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All political parties united when it comes to national security: Def Minister Rajnath Singh

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Samba: Underscoring the need for civil-military fusion, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday said all political parties are united when it comes to safeguarding the nation.

He said the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is committed to development of border areas as he lauded Border Roads Organisation (BRO) for completing major infrastructure projects over the past couple of years.

“The BRO is a glaring example of civil-military fusion and its role in the development of infrastructure along the borders will be written in golden words.

“The civil-military fusion is the need of the hour as safeguarding the country is not the responsibility of our armed forces alone but the civilians as well,” the defence minister said, addressing a function here.

He inaugurated a total of 90 infrastructure projects, completed by the BRO at a cost of Rs 2,941 crore.

He quoted from Hindu religious texts and said, “We have to work together to safeguard our borders.”

“It is heartening to say that we are getting full support from all to secure our borders… the projects which were completed are spread across states and UTs where different political parties are holding the power.

“I want to congratulate everyone for the completion of these vital border projects. The strength of India is that when there is a challenge to our national security or a threat to Bharat Mata (mother India), all political parties set aside their ideological differences and come together to face the adversary,” the defence minister said.

He said with today’s inauguration of 90 projects, a record 295 infrastructure projects of the BRO have been dedicated to the nation since 2021. In 2022, 103 projects worth Rs 2,900 crore were inaugurated while in 2021, 102 projects at a cost of over Rs 2,200 crore were dedicated to the nation.

“In the past 900 days, the BRO completed one project every third day which demonstrates its dedication and hardwork as well as the commitment of the government under the leadership of the Prime Minister,” he said.

Describing the BRO as a “bro (brother)” of the armed forces, he said through its infrastructure projects, the agency is not only securing India’s borders, but also playing a key role in the socioeconomic development of far-flung areas.

“Together with BRO, we are ensuring that the nation is secure and border areas are developed. Timely completion of infrastructure projects in far-flung areas has now become the new normal of New India,” he said.

The defence minister also referred to the ISRO’s successful Chandrayaan-3 mission to the moon and said hoisting of the Indian flag by lander Vikram on ‘Shiv Shakti Point’ exhibits the power of the nation.

“There was a time when ISRO was not even able to launch a satellite and we had to request other countries for the launch of our satellites,” he said.

He said with ISRO attaining the expertise, the situation has completely changed and “today not only the Moon and Mars, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is reaching out to the Sun (referring to the country’s solar mission). It has launched 400 satellites from various countries.”

The defence minister also virtually laid the foundation stone of Nyoma Airfield in Eastern Ladakh and said this airfield, to be developed at a cost of Rs 200 crore, will boost the air infrastructure in Ladakh and augment IAF’s capability along the Northern border.

He exuded confidence that this airfield, which will be one of the world’s highest, would prove to be a game-changer for the armed forces.

He also expressed hope the BRO will soon set another unique record with the construction of Shinkun La Tunnel, the world’s highest at an altitude of 15,855 feet.

“The tunnel will connect Lahaul-Spiti in Himachal to the Zanskar Valley in Ladakh and provide all-weather connectivity,” he said, commending the BRO for developing infrastructure in border areas and making an invaluable contribution to the security of the nation.

He emphasised infrastructure development in border areas is not only necessary for national security, but also promotes connectivity with neighbouring countries that function with a spirit of cooperation with India.

He pointed out the BRO has constructed infrastructure projects in several countries such as Myanmar and Bhutan and helped in strengthening peace and cooperation with them.

Singh also called upon the BRO to involve local bodies and the people by understanding their needs and taking inputs for the projects in border areas.

“Your job is not only to connect one place with another. It is also to connect the hearts of the people with your actions. The constructions should represent the spirit of ‘for the people, of the people and by the people’,” he said.

The defence minister lauded the BRO for being conscious about its responsibilities towards the environment while executing their projects.

“Till now, we have worked with the mantra of ‘minimum investment, maximum value’. Now, we need to move forward with the mantra of ‘minimum environment degradation, maximum national security, maximum welfare’,” he said.

Rajnath Singh inaugurates 90 infra projects in Jammu

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday inaugurated 90 infrastructure projects of the Border Roads Organisation, completed at a cost of Rs 2,941 crore, in Samba district of Jammu and Kashmir.

Singh, accompanied by Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s office Jitendra Singh, was received at the Jammu airport by Lt Governor Manoj Sinha and senior Army and Indian Air Force (IAF) officers.

Singh inaugurated the state-of-the-art 422.9 metre Devak bridge on the Bishnah-Kaulpur-Phulpur Road in Samba district besides 89 other projects virtually.

The Devak bridge is of strategic importance to the defence forces and will facilitate speedy induction of troops, heavy equipment and mechanised vehicles to forward areas and will also boost the socio-economic development of the region, a spokesperson of the BRO said.

The BRO projects include 22 roads, 63 bridges, one tunnel, two airstrips and two helipads across 10 border states and Union Territories of northern and northeastern regions constructed under challenging weather conditions, at most inhospitable terrain locations, he said.

Of the 89 projects inaugurated virtually, 36 are in Arunachal Pradesh, 25 in Ladakh, 11 are in Jammu and Kashmir, five in Mizoram, three in Himachal Pradesh, two each in Sikkim, Uttarakhand and West Bengal and one each in Nagaland, Rajasthan and Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the official said.

The BRO completed the critically strategic projects in record time and several of them were constructed in a single working season using state-of-the-art technology, the spokesperson said.

He said the 500-metre Nechiphu Tunnel on Balipara-Charduar-Tawang Road in Arunachal Pradesh, along with the under-construction Sela Tunnel, will provide all-weather connectivity to the strategic Tawang region and will be beneficial to both the armed forces deployed in the region and the tourists visiting pristine Tawang.

Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu joined the ceremony virtually.

Reconstructed and revamped Bagdogra and Barrackpore Airfields in West Bengal will not only improve the defensive and offensive architecture of the Indian Air Force along the borders but will also facilitate commercial flight operations in the region, the spokesperson said.

The defence minister also laid the e-foundation of Nyoma airfield in eastern Ladakh which will be developed at a cost of Rs 218 crore for wide-ranging strategic air assets, the spokesperson said.

The construction of this airfield will tremendously boost the air infrastructure in Ladakh and augment the IAF capability along the northern borders, he said.

He said the surge in road and bridge construction by the BRO in the last three years has led to the completion of several critical and strategic projects which has bolstered the defence preparedness.

The BRO has also connected the farthest and most remote villages of the country like Huri in Arunachal Pradesh to the mainland. This connectivity has triggered reverse migration along the border villages.

In the last two years, the BRO has dedicated a record 205 infrastructure projects to the nation at a cost of Rs 5,100 crore.

Last year, 103 BRO infrastructure projects were completed at a cost of Rs 2,897 crore while in 2021, 102 BRO infrastructure projects were dedicated to the nation at a cost of Rs 2,229 crore.

The defence minister will also attend the ongoing North Tech Symposium at IIT Jammu’s Jagti campus which was inaugurated by Vice Chief of Army Staff Lt Gen M V Suchindra Kumar on Monday.

Invest more in R&D for India to keep pace with evolving world: Rajnath to domestic defence firms

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday called upon domestic defence companies to invest more in research and development for India to keep pace with the evolving world.

Addressing the North-Tech Symposium, jointly organised by the army’s Northern Command, the Society of Indian Defence Manufacturers (SIDM) and IIT-Jammu, Singh described the country’s defence manufacturing sector as “imaginative, innovative, dynamic and progressive”.

“Though research and development (R&D) is a risky venture as it requires out-of-the-box thinking and sometimes does not give desired results, it still remains one of the basic elements for the development of any country,” he said. Hence, capital investment in R&D becomes a necessity, the minister added.

The defence minister said India is passing through a transitional phase. “There is nothing wrong in acquiring a technology through imitation or transfer, but we cannot become a developed nation on these grounds alone. We need to file our own patents, for which a lot of investment in R&D is needed,” he said

He said capital investment in R&D may reduce today’s profits, but it will prove to be beneficial to the industry and the country in the long term.

Highlighting the steps taken by Narendra Modi government to support the domestic industry, he said the synergy between the government and domestic companies has resulted in record defence production of Rs 1 lakh crore and exports of Rs 16,000 crore in the financial year 2023-24.

Singh expressed confidence that defence exports will soon touch the Rs 20,000-crore mark.

He extended the Ministry of Defence’s continued support to the industry for holistic development of the nation, in line with the ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ initiative.

The defence minister urged industry partners to focus on creating a culture that encourages R&D, based on skilled human resources, and suggested linking the work of institutions such as IITs, IIMs and IISc with the defence sector to create an R&D ecosystem.

“Efforts should be made to connect with the Indian R&D sector, engineers and scientists who work in top universities, companies, space agencies and scientific research organisations abroad and wish to be a part of India’s growth story,” he said.

The defence minister also recommended hiring of managers, legal experts and financial experts from within the country and abroad to create a culture conducive for R&D.

“We cannot run our workforce in the 21st century on the basis of HR policies of the 19th century. Today, the quality of work is more important than the number of hours worked. Focus should be on intellect and innovation,” he said.

The defence minister said that “a work culture needs to be developed where there is a concept of senior and junior, and not superior and inferior”. He also noted that there is a need to involve women in R&D with “more effectiveness”.

He also exhorted the SIDM to create an independent body, comprising scientists and experts from the industry, which will work with transparency and evaluate the products made by companies.

“The buyer or the government will definitely try to check the quality of the products from their end, but there is a need to develop a system for internal evaluation as well. This quality check system will increase your credibility globally with time,” he said.

He also suggested that the SIDM should create an internal vigilance mechanism to counter the potential cases of corruption and favouritism. “If any company affiliated with you is indulging in any wrongdoing or passing wrong information, then you should bring it before the government. Such actions will further increase people’s trust in the institutions,” Singh said.

The North Tech symposium is an event conducted annually and this year, it was organised at IIT-Jammu.

The event witnessed an participation of around 200 industry partners and provided an opportunity for knowledge diffusion among various stakeholders to create awareness of contemporary technologies and hardware solutions available with manufacturers under ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’.

Singh witnessed a plethora of indigenous weapons and equipment. He lauded the efforts of all stakeholders in their joint efforts to push the domestic defence industry.

J&K LG, Manoj Sinha receives Defence Minister, Rajnath Singh at Jammu Airport.

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