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FROM SOFT VACCINE POWER TO HARD ECONOMIC POWER

Just as the coronavirus pandemic destroyed the global order, the vaccines will reset the global order once again. One won’t be surprised if China approaches India for vaccines to tide over a crisis. Time to play hard ball on many issues is approaching.

LT GEN PR SHANKAR (Retd)

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The Chinese virus descended on us like a forest fire. It scythed through people, nations and economies. It upended the global order. A combative China controlled the virus spread and reopened its economy. The virus and health became domains of war through which China fought. Everyone predicted the dawn of a Chinese era of global dominance and the decline of the US and the West. It was well known even then that the long-term curative for the virus is eradication through vaccines. The vaccines have come. The virus has started mutating. We are entering a post ‘control phase’ of the virus into a ‘vaccination phase’/‘post vaccination phase’. Just as the soft power of ‘spread and control’ overturned the hard power of ‘economies’, the soft power of vaccination will again upend economies. Hence ‘efficacy of vaccinations, capacities, capability to vaccinate and ability to deal with mutations’ will be the new currency to dictate economic outcomes. As much as the virus has destroyed or enhanced economies, the vaccines have the potential to do so irrevocably. This story is all about the virus, the vaccines, their behaviour and how they are likely to affect economies and power structures.

WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS

The Chinese virus has mutated in the UK, Brazil and South Africa (SA). These variants are more contagious and lethal. Existing vaccines are proving to be less effective against them. The Virus continues to change the playing field. You can suppress and delay the Virus by isolation, lockdowns, social distancing, hand sanitation, tracing apps, testing, masks and more control measures. But the virus will infect you one day eventually. There is no escaping from that. Vaccines which are 100% effective prevent infection and onward transmission. That is utopian. In real life, vaccines are proving to be less efficient. However they will save individuals from the severity of disease. You could still get infected and pass it on to others.

The virus will be eventually corralled by herd immunity – achieved either by everyone getting vaccinated or infected. If herd immunity is not achieved through vaccination, suppression only delays the inevitable infection, disease and suffering. That is evident from China which declared victory through strict control. However it is now going through even bigger lock downs than at Wuhan. It has had the most cases since Wuhan in the last one month. Consequently, its manufacturing and services sector has started weakening. Every lockdown and mass testing regime has an associated extractive economic contraction. It is no brainer. People in the tropics are less affected by the Virus than those in the temperate areas. People who are from nations which have vaccination programs are less affected by the virus. Nations with younger populations are more resistant and less affected by the virus. These are empirical facts on ground (see fatality correlation chart). Hence, temperate countries without vaccination programs have to be either vaccinated or under strict prevention control. Tropical countries can tolerate the virus.

VACCINES ANALYSIS

As we enter this phase we need to understand the vaccines and their behaviour. The data about leading vaccines, their efficacy, how they work, who are using them, the production capability, their status and other details are given in self-explanatory, charts and tables below. In about six months there will be more options. It must also be noted that there are enough vaccines and capacities to inoculate the entire world population with two doses within 2021. However geopolitics and vaccine nationalism will not permit everyone getting vaccinations in 2021.

Very clearly, the western vaccines have demonstrably greater efficiency. The combined capacity of the West and India far outstrips the Chinese capacities and efficacies. The influence operations of the Chinese propaganda system is thus slowly unravelling. Data about Chinese vaccines are hazy—technologically and capacitively as also not trusted. Its ‘vaccine diplomacy’ is jading. Countries committed earlier to China like Brazil, Cambodia, Bangladesh etc are switching to alternate options. It can be due to either low efficacy or non-availability as required/promised or high prices or all. It is also on cards that China will ditch everyone due to internal compulsions. In turn, it might get ditched by everyone. The first sign of a sinking ship?

HOW WILL VACCINES BEHAVE?

There are some fundamentals about vaccination behaviour which need focus. There is no clarity on the time span of immunity post vaccination. It could be anything between 12–18 months. In such a case annual revaccination is on the cards. Whether past infection will prevent reinfection is also not clear with the highly contagious variants. Hence everyone needs an annual jab to prevent being stricken. Now the crunch. The original virus had a transmissibility (Ro) of 2.5 – 3.5. With a vaccine of 100% efficacy and life-long protection, the estimated level of herd immunity was 60–72%. If the vaccine efficacy is 80%, then the herd immunity required is 75–90%. If the new variants become dominant, it is estimated that herd immunity will be achieved at about 80-85% when using Pfizer and Moderna kind of vaccines. In case of lower efficacies, the entire population would have to be immunised. This is the condition for the Oxford and Chinese vaccines. Additionally vaccine hesitancy will challenge achieving herd immunity in many countries. The negative consequences of all vaccines are not known. Further mutations and vaccine resistance is also unknown but on the cards. Availability is uneven. These are complicating factors. The virus had a severe effect on the major economies of the world with most of them contracting significantly. What will the effect of the vaccinations be?

SOFT POWER OF VACCINATION TO HARD ECONOMIC REVIVAL

A fast roll out in adequate numbers, even if it is of less efficiency, will save people, enable herd immunity and enable people get on with lives. The capacity and ability to do so will dictate future economic power. Hence an analysis was carried out on the vaccination drives of major economies of the world. The forecast is up to 1 June 2021 to get a sense of when herd immunity will be achieved. Beyond that issues will change. The indications seem quite interesting. The data is tabulated below. The EU has just started its vaccination program, Japan is set to start its drive in Feb and data about Russia is patchy. Vaccination drives have started in the US, UK, China and India in earnest. A reasonable analysis is feasible only of these countries. Asymptomatic cases are an important aspect in this analysis since for every case discovered, there are 4-5 times the people who are asymptomatic. This has been factored in. In view of the effect of variants it is approximated that 80 % vaccination is required for herd immunity in the UK and the US. For China and India 100% vaccination is required since their vaccines are less effective. See the table below for details.

United States: The US has sufficient quantities of five highly effective vaccines. All five vaccines with public results have eliminated Covid-19 deaths. It has already vaccinated 27.8 million people in January. It is now vaccinating 1.5 million people per day and will sustain it. By 1 June it is likely to have 160-200 million people who are infected or are asymptomatic. It would have vaccinated about 103 million people. Even allowing that 50% of immunised people might be asymptomatic, the US would have anywhere between 200-300 people in the immunity zone. Herd immunity would be setting in by then. By August it is estimated that herd immunity would have set in and would be sustained thereafter. By the end of 2021 the US economy should be chugging back. When that happens they will ‘build back better’. Also, as the body heals, so will the mind under the new administration (which seems focused). People who were foolish to write off this giant will have to seriously rethink. Its technological prowess has just been demonstrated.

UK: UK is racing against the clock to beat the spread of its local variant. They have put in a regimen to administer the vaccine post haste. They have the technology to put vaccines on the ramp. Their problem seems to be availability of adequate numbers to meet their demand in time. They have put together a ‘war time’ system which includes taking calculated risks. If they continue with the British ‘sensibility’ which is their national hall mark, around 44-50 million would have been immunised by June. Soon after that they should be hitting herd immunity marks. By the end of 2021, its economy should be in restitution.

India: By Jun only 10% of Indians would have been immunised. However India is a unique case. The case load has been inarguably large but effect has been low. It also appears the peak is well past India. Infections have dropped from 100,000 per day in Sep to about 10,000-15,000 per day. Seroprevalence studies suggest that India’s major cities may be approaching herd immunity—even before a vaccine is widely available. The tropical location, young population and a strong vaccination program for other diseases seems to be working for India. The economy is visibly rebounding. The country has tremendous capacity to churn out vaccines which will increase with time. As I write this around 60 countries have already approached India formally for vaccines and 10 million doses have been dispatched as gifts to neighbours. It is a unique opportunity to provide an alternative to Chinese supply chains, unbind itself from Chinese dependency grip and forge ahead economically. Its vaccine diplomacy should not only reap soft power but generate hard remuneration. When the UN Secretary General says that “India’s vaccine production capacity is one of the best assets the world has today”, he is saying a lot.

China: China is a temperate country with ageing population, semi vaccinated ( general vaccination was interrupted during the cultural revolution) with proven vulnerability to its virus. Its control of viral spread earlier implies that it has to now vaccinate more. It needs 2.8 billion doses to achieve 100% herd immunity. By June it might be able to vaccinate only 10% of its population. Even if capacities are increased, by the end of the year they might vaccinate, at best, 30% people. Officially, China will produce enough doses by the end 2021 to cover 70% of its population. However, a senior executive at Sinopharm, opined it would probably take ‘a year or two’ to vaccinate 500 million people domestically (36% of the population). Take the typical military ‘Section average’. Herd immunity in China is a long way off. China will continue with control measures, sporadic lockdowns, and mass testing through 2021 and into 2022. By then the annual revaccination will be due. They will also have to put in some control measures to keep the more contagious variants out. Till the virus swirls around China it will drag their economy down. The BRI is turning into a heap of bad debts. Their military expenditure has increased. Relocation of supply chains will happen. Technology denial will be a norm here after. All this is happening when China is at its peak productive phase. Soon China will start feeling the effect of ageing. Add all these facts. If after all this someone says that an era of Chinese global domination has begun—all the best.

Other countries: As per available literature, Germany, France, Italy, Japan and Russia have secured enough vaccine supplies for their populations. Given the fact that they are smaller populations, they will manage to put in place measures to vaccinate their people to herd immunity levels as their programs roll out. Their economies will be getting back into shape by the end of the year.

SUMMARY

Just as the virus destroyed the global order, the vaccines will reset the global order once again. I will not be surprised if China approaches India for vaccines to tide over a crisis. Time to play hard ball on many issues is approaching. Our vaccine capacities will give us enormous leverages. We need to use it intelligently to convert our soft vaccine power into hard economic and diplomatic power.

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 indigenization 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 onwww.gunnersshot.com.

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Defence

INDIAN NAVY & IDFC FIRST BANK OFFER HONOUR FIRST BANKING SOLUTIONS TO NAVAL PERSONNEL

Ashish Singh

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IDFC FIRST Bank announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Indian Navy to offer Honour First, a premium banking solution, to serving personnel and veterans of the Indian Navy. Honour First is specially designed keeping in mind the needs of the Armed Forces community. It includes a zero balance salary Honour First salary account with unlimited free ATM transactions from any location, free fund transfers through IMPS, RTGS, and NEFT, free lost card liability protection and purchase protection. It has an accident insurance cover of Rs 46 lakh which include a children education grant of Rs. 4 lakh for wards of age up to 23 years and an additional Rs 2 lakh for girl child marriage cover for daughters in the age bracket of 18 years to 25 years. The MoU for Honour First was signed at the Naval Headquarters in New Delhi between Commodore Neeraj Malhotra, Commodore – Pay and Allowances, Indian Navy and Colin D’Souza, Head – Corporate Salary, IDFC First Bank.

Indian Navy is responsible to safeguard the maritime frontiers of the country including the island territories against external aggression as also assist in the safety of the world sea lanes in the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. Speaking on the occasion, Amit Kumar, Head-Retail Liabilities & Branch Banking, IDFC First Bank, said, “It’s a proud moment for us. The association couldn’t have come at a better time as the Indian Navy celebrates the Golden Jubilee of the 1971 war. The Honour First solution is customised to the needs of Naval personnel and stands rooted in our customer-first and nation-first approach. We are constantly improving our offerings using state-of-the-art technology for a superior customer experience. It is a privilege for us to now serving the Indian Navy with an array of our convenient banking services, digitised financial solutions and enhanced access.” Malhotra said, “I welcome the initiative of IDFC First bank to offer customised banking solutions to suit the needs of Indian Navy and its personnel.”

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FLEET AWARD CEREMONY OF WESTERN NAVAL COMMAND HELD AT MUMBAI AFTER ONE-YEAR GAP

Ashish Singh

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The Fleet Award Ceremony each year marks the end of the operational cycle of the Western Fleet, the Sword Arm of the Western Naval Command. The ceremony was held at Mumbai after a gap of a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This year, the ceremony was hosted by Rear Admiral Ajay Kochhar, Flag Officer Commanding Western Fleet. The ceremony marked the operational achievements of the Fleet from April 2020 to March 2021. The event was attended by Flag Officers of Western Naval Command with Vice Admiral R Hari Kumar, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Naval Command as the Chief Guest.




The ceremony hosted this year was a modest one in adherence to Covid norms. While the attendance was in limited numbers, the achievements of the Fleet were numerous as expected of the Sword Arm. A total of 20 trophies were given away covering a myriad spectrum of naval operations, safety practices and morale. INS Kolkata was awarded the ‘Best Ship’ among the capital ships for exhibiting immaculate grit whilst undertaking a plethora of maritime operations. INS Tarkash was awarded the ‘Most Spirited’ ship for an awe-inspiring display of enthusiasm and morale in all Fleet activities, exercises at sea and indomitable spirit. INS Deepak won the award of ‘Best Ship’ in the category of Tankers and OPVs.

The year covering the operational cycle from April 2020 to March 2021 was anything but ordinary. While the norm of the hour was to work from home, the Western Fleet remained mission deployed and poised for action during the challenging period last year. The Western Fleet also contributed immensely to Covid relief missions in support of the National effort to fight the pandemic. The ships and aircraft of the western fleet also undertook daring rescue operations to save innumerable lives when cyclone Tauktae struck the western coast of India. Today’s ceremony also paid a tribute to the sacrifices of the men and their families who put the call of duty before themselves for all these missions. The Sword Arm remains the first responder, operationally deployed, combat-ready and stood too.

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US STATE SECRETARY BLINKEN ARRIVES IN NEW DELHI ON A TWO-DAY VISIT

Ashish Singh

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The USA State Secretary Antony J. Blinken has landed in New Delhi on a two-day visit to reaffirm the United States’ commitment to strengthening Indo-US partnership and underscore cooperation on shared priorities. Secretary Blinken will meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Dr S. Jaishankar to discuss a wide range of issues, including continued cooperation on Covid-19 response efforts, Indo-Pacific engagement, shared regional security interests, shared democratic values, and addressing the climate crisis. On Indo-US ties, Secretary Antony J. Blinken has said, “The US and India are working together on so many of the most important challenges of our time and ones that are having a profound impact on the lives of our citizens. The partnership between the US and India is vital, it’s strong, and it’s increasingly productive.”

THE INDO-PACIFIC FRONT

India is a leading global power and a key US partner in the Indo-Pacific and beyond. At the inaugural Quad Leaders’ Summit in March, President Biden and Prime Minister Modi joined their Japanese and Australian counterparts in pledging to respond to the economic and health impacts of Covid-19, combat the climate crisis, and address shared challenges, including in cyber-space, critical technologies, counterterrorism, quality infrastructure investment, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and maritime security.

DETERRING ADVERSARIES AND DEFENDING INTERESTS

US-India defence cooperation is reaching new heights, including through information sharing, liaison officers, increasingly complex exercises like Malabar, and defence enabling agreements, such as the secure communications agreement COMCASA. As of 2020, the US has authorised over $20 billion in defence sales to India. Through the US-India Defense Technology and Trade Initiative, the US and India work together on co-production and co-development of defence equipment. The US and India are also closely coordinating on regional security issues, such as Afghanistan.

STRENGTHENING THE US-INDIA PARTNERSHIP

The US and India have a strong strategic partnership founded on shared values and a commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region. The US has supported India’s emergence as a leading global power and vital partner in efforts to ensure that the Indo-Pacific is a region of peace, stability, and growing prosperity and economic inclusion. The US and India cooperate on a wide range of diplomatic, economic and security issues, including defence, non-proliferation, regional cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, shared democratic values, counterterrorism, climate change, health, energy, trade and investment, peacekeeping, the environment, education, science and technology, agriculture, space, and oceans. In 2008, the US and India signed an agreement, making India a full partner in the governance and funding of the Fulbright Program. An increase in exchanges under the agreement has allowed for the development of new and innovative programs, and India now has the largest Fulbright Scholar (faculty) program in the world. In FY 2019, this funding provided opportunities for 61 U.S. Scholars, 66 Indian Scholars, 80 US students, including 29 English Teaching Assistants, and 55 Indian students, including 13 Foreign Language Teaching Assistants. The US and India are working to expand cooperation in international organisations. The US welcomed India joining the UN Security Council in January 2021 for a two-year term. In October 2020, India hosted the third 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue, and the US looks forward to the next 2+2 later this year.

COMBATING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

The US has contributed more than $200 million to India’s Covid-19 relief and response efforts since the pandemic began, including more than $50 million in emergency supplies and training for more than 218,000 frontline health workers on infection prevention and control, benefitting more than 43 million Indians. Earlier this year, the US and India initiated the renewal of a memorandum of understanding to collaborate through an International Center of Excellence in Research focused on infectious diseases, including Covid-19 and other emerging threats. The US and India are partnering to strengthen the global response to Covid-19, on issues ranging from addressing infectious disease outbreaks to strengthening health systems to securing global supply chains. The US pharmaceutical companies have coordinated with Indian companies since the beginning of the pandemic. This cooperation includes voluntary licensing and technology transfer agreements to increase global manufacturing capacity for Covid-19 vaccines, therapies, and conducting clinical trials.

TACKLING CLIMATE CRISIS

The US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry travelled to India in April of this year and met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. They discussed the importance of two of the world’s largest economies leading together to address the climate crisis. At the Leaders’ Summit on Climate in April, President Biden and Prime Minister Modi launched the US-India Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 Partnership to strengthen cooperation on strong actions in the current decade to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement and to help each country achieve its respective climate and clean energy goals. Under the new Agenda 2030 Partnership, the US and India look forward to launching the new Climate Action and Finance Mobilisation Dialogue, led by Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry, and relaunching the Strategic Clean Energy Partnership, led by Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm, later this year. The US looks forward to furthering cooperation with India on tackling the climate crisis and rising global ambition ahead of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, UK, in November.

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22ND KARGIL VIJAY DIWAS CELEBRATED ACROSS THE COUNTRY

Ashish Singh

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The nation remembers the supreme sacrifices of soldiers killed during the Kargil War when India successfully recaptured the covertly occupied few outposts inside the Line of Control on this day twenty-two years ago. Ever since the victory in Operation Vijay, 26 July is celebrated the ‘Kargil Vijay Diwas’ every year. Kargil Vijay Diwas is commemorated every year as a saga of gallantry and valour of a battle fought in the most inhospitable terrain in the World in the area of Kargil-Drass Sector of Ladakh. On this day the Indian Armed Force braving most difficult terrain, battling extreme weather conditions fought valiantly on the steep slopes of icy peaks with grit and valour thus defeating the evil designs of the enemy and throwing the intruders out from Indian soil. The Kargil War – Operation Vijay was fought at an altitude of approximately 16,000 feet. The ceremony was attended by a limited number of serving personnel from all three services following all COVID-19 safety precautions and guidelines.

DEFENCE MINISTER PAYS HOMAGE AT NATIONAL WAR MEMORIAL ON KARGIL VIJAY DIWAS

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh paid homage to the fallen heroes on the 22nd anniversary of Kargil Vijay Diwas at the National War Memorial in New Delhi on Monday. The Defence Minister laid wreath in the honour of the bravehearts who made the supreme sacrifice in the service of the nation during India’s victory in ‘Operation Vijay’ in 1999, also known as Kargil conflict.

In his message in the visitors’ book at the National War Memorial, Shri Rajnath Singh recalled the valour of the bravehearts of the Kargil conflict, saying that nation will never forget the sacrifice made by the gallant heroes of Indian Armed Forces. He added that the grateful nation will always be indebted to their courage and continue to follow their ideals. In a tweet, the Defence Minister said the supreme sacrifice of the brave soldiers will inspire the generations to come. Rajnath Singh also shared a video message on Twitter in which he saluted the valour and sacrifice of the brave Indian soldiers. Minister of State for Defence Ajay Bhatt, Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria, Chief of the Army Staff General MM Naravane, Defence Secretary Dr Ajay Kumar and Chief of Integrated Defence Staff to the Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee (CISC) Vice Admiral Atul Kumar Jain also paid homage to the fallen heroes at the National War Memorial on the occasion. Senior civil and military officials of Ministry of Defence were also present on the occasion.

During the Kargil conflict, the gallant soldiers of the Indian Army, with the help of Indian Air Force, overcame insurmountable odds, hostile terrain and inclement weather to win against the enemy that had occupied dominating heights. On this momentous occasion, the proud nation is celebrating the victory by remembering the fallen heroes through various events across the country.

KARGIL VIJAY DIWAS CELEBRATED BY ANDAMAN & NICOBAR COMMAND

Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC) celebrated Kargil Vijay Diwas at Birchgunj Military Station on Monday to commemorate India’s victory during the 1999 Kargil war. The wreath laying ceremony by a Joint- service guard, comprising all components of ANC, was organised to pay homage to the fallen heroes of the Kargil War, who made the supreme sacrifice, upholding the highest traditions of the Armed Forces. Commander-in-Chief Andaman and Nicobar Command (CINCAN) Lieutenant General Ajai Singh laid a wreath to honour the bravehearts. Veterans of all the three services residing in Andaman and Nicobar Islands were also invited for the function. The CINCAN also interacted with the troops. He called for jointness among the Armed Forces and preparedness at all times, saying that it provides an exponential advantage in the battle field. All COVID-19 protocol measures were followed by the personnel present at the event.

HOMAGE PAID TO KARGIL VEERS AT THE WAR MEMORIAL AT VISAKHAPATNAM

On the occasion of the 22nd Anniversary of Kargil Vijay Diwas, Eastern Naval Command paid homage to our brave soldiers who laid down their lives fighting for our country. Vice Admiral Sreekumar Nair, Director General Naval Projects, Visakhapatnam, Mr. Manish Kumar Sinha, Commissioner of Police, Visakhapatnam and Commodore Rahul Gokhale Commanding Officer INS Circars paid homage to the Veers of Kargil War in a solemn wreath-laying ceremony at ‘Victory at Sea’ War Memorial Visakhapatnam. A 50 men Guard of Honour was paraded on the occasion. The Guard performed the ‘Salami Shastra’ and Vice Adm Sreekumar Nair placed the floral wreath. While the bugler sounded the ‘Last Post’, a two-minute silence was observed.

HOMAGE PAID ON KARGIL VIJAY DIWAS AT SHAHEED SMARAK, MUMBAI

On the occasion of the 22nd Kargil Vijay Diwas on 26th July, a solemn wreath laying ceremony was conducted at Shaheed Smarak at Colaba, Mumbai to commemorate the victory of the Indian Armed Forces and to pay tribute to the supreme sacrifice of our martyrs. During the ceremony, wreaths were laid by Vice Admiral R. Hari Kumar, PVSM, AVSM, VSM, FOC-in-C Western Naval Command, followed by Lieutenant General S.K. Prashar, AVSM, VSM, General Officer Commanding Maharashtra Gujarat & Goa Area, Rear Admiral Atul Anand VSM, Flag Officer Commanding Maharashtra Naval Area and Group Captain Jitendra Dinkar Masurkar, VM officiating Air Officer Commanding, Headquarters Maritime Air Operations and other Senior officers from all three services.

SOUTHERN ARMY COMMANDER PAYS HOMAGE AT WAR MEMORIAL, PUNE

Headquarters Southern Command celebrated Kargil Vijay Diwas which commemorates the Indian Armed Forces victory over Pakistan in 1999. 26th July every year is celebrated as ‘Kargil Vijay Diwas’ across the nation as a mark of remembrance for those who fought bravely at the icy heights with valour, defeating the enemy. Lt Gen J.S. Nain, GOC-in-C Southern Army in a solemn wreath laying ceremony held at the National War memorial, Pune paid tribute to the brave hearts of Kargil War who made the supreme sacrifice in maintaining the territorial integrity of the nation. Maj Gen Hukkur A.K. (Retd) the senior most veteran from Pune also laid wreath and paid homage to the Kargil War heroes. A week long celebration activities were organised across all Military Stations in Southern Command wherein Gallantry Award winners, veterans and veer naaris were felicitated during various events.“Kargil veterans are a source of inspiration to all of us in the Armed Forces and the nation. Their supreme sacrifice and service can never be forgotten,” said the Army Commander. He also felicitated the veterans present at the National War Memorial. During his interaction he gave assurance to all the veterans that the Indian Army is moving very strongly in the right directions as set by them and is absolutely committed and ready for any eventuality. The ceremony was conducted keeping strict COVID protocols with limited attendance.

ARMY CELEBRATES KARGIL VIJAY DIWAS

July 26 is observed as Kargil Vijay Diwas in memory of soldiers who sacrificed their life in Kargil War which took place from 3rd March to 26th July 1999. The day commemorates the success of “Operation Vijay” which was launched to recapture Indian territories occupied by Pakistani intruders in the Kargil-Drass sector in 1999. Kargil Vijay Diwas is a symbol of fearless determination and exceptional valour of Indian Armed Forces.

On the 22nd anniversary of Kargil Vijay Diwas, Sh Conrad Sangma, Chief Minister of Meghalaya and Lt Gen KC Panchanathan, AVSM, GOC 101 Area garlanded the busts of Capt K.C. Nongrum, MVC (P) and Maj David Manlun, KC (P), the two brave hearts from Meghalaya, who laid down their lives for honour of their motherland at Rhino Heritage Museum, Shillong. The Chief Minister interacted with the families of the heroes who were also present for the occasion. Later Air Marshal Amit Dev, AVSM, VSM, AOC-in-C Eastern Air Comd, Lt Gen KC Panchanathan, AVSM, GOC 101 Area and Lt Gen PC Nair, AVSM, YSM, DGAR laid wreaths at Rhino Prerna Sthal, Shillong in the memory of brave hearts who had made supreme sacrifice in Operation Vijay. The event was also attended by serving personnel and veterans.

GAJRAJ CORPS PAYS TRIBUTES TO WAR HEROES ON THE OCCASION OF KARGIL VIJAY DIWAS

On the occasion of Kargil Vijay Diwas, General Officer Commanding Gajraj Corps Tezpur Lt Gen Ravin Khosla laid wreath and paid tributes to the bravehearts of the Kargil War who sacrificed their lives to safeguard the sovereignty and integrity of the country, at Gajraj War Memorial in Tezpur on Monday. Kargil Vijay Diwas is celebrated every year on July 26 to commemorate India’s resounding victory over Pakistan in Operation Vijay in 1999.The Kargil war is regarded as a testimony of the Indian Armed Force’s grit and determination, in which the soldiers exhibited dauntless courage, resilience, valour and fought against all odds in the high altitude mountains in Kargil. Indian Army evicted the entrenched infiltrators from the icy heights and ensured a convincing victory for the country.

ASSAM RIFLES COMMEMORATES 22ND KARGIL VIJAY DIWAS IN MIZORAM

The battalions of 23 Sector Assam Rifles under the aegis of HQ IGAR(East) on Monday joined the nation in remembering the heroes of nation and celebrating 22nd anniversary of Indian Army’s victory in “Operation Vijay”. A grateful nation commemorates 26th July every year as “Kargil Vijay Diwas” to mark the victory of Indian Armed Forces against the intruders in icy heights of Kargil on this day. To pay tribute to the supreme sacrifice of our martyrs, a solemn wreath laying ceremony was organized at Assam Rifles War Memorial in Aizawl, Mizoram. Dr. Kambhampati Hari Babu, Governor of Mizoram graced the event as chief guest and also laid a wreath to honor the courage, valor and sacrifice of our martyrs.

The event also included visit of the Governor to the historical Quarter Guard of Assam Rifles. The construction of this historic building dates back to 1898, when this formed nucleus of ‘Aijal Fort’. The Aizawl city has developed with this building as its epicentre. Two majestic cannons used in the Battle of Waterloo placed in this building by Lt Col J Shakespeare, then superintendent of Lushai Hills add to the grandeur of the Quarter Guard. A motivational movie was screened at Serchhip showcasing the honour and valour of the martyrs during the Kargil war. An online quiz competition was organised at Lunglei for the kids as part of the Vijay Diwas celebrations.

KARGIL VIJAY DIWAS 2021 CELEBRATED AT KARGIL WAR MEMORIAL

The solemn ceremony to celebrate the 22nd anniversary of the Kargil Vijay Diwas at the Kargil War Memorial, Dras was held with Mr. R.K. Mathur, Lt Governor as the Chief Guest who laid a wreath and paid his tributes to the fallen soldiers in a ceremony held at Kargil War Memorial, symbolising ‘Shradhanjali’ from the entire nation to the bravehearts. This year’s Kargil Vijay Diwas celebrations were unique in two ways as the Kargil Vijay Diwas coincided with the ‘Swarnim Vijay Varsh Victory Flame’ reaching the Kargil War Memorial. The journey of the Victory Flame across the country commemorates 50 years of triumph in the 1971 Indo-Pak War.

On 26th July, at the Kargil War Memorial, the proceedings commenced with the reception of the ‘Swarnim Vijay Varsh Victory Flame’ at the Kargil War Memorial by General Bipin Rawat, Chief of Defence Staff in the presence of Lt Gen Y.K. Joshi, GOC-in-C Northern Command, Lt Gen P.G.K. Menon, GOC 14 Corps, Lt Gen D.P. Pandey, GOC 15 Corps and Lt Gen M.V. Suchindra Kumar, GOC 16 Corps, other officers, gallantry awardees, Veer Naris, NoKs of martyrs and civil dignitaries. It was followed by a solemn Wreath Laying Ceremony by esteemed civil and military dignitaries. The gallantry awardees of the Kargil War, next of kin of bravehearts, and veer naris also paid their tributes to the fallen heroes with tearful nostalgia. Every year on this day, the nation pays homage to the supreme sacrifices made by our bravehearts during Operation VIJAY in the Kargil War of 1999.

GAJRAJ CORPS PAYS TRIBUTES TO WAR HEROES ON THE OCCASION OF KARGIL VIJAY DIWAS

On the occasion of Kargil Vijay Diwas, General Officer Commanding Gajraj Corps Tezpur Lt Gen Ravin Khosla layed wreath and paid tributes to the bravehearts of the Kargil War who sacrificed their lives to safeguard the sovereignty and integrity of the Country, at Gajraj War Memorial in Tezpur on Monday. Kargil Vijay Diwas is celebrated every year on July 26 to commemorate India’s resounding victory over Pakistan in Operation Vijay in 1999. The Kargil war is regarded as a testimony of the Indian Armed Force’s grit and determination, in which the soldiers exhibited dauntless courage, resilience, valour and fought against all odds in the high altitude mountains in Kargil. Indian Army evicted the entrenched infiltrators from the icy heights and ensured a convincing victory for the country.

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Defence

INS AIRAVAT REACHES JAKARTA WITH COVID RELIEF SUPPLIES FOR INDONESIA

Ashish Singh

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Indian Naval Ship Airavat arrived at the Port of Jakarta, Indonesia, carrying essential COVID-19 relief supplies. The ship has brought five Cryogenic containers containing 100 MT of Liquid Oxygen and 300 Concentrates to support Indonesia in its fight against the ongoing pandemic.

INS Airavat is a Landing Ship Tank (Large) type of ship with a primary role to carry out amphibious operations and is capable of carrying multiple tanks, amphibious vehicles and other military cargo. The ship is also deployed for HADR relief operations and has been a part of various relief efforts across the Indian Ocean Region. India and Indonesia enjoy close cultural and commercial ties. Both countries have been working together in the maritime domain towards a safer Indo-Pacific. The navies regularly carry out joint naval exercises in the form of bilateral exercises and coordinated patrols.

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Defence

22ND KARGIL VIJAY DIWAS CELEBRATIONS COMMENCE AT DRAS SECTOR IN KASHMIR

Ashish Singh

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The celebrations of 22nd Kargil Vijay Diwas commenced at Kargil War Memorial, Dras on Sunday. Early in the morning, a special event narrating the stories of Operation VIJAY was organized by the Army at Lamochen near Dras where an account of the epic battles on Tololing, Tiger Hill, Pt 4875 and other prominent features was narrated with these very landmarks visible to the audience in front of their eyes. A number of military personnel including the gallantry award winners and families of Kargil War heroes attended the event. The narration took everyone down the memory lane showcasing the daring feat achieved by the valiant soldiers of Indian Army.

Later in the day, the venue of the celebrations shifted to the Kargil War Memorial. A Fusion Military Band put up a display which was followed by a solemn ‘Beating the Retreat’ Ceremony and a Memorial Service, where the attendees paid silent tribute to the fallen heroes. At the memorial, 559 Lamps were also lit, which were a symbolic reminder of lives sacrificed by 559 bravehearts for the Nation. The last event of the day was, ‘A Twilight with Brave Hearts’, with the soldiers at Polo Ground, Dras. In a special tribute to the heroes of Kargil War, musician Aman Chandra enthralled the audience with his musical performance during the eve. Later in the evening, a performance by the Fusion Band of Indian Army along with their lighted pipers was planned as a humble tribute to the valour of our brave soldiers. The trailer of Captain Vikram Batra’s biopic, ‘Shershah’ by Dharma Productions was also released and ‘Maa Teri Kasam’, a soulful and emotive song, conceptualised by Northern Command was screened.

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