Updated: August 15, 2020 10:36:26 am
Invoking the resolve exhibited by the soldiers in defending the country’s borders in Ladakh recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his 74th Independence Day speech, said that from the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan to the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China, India is committed to defend its sovereignty.
The Prime Minister said India is capable of tackling the challenges, whether it is terrorism or expansionism. “Even amdist all these disasters,” he said, referring to the global pandemic, “there have been ill-attempts to challenge the country’s power on the borders”.
“From LoC to LAC, anyone who has cast eyes on the sovereignty of the country, the country’s forces, our brave soldiers have responded to them in their own language.”
Addressing the nation from the Red Fort. https://t.co/uHu73fOF17
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) August 15, 2020
He said “the entire country is full of enthusiasm to protect the sovereignty of the country, it is driven by a resolve”. The country is “moving ahead with unwavering faith in its power”.
“What our brave soldiers can do for this resolution, what the country can do, the world has seen in Ladakh,” said the Prime Minister.
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On June 15 this year, India lost 20 soldiers, including a colonel, in Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh in violent hand-to-hand clashes with Chinese soldiers. The Indian troops had gone to vacate some structures erected by the Chinese troops on the Indian side of the LAC. There have also been several other clashes since the standoff with China began in early May.
Modi paid his tributes to those soldiers who sacrificed their lives to defend the country.
“Whether it is terrorism or expansionism, India is strongly challenging them today. World’s confidence in India has become even stronger today,” Modi added.
PM Narendra Modi Independence Day 2020 speech: Read top quotes here
While Modi did not name any nation, the reference to expansionism was used by him to point towards China last month as well. Speaking to soldiers at Nimu military base in Ladakh on July 3, Modi had announced that the “age of expansionism” is over. It was a veiled reference to China trying to push the LAC westward in the more than 100-day standoff in eastern Ladakh now, as it refuses to move back to its side of the LAC.
If LAC and expansionism alluded to China, the mention of the LoC and terrorism was aimed towards the western neighbour Pakistan, and Modi said that India is capable of tackling both the threats.
He said India wants relations based on security, development and trust with all its neighbours. “With our neighboring countries, whether they are connected to us on land or from the sea, we are connecting our relations with security, development and trust sharing.”
He added, though, that “India is committed to its security and strengthening of forces, as much as it tries for peace and harmony”.
Modi said that “many steps have been taken to make India self-reliant in defence manufacturing”. On August 9, the Defence Ministry had announced a negative imports list of 101 weapons, platforms and military equipment. Referring to it, Modi, in his speech on Saturday, said that “we have recently banned the import of more than 100 military equipment”. From missiles to Light Combat Helicopters, from assault rifles to transport aircraft,” said Modi, “all will be Make in India,” which is the government pet project of boosting manufacturing in the country.
“Our own Tejas,” he said about the Light Combat Aircraft, the indigenously designed and manufactured fighter jet, “is getting ready with modern needs to show its mettle, speed and power”.
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The other issue of significance for national security that the Prime Minister spoke about was the development of infrastructure in the border areas. “Border and coastal infrastructure has a major role to play in the safety of the country,” he said.
“Be it the Himalayan peaks or the islands of the Indian Ocean, today there is an unprecedented expansion of road and internet connectivity in the country, expanding rapidly… From Ladakh to Arunachal, keeping our nation’s security in mind, new roads have been prepared on a large scale”.
He spoke of a new project for the development of these areas and for skilling the youth from the 173 districts of the country that either share a border with another nation or the coastline.
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“Keeping the youth of border and coastal areas in mind, with national security in focus, we are moving ahead with a development model,” he said and added that “we are starting a major campaign”.
“Our border and coastal areas, about 173 districts that are connected to a country’s boundary or the sea,” Modi said. In the coming days, he mentioned the National Cadet Corps will be expanded for the youth of these districts. “We will prepare around one lakh new cadets in the border areas. Of which we will try one-third of them are our daughters.”
He said that the cadets of the border areas will be trained by the Army, those in the coastal districts will be trained by the Navy personnel, and wherever there is an airbase, the cadets there will be given the training by the Air Force.
Thus, he said, “the border and coastal areas will get trained manpower to deal with disasters, and the youth will get the needed skills to make a career in the armed forces”.
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