The Indian armed forces are operating in a very complex, and uncertain environment and they must continue to enhance capabilities for peace in the region as India's adversaries may take advantage if its military power is not strong, Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat said on Tuesday.
He also said that India wants to share its military capabilities with friendly countries in the neighbourhood and the extended neighbourhood as well as to those who need its support.
The Chief of Defence Staff was speaking at the inaugural session of the fifth annual conclave of the Bharatshakti.in, a portal on defence and military issues.
"We are today operating in a very complex, uncertain and a very volatile environment. There are small and big battles raging nearly in every region of the world. Therefore, we all need strong armed forces if we have to defend ourselves, defend our nation, defend the integrity of our nation and the safety and security of our people," Gen Bipin Rawat said.
"But, then are we saying that armed forces must prepare for war? No. The armed forces must develop capabilities to bring about peace in the region. If we do not have strong armed forces, the adversary will take advantage of us," he said.
Gen Bipin Rawat's comments came in the midst of an over six-month border standoff between India and China in eastern Ladakh that has significantly strained their ties. Both sides held a series of diplomatic and military talks to resolve the row. However, no concrete breakthrough has been achieved to end the standoff.
In a message, which was read out at the conclave, Prime Minister Narendra Modi cited various reform initiatives rolled out by the government in the defence sector to produce modern equipment and harness new technology as well as to infuse better synergy among the armed forces.
"We are marching ahead with the nation's collective resolve to build a modern and self-reliant India. Our resoluteness gets reflected in an unprecedented spirit of self-confidence in the defence sector today," PM Modi said.
The prime minister said a self-reliant India is a "win-win resolve" for all the stakeholders, as this vision is for world peace and a resilient global economy.
"From private and public sectors to foreign partners, all would get strength from India's vibrant strategic ecosystem," he said.
In his address, Gen Bipin Rawat also spoke about challenges being faced by the armed forces operating in difficult challenging environments including in jungles, deserts and terrains ranging from 6000 to 6500 metres in altitude.
"Our navy operates in Indo-Pacific, an area which witnesses the largest concentration of white shipping. They have to develop technologies not only to operate on the surface but below the surface of the ocean as well in an environment which is becoming increasingly complex," the Chief of Defence Staff said.
He said the Indian armed forces need capabilities that no other armed forces in the world will perhaps require due to varied challenges and environment. Therefore, Gen Rawat said the kind of technology India is developing and the weapons systems that can find their way into the Indian inventory will be second to none.
"We are not hesitant in inviting foreign collaborators who can support our industry, hand-hold them and move on...We also want to share the capabilities with the other armed forces around the globe, particularly in the neighbourhood and extended neighbourhood," Gen Bipin Rawat said.
"We are willing to support those who need our support, especially those nations which are also going through troubled times and looking at good weapons systems," he said in presence of defence officials of several foreign countries.
Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria said the threat by India's adversaries is ''deep and long term''.