It is a great honour and pleasure to receive US Secretary of Defence Mr Austin in his first official visit abroad and to India. I spoke with Secretary Austin immediately after he assumed charged. We had an excellent conversation during which I invited him to visit India at his earliest convenience. His visit to India despite the COVID-19 global pandemic, shows the abiding commitment of the United States to our bilateral relationship.
I am happy to inform that we had a comprehensive and fruitful discussion with Secretary Austin and his delegation. We are keen to work together to realise the full potential of the India-US Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership.
Our discussions today focussed on our wide ranging defence cooperation and expanding military-to-military engagement across services, information sharing, cooperation in emerging sectors of defence, and mutual logistics support.
We reviewed the wide gamut of bilateral and multilateral exercises and agreed to pursue enhanced cooperation with the US Indo-Pacific Command, Central Command and Africa Command. Acknowledging that we have in place the foundational agreements, LEMOA, COMCASA and BECA, we discussed steps to be taken to realise their full potential for mutual benefit.
I conveyed my appreciation to Secretary Austin for participation of US in Aero India 2021 along with a business delegation. I invited US industry to take advantage of India’s liberalized foreign direct investment (FDI) policies in the defence sector. We both agreed that there are opportunities for collaboration in defence industry.
The recent Leaders’ Summit of India, USA, Japan and Australia under the Quad framework emphasized our resolve to maintain a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region. We discussed the need for enhanced capacity building to address some of the non-traditional challenges such as oil spills and environment disasters, drug trafficking, Illegal, Unreported, Unregulated (IUU) fishing, etc.
India is committed to further consolidate our robust defence partnership with the United States. I look forward to working with you closely to make the India-US relationship one of the defining partnerships of 21st century.
India’s land borders are characterized by deserts, mountains, forests and riverine terrain. Vigilant Border Guarding Forces prevent efforts by infiltrators to exploit the vulnerable patches.
The number of cases of infiltration border-wise, reported during the last 2 years and current year upto January, 2021 are as under:-
No. of cases of Infiltration
Infiltrators apprehended by the Border Guarding Forces were handed over to the State Police concerned.
Government of India has adopted a multi-pronged approach to stop cross-border intrusions and secure our territories, which inter-alia includes deployment of Border Guarding Forces along the International Borders, effective domination of the borders by patrolling, laying Nakas, manning observation posts along the borders, vulnerability mapping of Border Out Posts (BOPs), deployment of surveillance equipment, strengthening of intelligence network, erection of border fencing & floodlighting and deployment of technological solutions in non-feasible areas like riverine gaps, etc.
Secretary Department of Defence R&D & Chairman Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) Dr G Satheesh Reddy launched Aazadi Ka Amrut Mahotsav at DRDO Bhawan on March 12, 2021. Directors General, DRDO scientists and other officers attended the event virtually from all major centres including Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Pune, Tejpur and Visakhapatnam.
Aazadi Ka Amrut Mahotsav has been organised to commemorate 75 years of India’s independence and will be celebrated for 75 weeks starting from March 12, 2021 with various themes. Efforts of DRDO will primarily focus on the theme ‘AatmaNirbhar Bharat’ and the announcements made will be in the direction of realizing that vision. DRDO will celebrate the Mahotsav throughout the 75 weeks by conducting various activities in the direction of nation building, achieving self reliance, encouraging scientific innovations, developing human resources and host of other related topics.
During the Mahotsav, DRDO will work with renewed energy to accomplish the goals set by Secretary Department of Defence R&D & Chairman DRDO under the vision of the Prime Minister. Chairman DRDO called upon DRDO fraternity to put special efforts to further support the industry and academia. DRDO will work along with them to achieve the goals of Mahotsav in various ways.
DRDO plans to enhance handholding of startups through incubation centres for technology development. Technology proposals from various industries will be processed under the Technology Development Fund (TDF) scheme in larger numbers. Number of Licensing Agreements for Transfer of Technologies (LAToTs) will be increased to greater than 100. ToT to local industry for potable water in North Eastern Regions, Interactions/visits by DRDO scientists to various industries, filing of patents and reaching out to foreign countries to promote export of DRDO products have also been planned in a bigger way over the entire duration of the Mahotsav.
In order to promote greater collaboration with the academia, wide variety of activities have been planned such as providing new challenges to academic institutes, increasing internship to students and providing apprenticeships to students in DRDO laboratories/centres. Besides, PhD students will be enrolled in DRDO laboratories on various defence related topics. More importance will be given to publication of scientific research papers and defence related articles in regional languages. Organising of courses and seminars on defence related areas in Universities/Institutions has also been planned on a larger scale. For encouraging skill development, many Certificate courses have been planned for students in advanced futuristic technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Cyber Security.
In addition to these, special activities like exhibitions, short films, documentaries, carrying out plantations on a large scale, have been planned.
The Raksha Mantri Hon’ble Rajnath Singh joined the Combined Commanders of the Armed Forces for the Vivechana Sessions at the ongoing Combined Commanders Conference 2021 at Kevadia in Gujarat. Soon after arriving at Kevadia, the RM visited the Statue of Unity to pay his homage to the Iron Man of India, Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel.
Delivering the inaugural address, the Raksha Mantri dwelled on a wide spectrum of issues affecting the defence& security of the Nation. He spoke at length on the emerging nature of military threats, the critical role of the Armed Forces in meeting these threats and the anticipated changes in the nature of warfare in future. Hon’ble RM expressed his heartfelt appreciation and respect to the selfless courage displayed by the soldiers during the Eastern Ladakh standoff with PLA. Secretaries of Department of Defence, Defence Production, Department of R&D and Financial Advisor Defence Services also shared their thoughts on various relevant aspects with the Combined Commanders.
The two Vivechana sessions held over the day in the presence of the Defence Minister deliberated over a wide range of issues, some of them held behind closed doors. These deliberations addressed the ongoing modernisation of Armed Forces especially focusing on creation of integrated Theatre Commands and infusion of modern technology. Issues like morale & motivation and promotion of spirit of innovation in the Armed Forces witnessed enthusiastic participation with useful feedback and suggestions from the soldiers and younger officers of the three Services.
Directorate of Indian Army Veterans (DIAV) and Mrs Veena Nayyar, wife of Late Vice Admiral KK Nayyar, former Vice Chief of Naval Staff signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to pledge Rs Two Crores for welfare schemes run by the Army, Navy and Air Force. Mrs Veena Nayyar presented a Cheque of Rs 2 Crores to three Services which was received by Admiral Karambir Singh, Chief of the Naval Staff, Gen MM Naravane, Chief of the Army Staff and Air Marshall VPS Rana, Air Officer In Charge of Administration at Army Headquarters, New Delhi.
The main objective of the MoU is to facilitate various welfare schemes instituted for Next of Kins of service personnel died in harness. The welfare schemes include Education Scholarships and Computer Grant for wards and widows of deceased service personnel, Grant for Higher Education of widows and Marriage grant for widows and daughters.
The Chief of the Naval Staff and the Chief of the Army Staff conveyed their gratitude to Mrs Veena Nayyar for her benevolent contribution to the three Services and said that her noble gesture would support more than one lakh widows and wards in leading a respectful life.
DIAV is one of the primary organisations of Indian Army which looks after the Rehabilitation and Welfare of the families of Service personnel who have died in harness. DIAV has disbursed approximately Rs 86 Crores to about 76,000 beneficiaries over the past 20 years towards various welfare schemes.
Lt Gen Harsha Gupta, Adjutant General and Mrs Veena Naravane, President Army Wives Welfare Association and Mrs Sudha Gupta, General Secretary, Army Wives Welfare Association were also present on the occasion.
Commodore M Goverdhan Raju, NM took over as Naval Officer-in-Charge (Andhra Pradesh) from Commodore Sanjiv Issar at an impressive ceremonial parade held in the Naval Base at Visakhapatnam on 26 Feb 21.
Cmde Raju is an alumnus of Sainik School, Korukonda and National Defence Academy, Khadakvasla. He was commissioned into the Indian Navy on 01 Jul 1989 and is a specialist in Navigation and Direction.
He held a spectrum of highly challenging operational, staff and training appointments viz; the commissioning crew of INS Sagardhwani, specialist and executive officer appointments on frontline warships, Joint Director Staff Requirements at Naval Headquarters, Director (Training & Policy) at HQ Integrated Defence Staff, Principal Director (Training) at the premier training establishment, Indian Naval Academy (Ezhimala) and Director, Maritime Warfare Centre (Vizag).
He has also carried out the duties of Fleet Operations Officer of Eastern Fleet during Dec 2014-May 2016, and he concurrently carried out the duties as the Chief Coordinator for Static Review, Operational Demonstration, Passage Exercise etc. during the prestigious International Fleet Review-2016 and contributed to its grand success.
He is also a graduate of Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, Army War College, Mhow and National Defence College, Mirpur (Bangladesh).
He has the distinction of commanding four IN Ships viz; Torpedo Recovery Vessel-71, Ocean Going Minesweeper Ratnagiri, Dhanush OPV Suvarna and Destroyer Ranvijay, as well as two shore units; the premier training establishment INS Chilka with concurrent charge as Naval Officer-in-Charge (Odisha), and the Forward Operating Base INS Sardar Patel with concurrent charge as Naval Officer-in-Charge (Gujarat).
He is a proud recipient of Nao Sena Medal (Devotion to Duty) in 2014.