"We are a peace-loving nation but our quest for peace should not be mistaken for our weakness," he said. (Agencies)
The Defence Minister was speaking at the Passing Out Parade of the Indian Military Academy in Dehradun, which saw a total of 688 cadets passing out of the prestigious institution to join the ranks of the militaries of their respective countries.
"History is witness to the fact that whenever there has been trouble along its borders, Indian soldiers renowned for their ability to deliver in times of crisis have shown exemplary valour to ensure the safety of the country," he said.
He said that the country can never forget the valour displayed by the armed forces in the massive evacuation exercise carried out in wake of the natural calamity that struck Uttarakhand in June this year.
Asking the cadets to draw lessons from the sacrifices made by members of the armed forces during the rescue operations in Uttarakhand, the Minister said that they should be proud of the high standards of training received at the academy and should dedicate their lives to the service of the nation.
"Remember that the uniform you wear is not just a uniform, but a way of life in which safety and welfare of the nation comes first," he said and asked the cadets to be ready to deal with both conventional and unconventional challenges which they might face during their careers.
A total of 688 cadets, including 71 from friendly countries like Nepal, Bhutan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Maldives, on Saturday, passed out of the esteemed institution to join the ranks of their respective armies.
The highest number of 61 cadets are from Uttar Pradesh, followed by Haryana with 47 and Uttarakhand with 34.
Antony later honoured the distinguished cadets, giving away the coveted Sword of Honour to Academy Under Officer Akshat Joshi and the gold medal to Battalion Under Officer Kamlesh Mani.
"We are a peace-loving nation but our quest for peace should not be mistaken for our weakness," he said.