Will focus on military modernisation: Def min

NEW DELHI, 13 Jun: The new Narendra Modi government will focus on further strengthening national security by modernising the armed forces and boosting domestic defence manufacturing, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Thursday after taking charge of the office.

Outlining his vision for the next five years, Singh said that the government will work assiduously to increase defence exports to Rs 50,000 crore by 2028-29 from the current Rs 21,083 crore.

The armed forces are being equipped with state-of-the-art weapons and platforms and they are ready to face every challenge, he told reporters after taking charge as defence minister for the second consecutive term.

Singh also commended the military personnel for protecting the unity, integrity and sovereignty of the nation with valour and commitment, in comments that came amid the lingering border row with China in eastern Ladakh.

“Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, we aim to further strengthen the security apparatus of the country, with a focus on achieving self-reliance in defence manufacturing,” he said.

“Armed forces modernisation and the welfare of the soldiers, both serving and retired, will continue to be our main focus,” Singh told reporters.

Singh was among the senior BJP leaders, including Amit Shah, Nitin Gadkari and Nirmala Sitharaman, who retained the ministries they had handled in the previous government.

The defence minister said that the government will also focus on boosting India’s defence production.

“Defence exports touched a record Rs 21,083 croresin the 2023-’24 financial year. It was historic. Our target will be to export over Rs 50,000 crores worth of defence equipment by 2028-2029,” he said.

Singh was welcomed at his office in South Block in Raisina Hills by Chief of Defence Staff Gen Anil Chauhan, Army Chief Gen Manoj Pande, Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari, Navy Chief Admiral Dinesh Tripathi, Defence Secretary Giridhar Aramane, and DRDO Chairman Samir V Kamat.

Immediately after assumption of charge, Singh chaired a meeting on the first 100 days’ action plan of the ministry. The meeting focused on the welfare of veterans, wherein major issues pertaining to the ex-servicemen welfare department were discussed.

He instructed the officers to rededicate themselves to fulfil the agenda laid out in the action plan. (PTI)