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BLUE ECONOMY: INDIA’S MARITIME OUTLOOK

In expanding India’s maritime activity towards the blue economy, we are developing a collaborative and macro approach to address the issues and manage them sustainably.

Krishna Kataria

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Blue economy is ‘marine-based economic development that leads to improved human wellbeing and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities.’

—Admiral Sunil Lanba (Retd) at Maritime Power Conference, 2017

Oceans cover three-quarters of the Earth’s surface, contain 97% of the Earth’s water, and represent 99% of the living space on the planet. Oceans are claimed to be the “last frontiers” of growth and development and yet their vast potential remains to be tapped fully. At the same time any plan to realise ocean potential needs to be progressed judiciously, with attention to preservation and health of Oceans, along with adherence to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal.

The concept of ‘blue growth’, which aims to promote the growth of ocean economies whilst holistically managing marine socio-ecological systems, is emerging within national and international maritime policy. Historical analogies that exist today, provide insights for contemporary planning and implementation of the blue economy. The objective of the Blue Economy has been to promote smart, sustainable and inclusive growth and opportunities within the Indian Ocean region’s maritime economic activities and initiate appropriate programs for the sustainable harnessing of ocean resources; research and development.

India has very recently articulated its own comprehensive Blue Economy policy framework, which aims to cover the coastal economy, tourism, marine fishery, technology, skill development, shipping, deep-sea mining, and capacity building in a holistic manner. K.M Panikkar observed how the control of the seas surrounding the Indian landmass have shaped Indian history. The narrative of this history reveals an uncontested medium for centuries and a cosmopolitan confluence of commerce and culture-defining oceanic connectivity. The colonial era brought power dimension to the milieu with the greatest blow felt on the maritime component of the economic well-being of indigenous efforts and political aspirations. Post Independence, India’s maritime journey has witnessed an evolving convergence of the Blue Economy and Maritime Power. In expanding India’s maritime activity towards the blue economy, we are developing a collaborative and macro approach to address these issues and manage them sustainably through maritime awareness and initiative.

WHY DO WE NEED BLUE ECONOMY?

Source: National Maritime Foundation, https://maritimeindia.org/blue-economy-a-catalyst-for-indias-neighbourhood-first-policy/

The oceans cover a large proportion of the earth’s surface and make up more than 95 per cent of the biosphere. They provide much of the world’s population with food and livelihoods and are a significant means of transport in global trade. Statistically, at least 3-5% of global GDP is derived from oceans.

Today, the seabed is a major source of hydrocarbons, and exploration in this area is expanding. New technologies are advancing the frontiers of marine resource development, including bio-prospecting and the mining of seabed mineral resources. The sea also offers vast potential for renewable “blue energy” production from wind, wave, tidal, thermal and biomass sources and maritime global trade. The potential of the oceans to meet sustainable development needs is enormous, but only if the oceans can be maintained and restored in a productive state.

The blue economy here, through sustainable use of oceans, has great potential for boosting economic growth by providing opportunities for income generation and improving livelihoods. Also, with that, advocating ocean development strategies for higher productivity and conservation of ocean ecosystem health. Although the term “blue economy” has been used in different ways, it is understood here as comprising the range of economic sectors and related policies that together determine whether the use of oceanic resources is sustainable. An important challenge of the blue economy is thus to understand and better manage the many aspects of oceanic sustainability, ranging from sustainable fisheries to ecosystem health to ocean economy. A second significant issue we try to comprehend is the realization that the sustainable management of ocean resources requires collaboration across nation-states.

THE GENESIS OF BLUE ECONOMY

Source: https://thebridge.greenschool.org/events/special-event-from-deep-ecology-to-blue-economy-gunter-pauli/

Though Blue Economy as a term has entered the arena of regular international debate and discourse for the past several years, no commonly accepted definition has emerged so far. The idea of Blue Economy gained prominence with the publication of Gunter Pauli’s book in 2010. This was essentially his report to the Club of Rome. Here, we try to commiserate the evolution of this concept and various definitions given in the past few years.

The semantic articulation by Gunter Pauli- The UN University (UNU) first conceptualised Blue Economy in 1994. A Belgian born economist and entrepreneur, Gunter Pauli, was invited by the University to establish a think tank with the objective of creating a new economic model that added jobs and value to society without increasing polluting waste, emissions or cost of investments. He first established something called the Zero Emissions Research and Initiatives (ZERI) in Switzerland. ZERI’s focus was to move commerce and industry towards sustainability and has a sustainable development approach.

In 2010, ZERI narrowed down its proposal to 100 innovations (Annexure) and presented it in a report to the Club of Rome titled ‘The Blue Economy’. Thus ZERI could be considered the cradle of the Blue Economy. Pauli’s seminal work advocated Blue Economy as a business model that has the potential to transform society from scarcity to abundance with ‘what is locally available’. Gunter Pauli claimed that the success of the Blue Economy depends entirely on the intent of business leaders, industrialists, governments and the society at large.

Rio+20 consensus, 2012 – Another discourse where the Blue economy was defined was Rio + 20 Conference, 2012. The idea of the “blue economy” was conceived at the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, held in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012. The conference addressed key themes comprising the further development and refinement of the Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development and the advancement of the “blue economy” concept. The outcome of the meeting reaffirmed its focus on the blue economy as a tool to achieve sustainable development and coastal community development.

VARIOUS OTHER DEFINITIONS AND DISCOURSES

Blue Economy Enabler: Case Study of Alang, India

The blue economy has diverse components, including established traditional ocean industries such as fisheries, tourism, and maritime transport, trade but also new and emerging activities, such as offshore renewable energy, aquaculture, seabed extractive activities, shipbuilding, shipbreaking and marine biotechnology, port development. Shipbuilding and the shipbreaking industry can contribute largely towards the blue economy. India has a maritime history of shipbuilders since the Indus Valley civilisation and continues to practice the traditional craft. The Ship Breaking Industry in India started blooming in the first decade of the 20th century. Presently, Alang, the largest ship breaking yard in the world, scraps more than half the ships of the world. The industry is being promoted as part of the Government’s Sagarmala project for the benefit of coastal communities and sustainability.

The government is exploring the options for promoting the industry, thus bringing in more buyers to sustain the industry. India has the capability to take initiatives in the field of tourism, culture, and sustainable development among others to her Indian Ocean neighbours and enhance collaborations in the multilateral forum.

CORRELATION OF BLUE ECONOMY AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS

The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development or Rio+20 took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in June 2012, where member states decided to launch a process to develop a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They agreed to establish a high-level political forum (HLPF) for sustainable development. Rio+20 eventually evolved into SDG 2016 and was known as Agenda 30, with a 15-year implementation time plan up to 2030.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, provided a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for all member countries, now and into the future. At its heart are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are an urgent call for action by all countries — developed and developing — in a global partnership.

For example, the UN Sustainable Goals Report in line with the Blue Economy asserts that the ocean economy has an estimated turnover of between US$3 and 6 trillion. This includes employment, ecosystem services provided by the ocean, and cultural services. It is also estimated that fisheries and aquaculture contribute $US100 billion per year and about 260 million jobs to the global economy.

SDGs have greatly contributed to making a sustainable future for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Coastal Least Developed Countries (LDCs). Oceans and their related resources are the fundamental base upon which the economies and culture of many SIDS and coastal LDCs are built, and they are also central to their delivery of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A blue economy provides SIDS and coastal LDCs with a basis to pursue a low-carbon and resource-efficient path to economic growth and development designed to enhance livelihoods, create employment opportunities, as the SIDS and coastal LDCs often lack the capacity, skills and financial support to better develop their blue economy.

CONVERGENCE OF MARITIME POWER & BLUE ECONOMY

For any economic development to be sustainable, it has to be socially inclusive and environmentally viable. Thus, India’s growth as a Maritime Power has to be sustainable. India is naturally endowed with most constituents of Maritime Power arraying from Maritime geography, Maritime economy, Security, Resources and others.

Panikkar in his seminal work had exhorted that a Naval Power, however well organised, cannot count for much unless it is supplemented by a great national mercantile marine. He had lamented that the complete lack of attention to the sea by the British Indian authorities in the 19th century had led to the monopoly of foreign mercantile fleets in this subcontinent. Alfred Thayer Mahan, too, has pointed out the importance of indigenous mercantile marines to nations in his seminal work, The Influence of Sea Power upon History. He has famously written that the profound influence of sea commerce upon the wealth and strength of countries is clearly seen before the true principles which govern their growth and prosperity are detected. Though he has been emphatic about the need for Naval Power, he has also acknowledged that the economic elements of the seas are indeed significant for Maritime Power and so has Panikkar. Somen Banerjee in his monograph titled, ‘Maritime Power through Blue Economy in the Indian Context’ has succinctly captured the interplay between Maritime Power and Blue Economy and its development constituents.

Source: https://www.vifindia.org/sites/default/files/Blue-economy.pdf

Since 2014, India’s rise as a Maritime Power has begun to be visible in all its maritime assets like ports, inland waterways, fisheries, shipping, and tourism. The resurgence can be seen in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of Sagarmala, Neel Kranti and Sagar (India’s vision document for the region). Underlining the linkage between Blue Economy and Maritime Power, the government today is focusing on the development of eight key industrial sectors, namely, shipbuilding, shipbreaking, cruise tourism, inland waterways, seabed mining, port-led development, fishing.

Blue Economy: Navigating India’s Indian Ocean Vision

The blue economy concept was strongly advocated by the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in 2012, with an approach to transform traditional ocean economies into an ecosystem driven harnessing of oceanic resources. As the concept is still evolving internationally, with varying stakeholders adopting various definitions, India has reoriented itself, and is looking to develop its blue economy considering the country has a long coastline of 7,517 km with an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of 2.02 mn. Sq.km.

In June 2016, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), the prestigious apex business chamber of India, decided to establish a Task Force, composed of top domain experts and business leaders, for crafting a business model for the nation’s engagement with the Blue Economy. This came in the global context of the growing importance accorded to the Blue Economy as well as articulation of the Indian government’s vision during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Mauritius and Seychelles in March 2015.

Historically, two instances illustrated the emergence of the Blue Economy in India even before its conception. First, India was among the first in the world to create a Department of Ocean Development in 1981, now the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES). Based on the experience of more than three decades, India today has come a long way with the launch of new programmes such as “Deep Ocean Mission,“Oceanography from space” and “Launching of the data buoys” along the Indian coastline. These initiatives have enabled satellites to transmit data on various oceanographic features including weather for scientific analysis.

Second, Nili Kranti started by Hiralal Chaudhuri and Dr. Arun Krishnsna and launched during the 7th Five Year Plan (1985-1990) during the sponsorship of the Fish Farmers Development Agency (FFDA) by the Central Government of India refers to the time of intense growth of the worldwide aquaculture industry from the mid-1960s to the present day. Since then, the aquaculture industry has been growing at an average rate of 9% a year and India is one of the fastest growers. Today, the Ministry of Fisheries is managing the objectives under the initiative – Blue Revolution.

Initiatives and Maritime Developments by Government

Sagarmala Project: The centrepiece of India’s push for the blue economy is the Sagarmala project launched in 2015, that includes constructing ports, augmenting coastal infrastructure, developing inland waterways, intensifying fishing, and creating special economic zones and tourism promotion.Sagarmala is a key to comprehensive port-led coastal development. To promote port-led industrialization, the Govt. has identified 12 major ports and 14 Coastal Employment Zones (CEZs) as part of the National Perspective Plan under the Sagarmala program.

India has an umbrella scheme by the name of O-SMART which aims at regulated use of oceans, marine resources for sustainable development.Integrated Coastal Zone Management focuses on conservation of coastal and marine resources, and improving livelihood opportunities for coastal communities etc.Development of Coastal Economic Zones (CEZ) under Sagarmala would become a microcosm of the blue economy, wherein industries and townships that depend on the sea will contribute to global trade.

The Blue economy presents India with an unprecedented opportunity to meet its national socio-economic objectives as well as strengthen connectivity with neighbors and helps in focusing on livelihood generation, achieving energy security, building ecological resilience, and improving health and living standards of coastal communities. Blue economy is reinforcing and strengthening the efforts of the Indian government as it strives to achieve the SDGs along with sustainable use of marine resources by 2030.

Macro and Collaborative Approach: SAGAR Policy

The protection of the world’s oceans is a global challenge and each country – even a landlocked one – has to contribute towards finding solutions to this issue. The concept of Blue Economy is certainly well equipped to tackle this global challenge by providing a unique and highly relevant approach which combines economic aspects with maritime sustainability.

At the Commissioning of Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) Barracuda in Mauritius, 2015 India’s Prime Minister observed, “To me the Blue chakra or wheel in India’s national flag represents the potential of the Blue Revolution or the Ocean Economy. That is how central the ocean economy is to us.” He endorsed Blue Economy as a new pillar of economic activity in the coastal areas and linked hinterlands through sustainable tapping of oceanic resources and announced his vision for the seas through “Security And Growth for All in the Region” (SAGAR). As the future lies in ‘blue diplomacy’, India’s ocean access and maritime know-how renders an opportunity to take a substantial lead in the seabed platform.

 Maritime-related production is an integral part of the Indian economy. While it is crucial for the Indian economy that this sector is promoted further in future, the Indian government has effectively recognized the importance of preserving oceans’ sensitive ecosystems and contributing as well as committing to a sustainable use of maritime resources. This is why India is envisaging its way to become one of the largest contributors to the “Blue Growth” as a part of the long term strategy to support sustainable growth in the marine and maritime sectors as a whole.

In conclusion, as this article is written for World Oceans Day it is important to recognize that the Blue Economy serves as a framework and policy for sustainable marine economic activities as well as new marine-based technologies. Today, at the core of the Blue Economy concept is the de-coupling of ocean economic development from environmental degradation. It is vital for nation states to acknowledge a subset of the entire ocean economy that has regenerative and restorative activities that have immense potential to enhance ocean ecosystems, including maritime security and creation of sustainable livelihoods.

Krishna Kataria is a Project Research Associate with the Maritime History Society. This article is part of the Society’s work in contemporary ocean issues of significance. She can be reached on krishnakataria7@gmail.com.

In January 2014, the participants of Blue Economy Summit adopted the Abu Dhabi Declaration, which describes it as: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

The IORA’s Mauritius Declaration on Blue Economy of September 2015 defined it as: “The Blue Economy paradigm is founded on the ecosystem approach, including science-based conservation of marine resources and ecosystems, as a means to realise sustainable development.” It encouraged member-states to consider formulating measures for the development of Blue Economy in a sustainable manner.

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Defence

‘ARMY CAN MEET ANY CHALLENGE TO SAFEGUARD COUNTRY’

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The Army is fully prepared to meet any challenge like the use of drones and social media by adversaries to safeguard the country, said Commandant of Chennai-based Officers Training Academy (OTA) Lieutenant General M K Das. Lt Gen Das, who is also the colonel of the Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry (JAKLI) regiment, said the situation in J&K is getting better with the Army and other security agencies working together to stamp out terrorism. Speaking to media on the sidelines of the maiden attestation parade of 460 new recruits of the 126th batch after a successful 40-week training period at Dansal here, he said the Indian Army is aware of the challenges and prepared to give a befitting response to the enemies of the nation.

Talking about the need to introduce special training courses for soldiers in the aftermath of the developments in Afghanistan, he said, “Our training is very contemporary as it caters for all the contingencies and unforeseen situations. My young soldiers, who have taken the oath to defend the constitution and the country, will live up to all the challenges. One of the unique things of this regiment (JAKLI) is all our troops hail from J&K and Ladakh. They have ingrained quality to be security conscious much more than others.” Lt Gen Das said, “All the situations unfolding in the country or in our neighbourhood, the JAKLI regiment will continue to excel and be the lead agency in the fight against terrorism.” Asked about the challenges posed by the use of drones to hit targets and deliver weapons and narcotics from across the LoC and International Border, he said a capsule course on anti-drone measures has been introduced. “On Army Day on 15 January, our chief took the threat seriously and our soldiers are being prepared to deal with the challenge in a better way.” During recruitment training, Lt Gen Das said that besides the arms handing and exercises, thrust is also given on science and technology, cybersecurity and other new challenges. He said the misuse of social media by “anti-national” elements is a reality and the new recruits are being trained in cybersecurity during their basic and orientation courses.

On attempts by Pakistan to mislead the youth of J&K, Lt Gen Das said, “The youth of J&K is showing keenness to be a part of the regiment which is a message to those who think they can mislead our youth. Joining the regiment is the best way to serve the nation, the youth live like a family and there is complete communal harmony.” He said the regiment is increasing the number of local youth from Ladakh and would also go for recruitment in J&K to provide an opportunity to the local youth to become part of this regiment. Asked about his message to the misguided youth, he said, “J&K is the crown of India but if I focus as a soldier, I feel they (misguided youth) have not understood their country… the situation has not gone out of hand and the Army has kept its window open to allow them to surrender and join the national mainstream.”

He added, “We have a unit of 162 Infantry Territorial Army who are former militants but have become upright soldiers.” Lt Gen Das said the Army and other security agencies are working in close coordination and the situation in J&K is getting better and the “day is not far when this region will make our country proud.”

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Defence

SOUTHERN NAVAL COMMAND OBSERVES INTERNATIONAL COASTAL CLEAN-UP DAY IN KOCHI

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The Southern Naval Command observed International Coastal Clean-up Day on Saturday with a focus on mangrove plantation and clearance of plastic/non-biodegradable waste along with waterfront areas in and around Kochi, said a press release from the Ministry of Defence.

Pursuant to the global campaign of keeping coastlines clean, more than 600 Naval personnel and the families of Southern Naval Command undertook clearance of plastic and non-biodegradable waste at different locations spread across the city, coastal areas such as Fort Kochi beach, Thevara waterfront, Willingdon Island, Cherai beach, Bolgatty and around 2 km stretch of the Venduruthy channel while restoring around 1 lakh sqm of mangroves to the pristine condition. In addition, 80 mangrove saplings were also planted along the Venduruthy channel. Similar coastal cleanup drives and lectures/webinars/competitions emphasising protection of the coastal and marine environment were undertaken with the enthusiastic participation of the Naval community at other outstation Naval units located at Lonavala, Jamnagar, Chilka, Coimbatore, Goa, Ezhimala and Mumbai.

Being the Training Command of the Indian Navy, the Southern Naval Command has always been at the vanguard in promoting environmental conservation activities both at the Command Headquarters, Kochi as well as at Naval stations spread across the country.

Mandated to oversee naval training, the Southern Naval Command has conceptualised and implemented a variety of green initiatives. Keeping environmental preservation as one of the Key Result Areas, the Command has constantly endeavoured to motivate young officer and sailor trainees of the Indian Navy to imbibe the habit of protecting mother nature as part of their grooming efforts in preparing them to become responsible future Naval leaders and dependable citizens of India.

Particular attention has also been given to create more awareness among the families and more importantly the children.

During the last three years, the Command has adopted a multi-dimensional approach towards conservation of the environment and implementation of energy conservation methods.

To highlight a few, the personnel of the Command were actively involved in the rejuvenation of 4.5-km-long Venduruthy Channel near Kochi Naval base, creating awareness in and around Naval establishments.

Efforts were undertaken to enhance green cover by conducting mass plantation drives which included planting more than 75,000 trees, using the fast-growing Miyawaki forestation method. In addition, regular coastal clean-up drives, mangrove plantation drives, in-house handling and recycling of bio and non-biodegradable waste, adopting efficient energy and water-saving methods etc were also undertaken. The Command has also earnestly endeavoured to continue all the efforts for protecting and conserving the environment and natural resources. Towards achieving the same, the Command has implemented a Green Initiative and Environment Conservation Roadmap with a prime focus on Carbon footprint reduction.

With the personal involvement of Vice Admiral Anil Kumar Chawla, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Southern Naval Command is committed to creating a clean, green and healthy environment in line with the visionary environment conservation policies of the Govt of India. On the occasion, Adv M Anilkumar, Mayor, Kochi Municipal Corporation and staff also participated in Kochi.

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IAF TO HOLD AIR SHOW OVER DAL LAKE IN SRINAGAR ON 26 SEPT

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An air show will be held here on 26 September where IAF’s skydiving team Akash Ganga and Suryakiran Aerobatic and Display Team and paramotor flying will manoeuvre the skies over the famous Dal Lake, officials informed on Saturday.

The air show will be organised by the Air Force Station Srinagar and the Jammu and Kashmir administration as part of the ongoing celebrations commemorating ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’, they said. The main aim of the exercise—under the theme ‘Give Wings to Your Dream’—is to motivate the youth of the valley to join the Indian Air Force (IAF) and to promote tourism in the region, the officials said.

The event will be flagged off Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha at the Sher-e-Kashmir International Conference Centre (SKICC) overlooking Dal Lake.

More than 3,000 college and school students are expected to participate in the programme to witness the impressive manoeuvres of the IAF, which will motivate them to dream about a career in the force and in the aviation sector, the officials said. “The show will also develop passion among the students to give wings to their dreams. Along with the students, 700 teachers will also be present at the venue,” they added.

During the demonstration, students will also be familiarised with the new technological advancements achieved and incorporated by the IAF while flying aircraft in the sky over the world-famous Dal Lake, the officials said. Stalls will be established at SKICC where students will be familiarised with the achievements of the Air Force, employment opportunities in the IAF, recruitment rules and eligibility criteria, they added.

Srinagar-based PRO Defence Col Emron Musavi said the display will include flypast by various aircraft of the IAF. The spectators would also get to witness paramotor flying and IAF’s skydiving team Akash Ganga in action. ‘Ambassadors of IAF’, Suryakiran Aerobatic Display Team, will be performing in the valley after a gap of 14 years, he said. Col Musavi said the symphony orchestra of the IAF would also be performing at the event. The event would also consist of a photo exhibition depicting the history of the

IAF, he said. 

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ARMY ORGANISES EXHIBITION IN JAIPUR TO COMMEMORATE INDIA’S VICTORY IN 1971 WAR

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JAIPUR : South Western Command of the Indian Army on Saturday organised an exhibition showcasing defence equipment at Chitrakoot Stadium in Jaipur to mark the 50th anniversary of India’s victory over Pakistan in the 1971 war.

Speaking to ANI, an Indian army official said, “We have displayed the defence equipment in this exhibition to make people aware of the Indian army achievements. We want to motivate the youth by showcasing these types of equipment.” “Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, these events had been started to make people aware of Indian Arm Forces. So, we are also continuing the move by organising these kinds of events,” he added.

Further, he said that India’s victory over Pakistan in the 1971 war is memorable for all the Indians, so, every citizen should be aware of this war.  

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BRO makes history, appoints woman Army officer in-charge of road construction unit

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The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has appointed a woman Army officer for the first as the Officer Commanding of its 75 road construction company (RCC) in Uttarakhand, the Defence Ministry said on Sunday.

The three platoon commanders under Major Aaina, Captain Anjana, AEE (Civ) Bhawana Joshi and AEE (Civ) Vishnumaya K became the first women RCC. The appointments were made on August 30.

BRO on Sunday recalled the list of women officers who were assigned higher leadership roles in the organisation in the current year.

According to a statement issued by the Defence Ministry, BRO has inducted a large number of women into its workforce over the years, right from officers to the level of commercial pilot license holders. “In this regard, a General Reserve Engineer Force (GREF) officer EE (Civ) Vaishali S Hiwase took over the reins of 83 Road Construction Company on April 28, employed on an important Indo-China road connecting Munisairi-Bughdiar-Milam, in an area full of adversity and challenges. The lady officer has taken control and is leading the charge with meticulous execution of her tasks,” the statement said.

“The BRO created history again on 30 August when Major Aaina of Project Shivalik took charged as Officer Commanding, 75 Road Construction Companies (RCC) at Pipalkoti in Chamoli district in Uttarakhand. She is the first Indian Army Engineer Officer to command a road construction company. Not only this, all three platoon commanders under her, Captain Anjana, AEE (Civ) Bhawana Joshi and AEE (Civ) Vishnumaya K are lady officers and they have together created a first-ever women RCC. The Border Roads plans to make four such all women-led RCCs, two each in North Eastern and Western Sectors.”

As India celebrates 75 Years of Azaadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, it also celebrates the ongoing efforts of our Nation towards women empowerment. Women today have started assuming their rightful, equal place as the frontrunners in nation-building and representatives of our strong national character, the statement read.

Over the last six decades, in a graduated and steady manner, the BRO has increased the number of women employed in various roles and duties of road construction. A consolidated effort is being made to empower them by giving them authority and responsibilities to undertake work independently. These women have become symbols of Nari Shakti in their respective areas.

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IN FIRST FOREIGN VISIT AFTER TAKING OVER AS CDS, GEN BIPIN RAWAT TO VISIT RUSSIA, US

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In his first visit abroad after taking over as the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Bipin Rawat will be visiting Russia and the US.

Rawat took over his new office as CDS on 31 December 2019, and since then has been declining foreign invitations for focusing on the new assignment of integrating the defence forces as a combined fighting force. “There is a conference of the CDS-rank officers of the Shanghai Cooperation Agreement member countries. China and Pakistan are also part of this grouping,” senior defence officials said.

The CDS conference would be focusing on addressing the regional security issues and Afghanistan is also likely to come up for discussion, they said.

The CDS would also witness the activities of the respective armed forces taking part in the SCO peace mission drills being held in Russia. Indian Army and Air Force are also taking part in the exercise there.

The visit will take place in the coming week and soon after return from Russia, Rawat would be leaving for the US for meeting his counterpart and other American military leadership at the Pentagon.

The two countries have been coming closer militarily in the last few years and have been holding multiple military exercises and hardware cooperation.

The Indian military saw a major change in senior-level structures under the Narendra Modi government as the focus is now on the theatrisation of the fighting forces and bringing in more capabilities and jointness among the three services. 

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