Jhansi: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday called for achieving “strategic” freedom through promoting indigenous defence manufacturing, as he paid tribute to Rani Lakshmibai and highlighted the increasing participation of women in defence forces on the first day of a three day defence festival being held here.
The Defence Minister, speaking at the Rashtra Raksha Samarpan Parv which culminates on Rani Lakshmibai’s birth anniversary on November 19, said the queen of Jhansi, a hero of the first war of independence of 1857, rejuvenated “woman power” in the country and is an inspiration for all.
“The courage of Rani Lakshmibai rejuvenated woman power. Being a woman was never a barrier for her in the battlefield. Many in our society believe women are weak, but they should remember heroes like Rani Lakshmibai, Jhalkaribai, Avantibai. They proved women can play a decisive role in security,” the Defence Minister said.
“Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose also had a Rani Lakshmibai regiment in the INA. Unfortunately after independence, women did not get to play a role in national security, but now the situation is changing fast,” the minister said.
He said since PM Narendra Modi has taken charge, women’s participation is increasing in all forces.
“When I was the Home Minister I had issued an advisory to have at least 33 per cent women in police. Number of women in paramilitary forces increased after this advisory was issued. I am also happy to say the number of women is increasing in the police forces as well. Doors of the three forces are also being opened for women,” he said.
“Now doors of NDA are also open for women, this is the true tribute to Rani Lakshmibai. In the recent exam of NDA, over two lakh girls gave the exam across the country,” he said.
He also said that women are also being granted permanent commission.
The Minister pushed for indigenous defence production. He said the meaning of independence has changed over years, and quoted Mahatma Gandhi saying freedom cannot be complete without ‘swadeshi’.
“At one point ‘independence’ was about freedom from a foreign nation… The meaning today is that we have to be ‘atmanirbhar’. Just as India got political independence, we now need to get ‘strategic’ independence and within a decade half, all weapons that have been imported so far will be manufactured in India. We want ‘strategic independence’ so we have adapted the path of Swadeshi,” he said.
“Respectable Bapu had the view that independence does not mean freedom on paper. As long as ‘purna swaraj’ and ‘swadeshi’ are not achieved, independence is incomplete,” the minister added.
He also said that ensuring national security is a big challenge which cannot be met without enhancing indigenous defence production.
“As an independent country, securing our independence, sovereignty and unity is a challenging responsibility. Having a strong armed force is important, but it is also important to have a self reliant defence industry to fulfill all needs of the forces. We have decided the weapon and platforms used by Indian forces, there are 209 items that were being imported, but would be made in India now,” he said.
The three day festival being held in Jhansi will see launch of 100 new Sainik Schools, schemes and programs for NCC, laying of foundation stone of a Rs 400-crore project in the Uttar Pradesh Defence Corridor.
PM Modi will address and launch several projects on Friday. He will also handover to the Indian Air Force the Light Combat Helicopter, designed and developed by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). (UNI)