Commander-in-Chief of Armed Forces
Smt. Pratibha Patil’s involvement with the Armed Forces goes back to the year 1962 when the Chinese aggression shook the nation. Efforts were then being made by each and every citizen to contribute in their own way. As a young MLA, Smt. Patil responded to this clarion call and started an initiative to collect funds for the welfare of the affected soldiers. She received tremendous response especially from women who were even willing to contribute their jewellery. She went ahead to organise a Women Home Guards wing in Jalgaon District and passed the training course with flying colours to become their Commandant in 1962.
This respect for the services rendered by the Armed Forces was an integral part of her when she became the first women Commander-in Chief of the Armed Forces on assuming the office of the President of India.
Visits to Border Army Posts, Naval bases and Air Force stations
During her tenure she took active interest in the readiness of the Forces to respond to external threats by visiting various far flung border posts of the Army in J&K and of paramilitary forces like ITBP in Arunachal Pradesh, Air Force stations and Naval bases (including the aircraft carrier Vikrant).
Visits to Defence PSUs and DRDO labs
She visited various defence PSU’s like Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Ordinance factories and DRDO laboratories across India to encourage the scientists working on programs like indigenization of war material and strategic programs like Integrated Guided Missile Development program.
Armed Forces functions
During her Presidency, she ensured attendance at various Armed Forces functions such as
- Passing out parades of NDA and IMA, Presentation of Colours to various squadrons, Sainik Sammelan and Barakhana, Paying Homage to Martyrs
- Gallantry Awards presentations and Defence Investiture Ceremonies
- Joint exercise of the Forces in the desert (Strike Offensive Operation)
- Presidential Fleet Review at Naval Dockyard
Flight in Sukhoi 30 fighter plane
On 25th November 2009, Smt. Patil flew in the Sukhoi 30 fighter plane of Indian Air Force. The aircraft sortie by madam was an encouragement and inspiration for women seeking induction into the fighter aircraft squadrons of the Air Force and in combat roles of the Army.
The Army under Operation Sadbhavna has opened a number of Army Goodwill Schools, mostly in remote inaccessible areas of state like J&K with the intention of providing quality education for a nominal fee to the deprived children. Madam made it a point to host these children during their visit to Delhi and spent time with them despite her busy schedule.
Armed Forces Families Welfare
As President, madam worked closely with various welfare organizations of the Armed forces such as AWWA (Army Wives Welfare Association), NWWA (Navy Wives Welfare Association) and AFWNA (Air Force Wives Welfare association) on their programs like education of the children of deceased personnel and rehabilitation of war widows.
The welfare of the families of the Armed Forces personnel has always been very close to her heart. During her tenure as governor, she personally wrote 1200 letters to war widows living in different districts of Rajasthan, after a group of them met her to explain the problems faced by them. She ensured that war widows who were finding it difficult to live with their in-laws were provided temporary staying facilities in the War Widows Hostel and Rehabilitation Center at Jaipur. A State level committee was constituted by her under the Chairmanship of Director, Sainik Kalyan Board, Rajasthan to look into their grievance and for ensuring provision of entitled relief.
At-Home for Freedom Fighters
In the week prior to the Independence Day, Madam hosted the freedom fighters at the Rashtrapati Bhavan and honoured them. She ensured their issues like pension were resolved and wherever required government aid was provided for their medical care.
Presidential Body Guards
The President’s Bodyguard (PBG) is an elite household cavalry regiment of the Indian Army which is based in the Rashtrapati Bhavan. The primary role of the President’s Bodyguard is to escort and protect the President of India. During her Presidency madam opened up the Guard Changing Ceremony to the general public. She also presented flag to the Regiment.