Lieutenant General Manoj Kumar Katiyar, the general officer commanding-in-chief of the Western Command, said on Saturday that the Indian Army’s strength lies in its secular approach and apolitical character, underscoring that any compromise on these principles will harm the Army, PTI reported.

“What makes the Indian Army stand out is that we strictly adhere to two important principles, the first one being our secular approach and second, our apolitical character,” Katiyar said at the investiture ceremony of the Western Command in New Delhi. “It means we respect all religions and steer clear of politics.”

The officer added: “It is necessary to stick to apolitical and secular principles and recognise the fact that any compromise or lack of adherence on these fronts will be harmful for the Army.”

Katiyar also said that women soldiers will play an important role in the future, as he announced that a plan was in the works to recruit them in the Army.

On this occasion, the army displayed home-grown weapon systems in addition to presenting gallantry awards to soldiers.

The chief of the Western Command said that despite the growing importance of technology in wars, the role of soldiers will remain crucial. “All positions, all ranks also need to focus on their professional development and physical fitness because the next battle will be high-tech, and it will also be in difficult terrain,” he asserted.

Katiyar said that physically fit Agniveers would ensure that the Army is well-prepared to combat in challenging terrains.

Agniveers are enlisted in the armed forces under the Agnipath short-term recruitment scheme. Under the scheme, citizens aged between 17-and-a-half and 21 years are eligible to apply for a four-year term in the military.