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, saying required steps are being taken considering ground realities and threats of terrorism.
Asked about his controversial comments that India has de-radicalisation camps, he said what he meant was classification of people based on their views and the impact of relentless efforts to de-radicalise young people.
"When I said camps -- I meant groups of people," he said.
In an address at the Raisina Dialogue last month, Gen Rawat said de-radicalisation 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 de-radicalisation camps going on in our country."
Talking about evolving a regional security matrix, Gen Rawat said developments beyond India's immediate neighbourhood like 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," Gen Rawat said addressing a conclave organised by Times Now news channel.
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 also said the armed forces are ready to deal with any challenge along the borders with China as well as Pakistan.