Economy

Nirmala Sitharaman at South Block: 'Military preparedness, soldiers welfare top priorities'

Nirmala Sitharaman at South Block: 'Military preparedness, soldiers welfare top priorities'”

Welcoming the appointment of Nirmala Sitharaman as defence minister, Mr Singh exuded confidence that the key ministry will get "new energy and strength" under her as women symbolise "shakti" (strength). "I will be available round the clock", Sitharaman said after taking charge.

Rajnath Singh was speaking at an event to hand over indigenously made equipment to the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) by defence public sector undertakings.

A priest held prayers in the newly-inducted defence minister's chamber before she assumed charge. She said, "Armed forces my first priority". "We shall ensure that the important characters of what makes "Make in India" an important flagship programme of the Prime Minister is given full play for defence production because India as you know is a very big defence equipment procurer". "Otherwise, we may need a different framework (for procurement)", the Minister said.

"Soldiers (deployed) on the toughest border, challenging situations, should remain absolutely assured that their interests are being watched".

A joint statement issued on Wednesday in the backdrop of wide-ranging discussions between defence minister Arun Jaitley and his Japanese counterpart Itsunori Onodera on Tuesday said: "The Ministers endorsed the importance of enhancing interaction between governments and defence industries of the two countries to encourage equipment collaboration including defence and dual-use technologies".

Nirmala Sitharaman approved a grant of over Rs 13 crore which will be released for 8685 ex-servicemen, widows and dependents out of the Armed Forces Flag Day Fund.

Sitharaman is only the second woman after late Indira Gandhi to become the Defence Minister of India, and the first one to take independent charge.

Jaitley also called on Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe and discussed ways to deepening defence and security co-operation.



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