PRIME Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday handed over to the Army the home-made Arjun Main Battle Tank (MK-1A) here, dubbed by him as an example of India’s united spirit as the South made armoured vehicle will guard the northern borders of the country. At a function, he also accepted a salute by the state-of-the-art tank, indigenously-designed, developed, and manufactured by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO)’s Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment here. Modi later handed over a replica model of the tank to Army Chief General M M Naravane.
“Today I am proud to dedicate to the country one more warrior to protect our frontiers. I am proud to hand over the indigenously-designed and manufactured Arjun MK-1A.” “It also uses indigenous ammunition. Tamil Nadu is already the leading auto manufacturing hub of India. Now I see Tamil Nadu evolving as a tank manufacturing hub of India,” he said. “A tank made in Tamil Nadu will be used in our northern border to keep our nation safe. This showcases India’s united spirit--Bharat’s ekta darshan,” Modi added. According to reports, the Heavy Vehicles Factory (HVF) at Avadi here, has been placed with a Rs 8,500 crore order for manufacturing 118 of these tanks.
Arjun MK 1 Alpha is a “contemporary tank in the world with battle winning efficacy,” officials said. It is ‘infused’ with 71 new features and would ensure effortless mobility in all terrains, besides precise target engagement during day and night. Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit, Chief Minister K Palaniswami, his deputy O Panneerselvam and other Cabinet members, senior leaders of ruling AIADMK M Thambidurai, K P Munusamy and leaders from alliance parties participated in the event. The production order opens up a large avenue in defence manufacturing for over 200 Indian companies and scores of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) with employment opportunities to 8,000 people, they said. Quoting from revolutionary Tamil poet and freedom fighter Mahakavi Subramanya Bharathi, Modi said that inspired by the former’s vision, “India has taken a massive effort to become self-reliant in the defence sector.” Of the two defence corridors in the country, the one in Tamil Nadu has already received investment commitments of over Rs 8,100 crore, Modi said.
“We will continue working to make our armed forces one of the most modern forces in the world. At the same time the focus on making India Atmanirbhar in the defence sector moves with full speed,” he said. He launched various projects and laid the foundation for several others in different sectors, including Railways, in Tamil Nadu, describing them as symbols of innovation and indigenous development. The Rs 3,770 crore Chennai Metro Rail Phase-I extension was among the completed projects launched by Modi, who also said the decade was going to belong to India, adding the entire world was looking at it with positivity. Modi flagged off the 9.01 km service from Washermanpet to Wimco Nagar in North Chennai.
This year’s Central budget, presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on February 1, “once again showcased the reforms commitment of the Government,” Modi said in his address on the occasion. On the health front, he said that “inspired by a human centric approach, India is making the world’s fight against COVID-19 stronger,” in an apparent reference to the country providing vaccines to many nations in their battle against the pandemic. “We have to keep doing whatever we can to develop our nation and make the world a better place. This is what the makers of our Constitution wanted us to do,” he said.