India Sunday joined a select group of five nations with the launching here of the country's first indigenously designed and built nuclear-powered attack submarine, which Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described as a 'historic milestone' in the country's defence preparedness.
The prime minister's wife Gursharan Kaur did the honours of launching the submarine - INS Arihant - at a function here.
Manmohan Singh, speaking at the event, assured that the nuclear submarine was not developed with 'aggressive designs' or to 'threaten anyone', but it was necessary to take all measures to safeguard the country and keep pace with technological advancements in the world.
He also congratulated the Advanced Technology Vehicle (ATV) Programme and the people associated with it for designing and building the nuclear submarine, which he said was a reflection of the 'immense technical expertise' and the strength of the research and development organisations in the country.
'Today we join a select group of five nations who possess the capability to build a nuclear powered submarine,' the prime minister said. The other countries are the US, Russia, China, France and Britain.
'The construction of a submarine is a highly demanding task by itself. For the country to develop its first nuclear submarine is a special achievement.
'I congratulate the Advanced Technology Vehicle (ATV) Programme and all personnel associated with it for achieving a historic milestone in the country's defence preparedness. Today's launch is a reflection of the immense technical expertise that exists in our country and the strength of our research and development organisations,' the prime minister said.
'We do not have any aggressive designs nor do we seek to threaten anyone. We seek an external environment in our region and beyond that is conducive to our peaceful development and the protection of our value systems.
'Nevertheless it is incumbent upon us to take all measures necessary to safeguard our country and to keep pace with technological advancements worldwide. It has rightly been said that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty,' he added.
The submarine will be commissioned in the Indian Navy after extensive outfitting and sea trials. It is the first of three such vessels to be built in the country and marks a quantum leap in India's shipbuilding capabilities.
He also said the government was 'fully committed to ensuring the defence of our national interests and the protection of our territorial integrity'. 'We will continue to render all support to the constant modernization of our armed forces and to ensuring that they remain at the cutting edge of technology.'
July 26 is annually commemorated as Kargil Victory Day to mark the Indian Army's success in pushing back Pakistani raiders who had occupied the border area in Jammu and Kashmir in 1999 that led to a military conflict in which at least 500 Indians soldiers died.
Indian Navy will also get a Russian-built Akula class nuclear submarine INS Chakra, expected to be commissioned by this year-end.