PM Modi bats for defence sector self-reliance

The meeting reviewd India’s security preparedness, and the prevailing global scenario in the context of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine

New delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday chaired a meeting of the high-level Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) to “review India’s security preparedness, and the prevailing global scenario in the context of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine”, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said in a statement, adding that Mr Modi “was briefed on latest developments and different aspects of India’s security preparedness in the border areas as well as in the maritime and air domain”. According to media reports, discussions also took place at the CCS on efforts to attain self-reliance in the Indian defence sector as per the “Make in India” initiatives and the latest global technology in the defence sector.

The PMO meanwhile also said that Mr Modi was “briefed on the latest developments in Ukraine, including the details of Operation Ganga to evacuate Indian nationals, along with some citizens of India’s neighbouring countries, from Ukraine”, adding that the PM directed that all possible efforts should be made to bring back the mortal remains of Indian student from Karnataka Naveen Shekharappa, who died recently in Kharkiv, the war-torn city in eastern Ukraine.

Those who attended the CCS meeting included defence minister Rajnath Singh, external affairs minister S. Jaishankar, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman and national security adviser Ajit Doval. Foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla also attended the meeting. Discussions are also believed to have taken place on the energy security implications for India, particularly in the wake of the Ukraine conflict, galloping global oil prices and the sanctions imposed by the West on Russia.

Sources had said recently that the Indian authorities are making all efforts to transport back to India the body of Mr Shekharappa, who was killed in shelling at Kharkhiv a few days ago. The sources said the body was still at a morgue in Kharkhiv, which continues to see heavy shelling and raging battles between the warring sides.

India’s Operation Ganga, which has so far led to the evacuation of about 22,000 Indians from Ukraine via its western neighbouring countries in about 90 flights, has nearly ended with the recent safe return of about 700 students to India from Sumy in war-torn north-eastern Ukraine.

Referring to the war in Ukraine on Thursday evening, Mr Modi had said India believes in peace and resolution of issues through dialogue, adding that developing nations are suffering because the global prices of crude oil, palm oil and sunflower oil are increasing rapidly. Mr Modi had also noted that India has economic, security, educational and political ties with the nations directly engaged in the war and that its needs are linked with them. While Mr Modi did not then directly name Russia or Ukraine, the reference to them was obvious, particularly as it is well known that India has strong time-tested security and political ties with Russia, spanning decades, as well as growing economic ties with Moscow and robust educational ties with Ukraine as a large number of Indian medical students were studying there.

Meanwhile, commenting on the return of about 700 Indian students evacuated from Sumy in Ukraine as part of Operation Ganga earlier on Thursday, Mr Jaishankar had said: “Their evacuation was particularly challenging. Operation Ganga, undertaken at the direction of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has delivered due to both leadership and commitment. We are thankful to all those who facilitated its objectives. Our particular gratitude to the authorities in Ukraine and Russia as well as the Red Cross for the evacuation assistance. Ukraine’s neighbours --Romania, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Moldova -- gave us exceptional support. My sincerest thanks to them.”

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