India needs to develop dual facilities like China: Former Foreign Secretary

New Delhi, March.4 (ANI): India needs to develop dual facilities that serve both civilian and military purposes as China has been doing in order to strengthen its maritime capabilities, said former Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran at the inaugural session of the three-day Raisina Dialogue.

Speaking at the event, organised by Observer Research Foundation (ORF) in association with the Ministry of External Affairs, Saran, a noted strategic thinker, pointed out that the maritime domain is much bigger than naval presence and security. He said ship building and port development should be incorporated into India’s maritime strategy.

Saran, during whose time as foreign secretary, the US-India nuclear agreement was signed between then US President Bush and former prime minister Manmohan Singh, also stressed the need to work with US, Japan, Australia and ASEAN nations to secure our eastern flank.

In conversation with C Raja Mohan, Director of Carnegie India, during discussion on “Can SAARC get serious?” Saran said India’s posture with regards to SAARC has changed.

“Delhi is a champion of SAARC today,” he remarked, though he admitted SAARC has not been able to implement a single SAARC-wide project since its existence.

Commenting that connectivity through India is more difficult than cross border, Shyam Saran said that it is easier to put in place physical infrastructure, but it is far more difficult to change the mind-set.

Shyam Saran suggested that India should not blindly reject Chinese connectivity proposals, but instead select projects which suit its national interest.

For example, he mentioned projects like the BCIM (Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar) Economic Corridor and suggested considering linking of the Chabahar port, being developed by India in association with Iran, to the railway line linking China with Iran.

If you cannot integrate with your region, you cannot integrate with other regions, he said.

Delivering the valedictory address at the three-day Dialogue, in which more than 100 speakers from 35 countries participated, General V.K. Singh, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, said the Raisina dialogue is emerging as a major forum to discuss global issues.

He said the theme of the Dialogue, connectivity, is very important and relevant today not only from the economic perspective but also because of the security implications.

The Minister said India’s approach has always been to work together for common interests.

“Sharing is part of India’s civilizational ethos. The Indian model is to create capacities in our neighbourhood to help them manage their own issues. this model has been more successful,” Singh said. (ANI)

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