India does not believe in giving "sermons or cut-and-dried" solutions to countries in need of assistance and holds that nations with superior military powers do not have the right to dictate solutions to others, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Tuesday in an apparent reference to China's assertive behaviour.
In an address to his counterparts and deputy defence ministers from around 30 countries at Aero India, Singh said India has always stood for a rules-based global order in which the primordial instinct of "might being right" is replaced by fairness, respect and equality amongst all sovereign nations.
Without naming China or any other country, Singh said the "top-down approach" towards solving problems has never been sustainable, adding often it leads to "debt trap, reaction from the local population and conflict."
While referring to India's emphasis on collective approach, Singh talked about how the COVID-19 pandemic originated in "one country" and how in no time, it had a devastating impact on the whole world, adding the crisis once again underscored the point that "we are all in the same boat and we either sink or swim together."
In the conclave named SPEED (Shared Prosperity through Enhanced Engagements in Defence), Singh also called for united efforts to counter pressing challenges like terrorism and said collective security has become "sine-qua non" for overall development and prosperity of nations.
To counter the security threats, Singh underlined the need for devising new strategies, adding India does not believe in dealing with such security issues in the "old paternalistic or the neo-colonial paradigms".
"We consider all nations as equal partners. That is why, we do not believe in imposing external or supra-national solutions to a country's internal problems," he said.
"We do not believe in giving sermons or cut-and-dried solutions, which do not respect the national values and constraints of the countries in need of assistance. Rather, we support the capacity building of our partner countries, so that they may chart out their own destiny," he added.
Singh said "there are nations which are richer, militarily or technologically more advanced than others, but it does not give them the right to dictate their solutions to the nations in need of support."
His comments came against the backdrop of China's growing efforts to expand military influence in the Indo-Pacific, Africa and in India's neighbourhood.
The 14th edition of Aero India at the Yelahanka Air Force station complex on the outskirts of Bengaluru was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday and it saw participation of over 700 defence firms and representatives of around 100 countries.
"There are nations which are richer, militarily or technologically more advanced than others, but it does not give them the right to dictate their solutions to the nations in need of support," he said.
"This top-down approach towards solving problems has never been sustainable in the long run. Often, it leads to debt trap, reaction from the local population, conflict and so on," he added.
Singh told the defence ministers that India offers an enhanced defence partnership to the friendly foreign nations in line with their national priorities.
"We want to build with you, we want to launch with you, we want to create with you and we want to develop with you. We wish to create symbiotic relationships, where we can learn from each other, grow together and create a win-win situation for one and all," he said.
Singh said it is India's endeavour to "transcend the hierarchical relationship of buyer and seller", to that of a co-development and co-production model, irrespective of whether "we are a buyer or a seller".
"When we are procuring defence equipment from our valued partner nations, very often, they are sharing the technical know-how, setting up manufacturing plants in India, and working with our local firms for various sub systems," he said.
"And when we are exporting our defence equipment to our friendly nations, we offer our full support towards the capability development of the buyer, through sharing of technology, training, co-production and so on," he noted.
Singh said India has never been a closed country, and has always been open to new ideas and thoughts from all over the world. Our past openness continues to shape our present and future.
"Untethered to any faction or alliance of one group of nations against another, we have worked ceaselessly for the uplift of all nations, developing ones in particular," he said.
"India has always stood for a rules-based international order, in which the primordial instinct of the 'might being right' is replaced by the civilisational concept of fairness, cooperation, respect and equality amongst all sovereign nations, big or small," he added.
The defence ministers' conclave sought to address aspects related to deepening cooperation for capacity building through investments, joint ventures, co-development and co-production of military platforms.
The focus of the event is to showcase indigenous equipment and technologies and forging partnerships with foreign companies, in line with 'Make in India, Make for the World' vision of the government.