HOW ASSAM RIFLES BUILT ‘PEOPLE’S EFFORT ROAD’ WITH LOCALS - The Daily Guardian
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HOW ASSAM RIFLES BUILT ‘PEOPLE’S EFFORT ROAD’ WITH LOCALS

In Covid-19 times, 44 Assam Rifles extended its support to repair the vital Tamei-Dikhuiram road, which connects many far flung villages both in Manipur and Nagaland.

Ashish Singh

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Dikuiram, a village located on the banks of Barak River in Tamei Sub-division of Tamenglong district. It is located approximately 22 km away from Sub Divisional HQ at Tamei by a single road. It is only through this road that another roughly 35 villages in the hinterland are connected to Tamei. The villagers from both sides of Barak River in Manipur and Nagaland are presently dependent on this vital road for accessibility to health and better market facilities in the nearby Tamei. These villagers were facing acute hardship due to the depleted condition of this road for a long time. There were many instances when they faced a pinch of poor road communication.

The locals have lost their beloved ones due to poor health facilities in these remote far flung villages. This single road is a lifeline to as many as 35 other villages in the area. In absence of good road connectivity all these villages have been fighting the same battle for having better access to education facilities, health and markets. The generation-next from these villages were unable to get quality education due to lack of infrastructure in the village. They were unable to get full benefits of various government schemes as the villages are only connected with Sub-div HQ with a single Tamei-Dikuiram road. Tamei-Dikhuiram road is vital for the far flung and inaccessible areas of Tamei sub division of Tamenglong district, Manipur.

It not only provides connectivity to Dikuiram village but also to Langparam, Taiparam, Katang, Magulong, Inem and several other villages. The importance of the link does not stop in Manipur but extends to the neighbouring state of Nagaland too. The road further connects to the town of Tenning in Peren District of Nagaland and further connects to the important city of Dimapur via district headquarter Peren and Jaluki. Hence the road provides an alternate connectivity to the Tamenglong-Dimapur link.

HOW IT WAS BUILT

In these tiring times of Covid-19 restrictions, came a new ray of hope for the remote rural areas of Tamei subdivision in Tamenglong. 44 Assam Rifles extended their support to repair the vital Tamei-Dikhuiram road which connects many far flung villages both in Manipur and Nagaland. In absence of any government assistance to repair this depleted road connecting as many as 35 villages in hinterland, 44 Assam Rifles under the aegis of 22 Sect Assam Rifles(AR)/ Inspector General Assam Rifles(IGAR)—EAST took the initiative & started repairing the link road by employing manpower and machinery. The road had pit holes, water logging, bamboo bushes falling on the road with a collapsed drainage system. The late monsoon rains too were hindering the smooth repair works to progress. The prevailing security situation in the area further precluded these jawans to work with proper security gear under security cover. All these odds didn’t deter these determined human hands to bring a social change in the area.

PARTICIPATION OF LOCALS

Taking motivation from the initiative of 44 Assam Rifles, the locals especially youth from Dikhuiram village also pledged to toil in the sunlight. Leaving behind their farm work and household chores, locals joined hands with Assam Rifles to change the fate of many more villages in the hinterland. It was a dream to achieve self reliance and contribute something constructive to the society which motivated the youth to share the load along with the jawans. The zeal of giving a better future to the next generation kept them motivated to pursue their dreams. The repair work had started on 12 October 2020 and got completed on 4 January 2021. Working against all odds, it took 85 days to complete the repair work of the 22 km stretch of the road. The repair work has come as a New Year gift for the villagers as now they will have access to better education, health, employment, government developmental schemes and markets for self reliance opportunities.

THE ROAD-OPENING PARTY

The road was inaugurated and dedicated to the locals of the area on 9 February by IGAR (EAST) in presence of a huge crowd from nearby villages. Speaking on the occasion he asserted people to be self sustained, acquire professional skills and contribute constructively in the nation development. While addressing the crowd the IGAR(E) sought cooperation from the villagers so that the SF and civil population can move synchronously towards development of society. He stressed upon the importance of roads with the point that roads act as a gateway to development and prosperity. Proper roads are precursor to infrastructure development, boom in business, better education, rise in employment and ultimately better standard of living. He insisted upon getting better education and pay back to society. Being the future of the nation, the youth has greater responsibilities but at the same time have an ocean of opportunities. He also pressed upon the importance of learning two prominent languages of the nation Hindi & English, which will equip them to face the society effectively & efficiently. He finally asked for cooperation of the locals with the SF and the civil governing bodies so that the insurgent activities can be curbed and the government resources can be utilised for what they are meant for without any scope for corruption.

Speaking on the occasion the Commandant of the Tamenglong Assam Rifles battalion thanked the locals especially the youth and women folk who fighting all odds kept working selflessly to unbind a new era of development in the area. This project is a true example of self reliance and sustainability through bhagidari by all the stakeholders. The active participation by the people has been honoured by naming it as the People’s Effort Road. This road shall not only connect places but shall connect hearts in the Liangmai tribal areas on both sides of the Barak river. With better repaired roads the villages shall have better and faster link to Dimapur market through Nagaland. He asserted the importance of being united in all efforts. He also called upon the youth to constructively and progressively contribute towards nation building and development. This singular example of people participation with security personnel shall usher a new era of friendship and trust between the two. Many other far flung areas can take a lesson or two from this people’s effort road. It has not only brought people together but brought them closer to security personnel in the area.

As the road was dedicated to the spirit and grit of the locals the enthusiastic villagers sang songs and danced to express their happiness over what they have achieved together with security forces in the area. These achievers were felicitated by the Assam Rifles further strengthening the bond of friendship with the locals. The locals along with Assam Rifles have written a new story of self-reliance as professed by the Prime Minister. Certainly the synergised efforts of Assam Rifles and locals have shown a light of hope to the villagers in the present trying situation of Covid-19 pandemic. The vibrant picturesque beauty of villages on either side of Barak river in Manipur and Nagaland has been added with another feather. This repaired road shall bring the happiness, smile and warmth back on people’s faces. This is what makes this area so vibrant and picturesque. The story of achieving the dreams of a better and improved road connectivity is incomplete without the narrative of locals together joining hands with security forces in achieving this rare feat. The energy of the youth if channelised properly can rewrite the self reliance and self sustainable dream of a society. This is Naya Bharat where you yourself plan, execute and contribute towards development and nation-building. The Assam Rifles in the area has ushered new developmental avenues for the locals by repairing this vital road. The government agencies can reach these villages more conveniently. The villagers too could be benefited from various social welfare schemes of the government. Indeed the People’s road is not only a road repaired by meagre resources but, it reflects the humane grit, will power and energy to succeed against all odds.

THE ROAD AHEAD

The repaired road has given hope and opened a spectrum of opportunity for students of these far flung villages around Dikhuiram to avail better education facilities at Sub-division HQ Tamei. The charm on the faces of the students from the area and satisfaction in the eyes of parents is evident as they can see the bright future for their wards. Also the better connectivity shall definitely encourage tourists to visit and enjoy the scenic beauty of quite a serene place. The place has ample to offer for an adventurous experience on the banks of Barak River. With tourists visiting Dikhuiram, it shall open better avenues for the locals to generate a handsome income.

An occasional traveller Shabnam who came from Hyderabad for some social work in the area upon seeing the depleted condition of the road felt pity for the people who for no faults of their are being deprived of their basic right of living a dignified life. However, when she saw that 44 Assam Rifles had empathised with the trouble which villagers were experiencing in their routine life and employed its resources and manpower to repair the road, she felt ecstatic and conveyed her thanks and best wishes to Assam Rifles. Another traveller who hails from Tamenglong and was riding on his motorcycle to New Magulong village to visit his friend got surprised to see the coordination, zeal and determination with which the Assam Rifles and locals were working together. He voluntarily gave his precious three hours and assisted the team working for a noble cause.

The news of joint effort of Assam Rifles and locals has spread in the whole district, motivating other villages to take such initiative in their respective areas for self-reliance and ushering development there. This team effort has made a note and shall be written in golden words in the history of development of Tamenglong district.

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Defence

MOD APPROVES RS 498.8 CRORE BUDGETARY SUPPORT FOR DEFENCE INNOVATION THROUGH IDEX-DIO

Ashish Singh

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Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has approved the budgetary support of Rs 498.8 crore to Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) – Defence Innovation Organisation (DIO) for the next five years. The budgetary support will provide a big boost to the ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’ of Prime Minister Narendra Modi as iDEX–DIO has the primary objective of self-reliance and indigenisation in defence & aerospace sector of the country. The creation of the iDEX framework and establishment of the DIO by the Department of Defence Production (DDP) is aimed at creating an ecosystem to foster innovation and technology development in defence and aerospace by engaging Industries including MSMEs, start-ups, individual innovators, R&D institutes & academia and provide them grants/funding and other support to carry out R&D development which has good potential for future adoption for Indian defence and aerospace needs.

The scheme, with budgetary support of Rs 498.8 crore for the next five years, is aimed at providing financial support to nearly 300 start-ups/MSMEs/individual innovators and 20 partner incubators under the DIO framework. It will support increased awareness in the Indian innovation ecosystem about defence needs and, conversely, in the Indian Defence establishment about the potential of the Indian innovation eco-system to deliver innovative solutions to meet their needs. The DIO, with its team, will enable the creation of channels for innovators to engage and interact with the Indian Defence production industry. The long-term effect to be realised by the group is the establishment of a culture, where enlisting the effort of innovators by the Indian military is commonplace and frequent. The scheme aims to facilitate rapid development of new, indigenised and innovative technologies for the Indian defence and aerospace sector to meet their needs in shorter timelines; create a culture of engagement with innovative start-ups to encourage co-creation for defence and aerospace; empower a culture of technology co-creation and co-innovation within the defence and aerospace sector and boost innovation among the start-ups and encourage them to be a part of the ecosystem.

The DDP will release funds to DIO for setting up and managing the iDEX network in the form of Partner Incubators (PIs); communicating with innovators/start-ups/technology centres of MSMEs through the PIs including the PIs of Department of Science and Technology regarding defence and aerospace needs; organising various challenges/hackathons to shortlist potential technologies and entities and evaluating technologies and products developed by innovators/start-ups in terms of their utility and impact on the defence and aerospace setup. The other activities include enabling and funding pilots using innovation funds dedicated to the purpose; interfacing with the Armed Forces top brass about key innovative technologies and encouraging their adoption into the defence establishment with suitable assistance; facilitating scale-up, indigenisation and integration in manufacturing facilities for successfully piloted technologies and organising outreach activities all across the country.

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Defence

PASSING OUT PARADE OF TES-37 COURSE HELD AT COLLEGE OF MILITARY ENGINEERING

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The passing out parade of the cadets of the Technical Entry Scheme—37 Course at the Cadets Training Wing, College of Military Engineering (CME) at Pune—was held on Saturday. The parade was reviewed by Lt Gen PP Malhotra, Commandant CME. Thirty-three Gentlemen Cadets of the Course, including three gentlemen cadets from Bhutan and two from Sri Lanka, were commissioned as officers.

Though parents of the passing out course could not attend the ceremony owing to COVID related restrictions, the parade was streamed live on YouTube. Lt Gen PP Malhotra, presented several awards to Gentlemen Cadets for excellence in training. The parade conducted with traditional military regalia, was commanded by Wing Cadet Captain Abhishek Chauhan. The coveted General Officer Commanding in Chief Army Training Command Gold Medal for standing first in overall performance in three years at CTW was awarded to Wing Cadet Adjutant Sahil Kumar. The Silver and Bronze Medal was awarded to Gentlemen Cadet Sonam Tshering from the Royal Bhutan Army and Wing Cadet Quarter Master Prince Kumar Singh respectively. Cadets of the Wing also had the distinction of being awarded the Commandant Officers Training Academy Silver medal to Wing Cadet Captain Abhishek Singh Chauhan and the Bronze Medal to Wing Cadet Adjutant Sahil Kumar for their meritorious performance in the combined four years of training, including one year at the Officers Training Academy, Gaya. Echo Platoon was awarded the General Officer Commanding in Chief’s Banner for performing exceedingly well in the Inter Platoon Competitions and emerging as the Champion Platoon.

Addressing the parade, the General Officer congratulated the Gentlemen Cadets for their superlative performance in the training period at the wing and their immaculate parade. Lt General PP Malhotra, highlighted that the cadets were at the cusp of a new beginning as young military leaders, and on their broad shoulders lay the future of our gallant Army. He urged the future officers to make their nation and the Alma Mater proud by rendering selfless and honourable service. He also stressed on imbibing strong moral values and ethics. The passing out parade was followed by a Commissioning and an oath taking ceremony for the newly commissioned officers.

College of Military Engineering has emerged as the finest technical institutions in the Indian Army. Recent forays of the College into Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Engineering Materials have been lauded by all. The college has entered into MoU with academic and industrial majors to absorb best engineering practices and infuse a culture of innovation in the Indian Army. Several projects from the College have been displayed and awarded in forums such as the iDEX4Fauji and the Army Day Parade, this year.

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Defence

INDIAN COAST GUARD ADDS TEETH TO ITS AVIATION ARM

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NEW DELHI: In line with the PM’s vision of Aatmanirbhar Bharat, Dr Ajay Kumar, Defence Secretary, inducted Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) Mk-III in Indian Coast Guard (ICG). The state-of-the-art helicopters are indigenously designed and manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Bengaluru. The maiden ceremony was carried out through digital means, keeping Covid protocol at fore and promoting GoI’s vision of ‘Digital India’. Indian Coast Guard Director General K Natarajan, Mr R Madhavan, CMD, HAL and MoD officials were among those who attended the event. Dr Ajay Kumar in his address praised the perseverance of the ICG and M/s HAL by inducting these helicopters in testing times and progressing our Prime Minister’s vision of ‘Make in India’. He also brought out the importance of having these advanced helicopters for ICG to operate them across the spectrum of Coast Guard operations.

The ALH Mk-III marine version has been designed and developed with in-house customisation of 19 additional equipment by HAL to meet ICG requirements. HAL will supply 16 ALH Mk-III to the ICG by the mid of next year. The helicopter is capable of undertaking embarked operations from ships which will enhance Coast Guard capabilities towards Sea air co-ordinated search, interdiction capabilities, Coastal Security, Search and Rescue operations, medical evacuation,Humanitarian missions, Pollution response missions, etc. While appreciating ICG for the recently conducted successful operations of drugs & arms seizure and saving lives during cyclones Tauktae & YAAS, Defence Secretary said the capacity and capability augmentation of the service needs to be materialised in a time bound manner considering the onerous responsibilities bestowed on ICG by the GoI.

On induction, the 16 ALH Mk-III will be positioned at 4 Coast Guard squadrons at Bhubaneshwar, Porabandar, Kochi and Chennai. The shared maritime boundaries with littoral states are highly susceptible to illegal activities and the regions are prone to frequent cyclones.These squadrons with embarked operations will ensure seamless surveillance and provide assistance to fishermen in distress at sea. Director General K Natarajan while acknowledging the efforts of Tatrakshaks for recent concurrent successful operations said that ICG is as prepared as ever to discharge its duties and induction of ALH Mk-III will usher a new paradigm shift in our capability to undertake ship borne operations and enhance surveillance prowess with extended reach. He also brought out that these helicopters will be deployed in a coordinated matrix along with ships and aircraft to strengthen the service capabilities in Area of Responsibility and beyond. Speaking on the occasion, Mr R Madhavan said with this contract, HAL is embarking on a new journey of Performance Based Logistics (PBL). The PBL will assure desired levels of availability of ALH MKIII fleet of ICG for six and half years, a unique feature of this contract and a first of its kind in HAL. These helicopters are equipped with state of the art equipment like Surveillance Radar, Electro Optic Pod, Medical Intensive Care Unit, High Intensity Search Light, SAR Homer, Loud Hailer, Machine Gun and can perform other key roles. Helicopter MRO Division is the nodal agency for execution of PBL contract along with Engine Division and other Sister Divisions of HAL.

ABOUT PBL

The PBL will provide a One Stop Solution for maintenance of complete Helicopter, Engine and components which encompasses Helicopter/Engine Servicing Task, Rotable Repair Task (RRT), Repair & Maintenance Spares Order (RMSO) etc. As part of PBL, Helicopter MRO Division of HAL will be extending the support from four bases viz. Bhubaneswar, Porbandar, Chennai and Kochi. All necessary infrastructure, repair facility etc are set up at Bhubaneswar and Porbandar, dedicated LRU/ Rotable floats are stocked and On-site support team is identified towards ensuring the availability of Helicopters. Chennai & Kochi are in the final stages. In addition, HAL Aviation Maintenance Software (HAMS), a web based online platform is developed and deployed by Helicopter MRO Division for real time monitoring and operational visibility of fleet through a dedicated leased line network.

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INDIAN‌ ‌ARMY‌ ‌HANDS‌ ‌OVER‌ ‌MEDICAL‌ ‌EQUIPMENT‌ ‌TO‌ ‌NEPALI‌ ‌ARMY‌ ‌

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NEW DELHI: As part of its ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy, medical equipment and supplies worth Nepali Rupees 28.80 crore provided by the Indian Army were handed over to the Nepali Army on Friday. In a ceremony at Nepali Army Headquarters, Tundikhel today, the medical equipment was handed over by Ambassador Vinay Mohan Kwatra to General Purna Chandra Thapa, Chief of the Nepali Army. The ambassador reaffirmed India’s support to Nepali Army in its fight against the Covid-19 pandemic and lauded its contribution in this respect.

The medical equipment, including Ventilators, Ambulances, ICU beds, PPE Kits, PCR test Kits etc was delivered to Kathmandu on 10 June 2021. The Indian Army has been assisting the Nepali

Army to fight Covid-19 through various kinds of assistance since last year, including 1 Lakh doses of Covishield vaccines which were provided in March 2021.

The latest assistance is another testament to the close cooperation between the two armies and the two countries, particularly in times of need.

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Defence Minister inaugurates BRO centres

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Defence Minister Rajnath Singh dedicated to the nation two Centres of Excellence established by Border Roads Organisation (BRO) at Seema Sadak Bhawan in New Delhi on Friday. These Centres have been established to achieve excellence in road safety as well as foster growth in construction of roads, bridges, air fields and tunnels. The Centre of Excellence for Road Safety & Awareness (CoERSA) aims to create awareness about road safety through analysis sharing of road accidents and suggesting methods to save precious lives. The Centre of Excellence for Roads, Bridges, Air Fields and Tunnels (CoERBAT) focuses on institutionalising the knowledge gained over the years in development of almost 60,000 kilometres of roads, 56,000 metres of bridges, 19 airfields and four tunnels in the eastern and north-western part of the country.

Speaking on the occasion, Rajnath Singh appreciated the efforts of BRO in establishing the Centres of Excellence, expressing confidence that they will play a pivotal role in saving precious lives. Terming road accidents as a silent pandemic that claims approx. 1.5 lakh lives every year, the Raksha Mantri stated that the Government has taken a number of initiatives such as National Road Safety Policy, Motor Vehicle Act 2020 and identification of black spots on national highways to tackle the problem and the setting up of these Centres is another step in that direction. The Raksha Mantri lauded the crucial role played by BRO in the progress of the nation since its inception by building roads, tunnels and other infrastructure in remote areas. He praised the efforts of BRO for working tirelessly in tough weather conditions to increase connectivity in border areas, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Describing connectivity as an essential component of a nation’s progress, he said BRO is catering to the needs of the Armed Forces as well as working towards the socio-economic development of the border areas. He made special mention of the recent achievements of BRO, including state-of-the-art construction of ‘Atal Tunnel, Rohtang’, Kailash Mansarovar Road and Zojila pass. He also appreciated BRO for raising awareness about road safety through innovative slogans and signboards. Rajnath Singh also listed out various measures taken by the Government for the development of BRO. These include increase in the budget of BRO, approval of special high-altitude clothing for the personnel as well as cadre review to boost the morale of the organisation. He assured BRO of continued support of Ministry of Defence, saying that the Government remains committed to the progress of the far-flung areas of the country. He also remembered the BRO personnel who laid down their lives in the service of the nation.

During the event, the Raksha Mantri also launched four software developed to optimise the work efficiency of BRO personnel, their HR management, recruitment management, enrolment and works management. The BRO has created the software to reduce paperwork, with focus on minimising the carbon footprint. Rajnath Singh termed the development of the software as a great example of ‘Self-reliant India’ and ‘Digital India’ campaigns. He stated that the software will further improve the efficiency of the organisation, modernise it and save time. The first ever Solo Woman Motorcycle Expedition by Ms Kanchan Ugursandi to Umling La Pass, Ladakh and back was also flagged off on the occasion. The Raksha Mantri extended his best wishes to Ms Kanchan Ugursandi and expressed confidence that she will come out with flying colours and complete the task by setting new records.

Earlier, DG Border Roads Lt Gen Rajeev Chaudhry briefed Rajnath Singh on the initiatives and achievements of BRO in recent years. He informed the Raksha Mantri about the ongoing and future projects, with focus on AatmaNirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan envisioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He also informed Raksha Mantri on the awareness campaigns being carried out by BRO related to COVID-19 and Azadi ka Amrut Mahotsav in far-flung areas. The DG Border Roads said BRO remains committed towards serving the nation and would bring all necessary changes to enhance the efficiency of the organisation. Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat and Defence Secretary Dr Ajay Kumar were among the dignitaries present on the occasion.

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Defence

A LOOK AT DEFENCE MINISTRY’S 20 REFORMS IN 2020

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Defence Minister Rajnath Singh released an e-booklet titled ’20 Reforms in 2020’, highlighting the major reforms undertaken by Ministry of Defence (MoD) in 2020, in New Delhi earlier this week. The compilation provides a brief overview of defence reforms undertaken in the year 2020 by MoD to bring about greater cohesion and modernisation of the Armed Forces through policy changes, innovation and digital transformation. Reforms also focused on the ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ initiative of Prime Minister Narendra Modi; increased collaboration with the industry to boost defence exports; measures to accelerate defence acquisitions with greater transparency; digital transformation; strengthening of border infrastructure; increased participation of women in Armed Forces; transformation in R&D to boost innovation; expansion of NCC to remote locations and aid extended to the civil administration in fight against Covid-19. Raksha Rajya Mantri Shripad Y Naik, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Karambir Singh, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria, Chief of Army Staff General MM Naravane, Defence Secretary Dr Ajay Kumar, Secretary (Ex-Servicemen Welfare) Mr. Ravikant, Secretary Department of Defence R&D and Chairman, Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) Dr G Satheesh Reddy and Financial Advisor (Defence Services) Mr. Sanjiv Mittal were present on the occasion.

Addressing the gathering, Rajnath Singh termed the E-booklet as an important document on the bright future of the defence sector in the country. “The booklet is a reflection of the resolve of the Government, under the able leadership of Prime Minister Modi, to make the defence sector stronger and more efficient,” he said. The Raksha Mantri expressed confidence that the reforms undertaken by MoD will make India a global powerhouse in the defence sector in the times to come.

20 REFORMS IN 2020

Chief of Defence Staff & Department of Military Affairs

The appointment of India’s first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) and creation of Department of Military Affairs (DMA) were among the major decisions taken by the Government. The post of CDS was created to increase efficiency & coordination among the Armed Forces and reduce duplication, while DMA was established to ensure improved civil-military integration. General Bipin Rawat was appointed as the first CDS who also fulfils the responsibilities of Secretary, DMA.

AATMANIRBHARTA IN DEFENCE

To promote ‘Make in India’ in defence sector, a list of 101 defence items was notified in August 2020, while Defence Acquisition Procedure 2020 was unveiled in September 2020. Rs 52,000 crore budget was earmarked for indigenously made defence equipment in 2020-21. Corporatisation of Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) was approved in May 2020 for greater efficiency and productivity. There was an unprecedented push towards new technology developments within India. Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) developed a ventilator in record time to meet Covid-19 requirements in May 2020.In November 2020, Quick Reaction Surface to Air Missile, indigenously designed & developed DRDO, hit bullseye at medium range and medium height, while indigenously built Pinaka rocket system cleared test of 45-60 km range.

INCREASED DEFENCE EXPORTS

The increased partnership with the private sector has led to a substantial rise in defence exports. The value of total defence exports rose from Rs 1,941 crore in 2014-15 to Rs 9,116 crore in 2019-20. Also, for the first time, India figured in the list of defence equipment exporting nations, as the exports expanded to more than 84 countries.

MODERNISATION & INCREASED TRANSPARENCY IN DEFENCE ACQUISITION

In highest-ever thrust towards modernisation in last 10 years, there was 10 per cent budget increase in 2020-21 over the previous year. Policy reforms for increased transparency included launch of new Defence Acquisition Procedure in September 2020 and revision of DRDO Procurement Manual in October 2020. To encourage start-ups, a provision was introduced for procurement as Buy Indian-IDDM, while leasing for non-mission critical requirements was introduced for the first time.

DEFENCE ACQUISITIONS

First five Rafale fighter aircraft arrived in India in July 2020 and several more since then, adding firepower to the arsenal of the Indian Air Force. Despite the COVID-19 challenge, the aircraft were delivered timely and inducted into IAF.

REFORMING DEFENCE R&D

To promote innovation by young minds, five Young Scientists Laboratories of DRDO were launched in 2020 in Bengaluru, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Hyderabad. DRDO has joined hands with the private sector in design & development and identified 108 Systems & Subsystems for the industry to design, develop and manufacture.

DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION

For the first time, several organisations of Ministry of Defence went digital. Directorate General Quality Assurance (DGQA) started online Pre-Delivery inspection in May 2020 to address security threats, while Armed Forces Tribunal began digital hearing for the first time in August 2020. Defence Estates, Canteen Stores Department, services in Cantonment, MoD Pension and National Cadet Corps (NCC) also went online providing faster and transparent services.

STRENGTHENING BORDER INFRASTRUCTURE

Reforms of processes and workflows within Border Roads Organisation (BRO) enabled it to achieve targets ahead of schedule, in some instances. World’s longest Atal tunnel above 10,000 feet, at Rohtang on the Leh-Manali Highway was inaugurated by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi in October 2020. It provides all weather connectivity to the northern borders. Zojila pass, situated on the Srinagar-Kargil-Leh National Highway, was opened almost a month ahead of schedule in April 2020.

STREE SHAKTI IN ARMED FORCES

In 2020, Ministry of Defence took some historic decisions to increase participation of women in the Armed Forces. Ten streams of Indian Army were opened for giving Permanent Commission to Short Service Commission (SSC) Women officers, while women pilots of Indian Navy were operationalised for the first time. All Sainik Schools were thrown open for girl students from academic session 2020-21.

REFORMS IN NCC

Expanding the reach of NCC to remote locations was a major announcement made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi from the ramparts of Red Fort on Independence Day on August 15, 2020. More than 1,075 schools/colleges in border and coastal areas were identified and the enrolment began in November 2020. In another decision, it was decided to give preference to NCC cadets in employment in Central Armed Police Forces from May 2020. Youth Exchange Programme Allowance for NCC cadets was increased from Rs 100 per day to Rs 750 and the number of countries was increased from 10 to 15.

AID TO CIVIL ADMINISTRATION DURING COVID-19

Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces have mobilised resources to aid the civil administration in fight against COVID-19. Armed Forces Medical Services (AFMS) provided all emergency support to tide over the situation. They have mobilised doctors, health professionals and set up Quarantine facilities at several locations across the country. DRDO has set up several hospitals to treat COVID patients across the states, passed on technology expertise to manufacture ventilators, oxygen plants, medicines, test kits and PPE kits to private sector for mass production.

HELP BEYOND BOUNDARIES

The Armed Forces extended a helping hand to the countries in distress. Indian Navy mounted eight relief missions during 2020-21. Besides evacuating stranded Indians from Iran, Sri Lanka and Maldives under Vande Bharat Mission, Indian Naval ships provided Covid-19 medical relief, including medicines and doctors, to five countries. INS Airavat provided 270 MT food aid to Sudan, Djibouti and Eritrea struck by natural calamities. The Indian Coast Guard led the rescue operation to save Sri Lanka coast of its biggest oil spill. Indian Air Force carried out over 800 relief missions during 2020-21.

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