In a strong message to China, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has said that if harmed, India will not spare anyone, as he asserted that India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has emerged as a powerful country and is headed to be among the top three economies of the world.
Singh, in his address to the Indian-American community in San Francisco, also sent a subtle message to the US that New Delhi does not believe in a diplomacy of “zero-sum game” and its relationship with one country cannot be at the expense of the other.
The defence minister was here to attend the India US 2+2 ministerial in Washington DC. Thereafter, he travelled to Hawaii for meetings at IndoPACOM headquarters and then to San Francisco.
At a reception hosted in his honour by the Indian Consulate in San Francisco, the Defence Minister told the select gathering about the valour shown by Indian soldiers on the border with China.
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“I cannot say openly what they (Indian soldiers) did and what decisions we (the government) took. But I can definitely say that a message has gone (to China) that India will not spare anyone, if India is harmed. (Bharat ko agar koi chherega to Bharat chhorega nahi,” he said.
The Ladakh border standoff between the Indian and Chinese militaries erupted on May 5, 2020, following a violent clash in the Pangong lake areas. The face-off escalated after the Galwan Valley clashes on June 15, 2020. As many as 20 Indian soldiers and an unspecified number of Chinese troops were killed in the clashes.
India and China have held 15 rounds of military talks so far to resolve the eastern Ladakh standoff. As a result of the talks, the two sides completed the disengagement process last year in the north and south banks of the Pangong lake and in the Gogra area.
Without making any direct reference to the American pressure with respect to Russia because of the Ukraine war, Singh said India does not believe in a “zero-sum game” diplomacy.
If India has a good relationship with one country, it does not mean that its relationship with any other country will deteriorate, he said. “India has never adopted this kind of diplomacy. India will never opt for this (kind of diplomacy). We don’t believe in the zero-sum game in international relationships,” he said.
India, he said, believes in having a bilateral relationship which is based on “win-win” for both the countries.
His remarks came amidst some disquiet in Washington over India’s position on the Ukraine crisis as well as its decision to procure discounted Russian oil.
“The image of India has changed. The prestige of India has improved. In the next few years, no power in the world can stop India from becoming the world’s top three economies,” Singh said.
In his address to the Indian community, Singh said that in the past, if any country in the world wanted to develop and prosper, they always thought about establishing a vibrant trade with India.
“We should aim at establishing a similar ecosystem in India by the time we celebrate our 100th independence Day in 2047,” he said.
The defence minister said that during his last trip to the US in 2013, at a reception in New Jersey he had told a group of Indian Americans that ”the success story of India is not over, it is waiting for the BJP to come into power. At that time, people were disappointed with the performance of the then Congress government.” In eight years, he said, the Modi government has ”turned around” the country and the image of India has changed for the better.
“(Globally) people have now realised that India is no longer a weak country. It is a powerful country of the world. Today India has the potential to lead the world. This potential of India is something that the world has now realised,” he said.
Nothing else could be a “grand achievement” for a country like India in such a short span, he said.
”There have been several prime ministers in India who became the leader of the country after they occupied this post. But like Pt Jawahar Lal Nehru, the first prime minister of India, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Narendra Modi were the country’s leaders even before they became the prime minister,” he said.
“Today we have a new and confident Bharat,” he said, adding that India is now headed towards becoming a self-reliant country and the Modi government is taking several important steps in this regard, including in the defence sector, he said.
India has taken several key steps towards indigenisation of its defence sector, he said as he briefly described some of such decisions being taken by the government.
Observing that India has a lot of faith and confidence in the country’s IT sector, the defence minister said that Indian talents are playing a major role in the world’s IT sector and the Modi government has taken steps towards massive digitisation.
India today, he said, is marching ahead to become an economic power and the government is not only working towards the welfare and prosperity of its people, but also helping people in other parts of the world as well.
“India is now among the world’s fastest growing economies. Our economy did suffer a setback due to the pandemic. But now we are having a fast recovery,” he said.