New Delhi : President Ram Nath Kovind on Tuesday said the Armed forces will benefit from better gender balance as the National Defence Academy opens its doors for women. In his address to the nation on the eve of 73rd Republic Day, he also paid tributes to late Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat and 13 others, who died in a chopper accident last month. President Kovind, who is the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, said he was glad to note that it has been “a water-shed year for women empowerment in the Armed Forces”. “Our daughters have broken a glass ceiling, and permanent commission has now been allowed for women officers in new areas. Also, the talent pipeline for the forces will be strengthened with women coming through Sainik Schools and the prestigious National Defence Academy. Consequently, our Armed Forces will benefit with better gender balance,” he said. The President also paid tributes to General Rawat, and said the nation feels sad at the loss of every soldier. “Last month, in an unfortunate accident, we lost one of the bravest commanders of the country – General Bipin Rawat – his wife and many brave soldiers. The entire country was deeply saddened by the tragic loss,” he said. The highly-decorated India’s first Chief of Defence Staff General Rawat, his wife and 12 other military personnel were killed in a helicopter crash in Tamil Nadu on December 8. “Today, it is our soldiers and security personnel who carry on the legacy of national pride. In the unbearable cold of the Himalayas and in the excruciating heat of the desert, far away from their families, they continue to guard the motherland,” the President said. “It is thanks to the constant vigil of the armed forces securing our borders and the police personnel maintaining internal security within the country that their fellow citizens enjoy a peaceful life. When a brave soldier dies on duty, the entire country feels sad,” he said. President Kovind also said patriotism strengthens the sense of duty among citizens. “Whether you are a doctor or a lawyer, a shopkeeper or an office-worker, a sanitation employee or a labourer, doing one’s duty well and efficiently is the first and foremost contribution you make to the nation,” he added.