New Delhi: “Self-reliance & secured borders are central to making India a powerful nation,” said Raksha Mantri Rajnath Singh at an event in New Delhi on October 15, 2022. The Raksha Mantri, in his address, echoed the Government’s unwavering resolve to transform India into one of the most powerful nations by 2047, asserting that Ministry of Defence (MoD) is leaving no stone unturned to achieve Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’.
Shri Singh underlined the Government’s focus to equip the Armed Forces with state-of-the-art weapons/equipment, manufactured by a self-reliant defence industry. He listed out a number of steps taken by MoD to reduce dependency on imports, including issuance of positive indigenisation lists. Citing the example of recently-commissioned INS Vikrant, which contains 76 per cent indigenous content, he stated that India has the ability and capability to manufacture modern weapons and platforms. He exuded confidence that the country will start manufacturing modern and effective water, land, sky and space defence platforms in the next ten years.
The Raksha Mantri appreciated the fact that due to the steps taken by the Government in the last few years, defence exports have seen a massive jump. “There was a time when India only exported defence equipment worth Rs 1,900 crore. The figure today has crossed Rs 13,000 crore. We have set a target of Rs 1.75 lakh crore of defence production by 2025, including Rs 35,000 crore worth of exports. We are well on course to achieve the target,” he said.
Terming border area development as another aspect at the core of the Government’s vision, Shri Singh said that all efforts are being made to increase connectivity with far-flung areas to further strengthen the preparedness of the Armed Forces and linking the country with people residing in the region. He lauded the exceptional synergy between the Armed Forces and the general public in the North-East states and their patriotism, despite challenging circumstances.
The Raksha Mantri termed North-East as the arm of India which was ignored for a long time after independence. He asserted that the progress of the North-East has been one of the major focus areas of the Government, led by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, since the beginning as the region is crucial for the economic, social, political and strategic development of the country.
“Our greatest achievement in the last 8.5 years has been the restoration of peace & prosperity in the North-Eastern states. Since 2014, there has been about 80-90 per cent reduction in violence incidents in almost every state of the North-East. Most of the extremist organisations have either been rooted out or have surrendered and joined the mainstream. Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act has been removed from 80 per cent of the areas. This was made possible as now there is peace, stability and durability in the region,” Shri Singh said.
The Raksha Mantri described connectivity with the North-East as another achievement of the Government in the last 8.5 years. He stated that air, road and rail connectivity infrastructure has been strengthened and there is now a direct link with the region. He termed the Union Cabinet approval of Prime Minister’s Development Initiative for North East Region (PM-DevINE) as a testament to the Government’s commitment towards progress of the Northeastern states. The progress of the North-East region is pivotal to making a strong, prosperous and self-reliant ‘New India’ as envisioned by the Prime Minister, he said.
Shri Singh commended Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi under whose leadership the country’s economy has become more dynamic and stronger. He added that the number of start-ups in the country has increased manifold to 75,000 from just 400 in 2014. Of these, more than a 100 are known worldwide as unicorns due to their valuation of $1 billion, he said.
“Today, most of the countries are facing the problem of slowdown in economy. International Monetary Fund (IMF) has projected its global GDP growth rate to be 2.9 per cent in 2022-23. While India’s growth rate has been underestimated, it is still pegged at 6.1 per cent. The world is looking up to India’s growth story,” the Raksha Mantri said.