'Want peace but won't tolerate harm to self-respect'

Want peace, but won't tolerate any harm to India's self-respect: Rajnath Singh on Indo-China border row

Defence minister also said China's 'attitude reflected that country's intentions' during these Covid-19 times

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. Credit: PTI Photo

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday said India's handling of the border row with China showed that the country was not weak and could give a befitting reply to any kind of transgression, aggression or unilateral acts.

With the two countries having held several rounds of talks to resolve the issue, Singh said India wants peaceful resolution of disputes, but asserted no harm to its self-respect will be tolerated. India and China have been locked in an over seven-month standoff at eastern Ladakh.

In his address at the Combined Graduation Parade at the Air Force Academy at Dundigal on the outskirts of the city, Singh also said China's "attitude reflected that country's intentions" during the Covid-19 crisis.

"But we have shown that India is not weak. This is new India that will give a befitting reply to any kind of transgression, aggression or any unilateral action," he said. India has found the support of many countries, even as it has received accolades, he said.

Pointing out that rounds of talks have been held at the diplomatic and military levels to solve the issue, the Defence Minister said "let me reiterate, we don't want conflict, but peace. "But we will not tolerate any harm to the country's self-respect," the Defence Minister asserted.

The country was prepared to face any situation, he said. Referring to the western sector, Singh said Pakistan was indulging in skirmishes on the borders and charged the neighbour with indulging in a "proxy war" using terrorism, despite being defeated by India in four wars.

The armed forces and police were effectively dealing with terrorism, he said. The country was not only handling terrorism effectively within, but even taking action beyond the borders, he said.

Referring to the airstrikes at terror camps in Balakot in Pakistan, he said they demonstrated India's military strength to the world and the country's firm intentions against terrorism. Stressing the need to change the strategies of war according to evolving times, Singh said the country may face challenges not only across the borders and the seas but also Space and Cyber domains, for which it needs to be prepared. "So it is necessary that you need to update yourself constantly.

For future warfare and betterment, it is necessary that there should also be a scholar in you, besides a soldier," he said. The Defence Minister asked the newly commissioned officers to keep themselves updated about military strategy and technology and also focus on Artificial Intelligence.

Observing that the government has recently taken several important measures to empower and promote indigenisation in the armed forces, he said, on the one hand, the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas has been inducted and operationalised, while, on the other, the fifth-generation multi-role fighter plane Rafale has also been included.

As part of reforms, many steps, including an increase in FDI limit in the defence sector, new policy on defence manufacturing and corporatization of ordnance factories were taken, Singh said. He also said air defence and maritime command are at an advanced stage of consideration.