December 10, 2007
New Delhi

PM's address at the Indian Military Academy Passing Out Prade

"I am truly delighted to be here today. It gives me great pride to review the Passing Out Parade of the Platinum Jubilee Course of the Indian Military Academy. This is a national institution of great importance of which the entire nation is proud. And today is a red-letter day for this great institution. I salute the memory of all those great soldiers and officers who had the honour and the privilege of earning their spurs in these portals.

Nearly sixty years ago, a few days after the passing away of the Father of Our Nation, Lord Mountbatten gave an important message to this Academy when he said:

"It is for the Army, more than any other organized unit in the country, both, to set an example and to bring about the policy Mahatma Gandhi gave his life for; that of Unified India without any communal buttress or ill feeling".

These words ring true even today. The Indian Army is a symbol and a proud example of the unity of our great country. It is a living example of national integration. Each one of you is a proud soldier of India willing to perform the supreme sacrifice for our Republic, without fear or favour, without any prejudice based on your ethnic, religious, linguistic, regional or caste identity. You are Indians first, and Indians last.

The Indian Armed Forces are the best and the most shining example of "Unity in Diversity". It is your responsibility to strengthen the values of secularism, apolitical outlook and professionalism, which your worthy predecessors have so painstakingly nurtured. Our Nation, our people and, indeed, the world at large respect the professionalism of our armed forces.

The Indian Army has a formidable image, both at home and abroad. It is an Army known for its long martial tradition with the ethos of nationalism, patriotism and discipline as its bedrock. Our citizens are proud of the sacrifices made by our armed forces. We salute the Army's role in preserving our territorial integrity, as also in serving our people during times of national calamities. We all admire the Army for the exemplary service it has rendered and continues to render to our nation. We admire the exemplary humanism and professionalism of the Indian Army in providing relief and supporting rehabilitation in the aftermath of a flood, an earthquake, a landslide or other natural calamities.

The IMA flag has the Colours - 'Steel Grey' and 'Blood Red' with the motto, 'Valour and Wisdom'. These symbolise the steel in your resolve to perform with valour and wisdom. From Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw to Param Vir Chakras Som Nath and Manoj Pandey, this great institution has nurtured leaders of great calibre who have distinguished themselves in the service of our nation in war and in peace.

The Indian Armed Forces do in fact have a message for our people and for the world around us based on the record of their service to our nation. They have adhered to the highest standards of professional conduct. They function with the deepest regard for the letter and spirit of the democratic Constitution of our secular Republic.

Our armed forces have demonstrated to the world that it is possible for one of the largest armies in the world, one of the oldest armies in the world and one of the most professional armies in the world to strengthen the sinews of a democratic society and pluralistic nation. We feel proud about this unblemished record of professionalism of our armed forces. By strengthening the foundations of our democracy, and defending democracy at home and abroad, through UN Peacekeeping, you have set an example for nations and societies across the world.

The challenge before you today is to become more efficient and more modern in your functioning. In the modern world a modern army is a knowledge-based force. The application of science and technology and information technology has become an integral part of defence preparedness and warfare. It used to be said, in a different age, that an army moves on its belly. That was a time when brawn more than brain, determined the power of a soldier.

In the knowledge era, every soldier is a thinking machine. This means we need better educated and better trained soldiers. It also means our officers have to be even better educated and better trained. It also means that our officers and soldiers must be able to relate to each other as trained professionals.

Hence, high quality training, good quality equipment and the ability to strategise and act are essential to the success of our armed forces. Training, equipment and organisation are keys to delivery in action.

I assure you that our Government is fully committed to the technological modernization of our Armed Forces. We will not shy away from investing whatever is required in the training and equipment of our armed forces. While Government will find the resources required, the leadership of our armed forces must focus attention on improving efficiency of expenditure and, to use a common phrase, continually improve the "bang to buck" ratio. Our Government will make sincere efforts to ensure that the service conditions of our armed forces are such as to continue to attract the best and brightest among our young men and young women to opt for a career in our armed forces.

Another dimension of a modern army in the modern world is increased jointness in action and in thinking. At every stage in the career of our officers and soldiers we need greater investment in jointness in thinking and functioning. Institutions like the Indian Military Academy, and other institutions of our armed forces, must develop the intellectual and organisational framework for such jointness in thinking and in action.

An important, perhaps "the" important function of the Indian Military Academy, and its sister institutions in the armed forces, is in fact to instil the correct leadership values in our officers. What you have learnt here constitutes the foundation on which you will act, you will lead and you will learn in years to come. These values of valour, courage, camaraderie, integrity, honesty and efficiency are fundamental values of good leadership.

The second role of an institution like the IMA would be to instil a respect for knowledge and learning. Constant learning and re-learning are necessary to remain relevant in a fast changing world. I have always been impressed by the quality of our training and management development institutions of our Armed Forces. That is why our institutions also continue to attract students from distant lands.

I am happy to know that today amongst those who are passing out are members of friendly foreign countries of Kyrgyzstan, Lesotho, Bhutan and Kazakhstan. I hope each one of our guest-cadets have enjoyed their stay in India and will be returning home with happy memories of their stay in our country. I also hope that the training that they have received here will benefit them in the service of their country. The bonds of friendship with fellow cadets that they have formed here will further strengthen the bonds of friendship between our nations.

I extend my heartiest congratulations to the proud parents and guardians of the cadets. Their pride is well justified; for the young men here are the crme-de-la-crme of our great nation. The nation reposes its trust in them. It looks to them with pride and with hope. Let me once again compliment them on the steadiness and precision that they have shown in the parade today. I wish them all great success in their chosen career. Finally, let me remind them of their ideal, their duty, their Karma and their Dharma in one line, 'For the honour of India'. "