Chief of Army Staff General Manoj Pande said on Friday that the armed forces understand that the multilateral engagement architecture has to be “The India Way” and defence wings are being established at new locations across the globe to enhance defence cooperation.

General Pande said this on the opening day of the two-day Chanakya Defence Dialogue, where global military officers and thinkers are deliberating on contemporary security issues, at Manekshaw Centre in Delhi.

“In the military domain, we understand our role in the multilateral engagement architecture. We are keen to enhance the scope and scale of our joint exercises, interoperability, sub-regional perspectives, and sharing of best practices, with our friendly foreign partner nations. To give a fillip to our defence cooperation outreach, we are establishing defence wings at new locations across the world,” General Pande told the august gathering.

The Chief of Army Staff also stated that our national resolve to achieve self-reliance in defence hardware is also being enabled by a resurgent Indian defence industry.

The Army Chief stated that India’s initiatives are the bedrock in the “The India Way,” a phrase he borrowed from the title of External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar’s book. “India’s history shows that it does not follow a ‘winner takes all’ approach to contestation. Nor is there a confident belief that the end justifies the means.

On the contrary, the Indian narrative is interlaced with moderation and nuance that highlight the fairness of the outcomes”, he quoted from Jaishankar’s book to ascribe that its essence and thoughts are reflected in our engagement mechanisms with other nations.

Building on it, General Pande pointed out that our outlook emphasises respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations, equality of all, peaceful resolution of disputes, avoidance of the use of force, and adherence to international laws, rules and regulations.

“Our commitment towards positively engaging all stakeholders has been unwavering and enduring, over the years. Signatures of this can be seen in our policy initiatives and participation in various multilateral frameworks, be it Neighbourhood First, BIMSTEC, IORA, India-ASEAN engagements, Indo-Pacific Oceans’ Initiative, SAGAR, and the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, to name a few.

The Army Chief also stated that the unprecedented churn in the global landscape has set into motion a chain of events as well as some new trend lines. Amongst others, we need to take particular note of the growing salience of ‘national security’ in international affairs and the renewed currency of hard power.

“We are now faced with an escalating conflict in West Asia. These instabilities and challenges are compounded by notable economic turbulence and the weaponisation of a multitude of attributes and domains from information to supply chains. Issues like radicalisation, terrorism, piracy, illegal migration, refugees, and climate change, add to the bouquet of global concerns,” he said.

Security discourses, such as this event, among like-minded countries, assume importance for several reasons, he pointed out.

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