Talk by UK’s Secretary of State for Defence, Rt. Hon. Michael Fallon MP
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The United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for Defence, Rt. Hon. Michael Fallon MP delivered a perceptive talk at the VIF, on ‘the UK and India – together in an uncertain world’, during his one-day visit to India on 30 Oct 2014 which was essentially directed towards commemorating India’s military contributions to the British war efforts in World War I (1914-18). Paying glowing tributes to the Indian soldiers who made supreme sacrifices in the World War I, the British Defence Secretary said the UK would remain ever indebted to them for upholding values that were common to both Great Britain and India. General NC Vij, former Chief of the Indian Army and present Director of the Foundation had said earlier in his welcome address that high number of gallantry awards won by the Indian soldiers during the Great War stood testimony to their heroism, while the British Defence Secretary said their contributions were all the more remarkable being completely voluntary.

Hon. Michael Fallon however said the shared historic tapestry between the two countries, especially in the military arena, continues even today, evidenced by the growing number of United Nation’s led military peacekeeping operations across the globe, as also the combined studies undertaken by the militaries of the two countries. He also supported India’s bid for permanent membership of the Security Council, especially in light of India’s significant contributions for various UN peacekeeping missions, over eight thousand soldiers, the highest by any country in the world.

While lauding India’s contributions in rebuilding Afghanistan, the British Secretary underlined the need for expanded cooperation between the UK and India, especially keeping in view the broad spectrum of emerging threats - terrorism, sea piracy, pandemics, proliferation in weapons of mass destruction, challenges in cyber and outer space, among others. The Secretary of Defence, UK however assured the audience of his country’s enduring commitment towards Afghanistan. In a bid to secure India’s cooperation in stabilizing the Middle East, especially Syria and Iraq, Mr. Fallon said it is in India’s own interest to tackle the ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria). Working together is not an opportunity but a necessity, the distinguished speaker said.

Mr. Fallon also said he favoured rule-based international system and the right of self-determination of the citizens, an obvious reference to maritime disputes in the South China Sea and the Ukrainian crisis. Among other highlights of Mr. Fallon’s talk included the rise of Asia and the shift in power balance away from Europe, and the scope for expanded defence cooperation between the UK. A large audience, comprising defence and diplomatic fraternity, among others, attended the event. Hon. Michael Fallon also took questions from the audience.

Event Date 
October 30, 2014
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