(Eds: with updates and quotes) Bengaluru, Jan 14 (PTI) India does not want a war but its soldiers are capable of giving befitting reply if any 'superpower' hurts the country's pride, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Thursday amid the eight-month-old border standoff with China.
'We don't want war and we are in favour of protecting everyone's security but I want to say this in clear terms that if any superpower wants to hurt our pride then our soldiers are capable of giving them a befitting reply,' Singh said.
The Defence Minister underlined that India never wanted conflict with any nation and preferred to maintain peace and friendly ties with its neighbours.
'It always wanted peace and friendly ties with its neighbours because it's in our blood and culture,' he said at the fifth Armed Forces Veterans' Day at the Headquarters Training Command of the Indian Air Force in Bengaluru.
Referring to the standoff with China, he said the Indian soldiers displayed exemplary courage and patience and if that can be narrated then every Indian will feel proud.
'I can tell you that things that had never happened in past took place this time.' 'No one can imagine that the Indian Forces carried out such charismatic works but I dont want to get into those details,' he said.
Singh hailed the Indian soldiers who showed extraordinary courage in 'eliminating terrorists on the Pakistan soil'.
The Union Minister called upon the veterans to play a significant role of sharing their experiences with the society and inspire youth to get into the defence services.
Speaking about the issues challenging the veterans, Singh said after retirement income reduces while responsibilities increase.
'I know that the government has done much for you but I believe that much more needs to be done,' he pointed out.
Singh said that under the Ex-servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS), the government has given powers to the local formation commanders to include private hospitals too enabling them to nominate any private hospital.
Further, he recalled that Prime Minister Narendra Modi cleared the long pending demand of One Rank One Pension soon after coming to power in 2014.
Prior to addressing the veterans,Singh along with Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, placed wreaths and paid homage at the War Memorial as part of Veterans' Day celebration.
After the event, Singh and General Rawat interacted with the veterans.
Next of kin, veterans and representatives of various ex-servicemen organisations were also present on the occasion.
Indian Armed Forces celebrate Veterans Day on January 14 every year.
The day was chosen in recognition of the services rendered by the first Commander-in-Chief of Indian Armed Forces, Field Marshal K M Cariappa, who retired on this day in 1953.PTI GMS RS BN WELCOME BN WELCOME