India is working to make its forces self-reliant, says Modi

Prime Minister hands over indigenously-built LCH to the Air Force

Admission of girls has started from this session in 33 Sainik schools, and Rani Laxmibai-like daughters will emerge to take responsibility of defence, security and development of the country on their shoulders, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday at the Rashtriya Raksha Samarpan Parv in Jhansi.

He handed over the indigenously-built Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) to the Air Force, two small drones built by Indian start-ups to the Army, and electronic warfare suites to the Navy.

“For a long time, India has been counted among the largest arms importers in the world, but today the mantra of the country is Make in India, Make for the world. Today India is working to make its forces self-reliant,” Mr. Modi said.

“Today, here from Jhansi, a new chapter in India’s defence sector is being written. India’s borders will now be even more secure,” he said after laying the foundation stone for a ₹400 crore project by Bharat Dynamics Limited for the manufacture of propulsion systems of Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGM).

The three-day Parv in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh is being organised as part of the ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahaotsav’ celebrations by the MoD, along with the Uttar Pradesh Government. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated the three-day event on November 17.

Sculpture unveiled

Mr. Modi also formally launched several schemes of the Defence Ministry and unveiled the sculpture of Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi on her 193rd birth anniversary at the precincts of the Jhansi Fort. “The historical Jhansi fort is behind me, a living witness to the fact that India never lost any battle due to lack of valour and bravery! If Rani Laxmibai had the resources and modern weapons on a par with the British, then the history of the country’s independence might have been different.”

The twin-engine LCH designed and developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is a 5-8 tonne class combat helicopter. It is the only attack helicopter in the world that can land and take off at an altitude of 5,000 m (16,400 ft), with considerable weapons and fuel load, significantly augmenting the firepower of the IAF and Army in high altitude areas. The LCH will eventually be deployed along the Line of Actual Control with China, in addition to the AH-64E Apache helicopters in service.

The Prime Minister also handed over DRDO-designed and Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) manufactured advanced Electronic Warfare suites to the Navy. The first Shakti system has been installed on-board the stealth destroyer Visakhapatnam to be commissioned on Sunday, and another is being installed on-board the indigenous aircraft carrier Vikrant. Twelve Shakti systems are under production at Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) supported by more than 50 MSMEs, at a total cost of ₹1,805 crore, the Defence Ministry said. “These systems are scheduled to be installed on-board capital warships under production, including P-15B, P-17A and Talwar class follow-on ships,” it stated.

The plant by BDL will be spread over 183 acres in the Jhansi node of U.P. Defence Industrial Corridor and is expected to provide direct employment to 150 people and indirect employment to nearly 500 people, the Ministry said.

The Prime Minister also formally announced the setting up of 100 new Sainik Schools under public-private model that was recently approved by the Cabinet. He launched the National Cadet Corps (NCC) border and coastal scheme, NCC Alumni Association and national programme of simulation training for NCC cadets, a digital kiosk at the National War Memorial (NWM) to pay tribute to fallen heroes, and an NWM mobile app. Mr. Modi was also given the first membership of the NCC Alumni association.

Mr. Modi remarked that on the one hand, the strength of our forces was increasing, but at the same time the ground was also being prepared for capable youth to protect the country in future. “The 100 Sainik Schools, which are starting, will work in the coming times to place the future of the country in powerful hands,” he added.

The Cabinet had recently approved the setting up of 100 Sainik Schools throughout the country under public-private model. At least one Sainik School is proposed in each State and Union Territory and these 100 Sainik Schools would be set up in the next two years. Norms in this regard were being finalised in consultation with all stakeholders, and a stakeholder consultation was proposed on December 7 chaired the Defence Minister to finalise these norms.

Solar power park

Mr. Modi also laid foundation stone of the 600 MW Ultramega Solar Power Park at Garautha in Jhansi. “It is being constructed at a cost of over ₹3000 crore, and will help provide the dual benefits of cheaper electricity and grid stability,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.

He also inaugurated Atal Ekta Park in Jhansi named after former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Built at a cost of over ₹11 crore, it is spread across about 40,000 square metres. It will also house a library, and a statue of Mr. Vajpayee. The statue has been built by sculptor Ram Sutar, the man behind the Statue of Unity, the statement added.

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