Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh held a bilateral meeting with US Secretary of Defence Mr Lloyd Austin in Siem Reap, Cambodia today. Shri Rajnath Singh and Mr Lloyd Austin are in Cambodia to attend the 9th ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) Plus meeting. Both leaders met each other with great warmth and expressed satisfaction at the growing bilateral defence engagements. The Raksha Mantri was accompanied by Defence Secretary Shri Giridhar Aramane and other senior officials of Ministry of Defence.
The two Defence Ministers discussed wide range of issues of mutual interest while expressing their commitment to a strong India-US defence cooperation. Shri Rajnath Singh emphasised the need for both countries to work together for capability building in critical domains such as military aviation, artificial intelligence and cyber technology.
The Raksha Mantri looked forward to building a roadmap towards greater defence industrial collaboration between India and US. He highlighted India’s growing expertise in aircraft Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) and ship-building, repairs and refits and suggested specific areas where US defence companies can look for technology cooperation and manufacturing opportunities with Indian partners in India. Secretary Austin welcomed the suggestions and assured Raksha Mantri of cooperation in this regard.
The two leaders expressed their commitment towards an inclusive and rules-based Indo Pacific with freedom of navigation, overflight and unimpeded trade. They further discussed initiatives that can be taken to strengthen maritime cooperation between the two countries including in maritime domain awareness. Both leaders also shared their perspectives on the regional security situation.
Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh has said, the flight of an Aatmanirbhar Defence depends on the two wings of industry, manufacturers and supply on one hand and armed forces, users and demand on the other. He was speaking at a seminar organised by FICCI in coordination with Headquarters of Integrated Defence Staff on ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat & Make in India: Roadmap for the Armed Forces’ as part of 12th DefExpo in Gandhinagar, Gujarat on October 20, 2022.
Shri Rajnath Singh emphasised the need to balance these two wings of the Indian Defence sector to attain new heights. Addressing the gathering, Shri Rajnath Singh highlighted the need for indigenization of defence equipment and technology and uniqueness in planning to maintain a surprise element in our response to adversaries. He acknowledged that our preparedness in responding to challenges of the rapidly changing geo-political scenario, particularly neighbourhood threats, has grown in recent years and efforts are on to continue this progress.
The Raksha Mantri said acquisition of military equipment was delayed and their uniqueness was compromised, as also it was comparatively below the standards of others. In such a situation, it’s imperative for India to indigenise. Raksha Mantri listed various steps taken to strengthen our defence industry through making capital and technology available, development of R&D ecosystem and a large market. He mentioned reservation of 68% of the capital acquisition budget for domestic industry for 2022-23, 25% of domestic capital procurement from private industry, MSMEs and start-ups, reservation of 25% of the Defence R&D budget to promote industry, start-ups and academia, Defence Innovation Start-Up Challenges and Technology Development Fund as steps that have been taken to encourage private industry and MSMEs.
Shri Rajnath Singh emphasised the importance of quality in defence products and technology, saying that any compromise in this respect hurts our national interest and pride. He exhorted all stakeholders to develop the best defence technologies in the world to forge an identity for our defence industry on the national and international stage. Raksha Mantri appealed to the armed forces for their continued support to the domestic industry and appreciated their full cooperation to Aatmanirbharta in defence sector. He mentioned that more than 400 items are now on the indigenization list with the fourth list being issued on 19th October, 2022 at Defence Expo 2022. He pointed out that there is a need for a balance between indigenous and imported items to fulfil our requirements and in general we should focus on our indigenous production capability.
Earlier, Chief of Defence Staff General Anil Chauhan addressed the seminar and expressed his firm belief that no country can aspire to grow stronger without achieving self-reliance in defence research and development and manufacturing. Chief of Defence Staff pointed out that recent developments have highlighted the fragile nature of regional and global nature, reinforcing the belief in Aatmanirbharta in Defence. He said that the emerging geo-political scenario has made the three services realise the importance of Aatmanirbharta, reflected in the positive indigenization lists. General Chauhan informed the attendees that contracts worth Rs. 62,000 crores have already been signed and orders worth about Rs. 7 lakh crores are under various stages of procurement with the Indian Defence industry. He recalled successes in this sphere such as commissioning of INS Vikrant, induction of the HAL developed Light Combat Helicopter Prachand into the Indian Air Force and growing reach of indigenously designed weapons systems. General Chauhan also noted that India’s Aatmanirbharta model is not averse to collaboration between Indian Defence establishment, private enterprises and Foreign OEMs.
The three service chiefs, domestic industry representatives and officials from the government of India attended the seminar.
Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh visited Headquarters Inspector General Assam Rifles (South) at Mantripukhri in Manipur onAugust 19, 2022 and interacted with troops of Red Shield Division and Assam Rifles. He was accompanied byChief of the Army Staff General Manoj Pande, GOC-in-C Eastern Command Lieutenant General RP Kalita and GOC Spear Corps Lieutenant General RC Tiwari along with other senior officers of Army and Assam Rifles. During the visit, the Raksha Mantri was briefed about the counter-insurgency as well as border management operations on Indo-Myanmar border to maintain peace and tranquility in the region.
Addressing the personnel, Shri Rajnath Singh appreciated the officers and soldiers for performing their duty with courage and conviction despite challenges posed by terrain &weather and improving the security situation in Manipur. It’s a matter of great pride to stand amongst the Indian Army and Assam Rifles troops, he said.
The Raksha Mantri lauded the contribution of Red Shield Division ever since its raising be it in 1971 war, as part of IPKF in Sri Lanka or in its present role. He commended the stellar role of Assam Rifles in the last seven decades and their immense contribution in internal security, securing Indo-Myanmar border and key role in bringing North East into the national mainstream. “For this reason, you are called ‘Friends of the North East People’ and ‘Sentinels of North East’,” he stated.
Shri Rajnath Singh exhorted the forces to keep the NationalFlag high through unflinching dedication, asserting that the Nation can achieve absolute potential only when its borders are safe.More than 1,000 troops of Red Shield Division and Assam Rifles took part in the interaction with the Raksha Mantri.
Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh today approved the enhancement of the monetary ceiling for purchase of Not Available (NA), emergent, lifesavings and essential drugs by 100% in all categories of polyclinics from Authorised Local Chemists (ALC). This will ensure easy & timely availability of medicines for ECHS beneficiaries. (Type A & B from Rs 2.5 lakh to 5 Lakh, Type C from Rs 1.5 lakh to 3 Lakh, Type D from Rs 1 lakh to 2 Lakh).
There have been various representations from the veterans regarding supply of medicines. The Government has already undertaken a series of modifications to procedures of procurement of medicines for ECHS beneficiaries. In all stations with ECHS Polyclinics, local medical stores/chemists are empanelled for supply of Not Available (NA), emergent, life-saving and essential drugs on as required basis. The empanelled local medical stores/chemists are being done by a Board of Officers constituted by the Station Commander. Any expenditure above this limit will be approved by MD, ECHS. The CO, ECHS may re-appropriate the required funds from other ECHS Polyclinics, if required.
It may be seen that the Government on 25.03.2022 had already conveyed the sanction for reimbursement of cost of medicines and consumables, purchased from open market, not Available at ECHS Polyclinic/Authorized Local Chemist for a maximum period of 30 days from earlier 15 days at a time subject to the maximum value of medicines and consumables not exceeding Rs. 25,000/- each time under the general conditions and Rs. 75,000/- each time under the special conditions except in the case of Cancer Medicines where the maximum value of medicines and consumable would be Rs.5 lakhs each time from the earlier Rs.2 lakhs each time. This will be a big move towards making essential medicines available to the Veterans.
The Army Commanders’ Conference, an apex level biannual event, is being held in New Delhi from 18 to 22 April 2022. During the event, Indian Army’s apex leadership is comprehensively deliberating upon all aspects of existing security scenarios, situation along the borders, in the hinterland and challenges for the present security apparatus. In addition, the conference is also focusing on issues pertaining to organisational restructuring, logistics, administration, human resource management, modernisation through indigenisation, induction of Niche technologies and assessment of impact of the Russia – Ukraine war. The main highlight of the fourth day of the conference was the address by the Raksha Mantri, Shri Rajnath Singh, to the senior leadership of the Indian Army, which was preceded by a brief on the “Modernisation through Indigenisation” plans of the Indian Army.
The Raksha Mantri reaffirmed the faith of the billion-plus citizens in the Indian Army as one of the most trusted and inspiring organisations in the country. He highlighted the stellar role played by the Army in guarding our borders and fighting terrorism apart from providing assistance to the civil administration whenever called for. The Raksha Mantri also remarked “The Army is present in every domain from Security, HADR, Medical Assistance to maintaining the stable internal situation in the country. The role of Indian Army is very important in Nation building as also in the overall national development”. He reiterated his happiness to be present in the Army Commander’s conference and complimented the Army leadership for successfully taking ahead the ‘Defence and Security’ vision of the Nation and the Hon’ble Prime Minister. He also complimented the COAS, General MM Naravane of having successfully led the Army in last two and half years of his tenure as COAS, Indian Army.
The Hon’ble Raksha Mantri stressed upon the present complex world situation which effects everyone globally. He stated that “Unconventional and asymmetric warfare, including hybrid war will be part of the future conventional wars. Cyber, information, communication, trade and finance have all become an inseparable part of future conflicts. This necessitates that Armed Forces will have to keep all these facets in consideration while planning and formulating strategies”.
Commenting on the current situation along the Northern borders, the Hon’ble Raksha Mantri expressed full confidence that while troops are standing firm, the ongoing talks for peaceful resolution will continue and disengagement and de-escalation, is the way forward. Expressing his gratitude, he remarked “It is our ‘Whole of Government’ approach to ensure availability of best weapons, equipment and clothing to our troops braving extreme weather and hostile forces to defend our territorial integrity”. The Raksha Mantri complimented the efforts of BRO, which has led to the quantum improvement of road communication in the borders both Western and Northern, while working under difficult conditions.
Referring to the situation along the Western borders, he complimented the Indian Army’s response to cross border terrorism, however the proxy war by the adversary continues. The Hon’ble Raksha Mantri said “I compliment the excellent synergy between the CAPF/ Police forces and the Army in tackling the menace of terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir. The synergised operations in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir are contributing to increased stability in the region and the same should continue”.
The Raksha Mantri complimented the forces for the high standard of operational preparedness and capabilities which he has always been experiencing first hand during his visits to forward areas. He also paid tributes to all the bravehearts for making the ultimate sacrifice in the defence of the motherland. He complimented the significant contributions made by the Army in military diplomacy to further our national security interests by creating sustainable cooperative relationships with foreign Armies. He also complimented the Armed Forces for the recent evacuation of Indian Nationals from Ukraine in ‘Operation Ganga’.
The Hon’ble Raksha Mantri stressed upon the technological advancement taking place in every sphere of our life and applauded the Armed Forces for aptly incorporating them. He appreciated the Army’s efforts to develop niche technologies in collaboration with civil industries, including premier educational institutions and thereby progressing towards the aim of ‘ Modernisation through Indigenisation’ or ‘Atam Nirbharta’.
The Hon’ble Raksha Mantri highlighted that “the Government is focused on enhancing combat capability and ensuring welfare of soldiers”. He also remarked that “the Policy of Atmanirbhar Bharat is a big step towards self-reliance in defence which offers great opportunity to the Indian defence industry to meet the future requirements of the Armed Forces”. He applauded the Indian Army for working towards this goal and remarked that in 2021-2022, in keeping with the Atamnirbhar Bharat, Rs 40,000 crores worth of contracts by the Army are being awarded to Indian Vendors, which is commendable.
The Hon’ble Raksha Mantri also brought out that the recent corporatisation of the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) is proving as a successful step and all 7 x DPSUs are working towards capability development of Armed Forces. He remarked that the government is committed in every manner towards the welfare of our Veterans and the Next of Kin of all categories of Battle Casualties. He also announced that Government is aware of the Risk and Hardship the defence personnel faces in the field areas, apropos, Government has decided to enhance the Risk and Hardship allowance for the Army personnel posted in such areas.
He concluded by saying that issues related to “Defence diplomacy, indigenisation, information warfare, defence infrastructure and force modernisation should always be deliberated upon in such a forum. The formalisation of Integrated Theatre Command is the need of hour and I am happy with the progress being made towards the same. I have full confidence in the senior Military leadership. The Nation is proud of its Army and the Government is committed to facilitate the Army in their forward movement, on the road to reforms and capability modernisation”.