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May 9, 2012

India Raising Offensive Corps for China Border: Antony

Admitting the "mistake" of not developing capabilities on the borders with China, Government today said it is gearing up through a slew of steps to tackle the changing threat perception including the formation of an offensive Corps.

Defence Minister A K Antony pitched for a hike of around Rs 45,000 crore in defence budget as he observed that the allocation of Rs 1,93, 407 crore was not sufficient to meet the growing challenges.

Terming the growing military ties between Pakistan and China as a "cause of worry", he said the armed forces have been issued a new directive to change their strategy to meet the challenges.

"Threat perception today is not similar to the threat perception ten or twenty years ago. Dynamic changes are taking place. But I assure the House that we are also changing our strategy," he said in reply to a discussion on performance of his Ministry in the Rajya Sabha.

"Now we have given a new directive to our armed forces to meet the new challenges in the context of the new threat perception faced by the country," the Defence Minister said.

Observing that China had developed military infrastructure in Tibet and India should have also done so in Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and other parts of the country, he said, "In the past we did not perform our duty. That is our mistake. Now we have learnt our lessons."

On the need for hike in defence budget, Antony said, "After analysis of the threat perception, we have found that the picture is problematic. We will need to have a second look at the defence budget....

"We have been given Rs 1.93 lakh crore this year but as per the estimated requirement of the armed forces, we would want Rs 2.39 lakh crore. We want Rs 45,716 crore more. I have asked the Government to provide us more money."

On steps taken by the Government to strengthen defence capabilities, Antony said, "Under 12th Defence Plan, we have sent a proposal to Finance Ministry to raise an offensive Corps with two special divisions and it is in final stages. The force-level has been increased substantially."

He said the Government had earlier approved raising of two mountain divisions along with a Special Forces battalion, an artillery brigade and an armoured regiment for deployment in the northeast sector.

Taking part in the discussion, Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said a new axis has emerged between China and Pakistan in the last few years which was evident from China's altered stand on Jammu and Kashmir and its involvement in building at least two nuclear reactors for Pakistan.

The BJP leader said in terms of these changing geo-strategic realities, "our defence strategy has to be planned, particularly when you find Chinese troops present in PoK and in other areas.

"The kind of military cooperation between the two countries which is going on, the kind of road building across our border which is going on," Jaitley said.

-OUTLOOK INDIA

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