New Delhi: Defence Minister AK Antony on Tuesday said corruption was a serious challenge which badly affected the morale of defence personnel and urged them to renew their pledge to work with honesty, fairness and transparency.
In his customary address to the armed forces on the eve of Independence Day, Antony cautioned them against human rights violations in the fight against terrorism, saying it tarnished the image of the forces.
Antony also hailed Subedar Vijay Kumar who won a silver medal in shooting in the 25-metre rapid fire pistol event at the London Olympics.
The Defence Minister said terrorism continued to be one of the major challenges and there was need to be vigilant.
Raising the issue of graft in the initial part of his address, Antony said corruption affected the morale of the personnel.
"Corruption is today a serious challenge facing our nation - and our armed forces are no exception to the rule. Corruption not only badly affects the morale of the personnel, but also has many other implications. I appeal to each one of you to renew the pledge to work with all the honesty, fairness and transparency at your command in your day-to-day work," Antony said.
He said the armed forces were known for hard work, determination, efficiency and discipline. "It is our individual duty and collective responsibility to ensure that the excellent work done by our armed forces in general, is not undone at any cost," the minister said.
The defence minister said terrorism continued to be one of the major challenges and there was need to be vigilant.
"You are faced with challenges on this front day in and day out. However, while being vigilant, on the one hand, you must exercise utmost restraint and discipline, on the other hand. There must not be even a single case of human rights violation anywhere. Such violations undo, at one stroke, all the good work and tarnish the image of our armed forces," Antony said.
The defence minister said modernisation and indigenisation remained at the centre of all efforts of the government to help the armed forces and added that the successful test of Agni-V had proved that "when it comes to indigenisation, it is only a question of will power".
He said the government was making the best efforts to ensure that there were no procedural delays in pension-related cases of ex-servicemen.
The all-round welfare of jawans was a top priority for the government and steps had been taken to further improve the quality of rations, accommodation and clothing, he said.
Antony said the commissioning of INS Baaz and Naval Air Station at Campbell Bay will impart blue water capability to the navy and added that commissioning of INS Chakra and indigenously developed stealth frigate INS Sahyadri and naval version of indigenously built Light Combat Aircraft will sharpen country's attack capabilities.
He congratulated the Indian Army Women Expedition team that put 17 climbers atop the Mount Everest and the Delphinus team of air warriors of Indian Air Force which recently swam across the English Channel successfully under extreme conditions.
Recalling his visit to forward areas, Antony said high morale of defence force personnel has always been a source of great encouragement and inspiration.