23:32 GMT28 November 2020
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    New Delhi (Sputnik): COVID-19 saw India scrambling to get critical test kits and personal protection equipment for frontline medical professionals. The test kits finally imported from China turned out to be faulty, even as Indian scientists fast-tracked the development of drugs and personal protection wear.

    India’s Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat said COVID-19 has taught the country a lesson: to be self-reliant. General Rawat suggested that if India is looking at becoming a regional power, it has to support others and not be dependent on foreign support. He called for promoting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flagship programme ‘Make in India’.
    “You can see how fast our people have reacted. And I think there is a lesson in this for the defence sector. We have been importing our weapons and ammunition from abroad. But I think if we can give this challenge to our industry, our academia, and to our Research and Development organisations, I think we can start manufacturing our own ammunition, our own weapons, our own equipment in the country. We will not have to be dependent on imports,” General Rawat opined.

    ​General Rawat’s statement comes after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh asked the armed forces to initiate “measures to spend the financial resources, avoiding wastage in view of the economic burden imposed by COVID-19".

    The top military officer told the national wire agency ANI that army has to spend its budget pragmatically, avoiding wasteful expenditures, but added “we don’t see any major drop in our operational preparedness.”

    The defence minister, during a virtual conference with commanders of Armed Forces on Friday (24 April), told the forces that they were “expected to ensure their operational preparedness, while they are battling COVID-19 and the adversary should not be allowed to exploit the current situation”, in an obvious reference to surge in cross-border firing by the Pakistan army as of late.

    Indian armed forces have also been supporting  national efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the country, which as on Sunday has reached a total caseload of 26,496, including 5,804 patients cured and discharged from hospitals and 824 deaths, according to the federal health and family welfare ministry.  


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