Oceans, space should not become war zones: Modi

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 24 Nov 2015 19:24:24

Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks at the 37th Singapore Lecture in Singapore on Monday. (PTI)


By Barun Jha and Gurdip Singh

AMID a standoff between China and some East Asian nations over South China Sea, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said oceans, space and cyberworld should not become ‘new theatres of contests’ but be the avenues of ‘shared prosperity’ and offered to work in this direction.
Delivering a lecture here, he talked about how India and China have kept their border region peaceful and stable despite the “unresolved issues”, including the boundary question between the two countries.
“In the flux and transition of our times, the most critical need in this region is to uphold and strengthen the rules and norms that must define our collective behaviour,” he said.
“...We must all come together, in East Asia Summit and other forums, to build a cooperative and collaborative future, not on the strength of a few, but on the consent of all,” Modi said in his 20-minute ‘37th Singapore Lecture -- India’s Singapore Story’ -- soon after his arrival on a two-day visit.
In an apparent reference to the standoff between China and some East Asian Nations over South China Sea, he said, “India will work with countries in the region and beyond, including the US and Russia, our East Asia Summit partners, to ensure that our commons - ocean, space and cyber – remain avenues of shared prosperity, not become new theatres of contests.”
The statement is significance as tensions are growing over South China Sea with the US now getting involved and China warning it to keep away.
Prime Minister Modi said India and China will engage constructively across the complexity of their relationship as two self-assured and confident nations, aware of their interests and responsibilities.
“Just as China’s rise has driven the global economy, the world looks to China to help advance global and regional peace and stability,” he said.
Noting that India and China constitute two-fifth of humanity and two of the world’s fastest growing major economies, Modi said, “China’s economic transformation is an inspiration for us.” “As it (China) rebalances its economy, and as India steps up the pace of its growth, we can both reinforce each other’s progress. And, we can advance stability and prosperity in our region,” Modi said, adding that both the nations together can be more effective in
addressing the common global challenges, from trade to climate change.
Prime Minister Modi also called for delinking terrorism from religion and said it does not just take a toll of lives, but can derail economies.
“Nations must cooperate more with each other. Societies must reach out within and to each other. We must delink terrorism from religion, and assert the human values that define every faith,” he added. Noting that terrorism’s shadow stretches across societies and nations, both in recruitment and choice of targets, Modi said the world must speak in one voice and act in unison.
“There will be political, legal, military and intelligence efforts. But, we must do more,” he asserted. “Countries also must be held accountable for sanctuaries, support, arms and funds,” he said.
Though he did not name any country, his mention about sanctuaries was an apparent reference to Pakistan where several terror groups like Lashkar-e-Toiba and Haqqani Network are based and nurtured by the establishment.
Talking about next week’s Climate Summit, Modi said, “We are a few days away from Paris, where we must achieve concrete outcome, in accordance with the principles of UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. This is especially important for our region, particularly the small island states.”
Modi also promised a greater role for Singapore in India’s growth story and said the city-state will be a major trading partner for India.
The Prime Minister said he was conscious of the fact that he was following the footsteps of leaders who have shaped India in delivering this lecture.
“Destiny of India and Singapore are deeply linked.”
Before Modi, other Indian leaders who have delivered the annual Singapore Lecture of ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute include former president Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, former Prime Ministers P V Narsimha Rao and Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
“Few countries can celebrate the first fifty years of existence with a sense of pride and satisfaction that Singapore deserves to. And, I can do no better than to begin with homage to one of the tallest leaders of our time and the architect of modern Singapore – Lee Kuan Yew,” Modi said.
“For me, he was a personal inspiration. From his Singapore Stories, I drew many lessons,” he added.
Singapore is a nation that has become a metaphor for reality of dreams. The lack of resources is no constraint for inspiration, imagination and innovation, he added.
“It has inspired this region’s progress and led in its integration,” Modi said, adding that Singapore’s success became an aspiration for Indians. “And, in turn, India became the hope for a more peaceful, balanced and stable world.”
Noting that India and Singapore have been together at many crossroads of time, Modi said, “We stood together at the dawn of freedom...Singapore success has become India’s springboard to the world and gateway to the East.”
“We have comprehensive defence and security cooperation. Singapore is the biggest investment source,” Modi said.
Starting from the first IT park in Bengaluru, the partnership has now moved to the newest city of Amaravathi, the new capital of Andhra Pradesh, he noted.
“We are linked by geography and history in case of each ASEAN member. We look forward to a more dynamic partnership between India and ASEAN,” the Prime Minister said.
“With almost entire region, India has economic cooperation frameworks. We will upgrade our partnership agreement and look for an early Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership,” Modi said at the event also attended by Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
Singapore is a leading investor in India and several Indian companies are expanding their operations to Singapore.
India expects to conclude a ‘strategic partnership’ with Singapore during Modi’s visit, while the two countries are also expected to sign an enhanced defence cooperation pact, along with other MoUs, including on cyber security, culture and training on urban management.
Singapore has approximately 350,000-strong Indian diaspora out of its total population of 5.5 million.
The bilateral trade with Singapore is about USD 17 billion and Singaporean companies are very active in India since early 1990s, including in equity markets.
Singapore is the second-largest source of FDI into India at about USD 35.9 billion (total for April 2000 to June 2015), which is about 13.9 per cent of total FDI into the country. The Indian investments into Singapore are also fairly large at USD 37 billion.
Singapore has a strategic location with status as a financial, aviation and maritime hub. The flow of investments, presence of a large Indian diaspora and its expertise in urban and skill development make it very important for India.

India, Malaysia vow to combat terror; ramp up defence ties

VOWING to combat terror, India and Malaysia on Monday decided to ramp up their strategic ties in security and defence sectors and called on all States to bring perpetrators of terrorism to justice as Prime Minister Narendra Modi held talks with his Malaysian counterpart.
Modi, while speaking at a joint media briefing after his talks with Malaysian Premier Najib Razak, said, “the recent spate of attacks in different countries not to mention the ceaseless terrorist attempts against India and Afghanistan are a reminder of the global nature of this threat.”
Modi also complimented Najib for providing leadership in combating extremism and radicalisation, rejecting any link between terrorism and religion and in
highlighting the “real values of Islam”.
A joint statement released after the talks said, “Both sides expresses strong condemnation for terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and called upon all States to reject terrorism and bring perpetrators of terrorism to justice. In this context, they welcomed the ongoing cooperation between the two countries on counter terrorism and agreed to further enhance cooperation in this direction.”
Malaysia and India also agreed to continue sharing of information and best practices to address the challenges posed by terrorism and other “traditional and non-traditional threats”.
Modi and Najib recalled their stake in promoting multiculturalism and reaffirmed their “commitment to democracy, pluralism and development”.
Appreciating Najib’s leadership in combating extremism and radicalisation, Modi said this is a great contribution and an important aspect of global efforts against the challenge.
Warning that terrorism is the “biggest threat” to the world, Modi had on Sunday said it should be delinked from religion.
Talking about security and defence cooperation, Modi said both countries will make it stronger, including for advancing maritime security and strengthening disaster response in the region.
“I am pleased that we have agreed to upgrade our joint exercises and set up the SU-30 Forum,” he said, adding that both sides will do more in terms of level and complexity of exercises and collaboration in training and defence equipment.
“Our agreement to cooperate in cyber security is very important. As our lives get more networked, this is emerging as one of the most serious concerns of our age,” Modi said.
India and Malaysia signed two MoUs on Cooperation on Cyber Security and Cooperation in Project Delivery and an agreement on Cultural Exchange Programme for 2015-2020.
The Prime Minister said he shares Najib’s belief that bilateral trade and investment relations can be scaled up significantly.
In an effort to further broaden and deepen the relationship between the two countries, both leaders agreed to proceed with efforts to develop the bilateral strategic partnership.
As part of the efforts, they agreed to intensify political consultations by holding regular summits, including on the margins of multilateral events, the joint statement said.
The two countries reaffirmed their commitment to further strengthen bilateral trade and investment cooperation and to deepen and widen their economic engagement “which has emerged as an important fulcrum of the strategic partnership”.
“We intend to exploit the full potential of our bilateral agreements and the India-ASEAN Agreements. We look forward to an early conclusion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement,” Modi said.
He expressed confidence of taking the bilateral strategic partnership to a new level.
The two sides agreed to promote joint collaboration, especially in infrastructure and construction sectors and to facilitate joint projects and collaboration between the private sectors of the two countries, in line with the new developmental and business initiatives undertaken by India, such as the Make in India, Digital India, Smart Cities and Skill Development that offered significant investment opportunities for Malaysian businesses.
“The two Prime Ministers, while expressing satisfaction with the progress of bilateral relations over the years, reaffirmed their determination to take the Strategic Partnership between the two countries to the next level by deepening existing areas and exploring new areas of cooperation,” the statement said.
Noting that India-Malaysia relations have made impressive strides in recent years, the two leaders decided to ramp up cooperation in defence and security sectors.
The two sides “agreed to enhance defence exchanges through regular dialogue at various levels, including between the Defence Ministers, senior defence officials, Chiefs of the Armed Services and through service-to-service staff talks.”
They also greed to convene the next India-Malaysia Defence Cooperation Meeting at Defence Secretary/Secretary General level.
Prime Minister Najib said a New convention Centre will be built in New Delhi under Government to Government contract.
Modi said, “We have built a vibrant economic partnership. We are located on the same maritime route.”
Noting that Malaysian competence in infrastructure is well known and that Malaysia has completed several important projects, including in the road sector, in India, Modi said he wanted to see enhanced Malaysian participation in areas such as expansion and upgrading of infrastructure, Make in India, and Smart Cities projects.
“Indian companies have a strong presence in Malaysia. IRCON is contributing to development of rail infrastructure here. We want to raise the level of Indian presence in the Malaysian economy,” Modi said.
The Prime Minister said he and his Malaysian counterpart are determined to explore steps to show concrete and early results.
“I am happy that we are strengthening our excellent cooperation in Public Administration and Governance. I have personally interacted with PEMANDU, and am pleased that our Niti Ayog will work with them,” he said.
The Prime Minister said both countries will place special emphasis on cultural and people-to-people ties.
Modi invited Malaysian students to study in India and urged early conclusion of an agreement on mutual recognition of degrees.
Responding to Modi’s call of mutual recognition of degrees, Najib said, “We will take immediate action to discuss this issue”.
Several degrees from top Indian educational institutions are not recognised by Malaysia.
Modi said, “I am very pleased with our excellent and growing cooperation in Traditional Medicine, including Ayurveda and Siddha.”
Noting that the two back-to-back airline tragedies could sap the morale of any nation, Modi said he commends Prime Minister Najib’s leadership and the resolve and resilience of the Malaysian people.
Modi said both countries are closely aligned in their vision and approach to the region and work closely in regional forums.
“So, with a relationship as rich as this, I am pleased that we have agreed to make our Summits, Ministerial dialogues and official meetings more regular. I assure you that we will work with renewed vigour to raise the level to momentum of our partnership,” he said.
Najib, in his statement, said the two sides wanted to cooperate in the defence field and were considering joint production in this sector.
Both countries shared a common position on counter terrorism efforts, he noted.
Modi expressed his appreciation to Najib for the warm reception and hospitality extended to him and his delegation for the visit and invited the Malaysian Prime Minister to undertake another visit to India at a mutually convenient date. The invitation was accepted by Najib.