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Gilgit Baltistan: The exploited orphan

The brazenness of Pakistani elite is such that it has no compunction in exploiting natural resources of the region while denying its people basic rights to life and dignity.

Mir Junaid

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Pakistan has brazenly exploited natural resources of Gilgit Baltistan. (Below) Protests in the region against Pakistan’s endless exploitation.

Whatever be the reasons for a territory to be disputed between the two nations, the inhabitants of that territory cannot be denied basic facilities to live a civilised life; even if that territory is divided between the two for whatever reasons. Each truncated region as occupied remains under the control of that nation and therefore it becomes solemn responsibility of each nation to respectively care for the people of the associated regions. Human life cannot be abused and trampled upon by the dictates of the disputed political claims made by the disputing nations.

A comparison

The erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir ( J&K) of which Ladakh was a part—while the dispute had been referred to the United Nations—was accorded a special status by the Indian political leadership and a politically workable relationship existed between the Indian Union and the erstwhile J&K state and over the years it led to overall development of the people of the region that is, socially, economically and politically before this process was to some extent interrupted by the Pakistan-sponsored insurgency beginning 1989. Any observer—knowledgeable in history—can note the perceptible difference between the erstwhile J&K state of 1947 and the Union Territory of J&K of 2020 in terms of its economic growth; increase in literacy rates; rise in the percentage of the middle class; etc.

 Similarly Pakistan had under its control the areas. These came to be under Pakistan’s control because of a unilateral ceasefire announced by India during the war of 1947. The people of both the regions remain deprived of basic amenities of life even while the region’s natural resources are being—and continue to be—exploited by mainland Pakistan. The locals of the areas have themselves been posting the eye-catching difference between the region under India and that under Pakistan insofar as the development of the respective regions is concerned.

It’s a historical fact that Pakistan is solely responsible for creating a disputed status for the entire region. The misadventure of 1947 led to the separation of what has come to be known as Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK and Gilgit Baltistan (GB) from erstwhile princely state of J&K. The areas that went out of the jurisdiction of India were an integral part of the erstwhile princely state of J&K.

GB’s political status

 The region is a part of the erstwhile princely state of J&K that’s been administered by Pakistan since November 1947. Its legal identity and constitutional status have been under dispute for all the time. The occupation took place without the consent of the people and, for over 70 years now, the area has lacked a proper constitutional status, a working legal system—and the political autonomy that the erstwhile state of J&K in India had until a few months ago. Pakistan is yet to grant full constitutional status to the region, GB is neither a province nor a state. It has a semi-provincial status. The residents do not have a right to vote in the national elections, and limits on freedom of speech and expression have been imposed.

Rule by Ordinances

Pakistan’s policy of governing GB with ad-hoc ordinances was first started by former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto after she issued a Legal Framework Ordinance (LFO) in 1994 to establish the first assembly in GB. In 2007, Retired General Pervaiz Musharraf issued another LFO in 2007 as the Chief Executive of Pakistan. In 2009, the then Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillani issued an empowerment and self-governance ordinance, which was subsequently replaced by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s reformed package in 2018. The ordinances and packages had no constitutional protection and therefore failed to grant locals citizenship or representation in the parliament. Earlier to the above ordinances, the governance of Northern Areas (GB) passed through many hands from being governed by a representative of the Federal Government through the Azad Kashmir set up to the governance and legal control being handed over back by Azad Kashmir to the Federal Government via Karachi Agreement of 1949.

 Post the agreement, the GB area was governed through Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) by the Federal Government. FCR implied that the entire region was to be treated as the one inflicted with law and order problems and there was not going to be any formal official relationship between POK and GB. The law (FCR) stated that three basic rights were not to be applicable to the residents: the right to request a change to a conviction in any court; the right to legal representation and the right to present reasoned evidence, respectively. In 1974, the prime minister of Pakistan, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto abolished the FCR and introduced the Northern Areas Council Legal Framework Order 1974-75. This introduced some administrative and judicial reforms but did not provide fundamental rights for the people of GB. So, the Northern Areas Legislative Council (NALC) came into being. The control over governance remained with the Federal Government. In the wake of Pakistan’s Supreme Court decision in 1999 directing Islamabad to extend fundamental freedoms to the Northern Areas within six months, coupled with political pressure within GB, the government of Pakistan delegated further administrative and financial powers to NALC.

Consequent upon the Supreme Court order, in the 2007 reform package, the Northern Areas Legislative Council was upgraded and made a Legislative Assembly, and the deputy chief executive was made its chief executive. The Minister for Kashmir Affairs became the chairman of the new Legislative Assembly. Under this reform administrative and financial powers were also transferred from the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs to the Northern Areas. In August 2009, the PPP-led federal government introduced the GB Empowerment and SelfGovernance Order 2009.

It was a significant step in compliance with the 1999 Supreme Court verdict directing the government to take all necessary measures to grant fundamental rights to the people of GB. The elected Legislative Assembly though functional yet all major decisions continued to be taken by the federal government in Islamabad through the mechanism of the GB Council. In a new set of confusion, Pakistan changed the constitutional status of GB in the year 2018. It introduced the latest set of laws for the region through the GB Order, 2018. The new order annulled the GB Council and eliminated the role of the Pakistan’s Ministry of Kashmir Affairs, which earlier looked after issues in POK and GB region. Thus the GB Legislative Assembly became more powerful; however, the prime minister has a final say on policies of the government in the territory and can levy taxes. The net effect of all the ordinances and other legislations as briefed in the aforesaid lines is that the people of GB are not empowered to shape their own destiny and be in a respectable relationship with the state of Pakistan.

 Dubious pact with China

An important reason why Gilgit Baltistan was kept away from POK and under direct supervision and control of Pakistan was the China factor. The area ceded by Pakistan to China in 1963, south of the Mintaka Pass, belonged to Hunza. The Border Agreement of 02 March, 1963 changed the alignment of the boundary line between the Sinkiang province of China and the contiguous area under the actual control of Pakistan. India has challenged the legitimacy of this agreement. Ceding territory to China was not even discussed in GB as it did not have any elected assembly of its own. Articles I, II and VI of the 1963 Agreement, however, accepted that the area covered by the Agreement was disputed. Article VI of the Agreement stated that”

 1. The two parties have agreed that after the settlement of the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan, the sovereign authority concerned will reopen negotiations with the government of the People’s Republic of China on the boundary as described in Article II of the present.

 2. Agreement of Kashmir so as to sign a boundary treaty to replace the present agreement … Article I of the Agreement accepts that the India-Pakistan boundary in this area is not delimited or defined. It states that in view of the fact that the boundary between China’s Sinkiang and the contiguous areas, the defense of which is under the control of Pakistan, has never been formally delimited, the two parties agree to delimit it on the basis of the traditional customary boundary. Here, China concedes that the area is not under the sovereign control of Pakistan, a fact that becomes important when seen in the context of the CPEC.

A Pakistani colony

GB is a multilingual region with socio cultural and ethnic diversity. It is surrounded by three famous mountain ranges: the Himalayas, the Karakoram and the Hindu Kush. It occupies an area of 72,496 sq km. Shiites constitute 39 per cent, Sunnis 27 per cent, Ismaili 18 per cent, and Noorbakshi 16 per cent—and at least 24 ethnic and linguistic groups. The GB region is endowed with abundant and innumerable natural resources. The Indus river which flows through GB, offers vast hydro potential not only within the region but across Pakistan. The region is a notable supplier of many important minerals to the country as well as the world. The locals feel that the ambiguous status of the territory has prevented respective governments from designing policies on their economic needs and potential. Consequently, this has resulted in deep rooted poverty, with scarce economic opportunities. There is also among them a clear perception of how their land’s natural resources are being exploited without any benefits accruing to the natives. For example, they are sure that for the revenues generated by the Bhasha Dam, GB will not be paid any royalty, since it is not a constitutional province of Pakistan.

There is absolutely no transparent mechanism on the disclosure of revenues earned from tourism. While the federal government collects trekking fees, environmental protection fees and expedition adventure fees, it neither declares these revenues publically nor shares any earnings with local communities, is the charge. The locals from Hunza also feel that the federal government should disclose the amount of revenue it receives in duties from trucks entering from China. The money is not going to local communities and according to them it is unfair as the movement of heavily loaded trucks is causing environmental damage. The locals resent such centralised control as it depicts the colonial mindset of the federal government. The locals believe that economic discrimination between people in GB and those from other provinces is institutionalized because they have no voice in the National Assembly and other forums of decision making. Potential areas of revenue generation are out of the jurisdiction of GB assembly, and are managed and controlled by the federal government. This contrasts strongly with the position in Pakistan’s four provinces, where under the 18th amendment to the constitution, powers over areas like oil, gas, minerals, dams and tourism have been transferred back to the provinces allowing them to accrue the financial benefits. It is a paradox that under some political pretext Pakistan under its Constitution does not accord any constitutional position to GB for administering it and affording its people full rights as citizens, yet it feels free—as a matter of right—to exploit the natural and human resources of GB without any benefits accruing to the locals. This is pristine colonialism which Pakistani ruling elite seem to have painstakingly imbibed from their colonial masters. This is human conscience at its abysmal low and depraved.

Turbulent Society

 In addition to depriving the local population of the benefits obtained from exploiting natural resources of GB, the Pakistani establishment/ politicians mindset has succeeded in sowing the seeds of communalism between different sects of the local populace. The three communities- Shia, Sunni and Ismailis—with deep religious differences, lived in peace and harmony until late 1970s when schisms started to appear between Shias and Sunnis. Ismailis were also looked at askance because of their faith and the worldview. The clashes between Shias and Sunnis started getting organized from 1975 and thereafter became quite frequent. What Pakistan sponsored religious fanaticism did to the civilized Kashmiri society of India, the same formula had been tried on the GB society. Pakistan’s conscientious efforts to alter the demography of GB resulted in Shia community belief that their numerical majority in GB has been continuously diluted by the influx of Sunni ethnic Pathans and Punjabis. The situation seems to have reached such a stage where people now look at things from the prism of sectarianism and perceive everyone as problematic who does not adhere to their school of thought. Shia and Sunni are living in separate towns and areas, which reaffirms that social cohesion and integration between them is a distant dream now.

The safety and security of the Ismaili community in GB is also on the brink. While the community is known for its neutrality and peaceful outlook, which focuses all its attention on socioeconomic development and education, yet there is a lurking fear that even a small incident might incite hardliners to target this community. The locals believe that this would only widen the schism which is already tearing the society apart. It may not be out of place to compare the social situation in GB with that of erstwhile apartheid Africa.

Why an orphan?

An orphan does not have a true benefactor/well-wisher. Many orphanages have been found to exploit its inmates. Likewise, insofar as GB is concerned, Pakistan has shown greater concern for the territory of GB it occupied in late 1947 than for the people living there. The deliberately planned ambiguous political status of GB vis-à-vis Pakistan enabled the latter to change GB demography by making use of its usual practice of settling Punjabis Sunnis in the area and the net effect has been that it has created a turbulent society struggling to attain economic well being as also to decipher their place on the political map of Pakistan.

The brazenness of Pakistani elite is such that it has no compunction in exploiting natural resources of GB while denying them basic rights to life and dignity. The socio-economic and socio religious conditions are ripe enough to explode into a movement against Pakistan. This may be the reason why Pakistan is considering making GB as her fifth province which anyway India may oppose. Assimilating GB as fifth province of Pakistan may also be a reaction to the act of India reconstituting the erstwhile J&K state as two Union Territories. However, politically the situation is ripe enough to unfold in a way to redefine geography in the sub-continent.

 Mir Junaid is an alumnus of law school, University of Kashmir. He’s the president of Jammu Kashmir Workers Party (JKWP).His areas of special interest being grass-roots governance, gender justice and policymaking. He can be reached at: junaidjawaidmir@gmail.com. He tweets @MirJunaidJKWP.

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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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Defence

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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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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