The programme held at Manekshaw Centre in Delhi Cantonment was also attended by Navy Chief Admiral R Hari Kumar, various senior officers of the three Services, a large number of veterans or their family members.
“The Indian armed forces, we will all agree, are one of the finest in the world, and have transformed with changing times to meet the challenges of the entire spectrum of warfare,” he said.
The Indian Air Force, in particular, has grown from a very modest beginning just about 90 years ago, to being “one of the most formidable air forces in the world”, the IAF chief said.
This has been possible only through the “sustained efforts and yeoman services” rendered by the forces’ veterans over the years, Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari added.
“I acknowledge with gratitude the sterling contributions made by all our veterans, whose resilient spirit, leadership, and vision have laid the foundation of today’s armed forces,” he said. Today is also a day to poignantly remember all the veterans who laid down their lives for the nation, the IAF chief said, adding, “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who made the supreme sacrifice in the line of duty”. The IAF, the youngest of the Services, is only 91-years-old. And, as of December 31, 2023, “we have on record, 2,21,204 veterans,” he said.
The IAF chief shared that it has been a diligent effort to reach out to each and every veteran.
“I am aware there are teething issues, we are taking up these issues constantly with the service providers and the Controller General of Defence Accounts,” he said.
In his address, Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari also shared some data regarding SPARSH and other initiatives.
The System for Pension Administration (Raksha) or SPARSH is a web-based system for processing pension claims and crediting the pension directly into bank accounts of defence pensioners without any external intermediary.
“In the year gone by, 1.85 lakh legacy pensioners have been migrated onto SPARSH,” the IAF chief said.
The Navy chief, in his address, underlined the contribution made by the veterans to the armed forces.
“I can say with conviction that our armed forces of today are a product of the visionary leadership, unflinching efforts and selfless service of our veterans. I would like to assure each and every one of you that we will leave no water uncharted in carrying forward this legacy,” Admiral Kumar said.
So, towards that end, Navy’s efforts have been focused on being a combat-ready, credible, cohesive and future-proof force, he said.
“While pursuing our many operational commitments, the ‘Bharatiya Nav Sena’ remains committed to ensuring the welfare of our ex-servicemen,” the Navy chief added.
The Navy has been following a multi-pronged approach of proactive outreach, positive interaction, and persistent communication to address various issues faced by our veteran community, Admiral Kumar said.
He noted that the outreach programme has been expanded.
“We are aware that the serving Navy is a transit Navy, while the veteran Navy is a permanent Navy, that is where finally all of us will reach,” the Navy chief said.
The Indian Navy is privileged to have the continuing benefit of “your experience and wisdom”, and, it looks forward to “your invaluable guidance, unstinted support and forthright suggestions to help us better address issues faced by both the services as well as the veteran community,” he added.