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English Release 22-November 2014
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Ministry of Defence10-June, 2008 14:35 IST
Special cell set up to counter growing threat to space assets

DEFENCE INFORMATICS CENTRE SET UP FOR E-GOVERNANCE IN ARMED FORCES

GROWING INSTABILITY IN NEIGHBOURHOOD IS A MAJOR SECURITY CHALLENGE: ANTONY

UNIFIED COMMANDERS’ CONFERENCE 2008 OPENS
The Defence Minister Shri AK Antony today announced the formation of an Integrated Space Cell under the aegis of the Integrated Defence Services Head Quarters to counter ‘the growing threat to our space assets’. Addressing the Unified Commanders’ Conference here, he said, although we want to utilize space for peaceful purposes and remain committed to our policy of non-weaponisation of space, ‘offensive counter space systems like anti-satellite weaponry, new classes of heavy-lift and small boosters and an improved array of Military Space Systems have emerged in our neighbourhood’. Shri Antony said the new Cell will act as a single window for integration among the Armed Forces, the Department of Space and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

The Defence Minister also announced the approval of the government for the setting up of a Defence Informatics Centre on the lines of the National Informatics Centre. It will cater to the e-governance needs of the Armed Forces, the Defence Ministry and other associated organizations.

Shri Antony announced the establishment of a Defence Information Technology Consultative Committee (DITCC) comprising eminent personalities from the MoD, the three Services, Ministry of Communication and IT, Academia and the industry. DITCC would seek to synergise all information technology related matters in the MoD, the three Services and various organizations. ‘DITCC has evolved a road map and a common approach for the integration of information technology in our Armed Forces,’ he said.

The two day conference is focusing on various issues pertaining to ongoing process of jointness amongst the three Services, Higher Defence Management and a conceptual way forward. The conference is being attended among others by the Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee and Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sureesh Mehta, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal FH Major, Chief of Army Staff General Deepak Kapoor, the Defence Secretary Shri Vijay Singh, Chief of Integrated Service Command Lt Gen HS Lidder, Commanders and Senior Officers from the Service Headquarters and the Ministry of Defence.

The Defence Minister dwelt at length the security challenges in and around the country. Shri Antony said the security situation in J&K and the North East has shown signs of improvement due to the commitment and dedication of our Armed Forces and the Paramilitary forces. ‘There is, however, a need to extend such synergy in functioning to counter the activities of independent modules that have linkages to terrorists in J&K and international terror networks’, he said. He called upon the security forces to not only ensure peaceful conduct of elections in the state of Jammu & Kashmir where Assembly elections are likely to be held later this year but also work for continuing peace and normalcy in the State. Shri Antony warned that forces within the state and those outside, who do not want successful conduct of elections and peace in the state, will try their best to disrupt the democratic process. ‘We will have to keep a constant vigil and intensify our efforts to ensure conduct of free and fair elections in an atmosphere of peace’, he said.

Referring to the frequent requests from State Governments for the deployment of Army to aid the civil authorities to tackle law and order problems, Shri Antony said ‘this is not a good and healthy development in a democracy’. He said requests for the deployment of Armed Forces should come from the State Governments ‘only as a last resort when all other options have failed’.

The Defence Minister said our most important challenge in the foreseeable future is the growing instability in our neighbourhood. He said India has continuously expressed serious concerns on cross border terrorism and has reiterated the importance of Pakistan fulfilling its commitment outlined in the Joint Press Statement of 6 January 2004 against terrorism. Shri Antony said it is also to be seen whether the recently formed civilian government in Pakistan is able to address issues of national security, religious fundamentalism and cross border terrorism effectively.

On Afghanistan, Shri Antony said, it is in our and the region’s interest that we continue to support the process of rebuilding, to enable it to emerge as a self- sufficient and stable democratic state. He expressed concern at the signs of re-emergence of Taliban in Afghanistan.

Turning to China, Shri Antony said, there is enough space for the two countries to mutually cooperate and develop, while remaining sensitive to each other’s concerns. The agreement between the two countries on peace and tranquility and the Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) and MoU on Defence Cooperation needs to be pursued by both the nations. He said, engaging China in a dialogue and trying to resolve outstanding issues is the right way ahead. The External Affairs Minister Shri Pranab Mukherjee’s recent visit to China was a step in this direction. Shri Antony said humanitarian aid worth $ 5 million was provided to China in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake last month. As far as Bangladesh is concerned, Shri Antony said, prolonged period of political vacuum or uncertainty could have an adverse impact on India. Illegal immigration and infiltration are two major security related issues of serious concern, he said.

The Defence Minister said New Delhi is keeping a close watch on the security situation in Sri Lanka. ‘Any deterioration in the security situation in Sri Lanka will no doubt have an adverse impact on peace and security within India’.

Referring to Myanmar, Shri Antony said, we should continue to play constructive and positive role through continuous dialogue. He said, India sent eight aircraft and two naval ships with loads of relief supplies to the beleaguered people of Myanmar in the aftermath of the tropical cyclone last month.

And on Nepal, he said, New Delhi remains committed to provide all possible support for its transition to a multi-party democracy.

Turning to service condition in the Armed Forces, the Defence Minister assured the top brass that MoD is alive to the expectations of the Services with regard to the Sixth Pay Commission Report. ‘The MoD and the Services have pointed out various anomalies and have made specific recommendations to the Committee of Secretaries. I’m confident the government will try its best to address the concerns. Our government is also keen to improve other service conditions like Married Accommodation Project and enhancing opportunities for providing the best education for children of Armed Forces personnel’, he said.

Shri Antony announced a Special Grant of Rs. 10.21 crores as compensation for the loss of personal property of 1021 personnel of the three Services and the Coast Guard during the Tsunami of December 2004. “This amount is a small step taken by the Government to ameliorate the financial conditions of the families ravaged by the Tsunami”, he said. It may be recalled that despite their personal tragedies, the three Services and Coast Guard had rendered yeoman service to the nation. They had provided immediate humanitarian relief and rescue missions in far flung areas of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry in addition to Sri Lanka and Indonesia.

The Defence Minister said this year’s Conference is being held at a time when nations and regions are witnessing political changes and economic turbulence. ‘Rising oil prices have not only led to economic instability, but also have had an impact on the overall security of nations and regions. In a multi-polar world, the all round security and well-being of nations is closely linked to factors such as peace, stability and prosperity. There is a constant realignment of forces, as nations compete with each other to increase their share of geo-strategic space’.

He said, the crucial role envisaged for India in the regional and international security environment must focus on the security requirements of the future. ‘Our security planning must be able to anticipate and plan in advance. Owing to the complexities of security threats and challenges, defence policy formulation must keep evolving constantly. New dimensions have been added to the security environment around us. Our nation’s economic and technological development has to proceed apace with our defence capabilities. At the same time, we need to forge working partnerships to maintain equilibrium of peace and cooperation in the emerging world order’, Shri Antony said.

On the issue of Modernisation of Armed Forces, the Defence Minister said, it is one of the top most priorities of the government. The defence budget has been enhanced from 13.04% in 2007-08 to 14.06% in 2008-09. In net value terms, the defence budget has been increased from Rs. 96,000 crores to Rs 1,05,600 crores for this year. The plans for service modernisation have been boosted by enhancement of the capital budget by 14.18%.

‘Armed Forces all over the world are modernizing and becoming technology intensive. We must adopt a joint approach, keeping in view the varied security challenges being faced by our nation. Jointness and integration must culminate in a tri-service approach – in thought and in action, in our defence services’, Shri Antony said.

Sitanshu Kar/RAJ
(Release ID :39503)

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