WASHINGTON: Recognising the importance of Indian armed forces’ veterans, the Indian Embassy in Washington on Monday organised ‘Varishtha Yoddha’, an event to honour the ex-servicemen who are now living in the United States.
More than 140 people, including some distinguished veterans who had fought in various wars and their families, attended the event here.
“Friends, you have served and sacrificed for mother India, with utmost sense of duty and selflessness. You and your family members as a part of 4 million-strong Indian community are instrumental in strengthening India-US ties across a diversity of sectors,” Taranjit Singh Sandhu, India’s Ambassador to the US, said.
“While no recognition and award can do justice to your contributions, today’s event in a small way expresses our respect and gratitude and tells you that we are here for you,” he said in his admiration to the veterans. “It’s a matter of pride, privilege and honour for me to be a part of this special gathering.” There are people in this room, who have fought for India in 1948, 1962, 1965 or 1971, 1985, the Kargil war in 1999 and in numerous other operations, he said.
“Today’s Varishtha Yoddha event is our humble effort to recognise the sacrifice and service of our veterans and honour them for the patriotism, dedication and willingness to serve and sacrifice all for the nation.
“We remain committed to taking care of our veterans in the same way as they have taken care of the security of our country,” he said.
Mr Sandhu said Indians veterans, wherever they go, carry the highest standards of duty, discipline and professionalism for which Indian armed forces are known.
“Our veterans living in USA remain the flag-bearers of the traditions of our armed forces and continue to inspire the Indian community,” he said.
India-US strategic partnership is enriched by their wisdom, hard work and high moral values, he added.
In his address, Mr Sandhu said the defence partnership between the US and India has been instrumental in intensifying a variety of pacts between them, including those related to sharing of defence technology and cooperation in maritime security and counter-piracy.
India has been designated as a ‘Major Defence Partner’ by US, and conducts more military exercises with the US, than with any other country.
Currently, an Indian naval contingent, including a naval ship, is in Hawaii for participation, in RIMPAC naval exercise, Sandhu told the veterans.
Over the last decade, he said, India has procured defence-related acquisitions from the US worth over $20 billion.
“Today, Indian forces are operating US defence platforms, including transport planes, helicopters, howitzers, ships and a number of other light equipment many of which have been fully deployed in operational and humanitarian uses, including during the COVID pandemic to deliver aid and transport medical supplies,” said the Indian envoy.
“In line with ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’, we are moving forward leveraging our comparative advantages and the opportunity for defense industrial collaboration, especially to innovate, co-develop and co-produce for India and for the world,” he said.