From Atmanirbhar Bharat to Women's Empowerment: A year of reforms for defence ministry
New Delhi, Dec 31: The Indian armed forces devised an assertive approach in 2021 to deal with national security challenges and also took several initiatives towards empowering Women in the Services. Permanent Commission of women officers has been implemented in the Armed Forces.
Move towards Atmanirbhar Bharat
- Several major initiatives have been launched during the year to make India self-reliant in the field of Defence manufacturing. Atmanirbharta in Defence is aimed at enhancing domestic manufacturing and making the country a net exporter in this field.
- 'Make in India' and 'Armanirbhar Bharat' have been given a major impetus during planning and procurement of equipment for Indian Army, wherein, there is endeavor to support the emerging defence industry in the Country.
- Induction of LCA (Tejas), Arudhra and Aslesha Radars, Astra Air to Air missile, Akash Surface to Air missile system, Advance Light Helicopter and Light Combat Helicopter etc. systems were added in IAF's inventory proving IAF's commitment to the vision of 'Atma Nirbhar Bharat'.
- The MBT 'Arjun' Mk-1A was handed over to the Indian Army by Prime Minister on 14 Feb 2021 and Ministry of Defence (MoD) placed an order with Heavy Vehicles Factory (HVF), Avadi, Chennai for supply of 118 Main Battle Tanks (MBTs) Arjun Mk-1A for Indian Army on September 23, 2021.
- Advanced Electronic Warfare System 'Shakti', designed and developed by Defence Electronics Research Laboratory (DLRL) Hyderabad a laboratory of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), was handed over to Indian Navy on 19 Nov 2021 by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi.
- Indigenous Aircraft Carrier 'Vikrant' successfully accomplished its maiden sea voyage in August 2021. This milestone with few parallels reinforces confidence in the largest indigenously designed platform of Indian Navy and the resolve of countrymen in our quest for 'Atmanirbahar Bharat'. Commissioning of Vikrant is being targeted by August 15, 2022.
- INS Visakhapatnam, first ship of Project 15B, was delivered by Mazagon Dock Limited to Indian Navy on October 28, 2021 at Mumbai and commissioned into IN on November 21, 2021 by the Raksha Mantri.
- Two sophisticated and potent platforms Karanj and Vela were commissioned on 10 Mar 21 and 25 Nov 21 respectively, with over 75 percentage of Indigenous content, having State-of-the-art weapon fit to strengthen our security apparatus in the Western Seaboard.
- The forthcoming DefExpo-2022, scheduled to be held at Gandhinagar, Gujarat from 10th to 13th March 2022, is being planned in line with Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav and the wide expanse of the domestic Defence Manufacturing Industry will be co-opted to showcase India @75.
- Rajnath Singh handed over five Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) developed products to the Armed forces and other security agencies at an event held at DRDO Bhawan, New Delhi on 14 December 2021, as part of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav celebrations and iconic week of Ministry of Defence.
- Rajnath Singh handed over six Transfer of Technology (ToT) agreements to seven public and private sector companies. Products handed over to the Armed Forces & Ministry of Home Affairs include Anti-Drone system, Modular Bridge, Smart Anti Airfield Weapon, Chaff Variants and the Light Weight Fire Fighting Suit.
- Air version of BrahMos supersonic missile was successfully test fired from supersonic fighter aircraft Sukhoi 30 MK-I on December 8, 2021. BrahMos is a Joint Venture between India (DRDO) and Russia (NPOM) for the development, production and marketing of the supersonic cruise missile.
- DRDO-developed supersonic missile assisted torpedo system was successfully launched on 13 December 2021.
- To provide autonomy and enhance efficiency, and unleash new growth potential in Ordnance Factories, the Ordnance Factory Board has been converted into seven new Defence Public Sector Undertakings while safeguarding the interest of all stakeholders. The new Defence PSUs have become operational from 1st October, 2021.
Women's Empowerment in the Armed Forces
- Several initiatives have been undertaken by the Ministry of Defence towards empowering Women in the Services. Permanent Commission of women officers has been implemented in the Armed Forces.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi made an announcement during his Independence Day speech this year that all Sainik Schools, across India, will now be open for girls. All the Sainik Schools are now offering admissions to girls and more than 350 girls have been admitted so far.
- BRO appointed women officers to command important Road Construction Companies (RCC) along border areas. In Apr 2021, EE (Civil) Vaishali S Hiwase, a GREF officer took over the reins of 83 Road Construction Company and was employed on an important Indo-China Road connecting Munisairi-Bughdiar-Milam.
- Government has now allowed girls of the country to appear in the National Defence Academy examination. The necessary administrative training and policy changes have been made. The NDA June 2022 course will have the first batch of women cadets.
- First batch of women Naval Operations officers were inducted into rotary wing and joined the helicopter squadron INAS 336 at INS Garuda, Kochi on February 03, 2021. Lt Kumudini Tyagi and Lt Riti Singh have operated onboard warships as combat aircrew.
Swarnim Vijay Varsh
- India celebrated year-long Swarnim Vijay Varsh, marking Nation's victory over Pakistan in December 1971 War, which led to creation of Bangladesh. This culminated with the celebration of Swarnim Vijay Diwas on December 16, 2021. Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi recalled the great valour and sacrifice by the Muktijoddhas, Biranganas and bravehearts of the Indian Armed Forces on this momentous occasion.
- President Ram Nath Kovind also witnessed the Swarnim Vijay Diwas parade at Dhaka in Bangladesh as a special invitee.
- Contingent of the Indian Army along with other Services participated in the parade in Bangladesh on 17th Dec 2021 to commemorate the 50th year of Victory in 1971 War and creation of new state of Bangladesh.
Strengthening border infrastructure
- A major thrust area of MoD in the border areas has been to enhance road and transport infrastructure aimed at strengthening defence preparedness as well as supporting local economic development in these areas.
- On 28 June 2021, Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh inaugurated 75 Projects of Roads and Bridges constructed by Border Roads Organisation (BRO) in six States and two Union Territories (UTs).
- BRO constructed road over Umling La Pass, in Eastern Ladakh, at 19,024 ft above sea level has now officially become highest motorable road in the world. Road was inaugurated virtually by Raksha Mantri on Dec 28, 2021.
- Raksha Mantri dedicated to the Nation 24 bridges and three roads, built by BRO in four States and two Union Territories, on December 28, 2021. Of the 24 bridges, nine are in Jammu & Kashmir; five each in Ladakh & Himachal Pradesh; three in Uttarakhand and one each in Sikkim & Arunachal Pradesh. Of the three roads, two are in Ladakh.
- BRO organised "India@75" Motorcycle Expedition to commemorate 'Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav' by travelling across the country spreading message of National Integration, Nation Building and Road Safety Awareness. Expedition was flagged off by the Raksha Mantri on October 14, 2021. Defence Secretary flagged-in expedition on December 27, 2021.
NCC: In service of the Nation
- The cadets of NCC paid tribute to fallen heroes, war heroes and freedom fighters by organizing cleaning of statues and organising Poem Recitation, Nukkad Natak at 75 locations as part of celebration of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav celebrations in the month of August 2021. NCC also conducted felicitation of NoKs of Fallen heroes at 13 locations which were broadcasted live on Gallantry Web Portal.
- Each NCC Unit has adopted statue of prominent persons/ fallen heroes in their Area of Responsibility. NCC has adopted 2187 statues which are cleaned on weekly basis. One such event is live webcasted on Gallantry Web Portal every week since July 2021.
- The PM launched the NCC Alumni Association on 19 Nov 21 and was registered as the first alumnus of the NCC Alumni Association.
Contribution of MoD in fight against COVID-19
- The MoD proactively coordinated with the Armed Forces in whole heartedly contributing to the Nation's fight against COVID-19. Defence Forces established quarantine facilities at 21 locations along with COVID 19 hospitals and 31 mixed hospitals.
- DRDO constructed 11 COVID Care hospitals at various locations across the country in Delhi, Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Varanasi, Gandhinagar, Rishikesh, Haldwani, Jammu, Srinagar, Guwahati and Imphal.
- Based on DRDO technology, 931 Nos. of Medical Oxygen Plants were installed & commissioned at 869 sites across the country funded by PMCARES, to make medical oxygen available to COVID patients.
- · Anti-COVID-19 therapeutic application of drug 2-deoxy-D-glucose (2-DG) was developed by Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences, a lab of DRDO, in collaboration with Dr Reddy's Laboratories (DRL), Hyderabad.
- INS Sharda of Southern Naval Command and a hired Multi-Purpose Vessel, MPV Meghna were deployed as part of IN's initiative 'Oxygen Express' in Apr 21 to maintain supply of oxygen cylinders to island territories of Lakshadweep & Minicoy islands during peak of COVID.
Other key highlights of the year 2021
Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated Defence Office Complexes at Kasturba Gandhi Marg and Africa Avenue in New Delhi on September 16, 2021. The construction was completed within a record time of 12 months, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Government has approved scheme for setting of Sainik Schools in partnership with NGO's/Private schools/State Governments, etc on affiliation basis. In the first phase, it is proposed to have 100 Sainik Schools with 2-3 Schools from each State/UT.
A concerted effort is being made to move forward from a Single Service approach to integrated planning and execution. Towards this, three Joint Doctrines have been formulated in the last one year, while four new joint doctrines namely Capstone, Space, Cyber and Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) are at an advantage stage.
Numerous rounds of talks have taken place with the Chinese counterparts to deescalate the situation without compromising on India's stand of 'Complete Disengagement and immediate Restoration of status quo ante'. To this effect, 13 rounds of senior military commanders' meetings have already been concluded.
Inimical elements reenergised their attempts at disrupting peace in the valley by selective targeting of minorities and non-locals, however, proactive measures in the non-kinetic domain and intelligence based kinetic operations by the security forces have been able to counter the nefarious designs of Pakistan sponsored terrorist outfits.
The Army has also ensured that the internal situation in the Jammu and Kashmir remained under control. In the year 2021, a total number of 165 terrorists were neutralised by the security forces in which 39 security forces personnel also laid down their lives. The normalcy so brought in by the security forces in year 2021 was amply evident wherein the tourism as well as local employment showed shown positive trend.
The Indian Army constantly endeavoured to encourage young sporting talent as part of 'Mission Olympics' and the effort paid off with one Gold Medal bagged by Subedar Neeraj Chopra in Tokyo Olympics.
The year 2021 witnessed inauguration ceremonies of two new Emergency Landing Facilities. The first was along NH-925A (Gandhav-Bhakasar stretch, Rajasthan) which was inaugurated by the Raksha Mantri on 09 Sep 21. On 16 Nov 21 successful landings were executed by Mirage-2000, C-130J and An-32 aircraft at ELF Sultanpur in Uttar Pradesh. Prime Minister, Chief of Defence Staff and Chief of Air Staff were on board the C-130J aircraft which landed on ELF as part of the inauguration ceremony.
Joint Coastal Patrol (JCP) by ICG and Coastal Police for enhancing coastal security, enshrined in the Prime Minister's Vision Document, was instituted in Aug 20. Despite challenges posed by COVID-19, enhanced co-ordination and synergy between local Coastal Police personnel and ICG units resulted in timely commencement of JCP on 15 Aug 20. A total of 383 sea sorties, 199 classroom instructions and 985 personnel have been embarked onboard for JCP sorties from 01 January to 16 December 2021.
The procurement of 44 Microlight Aircraft Simulators and 60 Rowing Simulators has fructified during the year and delivery and installation is under progress. The simulators-based training has upgraded the Air Force and Naval Cadets training immensely.
Air Marshal VR Chaudhari AVSM VM took over as the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) on 30 SEP 2021. An alumnus of NDA, the CAS was commissioned in Dec 82 in the fighter stream of the IAF. He has flown more than 3800 hours on multiple fighter and trainer aircraft.
Admiral R Hari Kumar took charge as the new chief of the Indian Navy on November 30, 2021. Kumar assumed charge as the 25th Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS) from outgoing Chief Admiral Karambir Singh who retired on superannuation after a career spanning over 41 years in service.
The situation of Taliban takeover of Afghanistan posed a unique challenge for the Nation. IAF was called upon to evacuate Indians and some other nationals from Afghanistan. Evacuation activities were undertaken, first from Kandahar, then Mazar-e-Sharif and finally from Kabul. Chaotic situation existed in Kabul as a result of the withdrawal of troops belonging to US and its allies.
IAF deployed its C-17 and C-130J aircraft for the evacuation. A C-17 each was utilised for evacuation from Kandahar (10 Jul 21) and Mazar-e-Sharif (10 Aug 21). In addition, five aircraft (four C-17s and one C-130J) were utilised between 15 and 28 Aug 21 to rescue 132 Govt officials, 316 Indian citizens and 126 persons of other nationalities.
The country lost its first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat, his wife and 12 other personnel of the Armed Forces in a helicopter crash at Coonoor district in Tamil Nadu on December 08, 2021. They served the Nation with utmost diligence. General Bipin Rawat was an outstanding soldier. A true patriot, he greatly contributed to modernising the Armed Forces and security apparatus. As India's first CDS, General Bipin Rawat worked on diverse aspects relating to the Armed Forces, including defence reforms.