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We're punished, but not those countries
guilty of proliferation: Vajpayee

May 11, 2003 22:21 IST

Regretting that countries guilty of missile and nuclear proliferation have not attracted sanctions, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on Sunday asserted India has to depend on in-house technology to develop major defence and dual-use items, whose potential have been graphically demonstrated in recent wars.

"Some (guilty countries) even continue to receive liberal economic assistance," he said in an apparent  reference to Pakistan and China.

This, he said, was in sharp contrast to India, which has strictly exercised a self-imposed restraint on transfer of nuclear, missile and dual-use technologies and material.

"We have denied ourselves many lucrative contracts and joint ventures. We have never received any recognition for this," Vajpayee told the country's top defence scientists after presenting the annual Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) awards on the National Technology Day, marking the 1998 Pokhran nuclear tests.

While lauding their achievements, like development of the 700-km-range nuclear-capable Agni-I missile, BrahMos cruise missile and the Light Combat Aircraft, the prime minister warned that the nation has to realise that these technological breakthroughs could be short-lived unless newer technologies are constantly developed.

"There can be no respite. War fighting technologies are  constantly being upgraded. Recent military conflicts in our neighbourhood have graphically demonstrated this. They

underline the importance of overwhelming technological  superiority over an adversary. Technological innovation is imperative," he said.

Observing that combating terrorism effectively required specialised technology, Vajpayee said development of  technologies for countering the menace should be a 'priority' of defence research and development establishments.

"Until a more equitable and free technology regime is adopted by the world, we will have to depend on indigenous technology development for major defence and dual-use items."

Referring to the Pokhran nuclear tests, the prime minister said, "It was a difficult political  decision in response to the harsh realities of our security  environment."

"Our tests were also a major technological achievement in the face of stringent sanctions and technology import restrictions," he said, reminding the scientists that sanctions against  India did not begin with the 1998 nuclear tests and were first imposed even after the 1974 tests though India was not party to the discriminatory non-proliferation treaty (NPT).

A few years later, other sanctions were added on under equally discriminatory missiles technology control regimes, Vajpayee said adding many of the sanctions of the seventies and the eighties remain in place even today.

He said the LCA 'was a major technological feat after years of trials, disappointments and doubts'.

Similarly, he said, the country's scientists and engineers had also achieved breakthroughs in civilian fields like manufacture of advanced satellites with sophisticated payloads.

Stating that the country was heading towards self-reliance in launching geo-synchronous satellites, the prime minister said in the Geo-Synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV), India had a product employing a highly complex multi-disciplinary system incorporating diverse specialisations.

"Our imagery techniques compare with the best in the world. Our skills in information technology do not need elaboration. We can confidently say today we are at the vanguard of the knowledge revolution, which is powering globalisation," he said.

Stressing that technologies developed for defence hardware should be fully tapped for civilian applications, Vajpayee said DRDO had initiated some moves in this direction.

Citing Saras, which will be India's first 14-seater passenger aircraft, and Sanjivini, a portable life-detecting device for rescue missions, he emphasised the need for greater collaboration and cross-pollination between the defence sector and industry.

The prime minister also called upon the private sector to follow the government in offering scholarships to promising young students to study science in universities.

Seeking close intermeshing of military technologies with military strategies, Vajpayee said there has to be  intensive coordination between the technology developers.

Echoing the sentiments of the prime minister, Defence Minister George Fernandes warned that those controlling the best of technologies would never part with them. So there was a need for urgent reprisal to go indigenous at a 'very fast  pace'.

Fernandes said this was all the more necessary considering the security scenario around the country.

His remarks assume significance in the wake of Indian and US experts reopening their strategic dialogue in July on New Delhi's request for further easing of restriction on import dual-use technology.

Scientific Adviser to the defence minister V K Aatre and top officers of the armed forces were among those who attended the function.

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