National Press Release – to be released across India [Word version]
24 September 2016 – for immediate release
Mr Sanjay Sonawani, President of Swarna Bharat Party mourned the loss of 18 soldiers in Uri to terrorists from Pakistan. The party salutes all India’s soldiers, who do a great job in the face of enormous challenges.
India wants peace with its neighbours but we must remain vigilant to persistent threats, ranging from state-sponsored terrorism to nuclear warheads. The defence of the nation remains the most important function of a government. Without secure borders, a nation cannot exist, leave alone prosper. SBP will therefore support any well-considered response by the Modi Government to intrusions from Pakistan.
However, SBP believes that the Modi government needs to do far more for the defence of India. There are too many failures of intelligence, instances of outdated war equipment and reports of inadequate ammunition and supplies. Yet the Modi government continues to run duty-free shops, hotels, airlines and banks. It is reluctant to perform its core functions. This tendency of the Modi government must stop.
Mr Sonawani said that our service personnel and intelligence agencies must have state of the art defence equipment, surveillance and intelligence systems including unmanned aircraft, satellites and robotic systems, and adequate ammunition and supporting supplies, to defend Indian territory.
There is also a vital issue of the morale of our defence forces. SBP wants the status of defence forces to be significantly raised. Those who choose the profession of defence take on high risks, forego many fundamental rights as citizens, and perform their work round the clock in harsh and difficult environments. SBP’s manifesto has a detailed plan of action for to raise the stature of our defence forces.
A Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) in the rank of a Minister of State must be given charge of an integrated Military Command on the lines of Pentagon. The CDS should report directly to the Defence Minister. The Army, Navy and Air Force Chief’s order of precedence must equal that of the Cabinet Secretary.
SBP wants a separate Pay Commission for the defence forces, OROP for those under the pension scheme, and government contribution towards life insurance premiums of armed force personnel to the extent their premiums exceed the average market rate. For new hires, alternate systems of pensions/re-employment need to be considered.
Funds for such essential defence reforms can be raised if the government stops running businesses. Also, cantonments can be moved outside cities and towns, releasing land for sale. Cantonments can also be more effective outside the cities. Mr Sonawani said that the government should follow SBP’s manifesto to make India strong and prosperous.
Notes for Editors
SBP is India’s only liberal party, committed to defending liberty and promoting prosperity.
Sanjay Sonawani (Pune), National President, +91 9860991205
Cdr Bhirappa Bhimappa Khilari (retd.) (Bangalore), President Karnataka State Unit, +919342689574 & +917760023956