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CHINA’S FIVE MAJOR FAULT LINES

One has to politically and diplomatically target the five instabilities of China—Taiwan, Tibet, Xinjian, Mongolia and Hong Kong—if it has to be contained for the greater good of the world as a whole.

LT GEN PR SHANKAR (Retd)

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The emerging view in the US is that PRC poses the greatest threat to democracy and freedom. It intends to dominate the US and the rest of the planet economically, militarily and technologically. The view emerging from the EU through NATO is that the scale of Chinese power and global reach poses acute challenges to open and democratic societies, particularly because of that country’s trajectory to greater authoritarianism and an expansion of its territorial ambitions. In recent times, China shifted blame from itself to all others for the spread of the virus, sought public expressions of gratitude for aid rendered, suppressed democracy in Hong Kong by flouting international commitments, undertook aggression against India, and threatened to invade Taiwan. All this assertion resulted in negative sentiments about China which spiked to 86% in some countries.

For India, the current situation in eastern Ladakh is only the tip of the iceberg. Chinese support to the ‘nuclearised beggar’ Pakistan is unabashedly expanding. The Brahmaputra diversion plan is disastrous for India’s Northeast. Militants and extremist groups of the Northeast are sheltered in China. It has reignited the Doklam issue. It is hyper actively driving a wedge between India and Nepal. It wants an entry into the Bay of Bengal by actively destabilising and coercing Myanmar. As it strives to surpass the US as the undisputed numero uno, it suppresses India, its main competitor. It is now widely propagated and discussed that Mao considered Tibet to be China’s right-hand palm, with five fingers—Nepal, Bhutan and the three Indian territories of Ladakh, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh- that China was also meant to ‘liberate’.

The common thread: China poses a great threat to almost everyone through economic, military and technological domination and territorial expansionism. This needs to be tackled. 

INWARD-LOOKING CHINA

In the early 20th century, China was busy fighting civil wars and taking disastrous ‘Great Leaps’ all round. It was totally internalised. In the latter half of the 20th century, China consolidated through internalisation. However it quarrelled with all its neighbours including India. In the last quarter of the 20th century, China reformed its economy and sharpened its politics to gain clout. However it still remained in the shadows, biding its time as per Deng Xiaoping’s ideas. China under Xi Jinping is now an ambitious, outward looking expansionist state. If this greedy expansionism is to be capped, China must be made to look inward as before. An inward looking China will get automatically contained. China cannot be made to look inwards economically or militarily. It must be done politically and diplomatically. Pakistan is a parallel for better understanding. Despite sporadic spikes in violence in Kashmir, the threat from Pakistan is far lesser than it was last year. Why? The political axe of Abrogation of Article 370 left Pakistan crying hoarse on the side lines. Further the ongoing PDM has taken Pakistan into uncharted territory. The internal political muddle reinforced by a weak economy, ensures Pakistan is less of a worldwide nuisance than before. Kinetic  action would not have achieved this effect. Similarly, Xi Jinping and the CCP represent an ideology which must be handled politically. If China has to look inwards its politics, propaganda and PLA must be enmeshed in problems within. One has to politically and diplomatically target the five instabilities of China—Taiwan, Tibet, Xinjian, Mongolia and Hong Kong. 

FIVE INSTABILITIES

Taiwan: China wants to gobble up Taiwan to realise its ‘One China’ dream. Look back into history.  Long after Chiang Kai Shek, the original Chinese nationalist, retreated to Taiwan (Republic of China) with Kuo Min Tang (KMT), it was known as  the real China. If ever CCP becomes shaky, the democratic alternative has to come from Taiwan. Hence, Taiwan threatens PRC and CCP as nothing else.  Taiwan is a fully democratic system with the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in power and the KMT now in opposition. Keeping this island of democracy alive and strong at the  Chinese doorstep largely contains China. Despite fundamental political differences, cross strait investment, businesses and economic ties are strong. Economics, commonality of culture and  language provides  Taiwan a conduit into China. Overall, expanding political connections  and diplomatic relations with Taiwan force PRC and CCP to act irrationally. Presently only 14 countries have formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan and 57 have informal arrangements. This needs to be enlarged.  More  democracies must establish full relations with Taiwan. On its part, India definitely needs to enlarge the relationship. In a very implicitly explicit manner China needs to be conveyed that the ‘One China’ principle is under de-recognition. The moment ‘One China’ is not acceptable unconditionally, China will recalculate. 

Xinjiang: Xinjiang or East Turkestan was never integral to China.  Its autonomy  waxed and waned as the Chinese power varied. The people are different and their culture is more Turkic. The region has been  restive and unstable for long  with sporadic eruptions of violence. Xinjiang is strategically important since it borders the CARs, Afghanistan and Pakistan with the CPEC running through it. Presently it is under the vice like grip of Chinese repression. The US government estimated the PRC has detained more than one million Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs, Hui, and members of other Muslim groups, as well as some Uighur Christians, in specially built internment camps or converted detention facilities in Xinjiang and subjected them to forced disappearance, political indoctrination, torture, psychological and physical and psychological abuse, including forced sterilization and sexual abuse, forced labor, and prolonged detention without trial because of their religion and ethnicity. Strictly speaking, this area is ripe for a serious rebellion if it gets some outside support through its porous borders. The US has already imposed economic and visa-based sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act. Supply chains involving Xinjiang forced labour are being curtailed. There is scope to formally investigate Human rights and genocide related abuses in Xinjiang. It is time to stop talking and start acting.

Tibet: For long Tibet was considered as the weakest link of the Chinese firmament. However, Dalai Lama’s Middle Path approach, Indian recognition of Tibet as part of China in 2003 and other religious, socio cultural and economic issues have given China a relatively upper hand in the past few decades. China is now embarking on a massive program to solidify Tibet in the communist mould, tinker with Buddhism and replicate the Xinjiang model here. The Tibetan Government in exile in India and a change of strategic calculations could catapult Tibet into centre stage to bring  China to heel. However, the US and India must take a conscious decision to do so. The US has already initiated action by appointing a special representative for Tibet. How that will be followed up will depend upon the incoming Biden administration. On India’s part the hesitation is twofold. Firstly there is apprehension that any meddling by India in Tibet will lead to China returning the favour in the North East, J&K, Bhutan and Nepal. However, China is already meddling in our affairs in these areas and beyond in our innards.  The degree of nuisance can go up only by a notch. On the other hand the relative instability increase in China – spatially and temporally will be extensive. The second aspect is legal. There is an Indian opinion that raking up Tibet will tantamount to nullifying  the 2003 agreement and it will lead to Sikkim not being recognised as a part of India by China. Well. For China, the 2003 agreement has no value like all  other agreements. That explains  the  aggression in Eastern Ladakh.   When we recognised Tibet as part of China there was no South Tibet claim. Their claim on Arunachal Pradesh started after that. In doing so, the 2003 agreement stands violated as it is. Also Mao’s palm and finger theory, which is actively propagated and discussed now (surely by the Chinese propaganda machinery) suggests that China wants Sikkim, Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh one way or the other: The 2003 understanding be damned. Hence it is perfectly legal to rake up Tibet as not part of China. Once that step is taken, the rest will follow and options open up. The political decision is first. In my opinion it is inevitable. How to incrementally play it up and the methodologies to be adopted are a matter of detail. 

Inner Mongolia: Restiveness in Inner Mongolia is a recent phenomenon. China is actively  suppressing native languages and culture in ethnic Mongolian regions of China and trying to destroy Mongolian culture. Its new education policy envisages replacement of the Mongolian language with Mandarin as the medium of instruction in schools. Mongolian will be relegated to just a language subject. Huge  protests erupted in Inner Mongolia against this with thousands of students and their parents undertaking a region-wide civil disobedience campaign. Heavy deployment of PLA was resorted to. This sentiment found resonance in Ulan Bator too. Secondly, Mongolians resist conscription and do not want to join the PLA. This view has not surfaced officially. It very clearly indicates that Mongolians and other minorities do not identify themselves as Chinese nationals at the core. So, is there a movement for a larger Mongolian region on the cards in future? Worth exploring.

Hong Kong: Hong Kong and democratic protests are publicised enough and well known. China has politically subverted democracy and usurped Hong Kong when the world was busy fighting the Wuhan Virus. Prising Hong Kong out of China’s grip is well-nigh impossible now. However, it can be made the symbol of Chinese oppression and a testimony of Chinese scant regard to an international rules based order. It will be very useful in Lawfare against China.

THE WAY FORWARD

International Action: While the instabilities are known, the question is how to keep China busy with these instabilities? First and foremost there has to be intent. The recognition that China is going to be an international nuisance has dawned. The intent to stop it from being so will have to crystallise and signalled. It has to be done collectively. USA, EU, India, UK, Japan and Australia will have to come together in some forum to execute the intent. Can Quad be the base for this? Worth considering. Secondly, all five instabilities are different and need a different approach but have to be tackled  simultaneously in a sustained manner outside the UN fold. A subverted UN is incapable of any action against China. Then there is the old adage that a strength is often a weakness. Hence China’s economy will have to be leveraged and used against it. For example, despite China embarking on a Dual Circulation plan, its exports will have to be increasingly curtailed incrementally. Alternately imports from China need reduction on a time bound basis. Linking  Chinese sourcing to these instability areas and blocking them will send a strong signal. The  BRI must be turned into a bleeding white elephant. Overall, China must enter an overstretch. Next. It is now established that China will hereafter be perpetually short of two essentials—food and energy. Leverage them. There are methods to do so. Weaponise religion if push comes to shove. There are many other options which have been already discussed and many more will emerge.    

Indian Response: Ideally, all actions to make China look inwards should be done on a collective basis since it is not within one country to handle all the issues. If collective international action is not contemplated India has two choices. Go alone or with the US. Why the US? India and the US have the maximum stake and ability in making China look inwards. If it is not possible with the US then be prepared to go alone. In all cases, India will have to seriously think on these issues and come out with a plan of its own sooner or later. In my opinion, sooner the better otherwise we will be only reactive. Also as we delay the issue and procrastinate, Pakistan and China will continue to ramp up the whole business collusively. It is in their common interest to sort out India. By itself India has terrific leverages in Tibet, Xinjiang and Taiwan. We need to have the political will to tread this path. Either way it will be forced on us. It is a matter of time.

Lt Gen P.R. Shankar was India’s DG Artillery. He is highly decorated and qualified with vast operational experience. He contributed significantly to the modernisation and indigenisation of Artillery. He is now a Professor in the Aerospace Dept of IIT Madras and is involved in applied research for defence technology. His other articles can be read on www.gunnersshot.com.

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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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