Proactive collaboration key to shared peace and prosperity: Rajnath Singh

New Delhi Feb 21 (UNI) Defence Minister Rajnath Singh called upon the international community to collectively aspire for peace in this age of democratic and rules-based world order, where individual countries proactively collaborate for shared peace and prosperity.

India will continue to play the role of a Vishwa Mitra in forging meaningful partnerships that make the world a truly connected and equitable habitat, Singh said while addressing the formal opening ceremony of the 12th edition of the multi-nation Exercise MILAN in Visakhapatnam on Wednesday.

While batting for peace and shared goodness, the Defence Minister assured that “we will not shrink from countering any threat that undermines our collective well-being, piracy and trafficking included.”.

He referred to the recent events in the Western Indian Ocean, which have brought to the fore some pressing challenges in the maritime domain, ranging from attacks on merchant shipping to piracy and hijacking attempts.

“India continues its proactive engagement and has been maintaining a sustained presence in the region to ensure the safety and security of all shipping, irrespective of the flag on the ship and the nationality of the crew. It is our steadfast resolve to be the first responder and the preferred security partner in the Indian Ocean Region, and for the peace, stability, and prosperity of the wider Indo-Pacific,” he said.

Sharing his insights on the concept of ‘peace’, Rajnath asserted that the absence of wars and conflicts is the most irreducible minimum element of peace, an official statement said.

Speaking about “negative peace,” he said that this often stems from dominance or hegemony, where one power imposes its will upon others. Adding that such peace, not backed by fairness and justice, is what physicists and economists call “unstable equilibrium,”.

The Defence Minister elaborated on what he called “cold peace,” where parties do not kill each other in the open but do their best to undermine one another. He described cold peace as merely an interval between direct conflicts.

He was of the view that the concept of positive peace goes beyond the mere absence of direct military conflict and encompasses broader notions of security, justice, and cooperation.

“The positive peace is the shared peace of one and all, with the cooperation of one and all. There is no Indian peace, Australian peace, or Japanese peace; rather, it is a shared global peace. This sentiment was also eloquently expressed by our Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, who stated, “This is not a war era.” But it is one of dialogue and diplomacy’,” he said.

Rajnath Singh stressed that in this evolution of the nature of the Armed Forces, international military exercises have emerged as crucial mechanisms for fostering friendship, understanding, cooperation, and military interoperability among friendly nations within the framework of a democratic world order. He termed MILAN 2024 as one such attempt to build the much-needed fraternal bonds across the oceans and mountains.

In his address, Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral R Hari Kumar stated that, underpinned by the Government of India’s vision of Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR), MILAN encapsulates and rejuvenates the unrelenting spirit of ‘cohesion, camaraderie, and collaboration.’ From five IOR navies in 1995 to 50 navies across the Indo-Pacific today, MILAN reflects the growing stature and increasing importance of such collective and cooperative endeavours in the maritime domain.

The Navy Chief informed that the harbour phase, which is underway, has seen insightful discussions through subject matter expert exchanges and tabletop exercises.

He stated that while the International Maritime Seminar scheduled over the next two days will provide senior commanders a platform to exchange ideas on crucial maritime challenges and opportunities, adding that young officers have been honing their sailing, submarine rescue, and damage control skills at training simulators here.

Admiral R. Hari Kumar added that the sea phase commencing on February 24 will witness Indian and foreign warships sailing in unison and participating in an array of operational drills, pushing the collective boundaries and refining the skills together.

On the occasion, the Defence Minister also launched the NISHAR communication terminal. He also inaugurated MILAN Village, a rendezvous of culture, tradition, and cuisine of nations participating in the Multilateral Naval Exercise MILAN 2024.

MILAN Village will remain open from 3 PM to 10 PM from February 21st to February 23rd for personnel of friendly foreign countries, defence personnel, and their families.

MILAN is a biennial multilateral naval exercise held under the aegis of the Eastern Naval Command. This edition is the largest and more complex than previous editions, with the participation of Indian ships, 16 foreign warships, one Maritime Patrol Aircraft and delegations from friendly countries. The exercise commenced on February 19 and will culminate on February 27 after the sea phase.

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