'India can't claim strategic autonomy without own weapons'

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    Feb 16, 2009
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    'India can't claim strategic autonomy without own weapons' - Hindustan Times

    Observing that China's rise is likely to be an issue in India's ability to transform in future, national security advisor Shivshankar Menon on Thursday said the country can't claim "true strategic autonomy" unless it improves its defence production capabilities. Delivering the Prem Bhatia

    Memorial lecture, he said, "Talk of strategic autonomy has little meaning unless our defence production or innovation capabilities undergo a quantum improvement."

    "A country that doesn't develop and produce its own major weapon platforms has a major strategic weakness, and cannot claim true strategic autonomy. This is a real challenge for us all," Menon said.

    India, which is one of the world's largest spenders on military hardware, depends on imports for over 70% of its defence needs.

    The NSA said Naxalism was one of the major challenges facing the country's development strategy.

    "We know that it is neither the application of force alone or a single-minded focus on development can solve the problem," he said.

    Listing China's rise as the first of the three issues which could affect India's transformation abilities in future, the NSA said the relations of the two countries have elements of cooperation and competition at the same time.

    "We have a boundary dispute, and overlapping peripheries in our extended neighbourhood which is also China's neighbourhood. As long as we stick to our internal transformations, cooperate on common interests, we can expect the current relationship to continue," he said.
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