Wednesday, October 5th, 2022 17:54:39


By Manoj Dubey
Updated: September 15, 2022 2:13 pm

Indian Navy (Nautical Army of Volunteer Yeomen), the maritime branch of Indian Armed Forces, is headed by the Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS) who holds the rank of Admiral. The Supreme Commander of the Navy is the President of India. The motto of the Indian Navy is “Sam no Varunah”(Be the auspicious unto us Oh Varuna). It has three commands, the Eastern Command, the Western Command and the Southern Command, based at Vishakhapatnam, Mumbai and Kochi respectively. These Commands are headed by Vice Admirals. The officers’ training is conducted at the Indian Naval Academy (INA) at Ezhimala, located on the coast of Kerala. The primary objective of the Navy is to safeguard the Nation’s maritime borders and in conjunction with other Armed Forces of the nation, act to deter or defeat any threat or aggression against the country. Its diplomatic role is also very significant. Naval diplomacy entails the use of Naval Forces in support of foreign policy objectives to build the bridges of friendship and strengthen international co-operation. The Indian Navy is also known for humanitarian aid, disaster relief, search and rescue  operations and hydrographic surveys.

The first engagement in action of the Indian Navy was against the Portuguese Navy during the liberation of Goa in 1961. This operation called ‘Vijay’ was successful and Goa was liberated. The 1962 Sino Indian war was largely fought over the Himalayas and the Navy only had a defensive role in the war. However, during the 1965 Indo-Pakistan war, the Navy played a crucial role in defeating Pakistan. Following these wars, in 1960s India resolved to strengthen the profile and capabilities of the Armed Forces. Subsequently in 1971, India defeated Pakistan convincingly and Bangladesh came into being.

India is focused on building maritime power to meet the threats from the Chinese PLA Navy in the Indian Ocean. Pakistan is not much of a challenge to India, it is rather  like an extended China. The Chinese Navy has been steadily increasing its number of ships and submarines. As per the reports, it has built 138 ships in the last ten years and in terms of Naval assets, it has emerged as the largest Navy globally. China has always wanted to setup strong base in Sri Lanka, India’s southern neighbour, as doing so will give it two advantages. Firstly, it will be a direct challenge to India’s Naval power in the Indian Ocean region. Secondly, China will get foothold in the critical commercial seaway and will be in a better position to secure its maritime trade of crude oil. China seems to be on its way to get a strong foothold in Sri Lanka. The absolute control of the Colombo Port City and 99 years lease of Hambantota Port as well as 15000 acres of land surrounding it in Sri Lanka are signs of Chinese expansion in the 21st century. This land will be used to develop Chinese controlled Industrial zone. These ports are not far away from India and the Chinese presence there will be a constant threat  to India.

The Gwadar Port is situated in Arabian sea at Gwadar in the Balochistan Province of Pakistan and it is operated by China. This port is in China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Pakistan has leased 2000 acres of land to China for the development of Gwadar Special Economic Zone. China has also funded ports in Bangladesh and Myanmar to have access to the Bay of Bengal. Thus, China is in the process of strengthening its presence around India.

Nonetheless, India is also in the process of strengthening its Naval forces.Rrecently, the Indian Navy commissioned the first India made naval aircraft carrier INS Vikrant in service, inaugurated by Prime Minister Modi in an induction ceremony held at Kochi. INS Vikrant is the only second active naval aircraft carrier built under Prime Minister’s ambitious ‘Make in India’ campaign. It is named after its predecessor, the first aircraft carrier INS Vikrant, which was in service from 1961 to 1997 and played a crucial role in the 1971 Indo-Pak war and was scrapped in 2014.

INS Vikrant is 262 m long and 62 m wide. Its endurance is 7500 NM and speed 28 knots. It is a work place and home for 1700 members! It is the largest ship ever built in the maritime history of India and can operate a fleet of 30 aircrafts including fighter jets and multi role helicopters. India, with the induction of INS Vikrant has joined the elite world of naval powers which manufacture huge aircraft carriers with indigenous technology. It is a force multiplier and will be a game changer in the current dynamics as it will boost India’s maritime defence capabilities with the in service INS Vikramaditya. This is set to contain China’s iniquitous intentions to control the Indo-Pacific region.

With  the  induction of INS Vikrant, the Prime Minister also unveiled the new Indianized Naval Ensign in which the colonial St George’s cross has been replaced with a blue octagonal shape encompassing the national emblem sitting atop an anchor, inspired by Chhatrapati Shivaji.

It’s a matter of great honor and pride for all the Indians that such a huge and modern indigenous  aircraft carrier INS Vikrant, is with us. But it has taken 20 long years to build it at a staggering cost of Rs 20,000 crores. Had this delay been avoided,  we could have got it at much lower cost! Aircraft carriers and submarines are the prime platforms of India’s naval power. It is believed that we will get a third aircraft carrier in lesser number of years.

By Manoj Dubey
(The writer is Principal {Retd}, Delhi Public School)

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