Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday said that India is "well equipped" to give befitting reply to "anyone who casts an evil eye on us".
Addressing an event to commemorate 'Kargil Vijay Diwas, he said: "India has become a strong and confident nation which is well equipped to protect its people from anyone who tries to cast an evil eye.
"It is the spirit of national pride at the core of our values that protects the unity and integrity of India."
He asserted that the sole aim of the Narendra Modi government is to safeguard the interests of the nation and it has taken a series of steps to develop a self-reliant defence ecosystem that provides indigenous state-of-the-art weapons/equipment to the armed forces to fight all kinds of future wars.
"Our priority is to achieve Aatmanirbharta in defence as it is central to developing a robust security apparatus for the safety and security of the nation.
"To realise this vision, 68 per cent of the defence budget has been earmarked for procurement of defence equipment from domestic sources. From a net importer, we have now become a net exporter which is not only catering to our own needs, but is also fulfilling the requirements of our friendly countries, in line with the 'Make in India, Make for the World' vision," he said, adding that due to the recent measures taken by the government, India today finds itself among the top 25 exporters of the world in defence items.
"We have set a target to achieve Rs 35,000 crore worth of exports by 2025 and become the top exporter in the times to come. Our aim is to make India a global superpower.
"This will be a fitting tribute to our fallen heroes who made the supreme sacrifice while dreaming of an India which is strong, prosperous, self-reliant and victorious," Rajnath Singh said.
On the numerous challenges faced by India, post-independence, he said: "The entire area of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh became the 'main war theatre' during 1948, 1962, 1965, 1971 and 1999 wars, when enemies tried to cast an evil eye, but their plans were thwarted by the gallant Indian soldiers."
Highlighting the valorous deeds of Brigadier Mohammad Usman and Major Somnath Sharma in 1948, Major Shaitan Singh in 1962, India's historic victory in 1971 war and the contribution of Kargil bravehearts Captain Vikram Batra and Captain Manoj Pandey who laid down their lives to protect the unity and integrity of India, he said that they continue to be an inspiration to the people, especially the youth.
He also paid respects to the Indian soldiers who displayed unmatched bravery during the Galwan Valley incident and ensured that the Indian tricolour continues to fly high.
"After tasting defeats in direct wars of 1965 and 1971, Pakistan adopted the path of proxy war. For over two decades, it has tried to 'bleed India with thousand cuts'. But, time and again, our brave soldiers have shown that no one can disturb the unity, integrity and sovereignty of India," he added, assuring that the Armed Forces are ready to face all future challenges.
Remembering late Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee for his leadership and words of encouragement to the armed dorces personnel during the Kargil war despite numerous challenges and international pressure, Rajnath Singh termed the victory as a prime example of jointness among the three services and their coordination with the government which safeguarded the sovereignty and integrity of the nation during testing times.
"The Kargil war underlined the dire need to achieve jointness and self-reliance in the defence sector. It has been our endeavour to achieve these qualities to remain prepared for future challenges. Setting up of Joint Theatre Commands and reforms to achieve self-reliance in defence are the steps taken in that direction," he said.
Rajnath Singh also made special mention of the support extended by the people of Jammu and Kashmir to the armed forces, commending their commitment to safeguard the interests of the country like all other states.
He stated that Union Territory will always be an integral part of the country and the government is ensuring that it, like the rest of the nation, touches newer heights of progress.
Terming Article 370 as an artificial legal barrier, he asserted that its abrogation brought a new dawn of hope to the dreams and aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, especially the youth. The decision opened new avenues for the welfare of the people and the UT is now progressing at a much faster rate, he added.
On PoK and Gilgit-Baltistan, the minister said that these areas are illegally occupied by Pakistan and a resolution to free it has been unanimously passed in the Parliament.
A number of serving Armed Forces personnel as well as veterans, including Param Vir Chakra awardee Captain (Hon) Bana Singh, were among those present on the occasion.
(With inputs from IANS)