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PM’s address to Air Force personnel at Jaisalmer

Friends,

I have had the opportunity to visit Jaisalmer air base many times, but since there are a series of programmes that there is no opportunity to stay back or talk to anyone. But, today I am fortunate to have the opportunity to celebrate the festival of Deepawali exclusively with all of you. Many many best wishes to you and every member of your family for Deepawali.

Friends,

There has been a tradition of drawing rangoli (colourful designs) of Shubh-Labh or Ridhi-Sidhi in front of the door or the gate. The idea behind this is that we have prosperity on Deepawali. Our borders of the nation are the gateways of our nation just as houses have doors. So, the prosperity of the nation is because of you, the Shubh-Labh of the nation is because of you, the Ridhi-Sidhi of the nation is because of you and your valour. That is why, today, people in every household in the country are expressing their feelings by lighting lamps in your glory. These lamps of Deepawali are shining in the light of your valour. These lamps of Deepawali are sparkling in your honour in every corner of India and in every family. I am amongst you today with these feelings. I have come here to pay obeisance to you, your patriotism, discipline and the passion to sacrifice lives for the country.

Friends,

Today, if you look at India’s global influence, it is strengthening in all spheres — economic, cultural and military. Today, the dominance of people of Indian origin is increasing across the world. The respect for India’s young talent is also growing in the world and if it comes to the country, then one can see all the three in this region of the border. The speed and scale with which decisions have been taken in the last few years for your empowerment showcase our economic strength. You boast of traditions of different states and diversity. You build one of the world’s greatest military powers. The strength of our army is such that if anyone casts an evil eye on us, our soldiers have the passion to give it a befitting reply. These are the qualities which establish the credibility of the Indian army in the world. Today, the country’s army is engaged in military exercises with powerful countries in the world. We are engaged in strategic partnerships to fight against terrorism. Indian armed forces have shown that they can strike on terrorist havens anywhere, anytime. It is also the Indian military force that leads the peacekeeping mission in every nook and corner of the world. While the Indian Army is capable of frightening the enemies, it also illuminates the lives of others by lighting themselves like a lamp during disasters.

Friends,

The role of our Air Force and Navy has been very laudable in bringing back its citizens affected by corona safely from abroad. When there was a challenge of going to Wuhan, when the horrifying corona had just started, the Air Force personnel came forward to evacuate our Indians stranded in Wuhan. There were some countries that had left their people to fend for themselves in Wuhan, but India not only evacuated its every citizen but our Air Force personnel also helped many other countries. Under Operation Samudra Setu, our Indian Navy personnel have also brought back thousands of Indians safely from abroad. The Air Force has been at the forefront in helping not only the country but many friendly countries, including the Maldives, Mauritius, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Congo and South Sudan. With the cooperation of the Air Force, hundreds of tonnes of relief material could be made available to the needy in time during the crisis.

Friends,

During the corona crisis, not much was discussed about your efforts, and, therefore, I am specially attracting the attention of the country today in this regard. It is unprecedented the way the DRDO, all our three armed forces, including BSF and other paramilitary forces, worked on a war footing in providing equipment, to quarantine and treatment during Covid. Initially, when the challenge was from sanitizer and face masks to PPE kits, you rose to the occasion to meet these needs of the country. You have contributed immensely at every level, be it protection kits, ventilators, medical oxygen related facilities and hospitals. Not only that, you have helped and supported the citizens when severe cyclones battered many parts of the country. Taking inspiration from your sacrifice and penance, today every Indian is making you proud by illuminating the lamps of Deepawali.

Friends,

All of you together have also ensured that corona infection could not affect our operational units under any circumstances. Be it the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, none has lowered its guard in its preparedness because of the corona. The military exercises have continued in Jaisalmer and in our seas even during the corona period. At a time when several countries in the world had almost come to a standstill, it was not that easy to move forward with such a speed, but you have proved it also. In the Corona period itself, the delivery and induction of modern arms and equipment has happened very fast. This was the period when eight modern Rafale aircraft became part of the country’s security net. The Tejas squadron was operationalised during the Corona period. We got the powerful Apache and Chinook helicopters during this period. The Navy received two modern submarines prepared indigenously in India during the Corona period.

Friends,

While our scientists have been trying to make vaccine during the corona period, our scientists involved in developing missiles have also drawn the country’s attention. There were continuous reports of a missile being tested or modern technology developed of another missile during this period. You can imagine how much the strategic strength of the country has increased in the last few months. There have been successful tests of many missiles in the last two months in the country. The successful test of the hypersonic demonstrator vehicle, which covers a distance of two kilometres in a second, has put India in the forefront of three-four major countries of the world. In the last few days, a number of long and short-range missiles, which can be fired from sea, land or air, have created an impregnable wall of security in the skies of India. In the same corona period, our scientists have inducted India into the world’s best forces in terms of fire power.

Friends,

Mega infra-power projects with modern combat equipment as well as modern connectivity on the borders of the country have also been completed in the meantime. Today, Atal tunnel has become a very big means for Ladakh’s connectivity. Dozens of bridges and long roads on our northern and western borders have also been fully constructed during this period. When there was commotion across the world, everybody was scared for their life; you remained committed to the security of the country even during that situation. You have won the hearts of the country?

Friends,

It is this commitment of all of you which is strengthening the country in terms of defence and security. Today, on the one hand in the country, the focus is on modern technology and equipment, the defence reforms are also being worked out seriously. The goal behind self-sufficiency in the defence sector is to reduce dependence on foreign countries for modern weapons and technology. In view of this, our three armed forces have taken a commendable decision. They have decided that more than 100 security-related equipment will now be produced in India and won’t be procured from abroad or the products that are being made in India will be improved further and procured from here. Efforts are being made that the parts that were being imported so far will also be made in the country. This will power of our forces is also inspiring the people of the country to be vocal for the local.

Friends,

The limit of FDI in the defence sector has also been increased to 74 percent so that more and more companies make arms in India. The work on two major defence corridors in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu is also progressing in right earnest to provide better facilities for the companies that want to come to India.

Friends,

The old procedures have been the biggest impediment in the modernisation of the army and the self-reliance of military equipment. Continuous efforts are being made to simplify these procedures. Recently, many major reforms have been undertaken. Earlier, the process of trial and testing was very complex. It was time consuming also and would lead to severe delays in induction of defence equipment. Now, it has become very simple. The chief of defence staff has been set up so that there is better coordination among the three armed forces and quick decisions can be taken. In a very short time, the country has felt the importance of this new set-up. The strengthening of this new system in such a short time is possible only because of the commitment of our Army, the Air Force, the Navy, and, therefore, they deserve felicitation. The collective resolve of our forces has ensured the success of the CDS.

Friends,

Who can know better than all of you about the challenges in the border area; how many difficulties are here. Along with the Border Area Development, the special training of youths is equally important to resolve these problems. On 15th August also, I had said this from Red Fort that a special campaign will be launched to connect the NCC youths with more than 100 border districts of the country. About one lakh youths are being trained in the border and sea shore areas. The important aspect is that these youths will be trained by the Army, Navy and Air Force. Where there is a base of army, it will provide training, similarly the air force and navy will provide training where they have their bases.

Friends,

The aim is to train the girl cadets in a large number. This is part of the efforts in which the role of daughters is being expanded to enhance the country’s self-reliance and self-confidence. Just as women are being encouraged to move forward in other areas today, the role of women power in our security apparatus is also being further broadened. Today, women are being given combat roles in the air force and navy. The daughters are also being inducted in the military police. BSF is among the leading institutions where the role of women in border security has been continuously expanded. Many such efforts enhance our self-confidence and the confidence of the country.

Friends,

You must have taken note of one more thing on Deepawali. When we light one lamp, we illuminate the remaining lamps with the same lamp. One lamp lights another and then thousands of lamps. Similarly, you also illuminate the entire country like a lamp, making it energetic. The spirit of patriotism among the countrymen is uplifted through the gallantry of a soldier like you on the border. With inspiration from you, every countryman is coming forward for the national interest in his own way. Somebody is connected with the pledge of cleanliness, somebody is pursuing a campaign against corruption, somebody is engaged in a mission of water for every household, somebody is working for a TB-free India, somebody is empowering the campaign against malnutrition, and somebody is doing his responsibility by teaching digital transactions to others.

Friends,

Now, everybody in the country has embraced the Self-reliant India campaign. Vocal for Local has become the mission of every Indian. The self-confidence of India First, Indian First is all pervasive. All this is being made possible because of your strength and trust. When the trust of the country grows, then the world watches the country progress exponentially. Let’s come forward to realize this pledge of confidence and self-confidence. With new resolutions and new passion on this auspicious occasion of Deepawali, let this country of 130 crore people work together hard to achieve the One Life One Mission to realize the dream of making Mother Bharati the way we want to see it as affluent and prosperous. With this spirit, you say along with me, Bharat Mata ki jai, Bharat Mata ki jai, Bharat Mata ki jai. Once again, many many best wishes to all of you for the festival of Deepawali. Thanks.