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Saturday, October 3, 2009

Strength ensures peace

  Antony, IAF chief evoke confidence

It is good that Defence Minister A K Antony and Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal PV Naik have reassured the country in no uncertain terms that India is busy strengthening its capabilities, just as China is doing. After the drubbing we got in 1962, there are bound to be misgivings in the minds of many whether we are now any better prepared to withstand a similar onslaught. That is why Mr Antony was candid in admitting that while earlier we were “doing nothing”, the government in the past few years has been bolstering the infrastructure. As was mentioned by the air chief some days ago, our air power is only one-third that of China, but we are not sitting ducks either, as was the case in 1962. Much has happened in these 47 years and, in fact, learning from the past mistakes, defence is getting the priority that it deserves. There are numerous shortcomings, but at least things are on the upswing. The nation seems to have learnt the lesson that building strength is the best defence for the country.
This confidence shows in the way India has been dealing with China. Despite the 1962 war, India has engaged with China maturely without letting the past cloud the future for ever. It has rightly not allowed itself to be perturbed over minor incursions and arguments by the Chinese in various sectors. What is all the more creditworthy is the fact that the Indian Army joined in China’s 60-year celebrations whole-heartedly. On the whole two nations have sought to ensure that pending a border settlement peace and tranquility should prevail all along the Line of Actual Control.
Unfortunately, China has soured the atmosphere by starting to issue visas to Kashmiris on separate sheets and not on their passports. The move is being seen as an attempt by Beijing to question the status of Jammu and Kashmir. Apparently, all this is being done to please Pakistan. There is need to take up the matter with China. While good-neighbourly relations have to be maintained, that does not mean that New Delhi should take irritants lightly. 

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