In his Independence Day broadcast, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh thanks military for its support - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Saturday 14 August 2021

In his Independence Day broadcast, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh thanks military for its support

By Ajai Shukla

Business Standard, 15th August 21


In his annual broadcast to the armed forces on the eve of Independence Day, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh gave congratulations for an impressive list of achievements, starting with an Olympic gold medal won by an Army Subedar, Neeraj Chopra, in the javelin throw.


Chopra, along with other Olympic medallists from the three services have been invited to the Independence Day celebrations at the Red Fort tomorrow, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the nation.  


Rajnath lauded the ceasefire on the India-Pakistan Line of Control that has seen quiet on that border since February. He said the ceasefire was holding “due to our (the military’s) vigilance and indomitable valour. Ceasefire violations have also come down since February 2021.” 


“In Eastern Ladakh, efforts are being made to resolve the differences on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) through dialogue with China. The process of disengagement has been completed at some places,” said the Raksha Mantri (RM).


The RM stated that in the Union Budget for the current year 2021-22 “Capital outlay has been increased from Rs 1.13 lakh crore (trillion) to Rs 1.35 lakh crore (trillion), which is 18.75 per cent higher than the previous financial year.”


Singh stated that, of the 36 Rafale fighters contracted with France, 26 have arrived in India. “On July 28, the Rafale was formally inducted into 101 Squadron at Hashimara Air Force Station of Eastern Air Command… Soon the remaining Rafale aircraft will also arrive in India, he said.


The RM also mentioned the Union Cabinet’s clearance on January 13 of 83 Tejas Mark 1A fighters for the Indian Air Force (IAF) at a cost of Rs 45,696 crore. “Hindustan Aeronautics will manufacture these aircraft in India itself… strengthening the aim of ‘Atma Nirbhar Bharat’ in the field of defence,” he said.


Rajnath heaped praise on the navy’s Directorate of Naval Design and Cochin Shipyard Ltd at the completion by the indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC-1) of its four-day maiden sea voyage on August 8. 


“INS Vikrant was designed by Indians. Built with more than 76 per cent indigenous material, the vessel is a major achievement of ‘Atma Nirbhar Bharat’ (self-reliant India),” said Rajnath.


The defence minister also lauded another “Make in India” initiative that took off recently – the Rs 40,000 crore construction of six conventional submarines under Project 75-India.


In a frontline technology breakthrough, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) had successfully demonstrated hypersonic flight with the testing of Hypersonic Technology Demonstration Vehicle (HSTDV), the RM said. 


Listing breakthroughs by the DRDO in the sphere of tactical missiles, Rajnath mentioned the launch of an anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) through a man portable launcher. The New Generation Akash (Akash-NG) missile was also test fired successfully. “The flight test has validated the functioning of complete weapon system consisting of the missile with indigenously developed Radio Frequency Seeker, Launcher, Multi-Function Radar and Command, Control & Communication system,” said the RM.


Praising the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), the minister pointed to “the incredible achievement of building the Atal [Behari Vajpayee] Tunnel… It was inaugurated by PM Narendra Modi on October 03, 2020. The 9.2 kilometre-long tunnel is the longest in the world, constructed at the height of more than 10,000 feet,” said Rajnath.


The BRO created another world record in July by constructing a 52 kilometre-long charcoal road in Eastern Ladakh, crossing over Umlingla Pass, at an altitude of 19,300 feet.


Rajnath Singh announced that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has decided to “set up 100 new Sainik Schools to prepare future generations of versatile, brave warriors. All these schools will be co-ed which also benefit the daughters of our country…,” he said.


Rajnath said that “Continuous efforts are being made to increase the participation of women in all branches of the Indian Army… I extend my best wishes to 83 women soldiers who passed out in May 2021 after 61 weeks of rigorous training,” he said. 


Singling out the military for its response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the defence minister said all wings of the MoD had established hospitals. “To address the shortage of oxygen in the medical system, 935 medical oxygen plants based on technology of DRDO are being set up in every district hospital funded by PM Care across the country,” said Rajnath. 


He also praised the DRDO for its major breakthrough in finding medicine for treating Covid-19. One of its laboratories, the Institute of Nuclear Medicine & Allied Sciences (INMAS), in collaboration with Dr Reddy's Laboratories (DRL), Hyderabad, developed a very effective drug called 2-Deoxy-D-Glucose (2-DG) for treating Covid-19 patients.

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