Together, we have made a lot of sacrifices to secure India's freedom, and honour. History is witness to the sheer grit and determination of the Indian people and the bravery of our beloved soldiers, who risk their lives to protect us.
We have built our nation with our sweat and blood, and for us, it's territorial integrity is beyond any compromise. But the task of defending a nation is not an easy one. We have to be on constant alert. A single lapse can result in another Kargil.
It's terrifying to look back on the deep inroads the enemy made into our territory in Kargil before the government at the time woke up from its slumber.
Had it not been for the bravery of our soldiers, hundreds more lives would have been lost and our heads would hang in shame today.
It's disgraceful that anyone could even think of belittling our soldiers' sacrifices, but that's exactly what Shri Narendra Modi did when he stated, 'More than the soldiers, it's the traders who are known for their risk taking capacity.' His words are despicable, but they don't shock us anymore. After all, he belongs to the same party that shamed our nation with the coffin scam and Operation West End.
The Congress believes we owe our soldiers more than just gratitude. That's why we honoured their long-pending demand of One Rank One Pension. Personnel of the same rank are now assured a uniform pension regardless of their length of service, or their date of retirement.
Watch our video to learn more about how One Rank One Pension rewards our brave soldiers:
It was during UPA's tenure that we announced India's biggest defence modernisation plan. In 1999-2000 (the year of Kargil war) the defence budget was Rs 47,071 crore. This was raised to a mere Rs. 60,066 crore (2003-04). We knew this wasn't enough.
In 2004-05 we set aside Rs. 75,856 crore for defence. This increase was more than the cumulative increase by NDA over five years (from 1999 to 2004). Thanks to these increases under the UPA, the defence budget stood at a mammoth Rs. 203,672 crore in 2013-14.
UPA has prioritised the development of indigenous capabilities. The light-weight multi-role Tejas, which was inducted into the Air Force last December, is a glorious example of our efforts.
The other game changer was the recent induction of INS Vikramaditya into the Indian Navy. The refurbished warship has the ability to carry over 30 fighter aircrafts and attack helicopters.
Like we strengthened India decades back when we ushered it into the elite club of nuclear powers, in 2012 we delivered another much needed strategic defence advancement when we launched the nuclear-tipped Agni-V Intercontinental Ballistic Missile. It has a range of more than 5,000 kilometres.
As Rahul Gandhi puts it, "We need to thank the soldiers as they sacrifice their lives and are ready to give their blood for the country at all times." Thank you for standing with us alongside these brave men and women to whom we all owe so much.