Monday, 30th October 2017

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Singh shoots down Maoist poverty excuse

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By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
  • Published 23.10.10
  •  

New Delhi, Oct. 22: Poverty cannot be used as an excuse to challenge the authority of the country, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said here today as he once again described the Maoists as the biggest security threat to India.

Singh was speaking at the concluding session of a two-day seminar on “The role of force in strategic affairs” to mark the golden jubilee of the National Defence College.

He admitted that many regions of the country were poor and said the Maoists were using this to increase their influence.

“Naxalism and Left-wing extremism pose the greatest threat to our national security. We recognise that there is a development deficit in parts of the country. But we should be equally clear that the state cannot and will not allow its authority to be challenged,” he said.

Singh’s remarks, made before an audience that included the King of Bhutan and senior military officers from India and abroad, reaffirm the government’s carrot-and-stick Maoist policy.

The Maoists claim to represent tribals and the poor and have been calling for an overthrow of the political and economic system by which the country is run.

While acknowledging the “development deficit in parts of the country”, Singh today effectively endorsed the Union home ministry-led offensive against the Maoists that has unofficially come to be known as “Operation Green Hunt”.

“We have to bring all our resources to bear on tackling mass poverty in the country. But we also have to use our scarce resources efficiently and give due emphasis to conservation and the environment. This is an area of potential conflict,” he said.

He asked India’s armed forces “to modernise defence doctrines to respond to new and non-traditional threats to our security”.

Among these threats are terrorism and challenges from non-state actors and groups, the Prime Minister indicated.

Singh said military power was one of the elements of national security, which included development and economic growth as well as internal stability. He said: “The internal and external aspects of security are getting increasingly interlinked.”

Defence minister A.K. Antony said India was constantly threatened by neighbouring countries but did not name Pakistan or China or any other nation.

“Our relations with many of our neighbouring countries are dictated by compulsions of history. However, some nations are always on the lookout to provoke and encourage threats to our security and national integrity,” Antony said.

“Still, India has always desired and worked for peaceful relations with all nations and our neighbours.”

Antony said the danger of nuclear proliferation was now more real than in the past.

“Today, not just India but the international community faces the dangerous possibility of nuclear materials and technologies falling into (the) wrong hands. In such a scenario, autonomy in decision-making, in strategic affairs and in the developmental process is an inalienable right of the Indian people”, he said.

The defence minister said India was evolving systems to secure its computer networks.

“The next generation of threats will undoubtedly emerge out of cyber security. We need to make our cyber systems as secure and as non-porous as possible,” he added.