Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday that India last year showed it is capable of taking all steps to meet challenges, be it from coronavirus or at its borders.
“We have to strengthen the emotion with which we dealt with big challenges last year, with one nation with one heart. We have to completely remove the ill effects of the pandemic on our economy,” he said at a rally of the National Cadet Corps (NCC) here.
According to government projections released earlier this month, India’s GDP is estimated to contract by a record 7.7 per cent during 2020-21 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The prime minister said, “Last year, India has shown that its capable of taking steps to meet all challenges, be it from coronavirus or at its borders.”
Indian and Chinese armed forces are engaged in a bitter standoff at their border areas in eastern Ladakh since May last year.
“Whether it is developing protective shield of the vaccine or destroying with modern missiles intentions of those challenging India, the country is capable on all fronts,” he stressed.
If India is ‘aatmanirbhar’ (self-reliant) in vaccine, it is also trying with equal vigour to modernise its armed forces, Modi said.
The prime minister asserted that all steps are being taken to ensure that every wing of India’s armed forces is the best, adding that the country now has excellent “war machines”.
Referring to mid-air refuelling of three Rafale fighter aircraft while they were on way to India on Wednesday, Modi said it was done in UAE and Saudi Arabia, and Greece also helped. “This highlights our growing ties with the Gulf countries,” he said.
This was the third batch of Rafale fighter jets that arrived in India after flying non-stop from France.
About his government’s efforts to boost domestic defence manufacturing, Modi said, “India will soon be known as a big producer of defence equipment instead of a big market as it is today.”
He said the indigenously developed Tejas fighter jet is exhibiting its glory in the sea and sky and an order of more than 80 of these aircraft have been placed by the government recently.
“India is focusing on all necessary research and development so that it does not remain behind in developing artificial intelligence related warfare capabilities,” Modi mentioned.