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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

SINO-INDIAN LOGJAM: THE STRATEGIC GAINS AND IMPLICATIONS OF GALWAN

LT GEN PR SHANKAR (Retd)

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Galwan is a turning point in our history. It was India’s ‘Casablanca’ moment when our boys stood on the burning deck to turn tables. It was that moment in time when India and the world realized that the Chinese can be overcome. It was the Nth coming of the Indian Armed Forces from behind. It ensured that India regained its strategic confidence. Many articles have appeared to commemorate the incident. However, a strange dichotomy has emerged. Most analysts say that India is in a state of asymmetry with PLA which has hung a Damocles sword over Ladakh to tie us down to our Northern Borders at the expense of our maritime interests in the IOR. One detects ‘Strategic Hesitancy’ due to a gross overestimation of Chinese capabilities despite Galwan and its aftermath. We need to understand the strategic gains of Galwan and their implications. 

Indian Army officer Capt Soiba Maningba Rangnamei of 16 Bihar Regiment during the clash with Chinese soldiers in the Galwan Valley. (ANI Photo)

Fact 1: In Mar 2020, the Belfer Centre analysis stated “China is regularly operating with a permanent Indian conventional force advantage along its border areas…it would have to rely upon mobilization primarily from Xinjiang and secondarily from the Western Theatre Command… By contrast, Indian forces are already largely in position”. This forecast has been borne out on ground. My own view is that China does not have an ‘Akshay Patra’ from where it can draw forces without consequences – long and short term. The PLA does not have numerical superiority over Indian Army along the LAC if numbers are crunched. Further, the recruitment standards of PLA have been lowered as per South China Morning Post and many other inputs. The quality of PLA is suspect.  

Fact 2: PLA Air Force (PLAAF) suffers from a numerical disparity in comparison to the IAF along the LAC. India has a stronger air position, with a large number of airfields. Even if some airfields are down, operations can continue from other locations. The same is not true for PLAAF. IAF has a clear edge for the present. The PLAAF is trying to neutralise this edge by building up air infrastructure at a frenetic pace. 

Fact 3: Any terrain allows deployment up to a level only. Beyond that, pumping in more forces results in diminishing returns. It is a matter of space, logistics, effectiveness, survivability, mobility and recuperability. In high altitudes, these factors get compounded. From a defensive perspective, India has adequate forces to thwart China. In my considered opinion, China does not have enough forces to wage a decisive  war in its favour against India.

Fact 4: China is transforming PLA from a conventional land based force to a multidimensional force with a global foot print. Increasing force levels along the LAC is at expense of the larger role. The assessment to be done is whether a hand brake has been already put on this process post Galwan.     

Fact 5:  Comprehensive national power is a fictional metric coined by the Chinese to create a halo. It has no value on the battle field. Otherwise Taliban should not have kept USA on the run for so long. India needs to fight asymmetrically to defeat PLA. While India has the tools to do so in Tibet, PLA does not have it. There are no morals in not using the asymmetric option against an untrustworthy enemy.     

Fact 6:  Conventional ‘big’ battles between nuclear nations is fertile imagination. Most of the conventional weapons are now consigned to deterrence only. However we need to be prepared to defend our territorial integrity conventionally if push comes to the shove. The trend will be localised battles of high pressure and intensity.  

Pre-Galwan Opinion: As per the Belfer Center Report, ‘India has key under-appreciated conventional advantages that reduce its vulnerability to Chinese threats and attacks. India appears to have cause for greater confidence in its military position against China than is typically acknowledged in Indian debates, providing the country an opportunity for leadership in international efforts toward nuclear transparency and restraint. Indian strategists have not focused on this opportunity, in part because they draw pessimistic conclusions regarding China’. How true!

Corroboration. Overall all these facts and opinion have been borne out in the past one year on ground in Eastern Ladakh. However things are changing. 

PLA ACTION

The PLA executed a premeditated and calibrated operation to ensure that the focus of Indian action remains on the LAC instead of expanding to POK and Aksai Chin. This was in response to abrogation of Article 370 and its political postulations. To that extent, China has achieved its aim as I have enunciated in my article ‘Aim Revisited’@ https://www.gunnersshot.com/2021/06/please-read-in-conjunction-with-these.html . However when viewed in the larger context, PLA did not achieve objectives to cripple India like  cutting off the DSDBO road or inflicting a military defeat on the Indian Army or coercing India into alignment with China or preventing India from doing what it wants. In fact the opposite has happened. PLA had to retreat humiliatingly after destroying their own defences and obliterating the Chinese flag. To that extent China stands defeated. However there are larger issues which have exposed the severe limitations of the PLA and China. We need to exploit them. Unfortunately at a military level, these have not come out clearly. At the political level it has not been  realised as to how to drive home the advantage which Galwan gave us. I will leave the bureaucratic level out, whose (in)action has contributed more to the detriment of national interests, objectives and strategy. 

PLANNED OFFENSIVE VS SPEED OF REACTION

The PLA incursions were meticulously planned with two divisions at a time and place of China’s choice. News of rehearsals on walk-through GIS models had also been publicised. It was probably appreciated that India will not be able to react in time and space to even pose a challenge to PLA. Hence two divisions would be able to militarily coerce India to achieve multiple political aims and objects. The execution failed due to gross under-assessment of Indian capabilities. All these were probably based on PLA norms. These norms indicate PLAs lack of military grasp. Its incapability to exploit the advantage and initiative when the window of opportunity opened is well established now.  However the more important issue is the Indian reaction. We could build up an equivalent amount of forces to mirror PLA deployment in a matter of 2-3 weeks and stymie the offensive in super high altitudes. In the battlefield equations of time and space, capability to build up forces in such quick time frames indicates India’s latent offensive capability. Any one noticed that?  India’s military capability to launch an offensive into Tibet at a time and place of its choosing by beating the PLA in time is now established. The edge which IAF brings to the table enhances Indian offensive potential. India will win the ‘Race to the Swift’ unless PLA commits additional forces in Tibet on a permanent basis. It seems to be doing that now! Anyone with fundamental common sense will discern as to who is tying down whom. Further, it tells us that we need to get into a preventive counterattacking mode rather than being permanently defensive. 

OUTMANOEUVRE IN HIGH ALTITUDE

Occupation of Kailash Range and heights above Finger 4 in the face of PLA led to China being outmanoeuvred. More importantly, there was no counter manoeuvre by the PLA due to its limited capability in high altitude. The limitations of a political Army when set against a professional  Army have been exposed.  Significantly, the capability of PLA will not get better since it has already degraded its intake standards of height, eyesight and even hearing. Overall it leaves PLA as a vulnerable force in the mountains at super high altitudes. This will be exploited by all forces opposing China anywhere. It has taught everyone that PLA can be arm twisted into retreat.     

TURNOVER IMPLICATIONS

There are reports in the media that PLA is turning over both the divisions from Eastern Ladakh.  It begs a question. Why are they doing so? It takes more than a year for troops to get used to the environment and be fit for fighting. Just when those two divisions were getting fit to fight they are being turned over. PLA will now have two new divisions which are not fully fit for high altitude warfare. There are two explanations. First. The two divisions are beat-up and fatigued in near combat. Poor show then. Second.  PLA troops do not identify with Tibet as their home land worth defending by sacrificing their  life. After all, China as it exists today is an unnatural country which has never existed earlier in history. It has a spatial divide, an ethnic/racial divide and an economic divide between its Han dominated core in the East and the non-Han West. Despite all the talk of change of demography, Hans have not settled in Tibet in droves. Both these issues need monitoring to assess PLA’s ability and commitment to fight a last man last round battle in high altitudes.

REBALANCING DIVIDEND

Rebalancing a strike corps deployed against Pakistan to face the PLA has a tremendous strategic dividend for India. The rebalancing exercise does not detract our capability against Pakistan or in the IOR. On the other hand dual tasking  significantly enhances our defensive and offensive options and capabilities along the LAC. PLA has now been forced to react to this. It will have to deploy additional forces in Tibet which is its secondary theatre and it will be at the cost of its larger geopolitical priorities.  It has come to light that PLA is busy building infrastructure to house troops permanently along the LAC. PLA has been forced to commit itself much more to the LAC than hitherto fore and it no more takes Indian Army for granted.

THE GEO-STRATEGIC FALLOUT

Galwan inspired many countries to face up and counter China which were hesitant to do so till then. Malaysia, Phillipines, Singapore, Japan and Vietnam took up issues more forcefully with China after Galwan. These countries will be thankful that India has tied down China in remote Tibet. It takes Chinese focus away from them. Unfortunately, this fact has not been played up by either our diplomacy or strategic community to build or form a coalition of nations which are militarily affected by China and have a dialogue with them for joint action. Galwan also forced convergence of all democratic nations to form an unitary view about China. QUAD would not have come about without this action. NATO would not have declared China as a systemic global security challenge. The geo-strategic fallout has been huge.   

SUMMARY

We have turned ‘Defeat into Victory’ but are we capitalising on it? We have exposed the limitations of PLA. The Chinese seem to have learned from their shortcomings. They are increasing the depth of the battlefield and building a firm base.  I do not see a plan to overcome our short comings.   We remain in awe of Chinese!  We are not able to tell the world as to how to deal with China! There is a need for political and strategic introspection. Galwan has also brought out that while we are fully prepared and capable of taking on the PLA in close battles, we are unprepared for the deep battle. We need to be able to deter the Chinese from any further adventurism by re-tooling for war in super high altitudes. We  should enforce ‘Standoff’. Standoff can be imposed by improving battlefield transparency, reach, and survivability of existing forces. Let me put it across simply, the table which I outlined in my earlier article can be implemented incrementally, with indigenous technology as an evolutionary process. It needs unified thinking and clarity of mind. More than great financial investment, it needs commitment and dedication. That is sorely lacking. Strengthening the LAC is not at the cost of our maritime aspirations as being perceived by many.  The challenge before the CDS is to increase joint ‘force’ and ‘operational’ capability. Theatre commands are  contentious and emotive issues. Let them evolve. Increasing indigenisation rather than importing Russian tanks and Israeli guns should be the greater priority. We have a task cut out ahead.    

Lt Gen P.R. Shankar was India’s DG Artillery. He is highly decorated and qualified with vastoperational experience. He contributed significantly to the Modernization and Indigenisationof Artillery. He is now a Professor in the Aerospace Dept of IIT Madras and is involved inapplied research for defence technology. His other articles can be read onwww.gunnersshot.com

India’s military capability to launch an offensive into Tibet at a time and place of its choosing by beating the PLA in time is now established. The edge which IAF brings to the table enhances Indian offensive potential. India will win the ‘Race to the Swift’ unless PLA commits additional forces in Tibet on a permanent basis. It seems to be doing that now! Anyone with fundamental common sense will discern as to who is tying down whom. Further, it tells us that we need to get into a preventive counter-attacking mode rather than being permanently defensive.

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Defence

INDIAN COAST GUARD ON ALERT OVER OIL SPILL FROM MV DEVON

Ashish Singh

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The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) received information from MRCC Colombo in late hours of Thursday regarding a mid-sea oil spill about 450 Km South East of Chennai. On further investigation, it was revealed that a Portugese Flag Container ship MV Devon on passage from Colombo to Haldia (West Bengal), developed an underwater crack in the left side fuel tank containing about 120 KL of Very Low Sulphur Fuel Oil (VLSFO).

The crack resulted in spillage of about 10 KL of oil into sea before preventive action was taken and remaining oil in tank was transferred to another tank by ship’s crew. The vessel is carrying 10795 Tonnes of general cargo in 382 containers and manned by 17 crew of mixed nationality. The container ship is continuing her voyage to Haldia & likely to reach today. ICG is in continuous contact with MV Devon and master has reported that the vessel is stable. ICG pollution response team at Chennai has been alerted and kept standby. In addition, ICG ships & aircraft deployed at sea are also put on alert in pollution response configuration.

It may be recalled that, ICG ships & aircraft in a coordinated operation with Sri Lanka deployed vessels had successfully undertaken a major firefighting operation last month onboard MV X-Press Pearl off Colombo, thereby averting a major environmental disaster. The vessel now partially sunk off Colombo is under the supervision of Sri Lankan authorities and efforts are in hand for its salvage.

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Defence

NORTHERN COMMAND PAYS HOMAGE TO GALLANT SOLDIERS ON ITS 50TH RAISING DAY

Ashish Singh

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‘Golden Jubilee Raising Day of Northern Command’ was celebrated at Udhampur amidst strict COVID protocol. On this occasion, Lt Gen S Harimohan Iyer, COS, HQ Northern Command, on behalf of Lt Gen YK Joshi, Army Commander, Northern Command and all ranks, laid wreath at the Dhruva War Memorial and paid homage to the gallant soldiers of Northern Command who have made the supreme sacrifice for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country.

Northern Command was raised on 17 June 1972 and completed 50th Raising Day. In his message to the troops, the Army Commander stated that these glorious years are testimony to historic operational achievements of Northern Command in ‘Op Meghdoot’, ‘Op Parakarm’, ‘Op Vijay’ ‘Op Rakshak’ and ‘OP Snow Leopard’. The resolute response of the Indian Army against aggression on the LC & LAC has won numerous accolades. In addition, our firm yet people friendly sub-conventional operations have not only thwarted attempts by our Western adversary to destabilise the nation but also, won the hearts and minds of the local populace.

Northern Command has been at the forefront to assist the administration and people of UTs of J&K and Ladakh during every natural calamity like snow blizzards, earthquakes (2005), Cloudburst of Leh (2010), floods in Jammu & Kashmir (2014) and frequent avalanches. The current COVID-19 pandemic is yet another example when the Indian Army has gone out of its way to support the people, in their times of need.

The Army Commander in special order of the day complimented all ranks for their extraordinary leadership, courage and sacrifice to keep the flag of the Command, the Indian Army & Nation flying high and exhorted all ranks to rededicate towards safeguarding our Nation’s integrity and resolve to confront new challenges with exemplary professionalism and courage.

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Defence

INDIAN COAST GUARD SAVES 16 LIVES FROM SINKING BARGE MV MANGALAM NEAR REVDANDA PORT

Ashish Singh

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In a swift sea-air coordinated operation amid inclement monsoon weather, Indian Coast Guard ship and helicopters undertook successful rescue of all 16 crew on Thursday from sinking MV Mangalam near Revdanda port of Maharashtra. MRCC Mumbai received information from Second officer of Indian flagged MV Mangalam (IMO-9084619) intimating that the vessel was partially sinking with 16 crew onboard approximately 3 Km from Revdanda Port (Raigarh District), and the master was planning to abandon the vessel. The crew of the distressed vessel were in panic due to swelling water ingress and waves breaking over the ship. MRCC team initiated rescue action and convinced the master and crew to remain onboard with life jackets as Coast Guard ships were dispatched for assistance.

Indian Coast Guard Ship Subhadra Kumari Chauhan pressed into action and proceeded towards distressed vessel with best speed for rendering assistance. Meanwhile, two Indian Coast Guard Chetak Helicopters were also launched at 9:45 am from Indian Coast Guard Air Station Daman for evacuation of the crew from MV Mangalam. Braving rough seas, Indian Coast Guard ship Subhadra Kumari Chauhan quickly arrived at scene of distress and post assessment of situation lowered the rescue team in inflatable boat amidst challenging sea conditions. Meanwhile, Indian Coast Guard Helicopters also arrived at the location and despite gusting monsoon winds commenced airlifting of crew. Through daredevil operations, the ICG Ship & helicopters successfully rescued all 16 crew. The rescued crew were taken to Revdanda and administered first aid following COVID protocol. All crew were safe and healthy.

The timely co-ordination and rescue by ICG once again saved precious lives. On an average, Coast Guard saves one precious life every second day at sea. The incident once again showcased Indian Coast Guard’s resolve and commitment towards safety of life at sea, upholding its motto ‘We Protect’ and ready to undertake operations at sea 24×7 through the year.

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Defence

DEFENCE MINISTER INAUGURATES 12 ROADS BUILT BY BRO IN NORTHERN AND EASTERN BORDER AREAS

Ashish Singh

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Defence Minister Rajnath Singh dedicated to the nation 12 roads, built by Border Roads Organisation (BRO) in the Northern and Eastern border areas on Thursday. At an event organised in Lakhimpur district of Assam, the Raksha Mantri e-inaugurated a 20-km long double lane Kimin-Potin road, along with nine other roads in Arunachal Pradesh and one each in the Union Territories of Ladakh and Jammu & Kashmir. The roads have been constructed under ‘Arunank’, ‘Vartak’, ‘Brahmank’, ‘Udayak’, ‘Himank’ and ‘Sampark’ projects of BRO.

Speaking on the occasion, Rajnath Singh lauded BRO for its contribution in infrastructure development of remote border areas of the country, especially amid the COVID-19 restrictions. He said the roads inaugurated today hold strategic and socio-economic importance as they will play an important role in strengthening national security as well as promoting development of the North-East region. “These roads will be helpful in fulfilling the needs of our Armed Forces and transporting necessities like medicines and ration to remote areas,” he said. The Raksha Mantri added that these road projects are part of the ‘Act East Policy’ of the Government wherein special emphasis is being laid on the overall development of the border areas. He reiterated the resolve of the Government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, for the development of North-east, describing the region as the gateway to not only the overall development of the country, but also to the nation’s relations with East Asian countries. Rajnath Singh paid tribute to the soldiers who showed exemplary courage during the Galwan Valley incident last year and made the supreme sacrifice in the service of the nation. He said India is a peace-loving nation but its response to aggression has been resolute.

Chief Minister of Assam Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma, Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh Mr. Pema Khandu, Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Youth Affairs & Sports, Minority Affairs and Ayush (Independent Charge) Mr. Kiren Rijiju and Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Development of North Eastern Region & Minister of State for PMO, Dr Jitendra Singh were among the dignitaries who attended the event virtually. The Raksha Mantri also touched upon some of the major reforms undertaken by the Government, including appointment of Chief of Defence Staff, measures to boost self- reliance in defence manufacturing and Corporatisation of Ordnance Factory Board (OFB). These reforms are proving to be a game changer in the military preparedness in the rapidly changing times, he said.

Rajnath Singh underlined the constant efforts of the Government to make India self-reliant in defence manufacturing under the ‘AatmaNirbhar Bharat’ envisioned by the Prime Minister. “We are actively working towards making India a defence manufacturing hub. Self-reliance in defence production will reduce our dependence on imports, increase exports and strengthen our economy,” he said. In his address, DG Border Roads Lt Gen Rajeev Chaudhry gave a brief overview of the achievements of BRO and reiterated the commitment of the organisation towards infrastructural development of border areas.

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Defence

SWARNIM VIJAY VARSH CELEBRATIONS AT RASHTRIYA RIFLES SECTOR HEADQUARTERS

Ashish Singh

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NEW DELHI: The Swarnim Vijay Varsh Victory Flame after having entered the serene Kashmir Valley through the Navyug Tunnel on Tuesday, continued its journey and made its way to Anantnag City, also known as the ‘Land of Infinite Springs’. The Victory flame was received by Commanding Officer of Rashtriya Rifles Battalion, Wuzur and travelled to Khanabal, Anantnag via Mir Bazar, Khudwani and Wampoh and reached Rashtriya Rifles Sector Headquarter, Khanabal.

The flame was received with tremendous fervour by school children, local youth, 13 Veer Naris, 55 ex-servicemen, personnel from Security Forces & Law Enforcement Agencies and many other civilian dignitaries from the local administration. Thereafter, the Victory Flame was escorted through the Khanabal Junction, proudly carried by military personnel & civilians alike before entering the Khanabal Military Garrison. Later, the Victory Flame was handed over to the Commander, Sector Rashtriya Rifles, Khanabal at the War Memorial. Wreaths were laid to pay homage to the unsung War Heroes, by the visiting dignitaries, including Mr Hilal Ahmed Shah, Mayor Anantnag, Mr Ghulam Hussain Sheikh, IAS, Additional DC Anantnag, Mr Imtiyaz Hussain Mir, SSP Anantnag, Mr DP Upadhyay, DIG CRPF, Mr Abdul Jabbar, IPS, DIG (South Kashmir) and Commander Sector Rashtriya Rifles, Khanabal, followed by a ceremonial Guard of Honour. Post the solemn event, the celebrations continued with cultural performances by school children and local artists, followed by the felicitation of Veer Naris, Veer Matas & veterans by the dignitaries present.

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