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Lt Gen Dushyant Singh (retd.)



Two blasts were heard at Satwari Airport on the intervening night of 26 and 27 June 2021 at around 1:40 am and 1:46 am. These blasts must have shaken the hearts and minds of the people of Jammu city living nearby as the people of Jammu have suffered a lot of terrorist attacks in the past few years regularly. However, most of the attacks were ground-based fidayeen or IED attacks perpetrated from across the border. The Jammu airport is situated in the heart of Satwari cantonment with the airbase being surrounded almost on all sides by units of the Indian Army. This is one of the major reasons why it is very difficult to attack the Jammu airport by ground infiltration. It is probably, because of this constraint that the terrorists, most likely from the LeT targeted the Air Force base by the aerial route. The blast took place near the helicopter dispersal area, damaging the roof of a building nearby and causing minor injuries to an Air Force warrant officer and an airman. The attack was probably carried out to destroy a helicopter parked in the dispersal area. 


It is normally seen that we have always been reactive in our response be it in a conventional or unconventional domain. And once an attack takes place there is an overreaction to take remedial measures without due diligence and thought. For example following the attack on the Sanjuwan garrison in Jammu on 10 February 2018, almost all the military stations in the country went on an overdrive to install protective measures. However, in so doing we ended up overspending the already scarce and valuable resources available with the country and the defence forces. We could have been more pragmatic and economical in our effort. Similarly, even after clear indicators of a possible drone threat, we did very little about it and ended up getting surprised. For example, many Security Experts such as Lt Gen Shankar, (Retired) former DG Arty including me have written on this threat last year following series of drone attacks in several countries such as Iran by the US, Syria, and Saudi Arabian Air Base and Oil facilities. 

Drone attacks have become a preferred choice of weapon and as late as 22 April 2021. Iran backed Houthi rebels targeted the Saudi Arabian Oil facilities and military airbase. But these attacks evoked very little concern or preparatory action in our country. Even in our country as per official data the Indian security forces have recorded at least 250 sightings of drones on the Western front with Pakistan since 2019, and at least two drones have entered India this year before the Jammu attack on Sunday, according to the official data. So while the security forces are making efforts two drones had defeated our surveillance network which should have prompted airbases close to the borders to be prepared against such threats especially since it was happening elsewhere in the world as well. We need to be mindful of our attitude towards security threats facing the country. The Jammu drone attack is a very cheap and safe method for attacking such airbases. If the attack was successful then we would have suffered a great loss as well as India’s reputation would have taken a hit. 


The drone used was probably a P16 drone. Such drones are man-portable, and they are very difficult to detect by radar. The attack would have caused even more serious damages if it had been a high explosive mixed with incendiary material as used in the Pathankot Airbase attack. As I was personally involved in the conduct of the counter-terror operation in the Pathankot airbase incident, I can visualise the consequences of an attack with a cocktail of HE and incendiary material. The secondary damages are even more devastating. We need to be careful of such cocktail explosives which may be used in the future.

Another aspect that worries me is the possibility of using a large number of drones simultaneously (swarm drones) to place such explosives and detonating them either remotely or by a timer mechanism in the golden hours of the night when the security personnel are the least alert. It has also been seen that many times drones enter the target with their explosives, we also call such an attack a KamiKaze drone attack. In the Second World War, Japanese pilots deliberately crashed their aeroplanes into large ships so that that ship would be destroyed at any cost. Further such attacks will be more on the airports along the India and Pakistan border such as Srinagar, Udhampur, Jammu, Pathankot, and Amritsar. Terrorists can also drones to transport weapons and logistics through such drones so that they can enter India without weapons through proper disembarkation points and later marrying up with their contacts in J&K or elsewhere to undertake terror attacks. 


Such attacks are happening in the world for a long time. These attacks are being carried out by both state and non-state actors, but it is the first time that an Indian military airbase has been targeted. America, Russia, Israel, China and Turkey are experts in the use of drones. America has killed many terrorists by a drone strike in Afghanistan. Similarly, Turkey has successfully used them in the wars of Syria, Azerbaijan-Armenia. Surveillance, intelligence, integrated air defence and spot or point defence are highly needed to thwart such attacks. It has often been seen that due to the monotonous work of the security personnel especially while undertaking defensive duties which result in laxity and becomes the cause of a likely terror attack. Also, our intelligence system is very weak, especially Human Intelligence. The next major weakness has been the need for surveillance over our sensitive installations and bases. To improve our over the installation surveillance capability we desperately need low-level radars and modern night vision equipment. Another matter of concern is that our sensitive bases are often deployed by personnel from the Defence Service Corps (DSC). These jawans are very honest and obedient given their army background but their age comes in the way of their duties especially in the forward areas of the country. Therefore, the Air Force may like to raise a special force to be deployed in forward air bases to back the effort of the DSC. Apart from this, once we detect drones, we should also have the ability to shoot them down. In such a situation, spot defence or point defence becomes very important. To thwart drones, we can use electronic systems such as jammers. A modern jamming system is being tested in South Korea that can neutralise such small drone attacks. Similarly, Britain’s Bright Star Surveillance Systems has launched a new radar in September 2020 named A 800 3D. It can detect small commercial and hobby drones. According to experts, it can easily be included in border management and military systems. The US is also working on a high energy laser system that can destroy and thwart such drones. Similarly, Israel and America have jointly made a system to destroy the drone threat by another drone. In this system, the defensive drone has a net that traps the enemy drone in it and renders it ineffective. The name of this system is Sky-lord. 


India will take a lot of time to develop or procure high tech counter-drone systems. Till then, we should try to destroy them with rapid-firing machine guns. Although this is not such an effective method if given the right training it can be fairly good. Airborne threats must be dealt with in an integrated manner. To a large extent, especially against Swarm Drones, we will have to protect ourselves by traditional air defence methods. 

In the end, in my opinion, we can also compare drone warfare to aerial guerrilla warfare. Therefore, we need to respond similarly but for this our air and ground surveillance measures have to be good. Similarly, there is a need to focus on developing a strong intelligence network in the areas across the border and around the various sensitive installations such as Ammunition Dumps, Fuel Dumps, Supply Dumps, military cantonments and air bases. The mantra of success against such forces is to focus on SIT (Surveillance, Intelligence and Targeting).

Lt Gen Dushyant Singh (retd) has served in varied terrains and theatre of operations, in India and in the UN as Military Observer. He has commanded an Infantry Battalion, Brigade and a Division in Jammu and Kashmir. He was Command of Corps Chief of Staff Eastern Command and Commandant Army War College. He is currently Professor Emeritus Defence Studies at Gujarat Raksha Shakti University. Twitter handle: @dushy40098.

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The following information was disclosed and discussed in the Rajya Sabha during the monsoon session of Parliament, in New Delhi on Thursday.

Ashish Singh



The Government has taken several measures to reduce vaccine shortages. This inter-alia include sustained image projection, participation in career fairs and exhibitions and publicity campaigns to create awareness among the youth on the advantages of taking up a challenging and satisfying career. To encourage the youth to join the Armed Forces, motivational lectures are regularly organised in schools/colleges/other educational institutes and National Cadet Corps (NCC) camps. Further, the Government has taken various steps to make the job in the Armed Forces attractive including improvement in promotion prospects in the Armed Forces and to fill up vacancies.


29 Women Officers (WOs), who did not opt for Permanent Commission in the Special Selection Board No. 5 have been released from service. Out of these 29 officers, three WOs were released without pension based on their own option/willingness as these officers had served between 10 to 14 years of service in the Army. Some of the schemes run by the Directorate General of Resettlement (DGR), inter-alia, include placement assistance through online registration at DGR. For example Security Agency Schemes, Ex-servicemen Coal loading and transportation scheme, Management of CNG stations, Allotment of Mother Dairy Milk Booth and Safal shops in NCR, Coal/Tipper Attachment Scheme for Widows and disabled soldiers, Retail outlet dealership (petrol/diesel), employment seminars and resettlement training. Age relaxation has been provided to Ex-Servicemen, including Female Officers for the appointment to all Central Civil Services & Posts up to the level of Assistant Commandant in all Para-Military Forces under the Government of India. Adequate reservation has also been provided to Ex-Servicemen in various categories of posts. Women Officers, who have retired after 20 years of service, have also been granted Pensionary benefits.


DRDO has taken the following measures for strengthening the industry to reduce the timelines from development to induction:

· Accessibility of DRDO Test Facilities to Indian Industry.

· Identification of Development-cum-Production Partner/ Production Agency/ Lead System Integrator (DcPP/ PA/ LSI) for early integration of industry.

· Technology Development Fund (TDF) has been implemented to provide support for the design and development of technologies/ prototypes, indigenisation of imported systems/ components and new systems especially by MSMEs/startups.

· Simpler Transfer of Technology (ToT) Policy to encourage industries

· Free access of DRDO patents to industries

· Identified 108 exclusive systems for development by industry which will not be taken by DRDO

· DRDO is focused to carry out R&D work on critical & advanced technologies that industries cannot do.

Measures proposed to be taken for strengthening the Ordnance Factories and DPSUs to meet countries defence requirements are as follows:

· To carve out a future growth path, a visioning exercise and study has been commissioned for DPSUs for restructuring and reforming them to become cost-competitive and efficient. 

· DPSUs have been encouraged to work as aggregators and maximise outsourcing from indigenous sources. Over the last 2 years, the vendor base of DPSUs/OFB has increased substantially from 8000 to 12878 as of 30 June 2021.

· Disinvestment of DPSUs is being pursued.

· Focus on the modernisation of production facilities through higher CAPEX. Further, the following roadmap is being implemented by the OFB/DPSUs for technology modernisation:

· Investing in Industry 4.0 technologies in areas of Manufacturing, Supply Chain and other broader digital transformation initiatives. 

· Focusing on emerging areas of Artificial Intelligence, Data Fusion, Web Technologies, Data Analytics, 3D Printing, Networking and Cyber Security. These technologies are now being incorporated into Products and Systems at the design stage itself. 

· Change in the traditional ToT based manufacturing approach to a more proactive Co-development and Co-Production approach. 

· Increased software-based testing for reducing the time and efforts that go into testing products.

· Promoting IP culture in DPSUs through Mission Raksha Gyan Shakti. So far, 32,799 officers and staff of DPSUs/ OFB/DGQA have been trained in IPRs and 2,417 IPs have been filed and 981 IPs have been granted/registered.

· For 2021-22, the allocation for Domestic procurement has been enhanced compared to previous years and is planned to be about 64.09%, that is Rs 71,438.36 crore of the allocated amount for military modernisation. 

· Ministry of Defence has notified two ‘Positive Lists’ for Indigenisation comprising of 209 items on 28 August 2020 and 31 May 2021, respectively, for which there would be an embargo on the import beyond the timeline indicated against them. 

· An indigenisation portal namely SRIJAN has been launched in August 2020 for DPSUs/OFB/Services with an industry interface to provide development support to MSMEs/Startups/Industry for import substitution. So far, more than 10,945 Defence items, which were earlier imported, have been displayed on the portal. The private industry has expressed interest in indigenising more than 2400 items.

· To enhance functional autonomy, efficiency and unleash new growth potential and innovation in Ordnance Factories, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) in its meeting held on 29 July 2020 had approved to convert Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), a subordinate office of the Ministry of Defence, into one or more than one 100% Government-owned corporate entities, registered under the Companies Act, 2013. The Cabinet in its meeting held on 16 June 2021, has now, inter-alia, approved to convert the production units of OFB into 7 DPSUs with 41 units.

· The Government has enhanced FDI in Defence Sector up to 74% through the Automatic Route for companies seeking new defence industrial licenses and up to 100% by Government Route. The obligatory government approval for existing FDI approval holders / current defence licensees for change in equity /shareholding pattern up to 49% FDI has been replaced with a mandatory declaration for the same within 30 days of the change of equity/shareholding pattern. These reforms are likely to attract foreign investment in Defence & Aerospace sector. 

· Reforms in Offset policy have been included in DAP 2020, higher multipliers have been assigned for Transfer of Technology (ToT) to DPSUs/OFB. 

· To promote indigenous design and development of defence equipment ‘Buy {Indian-IDDM (Indigenously Designed, Developed and manufactured)}’ category has been accorded topmost priority for procurement of capital equipment.

· Department of Defence Production has notified 46 items under the latest Public Procurement Order 2017 notified by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), for which there is sufficient local capacity and competition and procurement of these items shall be done from local suppliers only irrespective of the purchase value. 

Services are the primary stakeholders in DRDO projects. They are involved right from the conceptualisation of the project through peer reviews, design reviews, that is Annual Joint reviews, Joint reviews, and bi-annual reviews and a three-tier project monitoring mechanism as per DRDO procedure for all Mission Mode (MM) projects undertaken by DRDO. Also, several Collegiate interaction meetings between DRDO and Users are being held for specific requirements/ issues as and when required. Moreover, DRDO, OFB, DPSUs and Armed Forces being part of the same Ministry regularly interact with each other for the design development and production of Defence equipment as per the requirements of Defence Forces.


The Government has taken several policy initiatives and reforms to promote indigenisation and self-reliance in defence manufacturing, under Atmanirbhar Bharat Mission in the defence sector. Important policy initiatives are as under:

• Ministry of Defence has notified a ‘First Positive Indigenisation list’ of 101 items on 21 August 2020 and ‘2nd Positive Indigenisation list’ of 108 items on 31 May 2021 for which there would be an embargo on the import beyond the timelines indicated against them. This is a big step to promote indigenisation in the defence sector. This offers a great opportunity to the Indian defence industry to manufacture these items using their own design and development capabilities to meet the requirements of the Indian Armed Forces. These lists include some high technology weapon systems like artillery guns, assault rifles, corvettes, sonar systems, transport aircraft, light combat helicopters (LCHs), radars, wheeled armoured platform, rockets, bombs, armoured command post vehicles, armoured dozor, and many other items to fulfil the needs of our Defence Services. 

• SRIJAN portal to promote indigenisation was launched on 14 Aug 2020. As of date 10940 items, which were earlier imported, have been displayed on the portal for indigenisation. The Indian industry has shown interest in the indigenisation of 2880 displayed items so far. DPSUs/OFB interact with these industries to facilitate the indigenisation of the items as per extant procedures.

• 1776 components and spares have been indigenised in the year 2020-21 as a result of efforts of indigenisation by DPSUs, OFB, and SHQs through their own process of indigenisation (In-house, Make-II & Other than Make-II). 

• DPP-2016 has been revised as Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP)-2020, which is driven by the tenets of Defence Reforms announced as part of ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’. 

• To promote indigenous design and development of defence equipment ‘Buy {Indian-IDDM (Indigenously Designed, Developed and Manufactured)}’ category has been accorded topmost priority for procurement of capital equipment.

• The ‘Make’ Procedure of capital procurement has been simplified. There is a provision for funding up to 70% of development cost by the Government to Indian industry under the Make-I category. In addition, there are specific reservations for MSMEs under the ‘Make’ procedure. 

• Procedure for ‘Make-II’ category (Industry funded), introduced in DPP 2016 to encourage indigenous development and manufacture of defence equipment has several industry-friendly provisions such as relaxation of eligibility criterion, minimal documentation, provision for considering proposals suggested by industry/individual etc. So far, 58 projects relating to Army, Navy & Air Force, have been accorded ‘Approval in Principle’.

• The Government of India has enhanced FDI in Defence Sector up to 74% through the Automatic Route and up to 100% by Government Route.

• An innovation ecosystem for Defence titled “Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX)” has been launched in April 2018. iDEX is aimed at the creation of an ecosystem to foster innovation and technology development in Defence and Aerospace by engaging Industries including MSMEs, Start-ups, Individual Innovators, R&D institutes and Academia and provide them grants/funding and other support to carry out R&D which has potential for future adoption for Indian defence and aerospace needs.

• Reforms in Offset policy have been included in DAP 2020, with thrust on attracting investment and Transfer of Technology for Defence manufacturing, by assigning higher multipliers to them.

• Government has notified the ‘Strategic Partnership (SP)’ Model in May 2017, which envisages the establishment of long-term strategic partnerships with Indian entities through a transparent and competitive process, wherein they would tie-up with global Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to seek technology transfers to set up domestic manufacturing infrastructure and supply chains.

• Government has notified a ‘Policy for indigenisation of components and spares used in Defence Platforms’ in March 2019 to create an industry ecosystem that can indigenise the imported components (including alloys, and special materials) and sub-assemblies for defence equipment and platform manufactured in India.

• Government has established two Defence Industrial Corridors, one each in the States of Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. The investments of Rs 20,000 Crore have been envisaged in Defence corridors of Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu by 2024. So far, investment of approx. Rs 3342 crore have been made in both the corridors by the public as well as private sector companies. Moreover, the respective State Governments have also announced their Aerospace & Defence Policies to attract private players as well as foreign companies including Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) in these two corridors.

• An Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) on “Mutual Cooperation in Joint Manufacturing of Spares, Components, Aggregates and other material related to Russian/Soviet Origin Arms and Defence Equipment” was signed in Sep 2019. The objective of the IGA is to enhance the “After Sales Support” and operational availability of Russian origin equipment currently in service in the Indian Armed Forces by organising the production of spares and components in the territory of India by Indian Industry by way of creation of Joint Ventures/Partnership with Russian Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) under the framework of the “Make in India” initiative. 

• Defence Products list requiring Industrial Licences has been rationalised and manufacture of most of parts or components does not require Industrial License. The initial validity of the Industrial Licence granted under the IDR Act has been increased from 03 years to 15 years with a provision to further extend it by 03 years on a case-to-case basis.

• Department of Defence Production has notified 46 items under the latest Public Procurement Order 2017 notified by DPIIT, for which there is sufficient local capacity and competition and procurement of these items shall be done from local suppliers only irrespective of the purchase value.

• Defence Investor Cell (DIC) has been created in February 2018 in the Ministry to provide all necessary information including addressing queries related to investment opportunities, procedures and regulatory requirements for investment in the sector. As of date, 1182 queries had been received and addressed by Defence Investor Cell.

• Technology Development Fund (TDF) has been created under DRDO to promote self-reliance in Defence Technology through the participation of Public/Private industries especially MSMEs and startups. 

• For the year 2021-22, the allocation for domestic procurement has been enhanced compared to the previous year and is about 64.09% i.e. Rs 71438.36 Crore of the allocated amount for military modernisation. 

There are six Ordnance Factories and one Manufacturing Unit of BEL in Tamil Nadu. As reported by Tamil Nadu Government, 35 major private companies are manufacturing products for defence. These 250 companies are supported by MSMEs. After the announcement of the defence corridor in Tamil Nadu, 30 more companies have expressed their intentions to set up/expand manufacturing units. Industrial development is a continuous process.

This is Part I of the two-part series.

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Ashish Singh



The Society of Indian Defence Manufacturers (SIDM), in partnership with the Confederation on Indian Industry (CII) and the Uttar Pradesh Expressways Industrial Development Authority (UPEIDA), is organizing the Indigenisation Summit on Defence and Aerospace (ISDA) 2021 from 28th to 31st July. Speaking at the Inaugural Session of ISDA 2021, Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath said that the Defence corridor in UP is a greenfield project and the industries coming alongside the six nodes of the corridor can benefit immensely from the scheme by becoming part of the ecosystem. 1409 hectares of land has been earmarked under the corridor. The project proposals received so far from 54 companies would create employment of more than sixteen thousand people. He shared that development of roads, electricity, water & boundary walls are underway for the Aligarh node and the inauguration of the Aligarh node, comprising of 74 hectares of industrial land divided into 19 units is proposed in August 2021.

Sharing that 2500 crores have been earmarked by the central government for promoting investments in the defence corridors, he said that land banks were being created for zones where there is a greater demand of land for investment projects. The state government along with the Defence Ministry is also working on the establishment of labs under the Common facilitation centre, Defence testing and Infrastructure scheme which would benefit MSMEs & Start-ups in prototyping, technology training as well as design & development. The state government has also established centres of excellence at IIT Kanpur, BHU for a greater engagement between the Indian navy, industry & academia. The first instalment of the grant for research & development at these centres has already been disbursed & the second is under consideration. Awanish Awasthi, ACS-Home & CEO, UPEIDA noted that the vision of the UP government is to attain 1st position as a business destination. Speaking on the progress of the nodes of the Defence corridor, he mentioned that infrastructure development to the tune of 32 crores is underway at Aligarh and the node is expected to be ready for inauguration by August 2021.

The Kanpur node, where 25 crores has been assigned infrastructure development would also be ready in a couple of months whereas the Jhansi node work would be taken up in the next six months. Chairman ISDA 2021 & Chairman, CII Northern Region Committee on Defence & Aerospace Manoj Gupta remarked that a strong and empowered defence ecosystem is crucial for any country seeking to emerge as a significant global player. With the thrust provided by the ‘Make in India’ movement, today India’s exports are to the tune of ten thousand crores which was merely five hundred crores eight years back. Measures like only domestic tenders for contracts below 200 crores, increasing FDI limit in defence production from 49% to 74%, greater number of production categories, defence offset program as well as an updated DAP 2020 will further embolden the defence manufacturing in the country. He further pointed out that a higher offset for defence industries as well as a single-window system for license issuance for the defence manufacturers will go a long way in making UP a hub for defence & aerospace. Jayant Patil, President, SIDM pointed out that the reforms pertaining to the defence sector are focused on building capacity. This is evident through the 15% increase in defence budget allocation. He also highlighted that two-thirds of the defence budget is now dedicated to purchases from Indian industries, of which 20% has been reserved for MSMEs. Patil mentioned that 208 items have been moved to the positive list now hence no imports of these items would be allowed into the country to promote the Indian manufacturers. He highlighted that Indian is expected to be the security provider in the Region, for which the industry can prove to become the sixth arm of the Indian Defence system. Speaking on the occasion, Sachin Agarwal, Chairman, SIDM UP Chapter pointed out that today, close to 8000 Defence Sector MSMEs, primarily from tier 2 and tier 3 cities form the backbone and are the largest part, in terms of volume, of the Industry. He also mentioned that the industries that are bound to grow and mature in this phase of development will find that UP can provide the necessary infrastructure and support needed to augment production and services. Agarwal highlighted that the Government planning to spend $250 billion over the next 10 years for the modernization of its Forces and the Industry will have a critical role to play in meeting these demands. Ashmita Sethi, Co-Chairman, CII Northern Region Committee on Defence & Aerospace spoke about the various emerging technologies being deployed in defence manufacturing for which UP can become a potential hub. These included defence electronics, MRO facilities, space related research & development, electric military vehicles among others. Over the 3 day period, Sessions with UPEIDA, DPSUs and the Services HQs will be held to generate awareness about opportunities available for the Industry vis-a-vis Defence Manufacturing.

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Ashish Singh



The Indian Air Force formally inducted Rafale aircraft into No. 101 Squadron at Air Force Station Hasimara in Eastern Air Command (EAC) on Wednesday. Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria, Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) presided over the induction ceremony. On arrival, CAS was received by Air Marshal Amit Dev, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Air Command. The event also included a fly-past heralding the arrival of Rafale aircraft to Hasimara followed by a traditional water cannon salute.

Addressing the personnel during the induction ceremony, CAS said that the induction of Rafale had been carefully planned at Hasimara; keeping in mind the importance of strengthening IAF’s capability in the Eastern Sector. Recalling the glorious history of 101 Squadron which bestowed upon them the title of ‘Falcons of Chamb and Akhnoor’, CAS urged the personnel to combine their zeal and commitment with the unmatched potential of the newly inducted platform. He said that he had no doubt that the Squadron would dominate whenever and wherever required and ensure that the adversary would always be intimidated by their sheer presence.

101 Squadron is the second IAF Squadron to be equipped with Rafale aircraft. The Squadron was formed on 01 May 1949 at Palam and has operated Harvard, Spitfire, Vampire, Su-7 and MiG-21M aircraft in the past. The glorious history of this Squadron includes active participation in 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pak wars.

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Defence Minister Rajnath Singh congratulated Member-States of the SCO on successful completion of 20 years of its existence. He said that though India joined the organisation in 2017, historical and civilisational relations and geographical connects make India inseparable from the SCO. Addressing the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Defence Ministers’ meeting in Dushanbe, Tajikistan on Wednesday Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said, Terrorism is the most serious threat to international peace and security. “Any act of terror and support to such acts, including cross border terrorism, committed by whomsoever, wherever and for whatever motives, is a crime against humanity,” he added. The Defence Minister reaffirmed India’s resolve to fight terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. Rajnath Singh emphasised, “India accords high priority to the consolidation of trust in the security domain within SCO as well as strengthening ties with SCO partners bilaterally on the basis of equality, mutual respect and understanding.” The challenge today is not just one of concepts and norms, but equally of their sincere practice, he added.

Stressing on the importance of the regional group, Rajnath Singh said, “The SCO Nations, together, encompass nearly half the human population on our planet. In terms of geography, it covers approximately three fifths of the Eurasian continent. We, therefore, have collective stakes to create a safe, secure and stable region that contributes towards progress and improvement of human development indices of our people and the generations which will follow.” He pointed out that it is in the same spirit India helps people of Afghanistan, which is facing violence and devastation over decades. So far India completed 500 projects in Afghanistan and continuing with some more with total development aid of US dollar 3 billion. Speaking about geo-strategic location of India that makes it both a Eurasian land power and also a stake-holder in the Indo-Pacific, the Defence Minister said, “Our intent and aspirations are therefore focused towards prosperity and development of the entire region. We affirm this intent through our national policy of Security and Growth for All in the Region, commonly known by the acronym SAGAR.” Security and Stability are most essential components to create conducive environment for growth and economic development of the region and of our respective Nations, he added.

Reiterating India’s resolve to work within the SCO framework for helping create and maintain a peaceful, secure and stable region, Rajnath Singh highlighted, “India also reiterate commitments to partner with fellow SCO Member-States to develop joint institutional capacities that respect individual national sensitivities and yet generate a spirit of cooperation to create contact and connectivity between people, societies and nations.” Referring to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Defence Minister said “It has affected nations, civil societies and citizens in multiple ways. This is a warning sign of how non-traditional security challenges like pandemics, climate change, food security, water security and associated societal disruptions can impact national and international landscape.”

Rajnath Singh said the Armed Forces and the Defence Research and Development Organisation played a stellar role in efforts against Covid-19. He said, “During the global pandemic, India was able to provide support and assistance to countries around the world. This includes 6.6 crore doses of vaccines to 90 countries, support with medicine, medical consumables and equipment to 150 countries. We may mention the massive ‘Vande Bharat’ logistic service to move over 70 lakh stranded people, including foreigners, mostly by air route, but also by our ships in the Indian Ocean.”

Defence Minister assured, “India plans to produce well over 250 crore doses of vaccines between August and the end of 2021.We are determined to vaccinate at least 90 crore adult Indians and to help other friendly countries with vaccine.”

The Defence Minister called upon Member-Nations to evolve to meet the needs of its time. He said, “No institution, howsoever important, can remain frozen at the moment of its foundation. The inherent strength of SCO lies in the fact that Member-States participate in cooperation programme at their own pace and as per respective national policies. We are glad that SCO has evolved as truly an international organisation of significance.” Event of today is yet another step towards strengthening stability and security in the region. This will serve to further development of multilateral cooperation within the SCO format, he added.

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IDFC FIRST Bank announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Indian Navy to offer Honour First, a premium banking solution, to serving personnel and veterans of the Indian Navy. Honour First is specially designed keeping in mind the needs of the Armed Forces community. It includes a zero balance salary Honour First salary account with unlimited free ATM transactions from any location, free fund transfers through IMPS, RTGS, and NEFT, free lost card liability protection and purchase protection. It has an accident insurance cover of Rs 46 lakh which include a children education grant of Rs. 4 lakh for wards of age up to 23 years and an additional Rs 2 lakh for girl child marriage cover for daughters in the age bracket of 18 years to 25 years. The MoU for Honour First was signed at the Naval Headquarters in New Delhi between Commodore Neeraj Malhotra, Commodore – Pay and Allowances, Indian Navy and Colin D’Souza, Head – Corporate Salary, IDFC First Bank.

Indian Navy is responsible to safeguard the maritime frontiers of the country including the island territories against external aggression as also assist in the safety of the world sea lanes in the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. Speaking on the occasion, Amit Kumar, Head-Retail Liabilities & Branch Banking, IDFC First Bank, said, “It’s a proud moment for us. The association couldn’t have come at a better time as the Indian Navy celebrates the Golden Jubilee of the 1971 war. The Honour First solution is customised to the needs of Naval personnel and stands rooted in our customer-first and nation-first approach. We are constantly improving our offerings using state-of-the-art technology for a superior customer experience. It is a privilege for us to now serving the Indian Navy with an array of our convenient banking services, digitised financial solutions and enhanced access.” Malhotra said, “I welcome the initiative of IDFC First bank to offer customised banking solutions to suit the needs of Indian Navy and its personnel.”

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The Fleet Award Ceremony each year marks the end of the operational cycle of the Western Fleet, the Sword Arm of the Western Naval Command. The ceremony was held at Mumbai after a gap of a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This year, the ceremony was hosted by Rear Admiral Ajay Kochhar, Flag Officer Commanding Western Fleet. The ceremony marked the operational achievements of the Fleet from April 2020 to March 2021. The event was attended by Flag Officers of Western Naval Command with Vice Admiral R Hari Kumar, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Naval Command as the Chief Guest.

The ceremony hosted this year was a modest one in adherence to Covid norms. While the attendance was in limited numbers, the achievements of the Fleet were numerous as expected of the Sword Arm. A total of 20 trophies were given away covering a myriad spectrum of naval operations, safety practices and morale. INS Kolkata was awarded the ‘Best Ship’ among the capital ships for exhibiting immaculate grit whilst undertaking a plethora of maritime operations. INS Tarkash was awarded the ‘Most Spirited’ ship for an awe-inspiring display of enthusiasm and morale in all Fleet activities, exercises at sea and indomitable spirit. INS Deepak won the award of ‘Best Ship’ in the category of Tankers and OPVs.

The year covering the operational cycle from April 2020 to March 2021 was anything but ordinary. While the norm of the hour was to work from home, the Western Fleet remained mission deployed and poised for action during the challenging period last year. The Western Fleet also contributed immensely to Covid relief missions in support of the National effort to fight the pandemic. The ships and aircraft of the western fleet also undertook daring rescue operations to save innumerable lives when cyclone Tauktae struck the western coast of India. Today’s ceremony also paid a tribute to the sacrifices of the men and their families who put the call of duty before themselves for all these missions. The Sword Arm remains the first responder, operationally deployed, combat-ready and stood too.

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