—General M.M. Naravane, Chief of the Army Staff, in an interview with Jayant Baranwal, Editor-in-Chief, SP’s Land Forces, talks about how the Indian Army continues to face challenges across the spectrum of conflict and is developing its capability and operational readiness to meet them
SP’s Land Forces (SP ’s): How do you find the pace of modernisation and restructuring of the Indian Army? What else can or should be done to make it faster and more effective?
Chief of the Army Staff (COAS): The Indian Army is fully committed to induct indigenous weapon systems and equipment as nothing could be more motivating for any Army to fight and win its wars with indigenous technologies and weapons. The Indian Army faces, and will continue to face, operational challenges in the entire spectrum of conflict, whether it be in the conventional or unconventional domains. A thorough analysis of capability voids and future needs, in light of the threats posed by our adversaries and dictated by changing character of war, guides our capability development & operational preparedness plans. The pace of our modernisation and restructuring is an optimum balance between revolution and evolution.
Our operational preparedness is primarily focussed on India’s desire to ensure stability & dominance along our contested borders and to effectively counter Proxy War. To retain operational readiness & combat edge, we constantly monitor and review the emerging & future threats to our national security. Our operational requirements continue to guide our procurement of emerging technologies, which act as force multipliers, providing us the muchneeded combat edge over the adversaries.
Modernisation, in accordance with the envisaged future challenges, is however, a complex and dynamic process, impacted by operational dynamics, emerging technologies and budgetary support. The Indian Army’s modernisation plans are essentially based on developing ‘Force Capabilities’ which encompasses development of critical combat capabilities, besides overcoming obsolescence in core capabilities in consonance with the Defence Capability Development Strategy.
Over the past five years, the Indian Army has focused on progressively increasing our capabilities through optimisation of force levels, adoption of technology, induction of Force Multipliers, as also modernisation and improvement of infrastructure. Our troops, our organisation, our equipment, our strategy and our tactics enable us to continuously evolve to respond to the emerging threats and challenges.
SP’s: What is the state of preparedness of the Indian Army with respect to the following?
COAS: The Indian Army has amply showcased its effective handling of the current security dynamics along the Northern Borders, even while challenged with the ongoing pandemic situation, reaffirming its 24x7 operational preparedness and inherent ability to overcome any unforeseeable challenges. Based on the reviewed threat perception, re-balancing of forces has been carried out, in which re-orientation of forces to Northern Borders has been carried out, while retaining effective capability along the Western Front.
Development of requisite infrastructure to support operational and logistic requirements on the Northern Borders is being undertaken to include construction of critical roads & railway lines along with tunnels, construction/resuscitation of Airfields, Advanced Landing Grounds and Helipads to enhance connectivity in difficult terrain and weather conditions. Habitat for troops deployed in forward areas during the ongoing operational contingency was an important focus area. Essential habitat for more than 22,000 additional troops has been constructed in a time bound manner despite challenges of weather, terrain and COVID.
There was a felt need to upgrade Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) capacities especially along the Northern Borders. Towards this, all weather ground and air/space based ISR capability for sustained durations at strategic/operational & tactical levels has been achieved and real time inputs from drone and satellite imagery are being made available at short notice. In addition to these, integrated Human Intelligence (HUMINT) / Electronic Intelligence (ELINT) / Space / Cyber Intelligence (Int) capability from various agencies is being made available to Field Formations.
Along the Line of Control (LC), the present parameters are entirely contingent on holding of the DGsMO Understanding. Despite FATF scrutiny & the DGsMO understanding in vogue, we have not seen any dismantling of terrorist infrastructure, indicating Pakistan’s continued obsession with Kashmir & continuation of its vigorous proxy war. In 2021 alone, nine attempts to smuggle war like stores across the LC have been foiled resulting in recovery of large number of war like stores. Effective Counter Infiltration Grid along LC has forced Pakistan to exploit the Narco Terror Nexus especially along the International Boundary (IB) in Jammu region & Punjab for smuggling of narcotics & weapons.
“Based on the reviewed threat perception, re-balancing of forces has been carried out, in which re-orientation of forces to Northern Borders has been carried out, while retaining effective capability along the Western Front”
In the hinterland, Pakistan continues to endeavour to orchestrate a so-called ‘indigenous insurrection’ through proxy terrorist groups. However, synergised conduct of intelligence based operations have resulted in significant successes by eliminating large number of terrorists, including Pakistan nationals and very senior leaders of JeM & LeT.
We will continue to base our strategy focussing on preventing infiltration while adhering to the tenets of the DGsMO Understanding and ensuring peace along the LC while maintaining tempo of operations in hinterland to ensure a secure environment for seamless execution of developmental plans by the Government. We will also employ all our instruments of national power to exert pressure on Pakistan to make terror sponsorship cost prohibitive.
SP’s: Kindly elaborate on the modernisation programmes undertaken for:
COAS: There has been a massive impetus on modernisation of our various Arms over the last few years, under the principle of jointness, integration and indigenisation.
The Infantry modernisation in last few years has been very quick, and self-sustaining due to in-house upgradations, maintenance support and induction of future technologies. The SIG716 Assault Rifles are replacing vintage INSAS Rifles of frontline troops. A portion of 7.62 x 51mm Negev LMG consignment has been received and despatched to Infantry Battalions to replace INSAS LMGs. Induction of modern 5.56 x 45mm CQB Carbine is in progress to replace vintage 9mm Carbine. In addition, .338 Cal SAKO TRG 42 Sniper Rifle is giving a major fillip to the long range precision engagement capability of troops. Induction of AK-203 Assault Rifle through joint production by IRRPL will begin shortly. These modern Small Arms are being equipped with day and night sights. Multi-Mode Hand Grenade have been contracted to replace Hand Grenade Number 36. The MMHG developed by DRDO are being concurrently produced by Indian Private industry and Ordnance Factories to make up the requirement of the Indian Army in the quickest timeframe.
Modernisation of Artillery is focused on mediumisation of guns and capability enhancement of long-range firing platforms with the aim to increase the range, lethality and precision capabilities. The Indian Artillery in its quest for modernisation, plans to induct a number of 155mm guns in the coming years in a phased manner. The entire process of modernisation is planned to be in consonance with the Government of India’s plan for ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’. Indigenous development of Medium Artillery Gun System commenced with OFB undertaking development of Dhanush Gun System based on ToT of 155mm Bofors in 2011 and DRDO commencing development of 155mm Advanced Towed Artillery Gun system (ATAGS) in September 2012. Development of ATAGS brought in private industry and the ambit of indigenisation expanded from public sector. As far as performance of Dhanush Gun System is concerned, the production process of gun has commenced at GCF Jabalpur and first six guns have been offered to the Indian Army. There have been some teething problems during the production process at the Ordnance factory due to which the guns have not been found fully fit for taking over for operational employment. Therefore, GCF Jabalpur has been requested to carry out necessary repairs and offer the guns again. The current contract with GCF Jabalpur is for 114 Guns and in case the performance of the gun is found fit, orders for more guns would be considered.
Army Aviation already has a fleet of Armed helicopters, Rudra which have been in service for almost a decade. Notwithstanding, Army Aviation will induct two types of Attack helicopters i.e. Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) & Apache in next two to three years. In fact, the first LCH Squadron would be raised within a few months and the first set of platforms manufactured by HAL is ready at Bengaluru. The Apache are arriving by March next year.
We are undertaking a twin approach for modernising the Mechanised Infantry. We are replacing the vintage equipment with futuristic platforms and also focussing on capability enhancement of the existing equipment through upgrades for enhancing Night Enablement; Lethality; and ISR Capability.
Army Air Defence equipment are being upgraded by carrying out procurement to meet its operational requirement. The intention is to modernise AAD equipment with a pragmatic profile. CCS approval for VSHORADS is likely to be obtained in the coming months, while RFP issued under Buy & Make (Indian) category will address the long pending procurement of AD Gun.
The process for procurement of Light Tanks has already commenced. The RFI for Light Tanks has received positive response from 14 Indian and seven Foreign vendors to include Mahindra Defence System Limited, Tata Advance System Limited, Bharat Forge Limited, Rosoboronexport (Russia), HANWHA Defence Co Ltd (Korea), Elbit Systems Land (Israel), BAE Systems (USA). The RFP is expected to be issued by mid-2022. We plan to induct the system in a phased manner over a span of three years tentatively. An additional indent for 118 Arjun tanks (MBT Mk 1A) with 14 major upgrades has been placed on OFB for two additional Regiments. Inductions of T-90 tanks are also going on and will be completed by 2027.
SP’s: How are you ensuring that the Indian Army keeps pace with the technological evolution and the rapid changes in weapons technologies taking place?
COAS: Our operational requirements continue to guide our procurement of emerging technologies, which act as force multipliers, providing us the much-needed combat edge over the adversaries. The advent of numerous disruptive technologies is revolutionising the nature of warfare. The same has been witnessed in the ongoing Azerbaijan – Armenia conflict, as also in the clashes in Idlib, wherein the use of unmanned armed aerial systems have demonstrated long range precision & standoff capabilities. Owing to our dynamic security environment, need to deploy along the vast disputed hostile borders and operate in intense CI deployments, the Indian Army strives to persistently retain its operational readiness and combat edge. Towards achieving this aim, we remain alive to the rapid emergence of niche technologies, including AI, autonomous & unmanned systems, long range precision technology, Internet of Things (IoT), 5G, Quantum Computing, Directed Energy Systems and Geo-Spatial technology domains.
These niche technologies and their possible military applications are being constantly analysed for relevance in Indian context. Gainful infusion and absorption of these emerging technologies, in consonance with the Indian Army’s operational requirements are regularly being dovetailed in our Capability Development Plans to include Unmanned Armed Aerial Platforms, Counter Drone Microwave & Laser Weapon System, Precision Ammunition, Quantum Communications, Autonomous Load Haulers and Artificial Intelligence applications.
SP’s: What in your opinion will make the Indian Army ‘Futuristic’ in composition and capabilities? What’s your definition of ‘futuristic’? What’s your roadmap for the same?
COAS: We in the Armed Forces are fully seized of the requirement of crystal gazing the future with regards to the nature, character and contours of war and concomitantly equipping ourselves physically, materially and cognitively to retain our combat effectiveness. We have been actively discussing and deliberating the transformative changes happening in the conduct of war, its character, domains and the impact of disruptive technologies. The paradigm shift in the nature of conflict over the years is evident. Wars between states have become rarer.
While large scale conventional wars have not been witnessed in the recent past, there have been numerous conflicts of a smaller scale, or what can best be described as operations short of all-out war. We are already witnessing the outbreak of hostilities in cyber, information, sub-conventional and hybrid domains. These along with diplomatic, informational and economic coercive activities are already being prosecuted in the Grey Zone. Future wars will witness conflicts transcending time, space and force dimensions and enveloping new frontiers. These wars will blur the distinction between combatants and non-combatants, often avoid direct military engagements and resort to extensive use of proxy actors.
This has been adequately witnessed during the last two decades which saw a discernible global shift towards sub-conventional conflicts, where victory vis-à-vis non-state actors remained elusive for most. The very definition of victory has changed. There is no single, universally accepted concept of victory, and in the present day, there is limited scope for decisive and enduring victory. The developments that took place in Afghanistan last year are a testament to that effect.
“We face unique, substantial and multi domain challenges. Considering such diverse and multiple threats that we may face in future, the Indian Armed Forces need to certainly adapt and transform to meet the challenges.”
From an Indian perspective, we face unique, substantial and multi domain challenges. The events in 2020 have exposed the diversity of security threats in all domains, and this has brought the spotlight towards non-contact and grey-zone warfare. Considering such diverse and multiple threats that we may face in future, the Indian Armed Forces need to certainly adapt and transform to meet the challenges. Let me assure you that we are cognizant of these trends and a lot is already being done towards it.
As far as a roadmap for the future is concerned, we are aligned to the law of nature which says that ‘Change is the only constant’. This law of nature exhorts us to transform in sync with the changing time and scenarios. Accordingly, the Armed Forces must change to remain abreast of the security dimensions and threat perspectives. Much is underway in terms of The-atre-isation, Rebalancing, IBG-isation etc. We must ensure that the transformation keeps pace with modernisation and we create Force Structures which are robust and dynamic to address our challenges in military and even non-military domains.
Almost all modern technology tools have potential for military application and disruptive impact on modern-day warfare. This change is already making traditional core competencies irrelevant and creating necessity of acquiring new proficiencies. Improved situational awareness, fusion of sensors, faster decision making, use of autonomous weapons, and integration of Artificial Intelligence into every facet of warfare will necessitate change to war fighting doctrines, our organisations and structures and not to forget, our training methodology and leadership.
We are already moving to a more refined and comprehensive system called the Integrated Capability Development System (ICADS) which gives a holistic perspective to tri-service capability development initiatives. In addition, we are working towards achieving self-reliance in terms of production of weapons, ammunition and equipment. Development of the necessary border infrastructure to enable the induction, deployment and sustenance of operations by our forces along the LAC and the LoC is being given due priority.
As part of the Whole Government approach, we are also looking at enhancing Defence Diplomacy. We are willing to assist our friendly foreign countries in the fields of capability and capacity building, construction of training infrastructure in their respective of countries as well as assistance in HADR missions.
SP’s: How do you see the Indian Army’s requirement of being able to fight a Network Centric Warfare? Are we there yet in terms of being able to fight a truly Network Centric War? What is being done to enable this capability?
COAS: Network Centric Warfare (NCW) or the Network Centric Operations (NCO) hinges on the combined action of a joint force, rather than its constituent platforms, through real time information collation and analysis, to considerably reduce the ‘fog of war’, with an ultimate aim to gain a decisive edge and victory over the adversary. In order to maintain a winning edge at all times, a robust and agile communication network is a prerequisite for situational awareness, passage of actionable information between the sensor and shooter grid, thereby compressing the clichéd OODA loop.
The Indian Army is well poised to adapt itself to being a Net Centric Force and has taken giant strides in this direction. With the rolling out of Network for Spectrum (NFS), very soon we will have our own, captive, robust and a highly agile strategic backbone communication network. The implementation of ASCON Phase IV will further enhance the reach of this strategic backbone to the Tactical Battle Area (TBA). However, since the last mile will essentially be wireless, we intend to leverage the technologies of Software Defined Radios (SDRs) and Mobile Adhoc NET works (MANETs), Digital Mobile Radios (DMRs) and SATCOM to modernise and empower the tactical edge in a big way. While the network will soon be in place, we have also embarked on development of applications to ride on this network to enhance the shared situational awareness. MISO and ASIGMA are two recent launches. Forays are also being made to harness Artificial Intelligence (AI), Data Analytics and Big Data Tools to develop OIS applications both in-house and through collaboration. Being alive to the needs of info denial operations, a large number of projects are also being undertaken to build the EW capability.
“Modernisation of the Indian Army has been undertaken across the entire spectrum and all issues related to NCW are being addressed in a holistic manner”
The modernisation of the Indian Army, therefore, has been undertaken across the entire spectrum and all issues as related to NCW are being addressed in a holistic manner. The Indian Army is a force to reckon with and is at the cusp of adapting itself well to undertake Multi Domain Operations (MDO) with net-centricity at its heart. However, for long term sustenance and to ensure that the winning edge is maintained at all times the key lies in indigenisation and Aatmnirbharta in defence production with whole of a Nation approach.
SP’s: What roles you expect ‘Drones’, both unarmed and combat, to play in the Indian Army? What are your acquisition plans and timelines for them?
COAS: Recent events have highlighted the impact of aerial sensors and multiple weapon delivery means on the battlefield. Even lowcost solutions have the capacity to cause disruptive effects. We realise it since we are a professional and well trained force with certain capabilities to prosecute such operations as well as protect its force from such threats. However, we also have taken significant steps to further augment our capabilities.
The Indian Army has adopted a multipronged approach to capability development. While we are building competencies in employment of unmanned systems, we are also developing force protection measures from similar systems of the adversaries. Where the technology exists within the country, the Indian Army has tapped that potential. Be it ISR, loitering or swarming - we have invested into these force multipliers to counter adversaries’ threat.
There are certain broad timelines that we are looking at for procuring drones. We plan to procure certain quantities of short range RPAs (Runway Independent) as part of Make-II Project by June 2023. We have already procured some sets of aerial targeting system (Loiter ammunition). A Make-II Project for procurement of Medium Range Precision Kill System (MRPKS) is under progress. We are currently taking delivery of certain quantities of Micro RPAs. Similarly, Mini RPAs for high altitude areas are also being procured. We are also looking at procuring logistics drones and swarm drones sets in the near future.
SP ’s: What is the status of Indian Army’s capability build-up in terms of some of the key technological development areas such as:
COAS: Strategic independence can only be attained from a position of strength. Strengthening of our military capabilities and developing cyber, space and strategic communications is thus an undeniable requirement today. Critical technologies currently held with a select few are either denied or made available with conditionalities. The desired capability advancement rests on multiple factors such as robust policy, sound planning, efficient processes and a credible technology and defence manufacturing base. Hence, in the last few years, boosted by the Atmanirbharta call, the Indian Defence Industry has been energised to develop niche capabilities in defence technology development to meet the requirements of a future ready force.
Numerous initiatives like earmarking of budget for private defence industry, streamlining of processes, promulgation of positive indigenisation lists, corporatisation of Ordnance Factories Board, driving the start-up ecosystem etc have been taken up to energise the defence sector in India.
In order to channelise our efforts, we created the Army Design Bureau to provide direction to our capability needs in collaboration with the Defence Industry, MSMEs, start-ups, the Academia as well as the Government and private R&D organisations. It has galvanised our industry connect, resulting in development of indigenous weapons, equipment and identification and induction of niche technologies. We are now in the process of enhancing this footprint by establishing Regional Technology Nodes with the first one already raised at Pune. With the aim of facilitating greater outreach, we also established an Indian Army Cell at IIT-Delhi with the posting a serving officer to work in close coordination with the Academia and start-ups incubating therein. Our collaborative engagement with the industry, Academia and Start-ups indicates huge potential and promise.
In a major initiative, we recently conducted the ‘UGV Experiment’, a first of its kind endeavour, to harness indigenous defence industry capabilities for induction of Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs) in the field Army. The UGV Experiment was held on a ‘Demonstration-Cum- Exploitation Model’. Post exploitation, use cases have been shortlisted and are being progressed for development.
To fully exploit developments in the field of UAVs, we have adopted a multi-pronged and pragmatic approach to achieve cost effectiveness and procure RPAS/UAV/ Drone capabilities in a time-bound manner through multiple route and agencies. A number of procurements, to provide greater surveillance capabilities to ground troops in high altitude areas; Nano/Micro drones for Special Forces; Long Endurance Aerial Surveillance Platforms; logistics drones; swarm drones, are at various stages of inductionand development.
Looking at the contours of future warfare, Artificial Intelligence will have a dominant role. All future procurements and upgrades by us will incorporate AI, wherever feasible. We have also carried out a mapping of key AI domains in accordance with the recommendations of the National Task Force (NTF) Report, and roadmap for executing AI projects under Defence AI Project Agency (DAIPA). Major thrust is towards Autonomous Systems, Cyber, ISR, Surveillance, Language Translation, Threat Modeling, Training, Logistics, Predictive Maintenance, Personnel and Health Care.
We are also exploring military applications of 5G technology that have vital strategic and battlefield implications as next generation of military communication infrastructure will be based on 5G. Faster speeds, high data rates, greater capacity, low latency, seamless coverage and more simultaneous connections, will have potent mil implications. The Army Design Bureau is currently working out modalities with IIT, Delhi (Bharti School of Telecommunication, Technology and Management) on joint development of 5G Technology for defence requirements.
Similarly, Quantum Technology will hold significant implications for the future of military communication and encryption, with next-gen quantum technologies developed at a phenomenal rate. In India, we have tremendous indigenous capability in the industry, especially in Quantum Cryptography. We have thus engaged with the industry to develop capability in Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) for the Indian Army. Our aim is to deliver indigenous technologies for our future solutions.
SP’s: In terms of indigenisation and Atmanirbharta, how satisfied you are with the investment into R&D by the private sector to enable innovation in defence manufacturing in India?
COAS: In the past, R&D into Aerospace and Defence Sector was with DRDO and DPSUs. OFB and private industry would be designated production agencies, with the former dominating the latter. Two defining changes have occurred in the recent past. One is the focus on indigenisation & self-reliance with necessary policy support to the private industry and the fast evolving MSME & start-up ecosystem in the country.
Enhancing FDI limits, precluding imports, corporatisation of OFBs, procedural realignments and financial assurances have empowered the Indian private sector to grow and cater to the needs of the Indian Armed Forces. We have over 120 private manufacturers working towards R&D Similarly, we are handholding over 30 startups for developing solutions for us.
“Consequent to enabling the Army to fight future wars, we have focused on the three R concept - restructuring, reorganisation and reorientation”
Today, R&D has been prioritised both in the public and private sector. The significant amount of funds set aside by the government for R&D (25 per cent) in this year’s budget is meant to spur on indigenisation in the country and the Armed Forces themselves. As these technologies mature, greater investments into R&D for Aerospace & Defence will also manifest and this will in turn enhance our technological base. Greater incentives for private R&D in A&D will definitely lead to greater investment.
Indian Army through ADB also handholds R&D initiatives with technological and academic institutes. Certain niche projects like Low Light Image Sensor, HAA Habitation, RAMJET technology etc are currently in advanced stages of development. With DRDO, numerous projects are underway which will deliver contemporary weapon systems and technologies. We are working with them for identifying futuristic technologies like hypersonic vehicles.
SP’s: How satisfied are you with your tenure till date? What have been your major achievements as Chief of the Army Staff?
COAS: My tenure has been extremely challenging, interesting and professionally satisfying. The Indian Army successfully responded to serious and varied challenges like COVID-19 and the situation in Eastern Ladakh. The internal security situation, in areas where the Army is deployed, remained stable and witnessed lowered violence levels. We continue to prepare ourselves for future threats to the Nation.
The Indian Army is well equipped and trained to ensure the territorial integrity of the Nation. We maintain operational ascendency along the Line of Control (LC), Line of Actual Control (LAC) and other borders. There has been a renewed focus on the twin prongs of modernisation and indigenisation of all Arms and Services. A major impetus has been provided by the government to indigenisation through Atmanirbharta and we have risen to the occasion to handhold and promote indigenous defence industries.
Consequent to enabling the Army to fight future wars, we have focused on the three R concept - restructuring, reorganisation and reorientation. We focused on Force Preservation during COVID-19, fully cognisant of the fact that we needed to be fit ourselves in order to render assistance to our fellow citizens.
A large number of welfare measures have been initiated for our personnel, families, Veer Naris and veterans, keeping in mind their invaluable service and sacrifice for the Nation and our organisation. There has been a lot of impetus given to welfare through empowerment – imparting education, skills and opportunities for resettlement courses. Schemes and facilities such as Ex-Servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS) and Directorate of Indian Army Veterans (DIAV) have been invigorated with infusion of funds and prudent policy-making.
SP’s: What are the steps being taken to ensure an elevated morale and motivation of the soldiers (and their families) who are serving in some of the most difficult and harsh terrains?
COAS: Ensuring elevated morale and motivation of the soldiers and their families is a continuous process and is not limited to the tenures of soldiers in difficult areas. Indian Army deeply understands the linkages between the morale of every individual and its impact on the whole organisation.
High individual morale of a soldier manifests as his willingness to engage in combat and his individual ‘fighting spirit’. Concomitantly, high group morale in the Army manifests in the form of espirit-decorps and unit cohesion, even under lethal fire. Our soldiers have consistently demonstrated phenomenal fighting spirit which is evident by our results in operations and also in the number of soldiers who have laid down their lives, not only to defend the territorial integrity of the country but often to protect their buddies or to uphold the honour of their Unit/Regiments.
Morale of the soldiers and the Army depends on multiple factors such as belief in cause, good training, trust in leaders, honour, pride, sense of being treated fairly, sense of security of family and efficient logistics. Commitment to the cause, complemented with rigorous training, not just develops and up skills the soldiers and their leaders but correspondingly instills a sense of honour and pride in each soldier and their Unit. The redressal mechanisms in the Army are proactive and treat each soldier fairly. As against the other factors, actions to achieve security for the family and efficient back-end support cover a large bandwidth of activities, which are very dynamic in nature.
The Indian Army has kept abreast with the evolving socio-economic requirements of the soldiers and has been constantly upgrading the logistics of the troops both in peace and field. The actions include better nutrition, habitat, war fighting equipment, clothing, communication facilities, financial remunerations, medical and rehabilitation facilities. The soldiers are able to work fearlessly as they are aware that families are well cared for by virtue of numerous initiatives undertaken by the Army to provide quality accommodation, education to children till graduate level, scholarship programmes, educational loans, extensive tie-ups for financial security, rehabilitation and skill development of their dependents and families. We are also extremely conscious of our duties towards Veer Naris/Widows of soldiers who lay down their lives for the nation. Upgrading and streamlining benefits to them and their dependents is a priority for us.