INS Vikrant A Unique Reflection of India Becoming Self-Reliant
With the commissioning of the country’s first indigenous aircraft carrier Indian Naval Ship (INS) Vikrant (meaning victorious and gallant) showcasing India’s growing prowess of indigenous manufacturing, and a major mile-stone in the path towards Aatmanirbhar Bharat on September 2, 2022, India has witnessed the Sunrise of a new future. The commissioning of Vikrant was occasioned by the unveiling of the new naval Ensign (Nishaan) which does away with the colonial past and befits the rich Indian maritime heritage; it has been dedicated to Chhatrapati Shivaji.
The commissioning of INS Vikrant shows that the Indian Navy is determined to move forward on the path of five pledges—developed India, removal of every sign of servility, pride in heritage, unity and fulfilment of duties. Besides, it is also India’s resolve to become self-reliant by 2047, a mission consisting of ‘Made-in-India’, ships, submarines, aircrafts, unmanned vessels and systems making India combat ready, credible, cohesive and future-proof force. Through INS Vikrant, the country has taken forward the legacy of erstwhile Vikrant which served the country for 36 glorious years and played a significant role in 1971.
Designed by Indian Navy’s in-house Warship Design Bureau and built by Cochin Shipyard Limited, a public sector shipyard under the Ministry of Ports, Shipping & Waterways, Vikrant has been built with state of the art automation features and is the largest ship ever built in maritime history of India. The 262.5 meter long and 61.6 meter wide Vikrant displaces approximately 43,000 T, having a maximum designed speed of 28 knots with endurance of 7500 Nautical Miles. The Ship has around 2200 compartments designed for a crew of around 1,600 including women officers and sailors. It is designed with a very high degree of automation for machinery operations, ship navigation and survivability. Vikrant is capable of operating air-wing consisting of 30 aircrafts comprising MiG-29 K Fighter, Jets, Kamor-31, MH-60 R multi-role helicopters, in addition to indigenously manufactured Advanced Light Helicopters and Light Combat Aircraft (LCA). It uses a novel aircraft operation mode known as Short Take off But Asserted Recovery, and is equipped with a ski-jump for launching aircraft, and a set of ‘arrester wires’ for their recovery onboard. Bolstering plough back effect on economy, Vikrant has generated direct employment for over 2000 employees and indirect employment for more than 12,500 employees belonging to 550 OEMs, sub-contractors, ancillary industries and 100 MSMEs.
Vikrant is the manifestation of the dreams of our Freedom Fighters where they envisioned a capable and strong India. Besides being a Warship, Vikrant is a testament to the hard work, talent, influence and commitment of India in the 21st Century. Vikrant is, as a matter of fact, incomparable Amrit of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotasav. It is a unique reflection of India becoming self-reliant. INS Vikrant has “filled the country with a new confidence and has created a new confidence in the country.”INS Vikrant, a floating city, is a symbol of indigenous potential, indigenous resources and indigenous skills. It produces electricity that is sufficient to power 5000 households. It may be considered a living embodiment of the Panch Prans that the Prime-Minister Narendra Modi proclaimed from the ramparts of Red-Fort.
India has rich Maritime traditions and naval capabilities. Chhatrapati Veer Shivaji built such a Navy on the strength of this sea power. It was this sea power that kept the enemy on their toes. The British recognized this and broke India’s Maritime power by imposing strict restrictions on Indian ships and merchants through the enactment of laws. Vikrant has also taken off the trace of slavery, a burden of slavery. The Indian Navy has got a new flag from today. Till now the identity of slavery remained on the flag of Indian Navy. But now the new flag doing away with slavery will fly in the sea and the sky. Geo-strategic situation in the Indo- Pacific Region requires a strong India for a peaceful and safe world. Now Vikrant shall protect our maritime zone and fulfill the long-pending need.
At the onset of ‘Amritkal’, INS Vikrant has come up as nation’s strong resolve to ensure safety and security in the next 25 years. Vikrant, an icon of pride, power and resolve of the nation, is also a glowing symbol of an aspirational and self-reliant ‘New India’. Vikrant, new avatar of unprecedented indigenous warships shall be able to secure the country’s maritime interests for uninterrupted maritime trade, amid the constantly changing global situation.
Commissioning of Vikrant is a confirmation that the Government’s unwavering commitment to achieve ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ is not an isolated policy; it is a part of the huge transformation taking place in the country. The country has made path breaking changes in all sectors including defense, health, education, agriculture, trade, transport and communication. The Ministry of Defense has taken a series of steps such as the setting of defense corridors in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, issuance of three positive indigenization lists, earmarking of 68% of capital procurement budget for domestic industry, defense production and Export Promotion Policy 2020 and increase in FDI limit.
Vikrant is a step towards ‘Make-in-India’. India is moving rapidly towards a $ 5 trillion economy. As a result, our share in the global trade will increase in the coming times. If the share increases, a large part of it will inevitably be through maritime routes. In such a situation, INS Vikrant will prove crucial to safeguard the country’s security and economic interests.
The unveiling of new Naval Ensign on the occasion is a move away from colonial past. The White Ensign now comprises two main constituents- the National Flag in the upper left canton and a Navy Blue- Gold Octagon at the center of the fly side. The Octagon is with twin golden octagonal borders encompassing the Golden National Emblem resting atop an anchor, and superimposed on a shield. Below the shield, within the Octagon, in a golden bordered ribbon, on a Navy Blue background is imbibed the motto of the Indian Navy ‘Sam No Varunah’ in golden Devnagri Script. The design encompassed within the Octagon has been taken from the Indian Naval Crest, wherein the fouled anchor, which is also associated with colonial legacy has been replaced with a clear anchor underscoring the steadfastness of the Indian Navy.
With the commissioning of Vikrant, India will have two operational aircraft carriers bolstering the maritime security of the Nation.
By Dr Suresh Kumar Agrawal
(The writer is Professor & Head, Department of English, Maharaja Ganga Singh University, Bikaner.)