Sasaram (Bihar), June 10 (PTI): Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday asserted that the Balakot airstrikes and the surgical strikes sent a message that India can defend itself both within and outside its borders.
Speaking at a function in Rohtas district of Bihar, Singh lauded Prime Minister Narendra Modi for having approved the military operations at meetings that “lasted barely 10 minutes, with not more than four to five persons in attendance”.
He was taking part in an “interaction with intellectuals” organised by a private university founded by and named after Gopal Narayan Singh, a former president of the BJP’s Bihar unit, who was also present on the occasion. The Defence Minister showered encomiums on Modi for making possible the return of Indian students who were trapped in Ukraine when it was attacked by Russia.
“Russia was pounding Ukraine with its heavy artillery. Modi had a word with Russian, Ukrainian and American presidents. The war was halted for four hours and the students were brought back. The world looked agape at this feat,” said Singh. He said the Modi government had similarly succeeded in bringing back students stranded abroad when country after country was enforcing lockdown in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In line with our professed ideal of ‘vasudhaiv kutumbakam’ (the world is a family), we not only inoculated each and every citizen, becoming the only country in the world to have done so, but also exported vaccines to countries which needed these,” he said.
“Modi’s ‘Make in India’ call has transformed the defence sector. Our defence exports, which used to be worth a paltry Rs 900 crore, are now worth more than Rs 16,000 crore. We are committed to raising these to Rs 35,000 crores in the next two years,” he said.
Stating that the total defence manufacturing has reached Rs 1.10 lakh crore, Singh said the country has come a long way since being dependent on imports for most of its defence requirements. The Defence Minister also touched upon welfare schemes launched by the Modi government and claimed that these were proof that “we have a Prime Minister with a level of sensitivity that has been unheard of”.
He added, “We may not have been able to eradicate corruption, but nobody can deny we have taken decisive steps in that direction.” Singh, who has formerly been the BJP’s national president, stressed that his party saw “politics as a means to serve the people and not merely to grab power”.
He also said that the abrogation of Article 370 and the construction of Ram temple at Ayodhya proved “there is no gap between the words and the deeds of this party”.
Visibly impressed with the speech of Bihar BJP president Samrat Choudhary, who spoke earlier, Singh said, “I am confident that our party will form the next government in the state, with full majority”.
The Defence Minister asserted that “India under Narendra Modi is finally getting the respect it deserved among the comity of nations”.
“Global financial analyst Morgan Stanley had a few years ago clubbed India with Brazil, Indonesia, South Africa and Turkey and remarked these countries were on the brink of an economic collapse.
“It has now revised its opinion and noted that the country could rank among the top five economies of the world by 2027… We must now resolve to become a developed nation by the time we celebrate 100 years of Independence in 2047,” said Singh.
“Already, we are among the top five, a huge improvement since 2014 when we were not among the top ten,” said Singh, in an oblique reference to the time when Modi came to power.
“Our culture is being respected as well. Foreigners are increasingly willing to refer to our country as Bharat, instead of India. ‘Angreziyat’ (anglicisation) is on its way out,” said Singh.
Earlier, he addressed a convocation ceremony of the university, where among other things, he hailed the entrepreneurial spirit of the country’s youth, and cited an article by American commentator Thomas Friedman who had weighed Infosys against Al Qaeda, showing how different the Indian IT giant was from the global terror outfit despite both attracting educated youths into their folds.
Singh also urged students to also remember their teachers with respect and gratitude and recalled a personal anecdote involving a ‘Moulvi’ by whom he had been taught as a child and whose feet he had touched after becoming the education minister of Uttar Pradesh.