The ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict has once again highlighted that being self-reliant without dependencies is a vital necessity, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Thursday.
Speaking during the Navy's Commander's Conference, Singh said that the Indian Navy, which has been at the forefront of the 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat' initiative of the government, must continue to lead the way and remain a necessary guarantor of India's maritime trade, security and national prosperity.
"It is heartening to note that in consonance with the 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat' initiative, the Navy has re-invested over 64 per cent of its capital budget into the economy. I am told that the percentage share of modernisation budget is bound to grow up to 70 per cent towards indigenous procurement in this current financial year," he said.
The Defence Minister commended the Navy on the commissioning of major Naval units since the last Commander's Conference namely INS Visakhapatnam, the first ship of the P15B project, the fourth P75 submarine INS Vela and the Navy's second P8I squadron INAS 316 at INS Hansa, Goa.
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He also said that out of the 41 ships and submarines which are on order, 39 are being built in Indian shipyards.
"While the Navy has been at the forefront of indigenisation, it is important for us to leverage on the momentum that we have gained thus far.
"I urge the senior leadership to maintain their focus on futuristic capability development, to ensure that the nation's maritime power grows in tandem with our economic interests," he said.
The delivery of first indigenous aircraft carrier, Vikrant, would be another milestone event.
"I am aware that the ship has successfully completed three sea trials. All-out efforts need to be made so that the ship is delivered and commissioned in the 75th year of our Independence. This would be a fitting tribute to the 'Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav' initiative," he said.
Singh also said that Indian Navy has taken numerous initiatives to progress military diplomacy. These include gifting two fast interceptor craft to Mozambique, technical support towards refit of ships from friendly foreign countries, joint surveillance of exclusive economic zone of friendly nations and conduct of bilateral and multilateral exercises in the last six months.
"I was also happy to note the overwhelming participation of 39 friendly foreign countries in the MILAN multi-national naval exercise," the Defence Minister said.
He highlighted that the Navy has also been providing training to foreign personnel in India and over 19,000 personnel have been trained in the last four decades from over 45 friendly foreign countries.
Jointness in operations is critical in any future wars and restructuring of military commands and establishment of joint theatre commands is the way ahead, he said.
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"I am aware that adequate progress has been made towards the study on maritime theatre command," Singh added.
He also applauded the Navy for appointing women officers onboard frontline ships and ship-borne flights. Further, the Navy would also be inducting women cadets through the National Defence Academy from June this year.