New Delhi: Indian armed forces is highly professional and counted among the best in the world which is a result of the indomitable courage of the veterans and their sacrifices, Army Chief Gen Manoj Pande said Saturday.
Addressing a gathering of ex-servicemen on the occasion of the seventh Armed Forces Veterans Day celebrations here, he asserted that inspired by the contributions of veterans, all the three services of the armed forces are “ready to face any challenge” in a formidable manner.
IAF chief Air Chief Marshal V R Chaudhari and Navy Chief Admiral R Hari Kumar shared the dais with the Army chief during the celebrations held at the Manekshaw Centre here. A large number of veterans drawn from the three wings of the armed forces had also gathered at the venue.
“Today, our armed forces is counted among the best and highly professional forces in the world. This identity (of the forces) is a result of your sacrifices, indomitable courage and hard labour. Inspired by it, all the three services of the armed forces, as a formidable instrument, is ready to face any challenge,” Gen Pande said.
The Navy chief, in his address, said the armed forces of today is a product of the efforts, visionary leadership, aspirations and selfless efforts put in by “each one of our veterans”.
“It is an honour for me to be present here and interact with you all. Today is also an occasion to remember and pay homage to our valiant warriors who dedicated their lives to the nation,” Admiral Kumar said.
He said the Navy would like to assure everybody that it will leave no stone unturned in carrying forward the legacy of the veterans.
Commissioning of India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant, stealth destroyer INS Mormugao, and a host of other advanced platforms are just a small step in that direction, the Navy chief said.
“We have also inducted the first batch of Agniveers, which also includes women, and that is a bold, transformative step and which will contribute to making the Navy future-proof,” he added.
The IAF chief also extended greetings to the veterans on the occasion.
“From its humble origins, the IAF has carved out a reputation of being a formidable aerospace in the region today. This has been made possible only through the vision, hard work, and selfless service rendered by our veterans over the years,” he said, adding, the “sterling contributions” made by the veterans have always been a guiding force.
In his address, Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari also said that 156 SPARSH service centres have been made operational across the commands of the IAF.
The System for Pension Administration (Raksha) or SPARSH is a web-based system for processing pension claims and crediting the pension directly into the bank accounts of defence pensioners without any external intermediary.
The IAF has taken up the case for obtaining approvals for policy amendments for grant of liberalised family pensions in flying accident cases between January 1996 and September 2009, under the clause of battle inoculation training exercises, he said, adding, so far pension payment orders have been issued for 67 such cases and the air force is determined to issue PPOs for all other cases very soon.
“We would like to reassure our air veterans that the Indian Air Force is fully committed to your wellbeing. The old adage, serving those who will serve, will always be the cornerstone of our endeavours,” he said.
The Army chief also said it is a matter of pride that the veterans of the armed forces are making valuable contributions in various fields, to the progress of the nation.
Gen Pande also extended his greetings on the occasion of Makar Sankranti, Pongal, Bihu and Uttarayan festivals.
Representatives of various ex-servicemen’s organisations also attended the event.
The Armed Forces Veterans Day is celebrated on January 14. It was on this day in 1953 that the first Indian Commander in Chief of the Indian Army — Field Marshal K M Cariappa, who led Indian forces to victory in the 1947 war — formally retired.
Ever since the first Armed Forces Veterans Day was celebrated, it was decided to commemorate this day every year by hosting interactive events in honour of veterans and their families, according to the defence ministry.
This year, Veterans Day is being celebrated at nine locations — Juhunjhunu, Jalandhar, Panagarh, New Delhi, Dehradun, Chennai, Chandigarh, Bhubaneshwar and Mumbai — by the three Service Headquarters.
Secretary, Ex-Servicemen Welfare Department, Defence Ministry, Vijoy Kumar Singh and other senior officials of the ministry also attended the event.
“The government has announced a long-pending demand regarding One Rank One Pension (OROP) for the armed forces’ veterans, and that had to be revised. But there were certain issues, so there were delays. It has been approved by the government in December and the payment of the arrears and other things will start very soon,” he said on the sidelines of the event.
The Union Cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has approved the revision of pension of “armed forces pensioners/family pensioners under OROP with effect from July 1, 2019”, the Defence Ministry had said in a statement on December 23.
Pension of the past pensioners would be re-fixed based on an average of minimum and maximum pension of defence forces retirees of the calendar year 2018 in the same rank with the same length of service, it had said.
In his address at the event on Saturday, Vijoy Kumar Singh said for resettlement, the government has a “long-term plan” and that veterans have an opportunity, in areas where there is a lack of workforce.
Efforts are on to get SPARSH data and do geospatial mapping in areas where projects like dedicated corridors, and laying of power lines are being undertaken, he said.
The celebrations also witnessed the release of “Samman” magazine, a yearly journal published by Directorate of Indian Army Veterans covering informative articles and various topics of interest to the veteran community. The Indian Air Force also released the “Vayu Semvedna” magazine on the occasion.