The president was addressing the event held at the INS Hansa base located in Vasco town, about 40 km from the state capital Panaji, where he was given the guard of honour by the Indian Navy.
Kovind, who is on a tree-day visit to Goa, presented the President’s Colour to the Naval Aviation in the presence of Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Karambir Singh.
Goa Governor P S Sreedharan Pillai, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant and others were present during the function.
The President’s Colour is the highest honour bestowed on a military unit in recognition of its exceptional service to the nation.
It consists of a 36 inch by 48 inch white ensign with the national flag in the canton and the state emblem embroidered in gold at the centre. The elephant, signifying strength, is placed diagonally opposite the national flag in the canton, a Naval spokesman said in a release.
On the occasion, Kovind said, “The Indian Navy has invested significant effort in meeting all regional commitments and furthering our diplomatic engagements with friends and partners in the Indo-Pacific.”
With missions like the ‘Operation Samudra Setu’ and ‘Mission Sagar’, the Navy was a key instrument of India’s COVID-19 outreach, delivering assistance and support to maritime neighbours and partners in the Indian Ocean region, he said.
“The prompt and effective deployment of the Indian Navy in the time of crisis has underscored India’s vision of being the ‘preferred security partner’ and ‘first responder’ in the Indian Ocean Region,” he added.
The president said besides securing the country’s maritime boundaries, he would like to highlight a special achievement of the Navy.
“I am told that the Indian Navy has actively taken up indigenisation. This is well reflected in the Navy’s current and future acquisition plans, which are powered by indigenisation,” he said.
In pursuance of the Government of India’s vision of an ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’, the Indian Naval Aviation has also made steady progress in consonance with the ‘Make in India’ drive, he noted.
“With resounding progress in aviation technology, naval aircraft today are being installed with modern, state-of-the-art indigenous weapons, sensors and data link suites. The recent inductions of the Advanced Light Helicopters as well as Dornier and Chetak aircraft manufactured indigenously by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited highlight our march towards ‘Atmanirbharta’ in the defence sector,” he said.
Kovind also said the Naval Aviation has been at the forefront of inducting women into the force.
“I have been given to understand that of the about 150 air traffic control officers in Naval Aviation, about 84, that is more than 50 per cent, are women and out of the strength of 400 observers, 75 are women. I am told that women pilots have also been inducted in the Naval Aviation. This is a healthy trend and must be encouraged,” he added.
The president also hailed the Naval Aviation’s contribution through numerous humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations during which it provided relief to fellow citizens, like the recently conducted rescue operations off Mumbai during Cyclone Tauktae in May 2021.
“It has also provided crucial assistance to several neighbouring countries and nations in the Indian Ocean region,” he added.
According to the naval spokesman, the Navy was the first among the Indian armed forces to be awarded the President’s Colour on May 27, 1951 by the then President of India, Dr Rajendra Prasad.
“Subsequent recipients of the President’s Colour in the Navy include the Southern Naval Command, Eastern Naval Command, Western Naval Command, Eastern Fleet, Western Fleet, Submarine Arm, INS Shivaji and the Indian Naval Academy,” he said.
The Indian Naval Aviation came into being with the acquisition of the first Sealand aircraft on January 13, 1951 and commissioning of the INS Garuda, the first Naval Air Station, on May11, 1953.
Today, the Indian Naval Aviation boasts of nine air stations and three naval air enclaves along the Indian coastline and in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the spokesman said.
Over the past seven decades, it has transformed into a modern, technologically advanced and highly potent force with more than 250 aircraft, comprising Carrier-borne fighters, maritime reconnaissance aircraft, helicopters and remotely piloted aircraft, the spokesperson added.