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Prime Minister Narendra Modi commissions India's first indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant

Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi commissioned India's first indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant in Kochi on Sept 2, 2022. A departure from colonial past, PM also unveiled the new Naval Ensign, dedicating the Ensign to Chhatrapati Shivaji. Photo: SpokespersonMoD / Twitter

KOCHI (PTI): Prime Minister Narendra Modi commissioned India's first indigenously designed and built aircraft carrier INS Vikrant on Friday, that put India into a select league of countries with domestic capability to build such large warships.

The Prime Minister commissioned the carrier, built at a cost of Rs 20,000 crore, at a function organised at the Cochin Shipyard Limited in Kochi, Kerala.

With the commissioning of INS Vikrant, India joined a select group of nations having the niche capability to indigenously design and build an aircraft carrier.

“INS Vikrant is an example of Indian Government's thrust to make its defence sector self-reliant and has made the country part of the select group of nations who can indigenously make aircraft carriers,” the Prime Minister said.

The commissioning ceremony was attended by a host of dignitaries including Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Shipping Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, Kerala Governor Arif Mohamad Khan, state Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Ernakulam MP Hibi Eden, Indian Navy Chief Admiral R Hari Kumar and top officials of Navy and Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL).

The Prime Minister unveiled a plaque to mark the induction of INS Vikrant, named after its predecessor that played a crucial role in the 1971 Indo-Pak war, into the Navy.

The aircraft carrier is equipped with state-of-the-art features and can operate air wing consisting of 30 aircraft, including MiG-29K fighter jets, besides the domestically manufactured Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH).

PM Modi also unveiled the Indian Navy's new ensign which drops the St George's Cross and incorporates the royal seal of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.

Addressing a large gathering at the commissioning ceremony of INS Vikrant, the Prime Minister said that with the new ensign, the country has shed its colonial past.

“Till today, Indian Naval flags carried a sign of slavery which has been replaced with a new one inspired by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj,” the PM said.

He also spoke about certain features of the aircraft carrier – which he described as “a floating airfield”, “a floating town” – and said that power generated in it can light up 5,000 houses.

"INS Vikrant is not a mere war machine but proof of India's skill and talent. It is special, different," PM Modi said and highlighted the indigenisation efforts behind the massive ship, including the steel that went into its making.

"Here, on the coast of Kerala, India, every Indian is witnessing the sunrise of a new future. This event being held on the INS Vikrant is a tribute to the rising spirits of India on the world horizon", he said.

It was also a manifestation of the dream of the freedom fighters, where they envisioned a capable and strong India.

"This is a testament to the hard work, talent, influence and commitment of India in the 21st century. If the goals are distant, the journeys are long, the ocean and the challenges are endless then India's answer is Vikrant. The incomparable Amrit of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav is Vikrant. Vikrant is a unique reflection of India becoming self-reliant", Modi said.

He also said no challenge is too difficult for today's India.

Modi acknowledged and praised the contribution of the Navy, engineers of Cochin Shipyard, scientists and specially the workers who worked on the project.

He added the happy and auspicious occasion of Onam was adding to the joy.

Every part of INS Vikrant has its own merits, a strength, a development journey of its own. It is a symbol of indigenous potential, indigenous resources and indigenous skills. The steel installed in its airbase is also indigenous, developed by DRDO scientists and produced by Indian companies, he said.

The Navy said the commissioning ceremony is one of the most significant milestones in the life of a warship.

"Today 2 Sep 22 marks the acceptance of #INSVikrant as a potent unit of the operating forces of the @indiannavy. Wishing her fair winds & following seas #AtmanirbharBharat", a Defence spokesman tweeted after the commissioning of the warship.

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