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China: The aftermath of wolf-warrior diplomacy

With PM Narendra Modi addressing troops from Ladakh, the declaration of beginning of the end of China has happened. Historically, it all began with Zhou Enlai’s ‘wolf-warrior diplomacy’ that closed all the face-saving exit doors for the CCP.

Shreedharan Raman

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The then Mongolian PM Yumjaagiin Tsedenbal during a meeting with Zhou Enlai.

December 1962. The words of former Mongolian Prime Minister Yumjaagiin Tsedenbal during a meeting with former Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai, “Sorry that China and India had quarreled.” And added further, “Quarreling with India over an uninhabited strip of land in the Himalayas would only force the Indians to turn to the West, and that would not help China’s cause.” (Source: Chinafile.com)

 Fast forward to 2020. It seems Zhou Enlai, who is also dubbed as father of Chinese diplomacy, has scripted China’s downfall. For that downfall to happen, they are doing a natural climb up a vertical cliff. After the attack that killed 20 Indian Army personnel, events have now pushed the CCP clearly off balance. With Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing troops from Union Territory of Ladakh, the declaration of beginning of the end of China has happened. In other words, they have also been pushed from the top of the cliff.

For China, the downfall was visible. Music was slowing down due to trade war with the US. But to pick up a fight with India in the middle of a pandemic is a new low even according to Zhou Enlai’ism. As of today, China currently stares at an irreversible combined defeat on three fronts. The end is near for: 1) Political entity called People‘s Republic of China—diplomatic defeat. 2) Armed wing of CPC—People‘s Liberation Army—military defeat. 3) Communist Party of China—political defeat.

In this background, a sneak peek into some of those issues.

Diplomatic defeat

Zhou Enlai’s wolf-warrior diplomacy has closed all the facesaving exit doors for CCP. Implications are going to be rough and hard landing. Ranging from breakup of what we now know as China into multiple independent states and redrawing of maps of north Asia. This has huge implications on Belt and Road Initiative-trapped countries in Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe. This is going to have a global impact on the world economy with trillions of forex reserves going bust and turning valueless in a matter of a few weeks. Rumblings have already started over $400 billion in Hong Kong. Add to the mix, a probable implosion of Chinese regime in full. And a rogue PLA takeover, with weapons of mass destruction is the last thing the world would want right now. Powers that be should disarm PLA immediately after defeat and neutralise the nuclear threat in the best possible way. We should also leave no stone unturned to stop it from reaching a terrorist organisation or a state like Pakistan. This is going to be a diplomatic nightmare.

A good start would be to recognise Taiwan and send back Communist Party-appointed Envoys across countries. Give land allotted to People’s Republic of China missions to Republic of China. Let the flag of PRC be replaced by ROC. Let the message go to the larger free and democratic world, that the “game is over” for PRC. First one, to happily follow would be Australia and many African countries.

 UNSC role and reform

The UN and the UNSC should step in immediately. The UN should be reformed by replacing China as a permanent member with India. Failing which, the UN may go League of Nations’ way in due course. No, this is not due to non-support of India. But UN’s credibility would be at stake in pages of history. By the time the PRC implodes, China would neither have the moral high ground nor represent the billion people nor have a great economy. Means, little justice to UNSC permanent seat anyways. CCP leadership should be prosecuted for crimes against humanity in International Courts for unleashing pandemic across the world & killing thousands of people while destroying the world economy as we knew it. This might sound punitive in nature, but does the world think China has the moral right to continue in UNSC as a permanent member? Just pure logic.

 It is a poignant fact that India with an almost equal population and a democratic country is not being represented in UNSC as a permanent member. It is one of the many glaring failures of the UN, as a world body. This should be cascaded on to other world bodies too & PRC should see itself out of those as well.

The Tibet question

From India’s point of view, until 1950 we never had a border with China. Tibet was a buffer. Tibet that should be talked about in future should include all three provinces of the erstwhile Tibetan State. U-Tsang, Kham & Amdo. Yes, demography is changed, but over time people would turn inwards and find reason for justice. But we’re culturally linked till Mongolia.

We should have all future conversations regarding Tibet, only with Tibetan Government-inExile, that is in India currently. It should be formalized and recognized when they reach Potala Palace (seat of Government of Tibet, when Dalai Lama reaches Lhasa) in due course. In fact, this should be deliberated with Tibetan Government in Exile as the successor to the current political setup of China.

Strange fact, China calls the Shimla Accord (1914) illegal. Reason probably is, communists were not the signatory, but the agreement was with Republic of China (Taiwan). So, whenever CCP claims something, pause & think. Some facts are surely missing. Ask for documents. Chances are that they might not even have it.

Not just India, many other South East Asian countries have an interest in Tibet, also called the water table of Asia, as major rivers of the region have its source there. Brahmaputra, Mekong & Indus. China already has a project to have diverted water from South to North. Plus the mindless construction of dams across the Mekong River has made water levels low in lower riparian states of South-East Asia leaving many areas drought and also affecting inland water transport. Last year, water levels reached as low as 1.5m. Record low. Hope that conveys the intensity.

 Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos & Vietnam can’t let China have a knife on their head over this matter. This is like what Chinese have been doing in our own Brahmaputra – where they are building dams to stop flow of water into India from Tibet. Luckily, for us more water comes from within Indian borders than from Tibet. Problem is when Chinese release water from the check dams without intimation or stop sharing hydrological data. Hence, Tibet can’t be with a country which gives zero value to rules-based world order and common sense, basis which humanity operates.

 Tibet is sparsely populated and the challenging terrain. If need arises and at the request of Tibetan people and government, India should rise to the occasion and provide security cover to our spiritual brothers across the Himalayas. No, India doesn’t have to get the land or government there. Indian government policy is very clear in this regard. India is not in for greed of land, which PM Modi himself made very clear. We have our cultural interests in Tibet. Like, Kailash Manasarovar and cultural influence through Buddhism extends till Mongolia.

Now two questions might arise in the minds of Western countries: Can India be trusted with this responsibility of protecting Tibet and waters? Yes. Tibetans are spiritually and culturally our brothers. We shouldn’t repeat our monumental mistake of the 1950s. India is surrounded by small nations like Bhutan and Maldives. Never invaded them. In fact, India patrols Maldives’ EEZ in Indian Ocean. India has a free and open border with Nepal.

Can India protect Tibet’s resources on humanitarian reasons? Again, an impartial answer: YES. Purely based on our track record in adhering to Indus Water Treaty (brokered by a World Bank in 1960) has lived through decades of conflict and three major wars with the very country we had signed the treaty with. India has till date, not weaponised water. In fact, giving Pakistan more than what is mentioned in the agreement. Such a track record of commitments can be depended upon.

Taiwan

Taiwan should be recognised as a successor state in case Chinese Communist Party rule ends. An understanding with Taiwan should be reached in this regard, which should end all China’s claims with regards to Tibet and Inner-Mongolia. There should be no space for any political vacuum. Ultimate objective should be democratic, peaceful & demilitarised China—within its rightful land. This should solve the Hong Kong issue as well. Let us be very clear, the war is with Chinese Communist Party. Not the people of China, who have suffered from CCP more than anyone in the world. In return, Taiwan should give up untenable historical claims with various countries bordering it. Including Ladakh, Tibet (as per the original map of 1914. Parts of which are with other provinces) and handing over of inner-Mongolia to Mongolia. Any other dispute be only solved through peaceful negotiations.

Military

Quick facts about PLA: 1) PLA is an armed wing of CCP. 2) PLA reports not to the people but to the CMC (Central Military Commission) which is also headed by Xi. 3) PLA has its own businesses. Former PLA members are part of such companies.

China’s military power is not so powerful to damage us significantly, yet not to be taken lightly. But the caution ends there. A cursory research and even reading some factual replies to military related tweets from Global Times would give you a fair idea. PLA is done and dusted. And is on the verge of being disbanded. As of today, the PLA is behaving like Saddam’s army. CCP is turning out to be a redux of Ba’ath Party. The Iraq government was in denial of coalition forces entering Iraq and even after crossing Euphrates river. PLA’s might is a myth and stands busted. Strategy of the PLA is very simple. Put overwhelming numbers against PLA’s adversaries in the first wave. If the adversary survives the first wave and does calculated maneuvers, it won’t be tough for a battle-hardened force like that of India’s to punish PLA. With not much troops with PLA for back-up, they suffer significant loss as well.

The political commissar system has destroyed physical courage in the PLA soldiers. Else, by now, they won’t set out to start building a narrative of “we were attacked” on CCTV for their population. They would have already attacked India elsewhere, militarily. A military response not coming from such a big force, is a surprise for commoners. Not for those who give their deeds even a second glance.

 Forget US, Australia, Japan, India and Russia. The socio-economic reasons behind every soldier of PLA would make one rate other smaller armies better. For example, the PLA has 2million troops. And many more in reserve. Even Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam have a combined troop strength of 1.5 million. That too, fully ready for combat in jungles and is as much battle-hardened as PLA. With some support from QUAD, PLA would be forced to fight another front in jungles of these countries, from high altitude regions of Tibet. This is just land. Situation at sea is even a bigger disadvantage for China. Imagine the theater commander’s nightmares.

China would not get support from North Korea and Pakistan to help them with India & Russia, in case they form an alliance against PLA, they are wrong. North Korea & Pakistan would already switch sides or cease to exist or get busy with their own troubles, when China requires their help most. With the movements happening in SCS & IndoPacific, with almost all affected countries contributing resources, lakhs of troops from friendly countries are ready to take PLA head on. PLA would end up spreading thin across the country. Forget Tibet, would they even be able to defend Guangzhou & Hainan, when push comes to shove? Who would police Xinjiang Uyghur camps? With the current socio-economic situation & past sins of CCP, will their population support CCP’s efforts?

With the majority of troops being young troopers of the “single child policy” generation, it is in the interest of China’s future that the PLA be disbanded. These young troopers are innocent & joined PLA either forcefully or joined to get a college fee waiver. Hence be vetted & sent to their families (except notorious ones). PLA should be downsized to less than 10 personnel / million people. Only police and civil defence should be allowed. For internal troubles. All other arms—PLAF, PLAN, PLARF, PAPF etc— should cease to exist as well. Including external intelligence agencies operating within the Ministry of State Security. With Russia, Taiwan and QUAD turning guarantors of peace and sovereignty of borders, why would China require anything beyond border patrols?

 Political

China has started a victim narrative through CCTV by saying India crossed LAC and captured land. China here forgets that it is in occupied land post1962 war and has zero respect for India’s sovereignty in other parts of India’s Union Territory of Ladakh—by operating CPEC through Pakistan Occupied Ladakh. But treats even the slightest disagreement, as an insult.Recently discovered that China doesn’t have a President and that there is only the General Secretary of Communist Party of China & Chairman of the Central Military Commission. Even Xi wants him to be addressed as Chairman Xi and not as President Xi. Why is this information important? Just to point out that China has a head of Party and Military. No Head of State per se. Party has the country. Country doesn’t have a government. Subtle, yet significant.

Pattern to behaviour. CCP operates based on collective bullying & comparing with others. Like, “Everyone listens to me, why are you not listening?” is the standard syntax used for almost everything. This is quite clear in the mindset of ‘wolf-warrior’ diplomats too. Era of expansion through collective bullying is OVER. So, when the imminent overthrow/replacement of Xi Jinping happens, the fall of CCP should be completed too. Identify key people of CCP at village level. World should not be limited to encouraging regime change with another authoritarian in Beijing. Present with an alternative for the people of China (excluding Tibet, Inner-Mongolia & Xinjiang) & they’d prefer to be part of democratic society. Surrounded by democracies like India, South Korea, Japan, Australia & Mongolia, this would rather be quick.

The Chinese judicial system should be scrapped as well. It has a 99% conviction rate. Imagine, “Conviction is the norm, acquittal is an exception”. All symbols of Communism would vanish over time. A free democratic society would be tolerant to various practices like Feng Shui, Falun Gong, Tai Chi etc. A new democratic constitution, with strong affirmation of local bodies, reflecting the aspirations of a Chinese people is the way forward.

Last but not the least, economic costs might be imposed.

Economic costs

A blanket ban on Renminbi trade outside China. Through SWIFT/other mechanisms. Seize the assets of CCP, CCP members, CCP owned companies within & outside China. Including ships & other maritime assets.An investigation into all projects by CCP under BRI and CPEC. Any entity, company that is violating local laws and sovereignty in countries they operate be boldly acted upon and prosecuted without fear of repercussions / fear. Those who join the coalition now, to teach Chinese Communist Party a lesson, should be given an open offer: All overpriced loans would be renegotiated with the World Bank as mediator. All those unnecessary projects would be scrapped right away, freeing them of political compulsions. Then, those forcefully taken over by China in various countries should be returned immediately with financial loss adjusted against auction of seized assets of CCP / PLA. Remaining be given to Chinese people. This will open flood gates and lots of people would turn against CCP—within & outside China. Repatriations should also be paid to countries affected very badly by pandemic.

Overall, we are in a very interesting time which would be defined as a turning point in world history. Especially that of Asia, China and India. It is up to the people in power corridors to decide the exact course of action.

Shreedharan Raman watches strategic moves by countries around the globe, especially China, and writes his opinions occasionally. He can be contacted at write@shreedharan. com.

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Defence

CADETS OF NCC DIRECTORATE GUJARAT TO BE DEPLOYED AT SURAT IN SUPPORT OF THE CIVIL ADMINISTRATION FOR COMBATING COVID-19 AS PART OF EXERCISE NCC YOGDAN

Ashish Singh

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As the nation is going through the second surge in Covid-19, NCC Cadets of Gujarat Directorate have volunteered to support Civil administration in various activities as part of the Exercise Yogdan II. In response to the requisition from DM Surat, 56 highly motivated Cadets (both boy Cadets and girl Cadets) have volunteered to provide relief efforts and assist in functioning of agencies employed in Covid-19 at Surat. More Cadets of Gujarat Directorate are likely to volunteer as the Exercise Yogdan II commences. Only Senior Division Boys and Senior Wing Girl Cadets of Gujarat Directorate above the age of 18, are being deployed to support the administration as part of NCC Exercise Yogdan II. All the Gujarat Directorate Cadets deployed would be Senior Volunteer Cadets and with proper Covid safety precautions and adequate care. The Cadets have undergone a thorough training on DOs and Dont’s on Covid Protocols before being deployed.

In addition, on announcement of Tika Utsav by the PM , the Cadets of Gujarat Directorate actively participated in spreading awareness about the necessity of getting Vaccinated and following Covid appropriate behaviour, through door to door interaction and circulating a large number of videos and messages on social media. The Directorate General NCC at Delhi has also made provisions to insure the volunteer Cadets adequately. DG NCC at Delhi has been actively involved and focussed in giving the necessary permission for the employment of cadets. Major General Arvind Kapoor ADG, NCC Directorate Gujarat, Dadra Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu informed that last year during Exercise NCC Yogdan I, Cadets of NCC Directorate Gujarat were deployed in maximum numbers which was highly appreciated by the dignitaries and the people of Gujarat. He further assured that all safety precautions related to Covid -19 will be ensured for the Cadets and staff of Gujarat Directorate employed in Exercise NCC Yogdan II. He also complimented the parents to have come forward and given their consent for the Cadets to be deployed.

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AUSTRALIA ANNOUNCES THE INDO-PACIFIC OCEANS INITIATIVE PARTNERSHIP WITH INDIA

Ashish Singh

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Australia’s High Commissioner to India, Barry O’Farrell AO, launched the Australia-India Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative Partnership (AIIPOIP) grant program to help support a free, open and prosperous Indo-Pacific underpinned by the rule of law and respect for sovereignty. “This AUD 1.4 million (INR 8.12 crore) grant program is a practical initiative to advance Australia and India’s shared vision for the Indo-Pacific”, High Commission O’Farrell said. “Through this program, we are seeking new proposals on how Australia, India and other regional partners can advance our shared maritime objectives”, he added.

 

The AIIPOIP grants program will help deliver practical outcomes under the Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI), launched by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the 14th East Asia Summit in November 2019. “Australia is proud to be co-leading with India the marine ecology pillar of the IPOI”, High Commissioner O’Farrell said. The first phase of this multi-year grant program will encourage proposals from Australian and Indian stakeholders to share expertise and resources, complementing the work under existing regional mechanisms such as ASEAN, the Indian Ocean Rim Association, and the Pacific Islands Forum. AIIPOIP is an outcome of the Australia-India Joint Declaration on a Shared Vision for Maritime Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, signed by Australia’s Foreign Minister Senator Marise Payne and India’s External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar in June 2020, as part of the Australia-India Comprehensive and Strategic Partnership Agreement.

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PROTESTS BY TEHREEK-E-LABBAIK & ONGOING SITUATION IN PAKISTAN

Ashish Singh

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Tehreek-e-Labbaik, Pakistan (TLP) which draws its ideology from the Barelvi sect of Sunni Islam is a far-right Islamist political party in Pakistan, founded by Khadim Hussain Rizvi on 1 August 2015. TLP is known for its countrywide street power and massive protests in opposition to any perceived change to Pakistan’s blasphemy law or disrespect to Allah/Prophet Muhammad. Its first demonstration of street power came to light following the execution of Mumtaz Qadri the bodyguard of Salman Taser, the Governor of Punjab, who killed the Governor for publicly voicing his support for Asia Bibi (Aasiya Noreen). Qadri was hung on 29 February 2016, after which TLP supporters took to the streets across Pakistan, proclaimed him a martyr, chanted anti-government slogans and clashed with the police. A TLP patron, Pir Abdul Qadri, also called for the killing of the Supreme Court justices who ruled on the case and the Army Chief.

TLP, among other extremist religious outfits, was manoeuvred into mainstream politics by the country’s Army brass as one of its tools of political engineering. It was thought that carving out the far-right fringe from the conservative voter base of the PML-N, would damage it in the 2018 general elections, which proved correct & many PML-N candidates lost to PTI, as the voter base of PML-N gravitated towards PTI. Pak Army’s support for TLP was evident during their protest which took place from 8th November 2017, at Faizabad contesting changes in the Elections Bill 2017, demanding resignation of Minister for Law and Justice Zahid Hamid. DG of Punjab Rangers, Major General Azhar Navid Hayat was seen distributing envelopes containing Rs 1,000 notes to the protesters. The ISI then ‘brokered’ a deal between the TLP and the government. Wrapping up the suo-moto case of Faizabad protests, the two bench judge which included Justice Qazi Faez, directed DG ISPR & ISI amongst others to operate within their mandate. The said Judge is now facing various charges of corruption reportedly on the behest of Pak Army & the ISI.

In October 2020, a teacher, Samuel Paty was beheaded in Paris by an Islamist terrorist reportedly for displaying a cartoon of Muhammad. French President Emmanuel Macron defended freedom of expression and the rights to publish such cartoons, after which widespread protests took place in Pakistan, with calls to boycott French products and sever diplomatic ties with France. In November 2020, activists of TLP demanded the expulsion of French Ambassador from Pakistan. The protests were called off on 16 November 2020 after the Government of Pakistan reached an agreement with TLP by seeking more time to discuss the matter in Parliament.

On 11 April 2021, TLP leader Saad Hussain Rizvi (son of founder Khadim Rizvi) released a video message asking TLP activists to launch protests across Pakistan if the government did not expel the French Ambassador from the country by 20 April 2021. On 12th April 2021, after Saad Rizvi was arrested in Lahore, protests broke out across the country, with TLP activists blocking roads and cutting off Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar and Gujranwala from each other. The protests turned violent with reports of stone pelting; at least two people were killed in the riots on 12 April 2021. In addition, TLP claimed that two protesters were shot dead in Faisalabad and Karachi. On 13th April 2021, one police officer was beaten to death by the rioting mob in Lahore, while 40 others were injured. TLP spokesperson Tayyab Rizvi claimed that the number of TLP workers “martyred” in the protests by the second day had increased to 12. A spokesperson of Punjab Police confirmed that two cops were killed by the protesters who used clubs, bricks and firearms to attack them. Paramilitary forces were brought in to assist the local police across various cities including Lahore, Gujranwala, Rawalpindi and Bahawalpur. On 15th April 2021, the French embassy in Pakistan advised French citizens and companies to temporarily leave Pakistan “due to serious threats”. Pak Government formally banned TLP under Anti-Terrorism Law. On 16 April 2021, Pak government blocked several social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp and YouTube for around four hours fearing call of protests by TLP. Situation turned extremely violent on 18th April 2021, at Yateem Khana Chowk, Lahore where three people were killed and hundreds of others, including 15 policemen injured in a clash between TLP protestors and police. It was reported that the TLP workers took five policemen, among them a DSP, hostage after an attack on a police station. It has also been reported that the protesters have taken a 50000 litre petrol tanker with them precluding any massive operation against them for fear of collateral damage.

Tanzimat Ahl-e-Sunnat leader Mufti Muneeb-ur-Rehman has called for a nationwide shutter down strike on 19th April 2021, against the Lahore incident. It has also been reported that that the protesters will march with the dead bodies of their colleagues to Islamabad, demanding expulsion of French Ambassador, release of all TLP members jailed in various parts of Pakistan and action against Pak’s Interior Minister Mr Sheikh Rashid. JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman also supported Mufti Muneeb’s call for the shutter down strike showing growing collusive support for the protests among other radical Islamic groups in Pak. The protest that started over a cartoon of Muhammad in France has brought the entire nation to a standstill. The Pak social media is replete with hashtags like #CivilWarInPakistan, #Stop_Gov_Terrorism, #Lahore, #LahoreBurning, #iStandWithTLP, etc.

There have been widespread reports of Pak Army and police personnel defecting from the forces and openly coming out in support of the protesters. The military-intelligence establishment’s pathological obsession with legitimising groups that provide their own warped-version of Islam, has made the foundation of Pakistani society unstable and unpredictable. While PakistaniEstablishment is trying to enforce writ of the Government& present a positive image to the international audience, given its precarious economic condition, the possibility of the ongoing protest looming into a major crisis for Pak cannot be ruled out.

There have been widespread reports of Pak Army and police personnel defecting from the forces and openly coming out in support of the protesters. The military-intelligence establishment’s pathological obsession with legitimising groups that provide their own warped-version of Islam, has made the foundation of Pakistani society unstable and unpredictable.

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INDIAN NAVY SEIZES NARCOTICS WORTH RS 3,000 CRORE

Ashish Singh

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New Delhi: Indian Naval Ship Suvarna, whilst on surveillance patrol in the Arabian Sea, encountered a fishing vessel with suspicious movements. To investigate the vessel, the ship’s team conducted boarding and search operation, which led to the seizure of more than 300 Kgs of narcotics substances. The boat with its crew have been escorted to the nearest Indian Port of Kochi, Kerala for further investigation. The approximate cost the catch in the international market is estimated to be Rs 3,000 crore. This is a major catch not only in terms of the quantity and cost but also from the perspective of disruption of the illegal narcotics smuggling routes, which emanate from the Makran coast and flow towards the Indian, Maldivian and Sri Lankan destinations. Apart from the human costs from drug addiction, the spoils of narcotics trade feed syndicates involved in terrorism, radicalisation and criminal activities.

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RAJNATH SINGH REVIEWS PREPAREDNESS OF MOD AND ARMED FORCES AMID SPIKE IN COVID-19 CASES

The Defence Minister asks them to aid civilian administration to tide over the current coronavirus situation; gives go ahead for emergency procurement of critical medical supplies.

Ashish Singh

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Defence Minister Rajnath Singh held a virtual meeting to review the preparedness of Ministry of Defence and the armed forces to deal with the recent spike in Covid-19 cases across the country, in New Delhi on Tuesday. Defence Secretary Dr Ajay Kumar, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Karambir Singh, Chief of Army Staff General M.M. Naravane, Director General Armed Forces Medical Services (AFMS) Surgeon Vice Admiral Rajat Datta, Secretary (Defence Production) Raj Kumar, Secretary Department of Defence R&D and Chairman Defence Research and Development Organisation Dr G. Satheesh Reddy, Financial Adviser (Defence Services) Sanjiv Mittal and other senior civil & military officers attended the meeting via video conferencing.

Rajnath Singh was briefed about the measures taken by AFMS, DRDO, Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs), Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) and other organisations of Ministry of Defence such as National Cadet Corps (NCC) in providing aid to the civil administration in this hour of crisis. The Defence Minister was informed that a COVID care centre established by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is active in Bengaluru assisting the civil administration. He was informed that arrangements are being made by the DPSUs to buy oxygen plants that will help them in production of oxygen cylinders at a faster pace. The Defence Minister asked the DPSUs, OFB and DRDO to work on war footing to provide oxygen cylinders and extra beds to civil administration/state governments at the earliest. Rajnath Singh called upon the Armed Forces to be in close contact with the state governments and be ready to provide any required assistance. In a significant decision, the Defence Minister directed the Armed Forces and other stakeholders to go ahead with procurement of critical medical requirements under emergency powers of procurement.

DRDO Chairman briefed that a Covid-19 facility, developed by DRDO, has again been made functional in New Delhi and efforts are being made to soon increase the number of beds from 250 to 500. Dr Sathish Reddy informed the meeting that the ESIC Hospital, which was converted to Covid hospital in Patna, has started functioning with 500 beds and a Covid hospital will soon be made functional at Muzaffarpur in Bihar. He also informed that work is on at war footing to set up a 450-bed hospital in Lucknow, 750-bed hospital in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh and 900-bed hospital in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. Rajnath Singh was also informed that based on the On-Board Oxygen Generation Technology developed for LCA Tejas, a 1000 litre/minute capacity oxygen generation plants technology has been given to the industry and the Uttar Pradesh government has placed order of five such plants with the industry. Dr Reddy informed the Defence Minister that more plants can be supplied by the industry to cater to the hospital requirements. He further said SpO2 (Blood Oxygen Saturation) based supplemental oxygen delivery system developed for soldiers posted at extreme high-altitude areas can be used for Covid patients as their conditions become similar. The product will be available soon in the market from the industry as per technology provided by DRDO. The Defence Minister was informed that the AFMS has mobilised its man power and other resources in various military hospitals dealing with Covid patients. To augment the manpower if required, the minister suggested to utilise the services of vaccinated retired Armed Forces personnel to assist the civil administration/state governments to deal with the current situation. During the meeting, Rajnath Singh also discussed ways to contain the spread of Covid-19 among the Armed Forces personnel and the officers/staff working in Ministry of Defence. He focused on Covid-appropriate behaviour at the work place, stressing on the need to strictly follow all the Covid protocols such as wearing of masks at all times and maintaining physical distancing.

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Defence

HERITAGE AS LEGACY IN THE EVOLUTION OF INDIA: CASE STUDY OF NAVAL DOCKYARD IN MUMBAI

The Indian terrestrial approach lured us away from the seas which were left almost unprotected.

Janhavi Lokegaonkar

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India is a maritime nation with a rich heritage. History records our oceanic links with other nations of Indian Ocean and beyond from the Harappan civilisation and lasting through the centuries. Indian maritime influence can be seen in all walks of Indian history. Our development is owed to the maritime economy and a gradual advancement of maritime infrastructure along the coastal frontiers. If we are to learn from our history, the biggest lesson is that the Indian terrestrial approach lured us away from the seas which were left almost unprotected. The failure amongst the Indians to perceive the potential threat from the maritime frontiers and percolate a maritime vision and policies among the masses was one of the grave problems that led to the rise of Colonial rule in India. This article highlights one facet as an outcome of “Manthan” or churn of the sea saga of Indian journey.

Under the Company and the Crown, the city of Bombay was developed further taking into consideration of all the physical features it had which gave it an edge. Even with self-gain as the motive, the emerging vision aided colonial officials to analyse the importance of the geography of Bombay and developed it as ‘Urbs Prima in Indis’-the premier city of the Empire.

Today as we traverse the heritage precinct of Fort area in South Mumbai, we are reminded of the lasting legacy that is the built heritage across the city’s waterfront. The Naval Dockyard that stands tall as a custodian of Mumbai’s coastline is a heritage facility in itself. The Wadia Master builders were commissioned to develop this shipbuilding and docking facility (erstwhile Bombay Dockyard) in Bombay in 1735. Today, this is used by the Western Naval Command of the Indian Navy that upholds its heritage and continues to maintain its legacy.

With the Industrial revolution in Europe, change was inevitable. In the wake of Industrialisation in England, there was a paradigm shift in the realms of production. Technology took over and since then it has only developed. Ironically, this phase also marks the deindustrialisation in the Indian subcontinent in order to facilitate and furnish the English industries. The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 and the need for better docking and banking facilities at such a juncture is self-explanatory. The undertaking of construction for new dock building and related facilities was deemed necessary and beneficial for improving the efficiency of the maritime trade and commerce.

Bombay Dockyard and nearby facilities made ‘Ships-of-the-Line’ for the Royal Navy that were considered to be of superior quality and craftsmanship. The skills and nautical expertise of the Indian shipbuilders was a legacy in itself. But, the Indian shipbuilding industry that was once sought after met its downfall as the sail ships were replaced with the steam vessels. Despite such setback, this never deterred the Indian shipping industry. Bombay faced economic repercussions but the indomitable spirit of the city as we see today was blazing even then. After an initial slump in the shipbuilding industry, the Dockyard and other facilities gave rise to a number of other associated industries that aligned with the needs of the shipping sector thereby creating a market for economy with wider avenues. Soon, the docking facilities were equipped and gained momentum as a ship repair and refits industry which made a lot of progress.

Built heritage and maritime affairs intermingle with economic matters-thus creating a legacy and building a stronger future of our nation. A gradual progression in the maritime infrastructure and its resultant impact on the economy has played a vital role in the development of the Indian shipping sector. Promotion of our maritime heritage and traditions by a holistic development of the coastal communities by integrating them in the mainstream policies will ensure the promotion of our rich maritime legacy.

The evolution of the Mumbai city is owed to the maritime economy and due to harnessing of its maritime connect and development of the infrastructure. The role and contribution of the maritime sector in developing the city to what it is today must be acknowledged. The mushrooming of allied industries in the shipping industry is a subsequent factor. The economy of Bombay strengthened which led to the creation of an industrial infrastructure. This was the rise of a modern SEZ i.e. Special Economic Zone, a precursor to the modern metropolis that Mumbai has become today.

Shortly after the World Heritage Day commemorated on 18 April 2021 this week sees launch of a multi-stakeholder initiative to revive maritime consciousness in form of a unique workshop titled “Indian Maritime History : A Manthan”. In the two day workshop, 21 – 22 April 2021, Dr Malini Shankar, IAS (Retd), Vice Chancellor, Indian Maritime University will deliver the Keynote Address while Commodore Odakkal Johnson, Director, Maritime History Society will mentor the proceedings and provide the thematic setting. The contents will benefit students, faculty & maritime enthusiasts. The workshop will evolve elements of an approach towards a long-term facility for excellence in Maritime History as envisaged in Maritime India Vision 2030. Maritime History Society and Indian Maritime University invite an enthusiastic response toward the resurgence of Sea Mindedness through participation, promotion and resource infusion into the journey to enhance influence for greater maritime consciousness in India.

Janhavi Lokegaonkar is a Research Associate at Maritime History Society with a focus on modern aspects of Indian Maritime History

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