FROM TRINCOMALEE TO NILGIRI VIA TRAVANCORE: 200 YRS OF MAKING IN INDIA - The Daily Guardian
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FROM TRINCOMALEE TO NILGIRI VIA TRAVANCORE: 200 YRS OF MAKING IN INDIA

The commemoration of Trincomalee, recollection of Tranavancore and rebirth of the Nilgiri class give us much cause to be proud of our past, celebrate our present and be optimistic about the future.

Cmde Srikant B Kesnur

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A journey starting from the picturesque East Sri-Lankan coast and culminating in the blue mountains of South India traversing through the exotic Malabar Coast might be the perfect getaway for an intrepid traveller. But this piece is not a travelogue; it is, instead, the trajectory of Indian Navy towards the goal of self-reliance, of making in India and of being a pioneer in Atma Nirbhar Bharat.

It’s a journey in which 12 Oct is a most significant date in Indian Maritime History. It was on this day more than 200 years ago, in 1817, that HMS Trincomalee – a Leda class 46 gun fifth rate frigate displacing 1447 tons – was launched. Notwithstanding the fact that she was named after a Sri Lankan port and served under a British flag, she was built in our own Naval Dockyard at Mumbai and is afloat even today, berthed in Hartlepool, UK, as a museum ship. In short, the second oldest ship in the world was made in India. And despite many changes over all these years, almost two thirds of her hull is still Indian teak. The mind boggles that a Frigate of the Napoleonic era is still in mint condition. Maritime historian Capt Ramesh Babu (Retd), the author of a book on Trincomalee (published by the Navy), who visited the ship few years ago, after her restoration, writes “stepping on board the ship is an exhilarating experience, especially if you have served in Bombay dockyard”.

Trincomalee’s bicentenary plus story is shining testimony of India’s maritime prowess and shipbuilding skills, alas unknown to many in our country. It is true that from about the 13th century onwards India declined as a maritime power and as a seafaring nation. This was to lead to the denouement of colonization with its attendant collateral damages. Loss of supremacy at sea led to loss of sovereignty on land. All this is well known, even if not completely understood, by Indians at large.

Trincomalee berthed in Hartlepool
Trincomalee figurehead modelled on its builder Jamsetjee Bomanjee
INS Nilgiri first big warship built in Independent India
Our indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC 1) undergoing trials at Kochi
Gigantic new aircraft carrier dock with the indigenous destroyer INS Delhi berthed inside.
The sleek look inside the indigenously built submarine INS Kalvari.

However, even in this bleak period there were some bright patches or rays of hope. The heroism and maritime savvy exhibited by the Admiral Queen Rani Abbakka of Ullal, the Kunjali Marrakars of Malabar and, later, by the Marathas is stuff of legend. Our coastal and riverine navigation and commerce continued. And the performance of our ships and naval personnel in both world wars earned kudos. Indian shipbuilding too survived and thrived in the colonial and precolonial period with several parts of India such as Bengal, Kashmir, Lahore, Surat, Bassein, Dabhol, Goa Calicut and, even, possibly, Bombay being among the important ship building centres. As naval historian Rear Admiral Satyindra Singh says of the Mughal period “there is evidence available to establish the high standard of technology in the construction of these ships and craft”. Ramesh Babu adds “Building of seagoing vessels would have existed in and around Bombay right from antiquity”. Here, it is necessary to emphasise that building a ship is the very acme of engineering, design, ergonomics, architecture and several other disciplines. Building warships is even more complicated business given the huge interplay of several complex factors.

In this light, therefore, one of the most illustrious maritime achievements of the colonial times would be that of the Wadia shipbuilders and the Bombay docks. The British, some years after moving their Headquarter from Surat to Bombay, built the Dock in 1735 and persuaded the Master Shipbuilder Lowejee Nusserwanjee Wadia to shift base in 1736. The rest, as they say, is history. Interestingly, renowned maritime historian Cdr Mohan Narayan (Retd) believes that the dock, in some form, and ship building happened even before 1735 but that would be another area of research.

The Wadia (carpenter or shipbuilder) family was known for their high standards of workmanship.  With the backing of their masters and an enabling environment in Bombay, the Wadia clan rolled out ships of different types – Pattimar, Grab, Galbat, Snow, Brigantine, Sloop, Schooner, Clipper, Frigate, Ships of the Line – as though in an assembly line. Between 1735 and 1899, seven generations of the Wadias built a staggering 363 ships of the finest quality and class. That is a stupendous average of more than 2 ships per year. Over a century and half, these ships built in India, by Indians, for the British and others, sailed all over the world, earning their spurs in war and peace.

They also made history. Apart from the aforementioned Trincomalee – often described as the ship that sailed through time – built under the supervision of Jamsetjee Bomanjee, it also included ships like HMS Minden (on which Francis Key wrote the ‘Star Spangled Banner’, the American national anthem), HMS Cornwallis (on which the Treaty of Nanking was signed, which, among other things, ceded Hong Kong to the British), HMS Asia (which took part in the Battle of Novarino, the last battle totally under sail) and HMS Ganges (the last Flagship of Royal Navy under sails). Ramesh Babu brings out that “Jamsetjee built world class battleships, frigates, grabs and other vessels for the Royal Navy using local carpenters and traditional skills at these new facilities”. This is true of other Wadias too.

Incidentally, the above mentioned Bombay Dock, the oldest in Asia, is functioning even today as the Naval Dockyard and is the principal yard that maintains and refits navy ships. The northern part of the erstwhile Bombay dock is today’s Mazagon Dock, India’s premier ship building centre. Together, these two are a splendid account of history, technology, human spirit and their link with the city but that needs a separate telling.

Many thinkers and historians opine that there is not much to celebrate these achievements since they were essentially in the service of the British crown, a foreign ruler. They make a fair point. But I believe that we must acknowledge the technical prowess, the skills and the overall ecosystem that enabled such world class ships to be built barely two to three centuries ago. More importantly, they underscore our maritime and shipbuilding skills honed over centuries and the inherent DNA, which ‘like the soul long suppressed found utterance’, to quote Pandit Nehru in another context, in this endeavour. Maritime historian and author Cmde Sanjay Kris Tewari (Retd) emphasises this aspect when he says that ‘we must not forget the contribution of one of the most important components in maintaining and sustaining a Navy viz. the dockyard. The Yard at Bombay was a pivotal institution in the sustenance of the British Empire, manned and operated almost entirely by our people. The Yard has also played a central role in the growth of our Navy. We still operate the dry docks that were built during the time of Lowjee Nusserwanjee”.

It was the combination of many circumstances that led to the decline of this flourishing industry. The steamships that replaced sail changed the whole paradigm of seafaring, for one. The opening of Suez Canal which was difficult for sail ships to navigate made their existence more difficult. And, above all, a concerted effort by the British to keep India at a low industrial and military (especially naval) threshold left us in the cold as new and powerful ships came to be built in the new steam and industrial age.

Old INS Darshak commissioning ceremony
INS Nilgiri our first Indian built big warship commissioned.
Full view of HMIS Trincomalee
H.M.S. Minden off Scilly, March 20th 1842. Julian, Humphrey J, Lt [artist]
Our Indigenously built submarine kalvari
Indigenous aircraft carrier undergoing trials at Kochi.

In an article written for this newspaper on 02 Oct, (https://thedailyguardian.com/on-mahatmas-birthday-remembering-indian-navys-pre-independence-journey/), I brought out how the establishment of the Royal Indian Navy (RIN) and the World War 2 brought back some urgency in building and refitting ships in India as the war effort needed many more ships. By Jun 1941 as many as 263 merchant and naval ships were fitted with degaussing equipment made in India, to counter the mine threat. July 1941 marks another landmark moment in Indian ship building when the first Basset class trawler HMIS Travancore, built at Kolkota, was commissioned. In the next two years 11 more ships were commissioned. Bangor class minesweepers also built in India joined RIN 1943 onwards. Several smaller craft and harbour defence boats were also locally built. 

Thus, after independence, it was the above mentioned shipbuilding DNA that came to the fore as our Navy set out to create a self-reliant force. The Navy’s founding fathers realised that we could not build a great Fleet by being a buyer’s Navy – it could be done only by building our own ships. As Rear Admiral Satyindra Singh in his book ‘Under Two Ensigns’ brings out, “As far back as 1949, it was realised by Vice Admiral Sir Edward Parry, the then Commander-in-Chief of the RIN, that any Service that depended entirely on imported ships, equipment and expertise would rue the day the umbilical cord of vital supplies from abroad was severed. It was he who during the late forties, had decided to set up a naval research and development organisation in India so that it could help the Navy to progressively indigenise the production of naval hardware and develop the necessary expertise within the country”.

Accordingly, a 1948 plan document of the Indian Navy envisioned aircraft carriers and submarines when we had less than half a dozen sloops. Many may have described such dreams as fantasy or whimsy. There were other factors disadvantageous to the fledgling Indian Navy – from low technology base to funding constraints, from the landward orientation of our leadership to an Army and Air Force that threatened to grab the lion’s share of resources. Hence, we adopted a two pronged approach. While initially buying from abroad, we set up our own design bureau to design ships suited to us. Our shipyards and dockyards slowly played ball.

We began with a small patrol craft INS Ajay built at the Garden reach Shipyard, Kolkota, moved on to a survey ship INS Darshak in 1964, the Bhatkal class minesweepers in 1968, started work on the first Leander, the Nilgiri class, in 1965 which were commissioned 1972 onwards, and worked our way up through the Godavari class frigates, the Khukri class corvettes, the Brahmaputra class frigates, the Delhi class destroyers, the Shivalik class stealth frigates, the Kolkota class destroyers besides other lines such as Landing Ships, Offshore Patrol Vessels, Missile boats, Survey ships, ASW corvettes, Auxiliary vessels, Coastal and Harbour defence craft and so on  Thus, to cut a long story short, today, 70 years after independence, we are building our own ships and submarines, including aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines. And our entire team of designers, builders, integrators, overseers and users are forming a virtuous circle each reinforcing the other.

To be sure, we still have some way to go. We need to have nearly 100 percent indigenisation; we need weapons and many systems to be sourced from within. But every ship that gets constructed has more indigenous content than her predecessor, every ship an improvement over the previous one. So much so that today a navy ship constructed in India is no longer news. And we also need to look at the context. Let’s not forget that India designed her first indigenous car, the ‘Indica’ in 1997 much after we had built our first ship. Incidentally, in 1997, India had built the most advanced destroyer, the INS Delhi, which was the 75th warship built in India and catapulted Navy into a new era.

Today, India builds world class warships designed by Indian Navy engineers and scientists. Even as I write this, the Indian Navy has quietly added to its amphibious Fleet this year, the Visakhapatnam class of destroyers are nearing completion, the Aircraft carrier at Kochi is conducting harbour trials and, illustrating the spin offs and virtuous circle, the private sector firm Larsen and Toubro (L and T) has delivered 7 Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) to the Indian Coast Guard, five of them ahead of schedule.

It has been a monumental journey and nothing symbolises this more than the happenings of 28 Sep 19, when three interrelated events took place in Mumbai. These were the commissioning of INS Khanderi, the second of the new Kalvari class submarines, the launch of the new Nilgiri class stealth frigates, the next generation multipurpose platforms that would enter the service from 2022 onwards (the 75th year of our independence) and inauguration of the Aircraft Carrier dock.

There are multiple significances to the three events – all with the Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh as the Chief Guest – when viewed holistically. They talk of our prowess in indigenisation, they attest to our three dimensional virtuosity and to our long legacy of aviation and submarining proficiency, The Aircraft carrier dock is an engineering marvel (do google for details) steered by Navy’s technical professionals. Fittingly, this dock was built by HCCL (Hindustan Construction Company Limited) one of India’s leading Engineering companies. HCCL was founded by the great visionary and freedom fighter Walchand Hirachand, who is also a maritime hero.

INS Khanderi along with its sister ship INS Kalvari heralded a new dawn for us as they entered naval service. Unlike their earlier avataars, the Foxtrot class submarines which were bought from erstwhile Soviet Union, these have been built in India, at the Mazagon Dock. It is true that this is a French Scorpene design and most of its components are French, but the mere fact of building a boat (as submarines are called) in India is bound to unleash several energies that would aid our manufacturing and entrepreneurship. Interestingly, they are the first Indian Naval vessel to be built using a modular approach, whereby five separate sections were welded into one or booted together. 

Building submarines will be the final frontier to conquer in our indigenous programme. Ironically, we had started building conventional submarines thirty years ago, in the eighties with the SSK programme. Built to German HDW design, the last two boats were constructed, also at Mazagon Dock, with the fond hope that this would ultimately lead to our own fully indigenous submarine building line. Alas, it was not to be and the lost decade of nineties dissipated our entrepreneurial energies. All the technical competence that we had built withered away and the envisioned assembly line vanished. Hopefully, we have learnt our lessons and will make sure that this does not happen again.

The rebirth of the Nilgiri class will strike a chord with most navy persons. A previous article of this author on 15 Aug on Adm AK Chatterji (https://thedailyguardian.com/remembering-the-admiral-who-shed-his-vice-and-built-the-navy/) brought out how events in 1968 culminating with the launch of the Nilgiri class frigates, our first major warship programme marked a watershed moment in our ship building history. After the last of this class were decommissioned in the early years of this decade, there was a fond hope that they would be reborn. The Navy’s decision to christen the latest new generation guided missile stealth destroyers as the Nilgiri class could not have come at a more opportune time emphasising Navy’s tryst with transformation while being rooted in tradition.

These events happened in Naval Dockyard and Mazagon dock, the very places in Mumbai where maritime history has been repeatedly made. As maritime historian and corporate trainer Cdr Ninad Phatarphekar (Retd) emphasizes “Hidden away in the history books is the fact that from 1736 to 1932 over 400 ships and vessels of various descriptions were built at Bombay Dockyard. Added to that are some 220 odd ships and vessels built by Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Ltd. from 1960 onwards taking the total to well over 600 ships and vessels which is a singular achievement for any city or shipyard. Shipbuilding and Ship repair is an industry that has flourished in the city of Mumbai for close to three centuries”.

The Indian Navy has been a pioneer in ‘Make in India’. Our naval planners and thinkers and designers and scientists and overseers have never wavered in our quest for blue water multi domain capability through self-reliance. The Navy’s technology ecosystem needs another article in itself to bring out the magnitude, depth, scope and the vast array of its achievements. (Do watch this space for more in the forthcoming weeks). For the moment though, we can proudly say that we have a legacy of 200 years of Making in India – though it is actually much more than that depending on your historical outlook. The commemoration of Trincomalee, recollection of Tranavancore and rebirth of the Nilgiri class gives us much cause to be proud of our past, celebrate our present and be optimistic about the future. Hopefully the rest of India will relish and cherish these maritime milestones. To borrow a phrase of a respected senior “Samudra Bharat hi Samrudhha Bharat hai” or “Only a Maritime India can make a Prosperous India’.

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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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