President Droupadi Murmu being accorded a Guard of Honour on her visit to Kochi / Photo: PTI
Kochi: President Droupadi Murmu on Thursday urged Indian Navy personnel to keep themselves updated on technological advancements as well as the changing operational dynamics of the maritime domain, as having a strong and modern Navy was paramount to protecting the country's long coastline.
The Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces said India's naval strength was critical to the country's strategic, military, economic, and commercial interests.
She was speaking after presenting the President's Colour -- the highest honour that can be bestowed upon any military unit of India -- to INS Dronacharya, a premier Gunnery training institute of the Indian Navy here.
The award was presented in recognition of the exceptional service that the INS Dronacharya rendered to the nation, both in war and peace.
Lauding the institute for being a training establishment of international repute and a centre for excellence in gunnery and missile warfare, the President said she was happy to note that personnel from para-military and police forces have also been trained at INS Dronacharya.
"In addition, the institute has fostered India's vision for a secure maritime region by training officers and sailors of our friendly countries as well," she said.
This was her second visit to a Navy establishment as the President of India, after she took part in Navy Day celebrations at Visakhapatnam with the sailors there.
Noting that India has a rich maritime history, the President said, "For a nation like India, the fifth largest economy in the world, with a long coastline, island territories and substantial seafaring population, having a strong and modern Navy is of very high importance."
"The country, therefore, looks up to the Navy to protect our maritime interests. Our 'women and men in whites' would need to keep themselves updated with the latest technology advancements as well as changing operational dynamics in maritime domain," she said.
For the last 75 years, a "combat-ready, multi-dimensional and versatile Indian Navy" had not only deterred the country's adversaries and safeguarded the its maritime interests, but also enabled the creation of a peaceful periphery to facilitate socio-economic growth, she added.
"The Nation is proud of the Indian Navy's commitment to protecting our maritime borders, securing our trade routes and rendering assistance during calamities," she said.
The President appreciated the significant capabilities that the Navy had developed over the years to become a mission-deployed and response-ready force across the Indian Ocean Region, and to serve as a 'First Responder' to any contingency in India's maritime neighbourhood.
Earlier, soon after her arrival, the President also visited INS Vikrant and interacted with the officers and sailors on board.
"I am proud of the brave men and women of the Indian Navy for serving the nation with distinction and dedication", the President said.
Hailing the indigenously built modern aircraft carrier as a shining example of Atma-nirbhar Bharat, President Murmu congratulated the Navy, Cochin Shipyard Limited and everyone associated with the journey of INS Vikrant. "Today, India is among the select few nations with a capacity of building an aircraft carrier with indigenous technology."
Earlier, a host of dignitaries including Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, legislators and top officials of the state government received the President upon her arrival at the international airport here. This is Murmu's first visit to Kerala as President of India. PTI