New Delhi: President Droupadi Murmu on Tuesday said the government has been laying constant emphasis on modernising the military as it firmly believes that lasting peace is possible only when India is politically and strategically strong.
Murmu’s comments during her address to the joint session of Parliament on the first day of Budget session came amid India’s lingering border row with China in eastern Ladakh as well as the challenges of Pakistan-backed cross-border terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir.
Without directly mentioning either Pakistan or China, the President, who is also the supreme commander of the armed forces, highlighted that “befitting response” was given to every “misadventure from LoC (Line of Control) to LAC (Line of Actual Control)” .
“My decisive government has always kept the country’s interest paramount and shown the willpower to completely transform the policies and strategies when required,” she said.
“From surgical strike to a firm crackdown on terrorism, from a befitting response to every misadventure from LoC to LAC, from abrogation of Article 370 to Triple Talaq, my government has been recognised as a decisive government,” she said.
The president’s address reflects the views of the government of the day.
In September 2016, the Indian Army carried out surgical strikes against terrorist camps in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. A week back, Congress’ Digvijaya Singh made controversial remarks questioning the surgical strike. However, party leader Rahul Gandhi trashed the comments as “ridiculous”.
Murmu said “unprecedented infrastructure” has been developed in the border areas in the past few years from the point of view of national security.
“My government firmly believes that lasting peace is possible only when we are strong politically and strategically. Therefore, we are constantly laying emphasis on the modernisation of our military strength,” she said.
The President also mentioned the commissioning of India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant, rolling out of the Agnipath recruitment scheme and the ‘Vibrant Village’ programme to provide better facilities to the border areas.
She also highlighted the six-fold increase in defence exports and renaming islands of Andaman and Nicobar after Param Vir Chakra awardees of the Indian Army. “My government has started working on the Vibrant Village programme to provide better facilities to the border villages. From the point of view of national security too, unprecedented infrastructure has been developed in the border areas in the past few years,” she said.
“This has accelerated development in such areas. The left-wing extremism, which had become a major threat to national security in the last few decades, has now been confined to a few districts,” she added.
Murmu said islands of Andaman and Nicobar have also been named after Param Vir Chakra awardees of the Indian Army.
“On the one hand, the National War Memorial has become a symbol of national valour, while on the other, our Navy has also got the insignia given by Chhatrapati Veer Shivaji Maharaj,” she said.
“As a result of new initiative of my government, our defence exports have grown six times. I am proud that the first indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant has also joined our forces,” she noted.
On the Agnipath scheme, she said it is very important for the forces to be enriched with youth power, to be proficient in warfare and to be equipped with the power of technology.
“Keeping these principles in mind, Agniveer Yojana has been launched. This will give maximum opportunity to the youth of the country to serve the nation through the armed forces,” she said.
Under the Agnipath scheme, announced on June 14 last year, the three services are recruiting youths between the age bracket of 17-and-half years and 21 for four years with a provision to retain 25 per cent of them for 15 more years.
For 2022, the upper age limit was extended to 23 years.
“Difficult terrain, along with unrest and terrorism, posed a major challenge to development of the North East and Jammu and Kashmir. My government has taken a number of successful steps for lasting peace and has confronted the geographical challenges,” she said.
“As a result, the North East and our border areas are experiencing a new pace of development,” she added.