New Delhi- Bravery and valour displayed by the armed forces during the Galwan valley clashes and the recent face-off in the Tawang sector of Arunachal Pradesh is commendable and no amount of praise for them is enough, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Saturday.
In an address at industry chamber FICCI, Singh also said that India aspires to become a superpower to ensure global prosperity, but it does not have any intention to dominate other nations or capture even one inch of land of any country, in comments seen as a thinly veiled reference to China’s aggressive behaviour along the borders.
The defence minister also took an indirect dig at Rahul Gandhi over his comments on the border row with China, a day after the Congress leader accused the government of downplaying the threat posed by the Chinese military along the Line of Actual Control.
“Any amount of praise is not enough for the armed forces for the way they displayed bravery and valour, be it in Galwan or Tawang,” Singh said.
“We have never questioned the intention of any leader in the opposition, we have only debated on the basis of policies. Politics should be based on truth. Politics cannot be done on the basis of falsehood for a long time,” he said, without naming anyone.
“The process of taking the society towards the right path is called ‘rajniti’ (politics). I do not understand the reason behind doubting anyone’s intention always,” Singh added.
Citing the stiff opposition faced by the government in rolling out the GST (Goods and Services Tax), the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme and agricultural reforms, he said the trend of opposing any decision or scheme for the sake of opposition should stop as it is not a good sign of a healthy democracy.
Indian and Chinese troops were engaged in a fresh clash in the Yangtse area of Arunachal Pradesh’s Tawang sector on December 9, in a first such major flare-up after the deadly hand-to-hand combat in the Galwan Valley in June 2020 that marked the most serious military conflict between the two sides in decades.
“When I am saying we aspire to become a superpower, it should never be construed that we want to dominate over countries in the world. We do not have any intention to even capture one inch of land of any country,” he said.
“If we want to become a superpower, then we want to become a superpower for global good and prosperity. The world is our family,” Singh added.
The defence minister also said that India’s economy was among the six-seven large economies during the time of Independence and when China witnessed a new system following the 1949 revolution, its GDP was less than that of India.
He said though India and China kept marching together till 1980, the neighbouring country went ahead, riding on economic reforms.
“In 1991, economic reforms started in our country too. But China has made such a long jump in a short time that, except the US, it has left behind all other countries of the world in the pace of development,” he said.
“India returned to the list of top 10 economies in the 21st century. But the kind of development that should have happened in India was not happening,” the defence minister said, adding that a new era of development began in 2014 when Narendra Modi became the prime minister.
Singh said when Modi took charge of the government, the Indian economy used to be the ninth-largest economy globally and its size was about two trillion dollars.
“Today, India’s economy has become the fifth-largest economy with a size of three-and-a-half trillion dollars,” he said.
The defence minister also referred to former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi’s famous remark in 1985 that only 15 paise of every rupee meant for the welfare of the downtrodden reaches them and said that now, with some systemic changes, the entire rupee reaches the people.
“I am not doubting his (Rajiv Gandhi’s) intention. He genuinely expressed his concerns. I can now say that because of some changes in the system, if 100 paise is sent from above, that entire 100 paise reaches the poor or people of the country,” he said.
In his address, Singh also gave an account of the achievements of the Modi government in areas of infrastructure, health, education, banking, trade and investment, foreign direct investment and overall economic reforms.
“Remember the time of 2013, when investment firm Morgan Stanley coined the term ‘Fragile Five’, which is the five countries of the world whose economy was faltering badly. The countries in this ‘Fragile Five’ were Turkey, Brazil, South Africa, Indonesia and India,” he said.
“Today, India has moved out of the category of ‘Fragile Five’ and joined the ‘Fabulous Five’ economies of the world,” he said. Singh said India’s stature has gone up significantly on the world stage under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership.
Now, India is working on setting the agenda on the world stage, he added.
At the same time, the defence minister talked about some problems facing the nation, including that of inflation.
He said inflation has gone up due to disruptions in the global supply chain and other logistical bottlenecks as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Ukraine conflict.
“The problem of inflation is before us as a major issue. In fact, the world had not fully recovered from the supply chain disruptions and logistical bottlenecks caused by COVID-19, when the Ukraine conflict came before us,” Singh said.
“Whatever may be the reason, if the problem is in front of us, then we have to find a solution for it. Not only India, but the economy of the whole world is passing through a very difficult phase, but if you see, inflation is less in India as compared to other major countries,” he added.
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