National security based on self-reliance is our top priority: RM Shri Rajnath Singh

From secure borders & self-reliance to a strong economy & transformed global image, India is rising as one of the strongest countries under the leadership of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. This was stated by Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh while addressing the ‘Rising India Conclave’ organised by a private media organisation in New Delhi on March 30, 2023. He pointed out that all sectors, especially defence, have been witnessing a transformative change in the last few years, which has guided India to a respectable position on the world map.

The Raksha Mantri credited the bold approach and unwavering resolve of the Government, which has ensured secured borders and a battle-ready Armed Forces backed by a self-reliant defence industry. Terming national security as Government’s top priority & self-reliance as the only medium to achieve it, he asserted that relentless efforts are being made to attain ‘Aatmanirbharta’ in defence. He listed out some of the steps taken by Ministry of Defence, including notification of positive indigenisation lists; earmarking of record 75 per cent of defence capital procurement budget for domestic industry in Financial Year 2023-24 and efforts to provide local companies access to international market.

On the success achieved due to these decisions, the Raksha Mantri stated that the domestic defence production has witnessed a significant increase in the last few years. “We are not only catering our own needs, but are also exporting weapons & equipment to other countries. From Rs 900 crore 7-8 years ago, defence exports have skyrocketed and are nearing Rs 14,000 crore in the current Financial Year. Our target is export defence equipment worth Rs 40,000 crore by 2026,” he said. The Raksha Mantri also touched on the start-up-based innovation ecosystem created in the country. He stated that the Government’s efforts have resulted in the creation of over 100 unicorns, which is testament to the success of this ecosystem.

Shri Rajnath Singh lauded the Prime Minister’s visionary leadership which has guided India to become the fifth largest economy and transformed its global image to that of an agenda-setter. “In 2013, Investment firm Morgan Stanley had coined a phrase ‘fragile 5’ economies and named India among them. Under the Prime Minister’s leadership, we successfully dealt with the problems such as the possibility of recession & COVID-19 pandemic and today we are an inspiration to other countries. The highest ever FDI inflow of US $83.57 billion last year is a positive sign for the economy and a proof that the world has faith in the possibilities and opportunities available in India. From ‘fragile 5’, we are now among ‘fabulous 5’. According to a report by Morgan Stanley, India will be one of the top three economies of the world by 2027. When we celebrate the 100th anniversary of our independence in 2047, I am hopeful that we will be the world’s top economy,” he said.

The Raksha Mantri described India’s diplomacy as another facet of Rising India. The presidency of G-20 and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) this year is proof that India’s stature is continuously growing on the world stage, he said, adding that many international surveys have named Shri Narendra Modi as the most popular leader, which is also the view of many world leaders. He lauded the Prime Minister, because of whom India’s image has transformed into an agenda setter and it is listened to carefully on the international fora.

Shri Rajnath Singh added that India has led the world on issues like terrorism and has been successful in garnering support to eliminate the menace. He emphasised that countries, which use terrorism as a tool, are well aware of the fact that India never harms anyone unnecessarily, nor does it spare anyone who tries to hurt its unity, integrity and sovereignty. Mentioning about the surgical strikes, he stated that the move broke the back of terrorists and sent a strong message to the world that India will eliminate terrorism on its own soil, and if need be, on foreign land as well. He added that “Whether it was the stand-off with China or ill intentions from Pakistan, our forces have been giving a befitting reply, whenever required.”

On the holistic development taking place in the country since 2014, the Raksha Mantri stated that it is a result of the strong will of the Government, led by the Prime Minister. He shed light on the social development being witnessed in the country in the last few years, stating that it is being ensured that people from all sections of society, irrespective of religion, caste and gender get equal opportunities and there is fair representation in all kinds of works. He reiterated the Government’s resolve to provide more and more opportunities to women at par with their male counterparts.

“From construction of toilets for women & ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ to their growing role in the Armed Forces, women empowerment has been at the centre of Government’s planning since the beginning. Women are today flying fighter aircraft and being inducted in artillery. Through this, we are not only empowering our women, but strengthening the Armed Forces. This is another facet of Rising India,” Shri Rajnath Singh said.

The Raksha Mantri termed the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu & Kashmir as another example of the strong will of the Government. He stated that the Union Territory has ushered in a new era of peace and progress due to the decision. He added that the Government is carrying forward the vision of former Prime Minister late Atal Bihari Vajpayee, under whose leadership nuclear test was conducted in Pokhran in 1998. “Today, we are producing big missiles, tanks, weapons and ammunition on our land. This is also a result of a strong political will,” he said.

Shri Rajnath Singh also highlighted the Government’s resolve towards the development of the North-east region. He stated that it has been ensured that the region, full of beauty and natural resources, is well connected with the heart of the country. There is unprecedented peace in the North East, which has resulted in the withdrawal of Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act {AFSPA} from most areas, he added.

The Raksha Mantri enumerated a number of decisions taken to promote ease of living such as providing free gas connections to women through Ujjwala Yojana; electrification of 99 percent of villages; water supply to eight crore households under Jal Jeevan Mission in the last 3.5 years and many reforms in health, agriculture and education sector. He also mentioned about the introduction of Yoga, Ayurveda and millets to the world, which has benefitted them in a new way, terming it as yet another achievement of a ‘Rising India’.

Shri Rajnath Singh concluded his address by stating that there is no place of elitist mind-set in ‘New India’. “We believe in providing equal opportunities to 140 crore Indians. The dream of a strong and prosperous India will be realised only when all the people together take the nation forward with full energy and dedication,” he said.