Chennai/ New Delhi, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday said India must keep its guard up in the present challenging time, adding that it is also an opportunity for India, as countries across the world will focus on enhancing their military power.

Speaking at the commissioning of the Indian Coast Guard’s vessel Vigraha in Chennai, the Defence Minister talked about the challenges to global security and the developing global situation. He said in today’s “connected world”, activities in any part of the world affect everyone.

“Today the world is changing very rapidly. Economic, political, and trade relations between countries are constantly fluctuating. Nothing can be said about the next news coming from a country. Obviously, our country cannot be left untouched by these developments. This applies all the more to a country like ours. Being a country whose interests are linked to the Indian Ocean,” Rajnath Singh said.

“Today’s changing world impacts these areas as well, we need to be vigilant all the time. Changes happening across the world often become a challenge for us”.

“We as a nation must keep our guards high during such times of uncertainty upheaval around the world,” he said.

The Minister’s comments come in the backdrop of Afghanistan being taken over by the Taliban. The Defence Minister however did not name any countries.

He also said that these challenging times are also an opportunity for India as countries across the world will move towards modernising their militaries.

“However, the challenging times also give us an opportunity we should take advantage of… Due to global security reasons, disputes and maritime dominance, countries in the world are moving towards modernising and strengthening their military power,” he said.

The demand for military equipment is increasing continuously. Reports suggest in the next one or two years, expenditure on security around the world is going to reach the US $ 2.1 trillion. most countries do not even have this kind of budget. In such a situation, we have scope to make full use of this opportunity and make the country an indigenous shipbuilding hub,” Singh said.

Between 2016 and 2020, India was the world’s second-largest importer of arms, according to a report by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), accounting for 9.5 percent of the total global arms imports.

According to Sipri, India accounted for 0.2 percent of the share of global arms exports during 2016-20, making the country the world’s 24th largest exporter of major arms. This represents an increase of 228 percent over India’s export share of 0.1 percent during the previous five-year period of 2011-15.

Indian Coast Guard (ICG) Ship Vigraha, seventh in the series of Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs), was commissioned in Chennai on Saturday.

The ship will be based in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh and operate on the eastern seaboard under the Operational and Administrative Control of the Commander, Coast Guard Region (East).

The 98-meter OPV, with a complement of 11 officers and 110 sailors, has been designed and built indigenously by Larsen & Toubro Ship Building Limited, which was lauded for finishing the boat ahead of schedule despite the Covid-19 pandemic by the Defence Minister.

The vessel is fitted with advanced technology radars, navigation and communication equipment, sensors and machinery capable of operating in tropical sea conditions.

It is armed with a 40/60 Bofors gun and fitted with two 12.7 mm Stabilised Remote Control Gun with the fire control system. The ship is also equipped with an integrated bridge system, integrated platform management system, automated power management system, and high-power external fire-fighting system, the statement added.

(EW correspondent)