With the leaders of all 10 Asean member countries designated as chief guests at the Republic Day celebrations on January 26, defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman said Monday that it would showcase the “taking shape” of India’s Act East policy.
“The Prime Minister’s intention that the Look East policy should now be an Act East policy is really taking shape… And by the very presence of 10 leaders from the Asean bloc during the Republic Day celebrations, India is definitely showcasing its Act East policy. And we are happy that the event is going to happen with all of them present,” Ms Sitharaman said during her visit to the NCC Republic Day Camp at Delhi Cantonment. In an unprecedented event, all 10 leaders from Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Brunei have been invited as chief guests for the Republic Day parade. Earlier, Ms Sitharaman presented the “Raksha Mantri Padak” and commendation cards to NCC cadets at an investiture ceremony held at the camp.
The Raksha Mantri Padak, instituted in 1989, is given to the most deserving cadet every year for bravery or exceptional service of the highest order. Cadet Priya of Uttar Pradesh received the honour on Monday.
As many as 2,070 cadets, including 703 girls, from 29 states and seven Union territories are participating in this Republic Day Camp. It will conclude with the “PM Rally” on January 28. The defence minister said the NCC, since its inception, has helped in the nation-building process by inculcating among the youth discipline, confidence, camaraderie and a spirit of adventure.
“I am very impressed by the high standard of the parade displayed by cadets at the camp and other skills during the cultural programme… NCC cadets have played their role in times of natural disasters, and in promoting government programmes like Swachchh Bharat, and awareness programme for the girl child,” she said.
The minister also underlined the government’s vision is to expand the footprint of the corps in the country.
At present, 13 lakh cadets are enrolled in the NCC and the government has planned to increase it to 15 lakhs in five phases by 2020.