weapon systems that will surprise and vanquish the enemy on the battlefield.