New Delhi: In this second and final part of the Flashback 2021 series, we look at more achievements of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in the year 2021. Among the many initiatives is the announcement to set up 100 new Sainik Schools across India and also admission to girl cadets into these Sainik Schools.
Key highlights from the year 2021
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 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, Defence Minister 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 Rajnath on Dec 28, 2021.
Rajnath 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 broadcast 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 webcast 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
PM 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.
The government has approved scheme for setting of Sainik Schools in partnership with NGOs/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 the 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 3,800 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.
Department of Defence
Inauguration of Defence Office Complexes at Kasturba Gandhi Marg & Africa Avenue in New Delhi
PM Modi inaugurated Defence Office Complexes at Kasturba Gandhi Marg and Africa Avenue in New Delhi on 16 Sep 2021. The shifting of Defence hutments offices to new Defence Office Complexes at KG Marg and Africa Avenue will facilitate inception of Central Vista Project as part of which three CCS Building (Defence Enclave) also proposed to come up by (two CCS Enclave Complexes) Jun 2024 and Third Defence Enclave Complex by Dec by 2026.
The project has been driven by the commitment to usher modern and innovative construction technology. The construction has been completed within a record period of 12 months, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. Concomitantly, a seamless coordination was ensured by a Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) for manpower & space planning, allocation of space to stakeholders, completion and shifting process from hutments to Defence Office Complexes at KG Marg and Africa Avenue.
Setting up of 100 new Sainik Schools
The government has approved a scheme for setting of Sainik Schools in partnership with NGO’s/Private schools/State Governments, etc on affiliation basis. Interested parties in any State/Union Territory, can apply for affiliation to the Sainik Schools Society subject to their fulfilling of the qualifying requirements and adherence to affiliation bye-laws. In the first phase, it is proposed to have 100 Sainik Schools with 2-3 Schools from each State/UT, in a graded manner class-wise, starting from Class 6 onwards, with an effort to cover as many States and UTs as possible.
Addressed a Webinar on ‘Sainik Schools’ today.
100 new Sainik schools to provide more opportunities for girls to join the Armed Forces.
— Rajnath Singh (@rajnathsingh) January 8, 2022
These schools will be affiliated to partner with Sainik Schools Society of Ministry of Defence to create a system that combines academic rigor with a degree of discipline and regimentation. As envisioned in the National Education Policy these schools will also provide increasing focus on value-based education like our teaching of ancient times which will enable the children develop pride in its rich culture and heritage.
Admission of girl cadets in Sainik Schools
PM Modi made an announcement during his Independence Day speech 2021 that all Sainik Schools will now be open for girls. Following the announcement, all the Sainik Schools have offered admission to girls and more than 350 girls have been admitted so far. The strength is likely to increase in upcoming Academic Sessions. Transformation of Sainik Schools from all boys schools to co-ed would facilitate personality and traits development. Best possible interaction methodology is being adopted in all schools. This decision has opened doors of quality training of girls cadets at par with boys.
Launch of Digital Interactive Screens at National War Memorial
After dedication of the National War Memorial, it was felt that there is an imperative need to enhance the digital appeal of the prestigious monument for the visitors, dignitaries and public at large at the National War Memorial to have a modern and state-of-art Digital display platform/facilities installed at the memorial commensurate with the sanctity of the prestigious National monument for Audio-Visual display of information about the battle casualties along with citations/acts of bravery for easy access and to enhance visitors & public pay homage and tribute, digitally.
In this connection an initiative was taken by MoD for Enhancement of Digital Appeal at National War Memorial for a wholesome experience to the visitors and four digital screens have been installed. Besides providing information to visitors, the digital screens have facilitated paying of virtual tribute at the National War Memorial with Augmented Reality (AR) feature which incorporates provision of virtual photograph with Battle Causalities, interactive screens to search Roll of Honour of 26,275 Battle Casualties and OTP-based registration of visitors.
The Website and App of NWM showcase the Memorial history, significance, concept and details of the Battle Casualties.
The features incorporated in the website/app include multilingual interaction in 21 regional languages to facilitate easier comprehension for visitors from all over the country, user friendly features for specially/differently-abled persons, creation and integration of 166 Bluetooth Beacons for location and live mobile mapping with virtual tour guide, audio commentary in 21 languages providing information on various battles/ wars, Param Vir Chakra awardees and guided routes within the Memorial, High Definition 360 degree view of the National War Memorial including Param Yodha Sthal, search facility to locate individual names amongst 26,275 battle casualties, online quizzes/events and provision for online donations to Armed Forces Battle Casualties Welfare Fund. Both Interactive Digital Screens and NWM Website/App for NWM were inaugurated by PM in ‘Rashtra Raksha Samarpan Parv’ at Jhansi on 19 Nov 2021.