Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday inducted into the Navy its first fully made-in-India aircraft carrier INS Vikrant - also the largest warship to be built in country - and unveiled a new Shivaji-inspired Naval Ensign to go with it, terming the first “a tribute to the rising spirits of India on the global horizon” and the second a symbolic shedding of “the burden of slavery”.
“We are realising the dream of our freedom fighters, who envisioned a capable and strong India. Vikrant is massive, distinguished and special. If goals are distant, journeys are long, the ocean and its challenges are endless, India’s answer is Vikrant,” he said at Cochin Shipyard Ltd, where the mammoth warship built at a cost of £2 billio took shape over 13 years. Flanked by defence minister Rajnath Singh and Navy chief Admiral R Hari Kumar, Modi compared the 262m long and 62m wide INS Vikrant – named after its illustrious predecessor that played a crucial role in the 1971 War – to a floating city that was a living embodiment of the five pledges he proclaimed during his Independence Day speech this year. "No challenge is too difficult for India today. Vikrant has filled us with a new confidence," the PM said. "We believe in a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region. As India moves rapidly towards a $5 trillion economy, our share in global trade will increase. A large part of it will inevitably be through maritime routes. In such a situation, INS Vikrant will safeguard our security and economic interests. "
Kerala governor Arif Mohammed Khan, CM Pinarayi Vijayan, Union ministers Sarbananda Sonowal, V Muraleedharan and Ajay Bhatt, NSA Ajit Doval and several foreign dignitaries, including the ambassadors of Russia, France and Australia and the high commissioner of the UK, were present at the event.
Defence minister Rajnath said the commissioning of INS Vikrant showed the NDA government's resolve to ensure the safety and security of India for the next 25 years.
“Vikrant is an assurance to friendly foreign countries that India is capable of meeting the collective security needs of the region," he said. Admiral Hari Kumar iterated the Navy’s aspiration “to become completely self-reliant by 2047" and remain a "combat-ready, credible, cohesive and future-proof force".