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'We live in a complex neighbourhood of rapid change'

January 11, 2008 02:51 IST

Observing that India was living in a 'complex neighbourhood of rapid change,' Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said that the country needed to have a mechanism to analyse events across its borders and their impact on it.

Regretting the dearth of long-term planning on strategic policy issues in the country, he favoured creation of a body of 'informed opinion' that helps the government in preparing to deal with 'unexpected events' pro-actively.

"We live in interesting times, in challenging times, in fast-changing times. There are great opportunities awaiting us and profound challenges facing us," Dr Singh said, releasing India and Global Affairs journal brought out by the prominent Marathi daily Sakaal.

The prime minister said, "We live in a complex neighbourhood of rapid change. It is imperative that we have a better understanding of the processes of change at work. How will they impact on us? How can we influence them so that we can ensure a neighbourhood of peace, prosperity and stability?"

Referring to comment in the magazine on developments in Pakistan, Dr Singh said the questions raised in it have 'acquired even greater importance. We must look for informed and convincing answers.'

Noting that the policy making at home was often more reactive than pro-active, Dr Singh said the government was driven by the force of events and one did not always have the luxury of time to plan.

"However, it is important and necessary to try to do so. Creating a body of informed opinion is part of that process of preparing oneself to deal with unexpected events," he told the gathering which included Union Ministers Sharad Pawar, Praful Patel, Foreign Secretary Shivshanker Menon and former National Security Adviser Brijesh Mishra.

He, however, said there was a certain 'chicken-and-egg' sort of problem with the relationship between academia and government in these matters.
 
He said the country's national security must be based on three pillars -- a strong economic, technological and social base; adequate defence capacity; and mutually beneficial partnership in strategic, economic and technological spheres, aimed at enlarging policy choices and developmental options.

"Our engagement with major powers, and indeed with the world, must be set in this wider perspective," he said, adding "we must engage in cooperative, constructive and mutually beneficial relations with all major powers of the world."

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