India's armed forces are at the cusp of transformation, Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat said on Wednesday, noting that proxy war and cross-border terrorism remained the key security challenges facing India.
Gen Rawat also rejected criticism that the armed forces are suppressing the rights of the people in Jammu and Kashmir and said required steps are being taken keeping in view ground realities and the threats of terrorism in the union territory.
Asked about his controversial comments that India has deradicalisation camps, he said what he meant was classification of people based on their views and the impact of relentless efforts to deradicalise young people.
"When I said camps -- I meant groups of people. The classification of people based on their views and the impact of relentless efforts to deradicalise young people. The word camp got misunderstood," he said during an interactive session at a conclave organised by Times Now news channel.
In an address at the Raisina Dialogue last month, Gen Rawat said deradicalisation camps are operating in the country as it is necessary to isolate people who are completely radicalised.
Girls and boys as young as 10 and 12 years are being radicalised in the Valley, he said, describing it as a matter of concern. "We have got deradicalisation camps going on in our country."
At the conclave on Wednesday, Gen Rawat also talked about the need for preventive deradicalisation strategies and how the Indian Army is running a number of schools in Kashmir as part of its outreach programme.
Talking about evolving a regional security matrix, Gen Rawat said developments beyond India's immediate neighbourhood, such as in West Asia, may impinge on the country's security interests.
"India needs to fulfill a larger responsibility in context of global peace. We have to expand our influence," said Gen Rawat.
Asked whether creation of the chief of defence staff has added another layer of bureaucracy, the former Army chief said it was a long-pending proposal aimed at ensuring greater integration in functioning of the three services.
He said both the CDS and the defence secretary have clear responsibilities and both will work in coordination to bring in transformational changes in the military.
"Indian armed forces are at the cusp of transformation... If we look at the future of warfare, then the military has to grow. Our priority is quality, not quantity," he said.
Gen Rawat also talked about plans to have an air defence command as well as a separate logistics command.
"The focus will be to ensure better utilisation of resources," he said.
The CDS added that the armed forces are ready to deal with any challenge along the borders with China as well as Pakistan.
Talking about modernisation of the armed forces, he said India is not competing with China.
"It is not them vs us. China is aspiring to become a global power. We are aspiring to become a regional power. We have to be prepared to protect our borders, our peninsula, our islands and requirement of internal security," he said.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)