The Governor of Kerala, Shri Arif Mohammad Khan ji, the Chief Minister of Kerala Shri Pinarayi Vijayan ji, the Defence Minister of the country Shri Rajnath Singh ji, my other Cabinet colleagues, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral R. Hari Kumar, MD Cochin Shipyard, other distinguished guests, and my dear countrymen present on this historic event!
Today, every Indian is witnessing the dawn of a new future along the coast of Kerala. This event being held on the INS Vikrant is an assertion of India's rising spirits in the global arena. Today we are witnessing a robust image of the competent and powerful India that our freedom fighters had dreamt of during the freedom movement.
Vikrant is huge, vast and magnanimous. Vikrant is unique; Vikrant is also very special. Vikrant is not just a warship. It is a testimony to the hard work, talent, influence and commitment of 21st century India. If the target is formidable, the going gets tough and the challenges are endless – then India's answer to that is Vikrant. Vikrant is incomparable nectar of the 'Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav'. Vikrant is a unique reflection of self-reliant India. This is a precious occasion of pride and prestige for every Indian. This is an opportunity to augment the self-respect of every Indian. I congratulate every single countryman for the same.
No matter how difficult the goals are or how formidable the challenges are, when India is determined, no goal is impossible. Today, India has joined those countries in the world, which manufacture huge aircraft carriers like this with indigenous technology. Today INS Vikrant has instilled a new confidence in the country and its people. Seeing Vikrant today, these waves of the ocean are saying-
अमर्त्य वीर पुत्र हो, दृढ़ प्रतिज्ञ सोच लो,
प्रशस्त पुण्य पंथ है, बढ़े चलो, बढ़े चलो।
On this historic occasion, I congratulate the Indian Navy, all the engineers, scientists and my labourer brothers and sisters of the Cochin Shipyard, who have made this dream a reality. The country has achieved this on the sacred land of Kerala at a time when the festival of Onam is also being celebrated. I also extend my warm Onam greetings to all the countrymen on this occasion.
Every part of INS Vikrant has its own strength, speciality and its own development journey. It is a symbol of indigenous potential, indigenous resources and indigenous skills. The steel used in its airbase is also indigenous. This steel was developed by DRDO scientists and produced by Indian companies.
It is more than a warship - a floating airfield & a floating city. The electricity it generates can light up 5000 homes. Its flight deck is also equal to two football grounds. All the cables and wires that have been used in Vikrant, if put together, can reach from Kochi to Kashi. This complexity exemplifies the exuberance of our engineers. From mega-engineering to nano circuits, what was previously unimaginable for India is turning into reality.
This time on Independence Day, I have called for 'Panch Prana' from the ramparts of the Red Fort and our Hari Ji has also mentioned the same a short while ago. The first of these five vows is the major resolve of a developed India! The second vow is the complete renunciation of the colonial mentality. The third vow is to be proud of your heritage. The fourth and fifth vows are – unity and solidarity of the country, and civic duty ! We can see the vigour of all these Panch Pranas in the construction and journey of INS Vikrant. INS Vikrant is a living example of this vigour. Until now, such aircraft carriers were built only by developed countries. Today India has taken another step towards becoming a developed nation by joining this league.
India has a glorious history in the field of water transport. We have a rich heritage. We have been told in the verses related to boats and ships-
दीर्घिका तरणि: लोला, गत्वरा गामिनी तरिः।
जंघाला प्लाविनी चैव, धारिणी वेगिनी तथा॥
It has been described in our scriptures that we used to have ships and boats of different sizes and types like Gallika, Tarani, Lola, Gatvara, Gamini, Jangala, Plavini, Dharini, Vegini etc. There are many mantras related to boats, ships and seas in our Vedas too. From the Vedic period to the Gupta period and the Maurya period, India's maritime power was well known all over the world. Chhatrapati Veer Shivaji Maharaj had built such a navy with this sea power that it would scare the enemies.
When the British came to India, they were in awe of the power of Indian ships and the resultant trade. So they decided to crush India's maritime power. History is witness to the fact that strict restrictions were imposed on Indian ships and merchants by enacting a law in the British Parliament at that time.
India had the talent and the experience. But our people were not mentally prepared for this crookedness. We became weak, and gradually forgot about our strength during the period of colonial rule. Now during the 'Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav', India is bringing back that lost power by rekindling that zest.
Today on the historic date of September 2, 2022, we have changed another chapter in history. Today India has taken off another burden of colonial rule. The Indian Navy has got its new flag from today. Till now the reflection of the colonial times remained on the flag of the Indian Navy. But from today, inspired by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the new Navy flag will flutter in the sea and the sky.
Once Ramdhari Singh Dinkar had written in his poem-
नवीन सूर्य की नई प्रभा, नमो, नमो, नमो!
नमो स्वतंत्र भारत की ध्वजा, नमो, नमो, नमो!
Today, with this flag veneration, I dedicate this new flag to the father of the Navy, Chhatrapati Veer Shivaji Maharaj. I am sure, this new flag, imbued with the spirit of Indianness, will instil a new self-confidence and self-respect in the Indian Navy.
I want to place forth before all the countrymen one more important aspect of the way our forces are transforming. When Vikrant will be commissioned to protect our maritime zone, several female soldiers of the Navy will also be stationed there. Along with the immense power of the ocean, this massive woman power too is becoming the greatest identity of the new India.
I have been told that there are about 600 women officers in the Navy at present. But, now the Indian Navy has decided to open all its branches for women. The restrictions that were there are now being removed. Just as there are no boundaries for the powerful waves, there are no boundaries or restrictions for the daughters of India.
Just a year or two back, women officers had circumnavigated the entire earth with INSV Tarini. In the coming times, the countless number of daughters who will come forward for a similar feat will make the world aware of their power. Like the Navy, women are being inducted in combat roles in all the three armed forces, opening up new responsibilities for them.
Self-reliance and independence are said to be complementary to each other. The more a country is dependent on another country, the more it is in trouble. The more self-reliant a country, the more powerful it is. During the Corona crisis, we all have seen, understood and experienced this power of being self-reliant. So today India is working with full force to become self-reliant.
Today, on one hand INS Vikrant is ready to declare India's might in the unfathomable sea, while on the other hand our Tejas is roaring in the infinite skies. This time on August 15, the whole country has heard the sound of our indigenously developed guns from the ramparts of the Red Fort. By reforming the armies after 75 years of independence, India is continuously modernizing its forces, making it self-reliant.
Our forces have also made a long list of such equipment, which will now be procured only from indigenous companies. It has also been decided to make available 25 percent of the budget to the universities and companies of the country for research and development in the defence sector. Two major defence corridors are also being developed in Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh. With these steps being taken for self-reliance in the defence sector, many new employment opportunities are being created in the country.
Once from the Red Fort, I have also spoken about civic duty. This time I have repeated it as well. Little drops of water make a mighty ocean. Similarly, if every citizen of India starts living the mantra of 'Vocal for Local', then it will not take long for the country to become self-reliant. When all the countrymen will be vocal for the local, then its echo will be heard not only in India but all over the world and consequently the world's manufacturers will also be compelled to come to India for manufacturing. This strength lies in the experience of each and every citizen.
Today the way the global scenario is changing rapidly, it has made the world multi-polar. Therefore, it is very important to have a vision of the place which will be the hub of future activities in the coming times. For example, in the past, security concerns in the Indo-Pacific region and the Indian Ocean have long been ignored. But, today these areas are a major defence priority of the country. That's why we are working in every direction, from increasing the budget for the Navy to increasing its capability.
Be it offshore patrol vessels, submarines, or aircraft carriers, today the strength of the Indian Navy is growing at an unprecedented pace. This will strengthen our navy in the coming times. With more secure 'C-Lens', better monitoring and better protection, our exports, maritime trade and maritime production will also increase. This will open new avenues of trade and prosperity not only for India, but also for other countries of the world, and especially for our neighbouring allies.
Some very important things have been said in our scriptures and our people have lived by these values. In our scriptures, it is said-
विद्या विवादाय धनं मदाय, शक्तिः परेषां परिपीडनाय।
खलस्य साधोः विपरीतम् एतद्, ज्ञानाय दानाय च रक्षणाय॥
That is, the wisdom of the wicked is to create disputes, to boast of his wealth and to oppress others with his power. But, for a gentleman, it is a means of knowledge, charity and protection of the weak. This is the culture of India. That is why the world needs a strong India even more.
I once read that when Dr APJ Abdul Kalam was asked by someone - "You have a very calm personality. You seem to be a very calm person. So why do you need weapons?" Kalam sahib had said- Strength and peace are interdependent. And that is why; today India is carrying forward both strength and change.
I am sure that a strong India will pave the way for a peaceful and a secure world. In the same spirit, while honouring our brave soldiers, and the brave fighters and dedicating this important occasion to their valour, I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.