ON BOARD INS VIKRAMADITYA, June 14 (IANS): Prime Minister Narendra Modi Saturday dedicated to the nation INS Vikramaditya, India's largest and most powerful aircraft carrier, marking his first visit to a military facility after assuming office. He called it a "giant step in India's naval prowess".
Modi, who spent nearly four hours on the mighty INS Vikrmaditya off the Goa coast, said that the warship's addition to the navy was "a historic step" and a golden chapter in the history of India's maritime security.
"Addition of INS Vikramaditya will add tremendous might to our navy," the prime minister said.
A smiling Modi waved his naval cap from the cockpit of the MiG-29 K during his several minute long stint in the pilot's seat of one of India's most advanced fighter jets.
The carrier can carry 30 aircraft while at sea.
He also witnessed a display of naval capabilities in the choppy waters of Arabian sea.
The 44,500-tonne INS Vikramaditya, procured from Russia, is one of the newest acquisitions of the Indian Navy and the most powerful symbol of its military reach. It was commissioned by then defence minister A.K. Antony last November at Russia's Sevmash shipyard.
In his address to naval personnel on board INS Vikrmaditya, Modi said India would neither threaten any country nor be intimidated by any power "but would engage with all nations as equals".
"I came out of Delhi for the first time (after becoming prime minister) and came straight to you. This gives you an idea of priorities of the new government," Modi said.
Dressed in his trademark kurta churidar and a blue waistcoat, Modi said that we dream of an India that is self-sufficient in manufacturing defence equipment using the latest technology.
Modi said: "One of the primary reason India is capable of walking hand-in-hand with world forces is the Indian Navy and soldiers. INS Vikramaditya is a giant step in India's naval prowess."
He said that security was the prime requirement for country's progress.
Modi said that armed forces were witnessing transformation and "modern techonolgy" had become a significant part of security dynamics.
"Hence, it is important not only to have a dedicated soldiers but also military platforms based on technology," he said.
Modi also pitched for self-reliance and export of arms to small countries.
He stressed on the need to shed dependency on import of weapons in some areas and said that government wants to move in a direction that smaller countries have faith in equipment made in the country.
During his "Day at sea", Modi was accompanied by navy chief Admiral R.K. Dhowan, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar and Minister of State for Defence Inderjit Rao.
The prime minister promised to set up a war memorial and said the government was committed to implement "One Rank, One pension" scheme for defence personnel.