India has consistently stood for a united, strong and prosperous Sri Lanka and the defence cooperation between the two countries encompasses a wide array of activities such as high level exchanges, training, joint exercises and exchange of goodwill visits by Naval ships of the two countries, said Ashok K Kantha, High Commissioner of India addressing students and faculty of Defence Services Command and Staff College on the theme “India’s Foreign and Defence Policies” on 22 Nov. 2012.
India is Sri Lanka’s closest neighbour and our bilateral relationship is extremely strong, anchored in common civilization heritage, shared interests and interlinked destinies, he said.
He underlined that in recent years, the relationship has been marked by close contacts at the highest political level, growing trade and investment, cooperation in the fields of development, education, culture and defence, as well as a broad understanding on major issues of international interest, the High Commissioner further said.
In his address, the High Commissioner touched upon India’s unique geographical location and key global and regional developments influencing India’s security environment and highlighted that India’s unique geographical position, maritime as well as continental entity, with its footprints and interests reaching well beyond South Asia and positioned as a bridge between different parts of Asia such as West Asia, Central Asia, East Asia etc. formed the key determinants of the India’s defence policies.
He underlined the transformation of global and regional balance of power, in which the risk of direct conflict between major states has markedly receded, transnational challenges like terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, energy security, climate change and the prolonged economic crisis have become the primary threats to global peace and stability.
He emphasized the need for a collective global response to these challenges and especially the ones emanating from non-states actors, failed or weakened States.
He drew attention to international terrorism as possibly the pre-eminent threat to global peace and security while pointing out India’s own experience as a victim of cross border terrorism for over two decades. He underlined the major risks associated with weapons of mass destruction possibly falling into the hands of terrorists and non-state actors and to the increased incidences of piracy, gun running and terrorism in the Indian Ocean region.
The High Commissioner highlighted that India’s overriding foreign and defence policy objective is to secure a peaceful and enabling international environment, both in the neighbourhood and globally, so as to concentrate on domestic priorities of nationhood and inclusive development while ensuring independence and autonomy in India’s decision making.