Just days after Indian Foreign Minister Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar made his first trip to Greece, the Indian and Greek Navies conducted a historic first joint military training in the Mediterranean Sea. This was a message from Greece to Turkey that it is building new partnerships and a show of power by India that it is not merely a regional power but increasingly a global one.
Jaishankar touched down in Athens on 25 June and did not leave until two days later. During his trip, it was stressed that India and Greece enjoy close and friendly relation which is strengthened by the shared values of democracy, rule of law, pluralism, equality, freedom of speech and respect for human rights. A Mahatma Gandhi statue in Athens was also unveiled.
Speaking with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the pair stressed that unfortunately Indian-Greek relations were not at the level that they should be, but noted that there will be a rapid strengthening in trade and investment, science and technology, culture, academia and people-to-people contact. They agreed to work together to further enhance collaboration in these areas, but more importantly that they will work towards a strategic partnership. It is recalled that Jaishankar was first supposed to visit Athens in November 2020, but had to reschedule the visit due to Greece’s second wave of Covid-19. Despite this delay, it did not stop relations from growing.
On 25 May, the Greek General Director of the General Directorate of Civil Defence and International Relations, Dr Konstantinos Balomenos, received the Defence Attaché of the Indian Embassy in Prague, Colonel Anupam Ashish. The pair discussed exercises and operational training at bilateral and multilateral levels, military academic training and dealing with hybrid threats. The two officials also discussed the mutual security and stability challenges facing each country. It is therefore unsurprising that on 30 June, just three days after Jaishankar left Greece that the historic naval exercise between the two countries occurred. Specifically, the exercise involved the Indian Navy Frigate INS Tabar and the Greek Themistoklis Frigate in the sea area southwest of Crete.
As Turkey is becoming ever increasingly hostile towards India, particularly regarding their position in support of Pakistan over Jammu and Kashmir, many in Ankara will be feeling uncomfortable that India is beginning to have a naval presence in the Mediterranean, especially alongside the Greek Navy which has never lost a battle since its modern formation in 1821.
The potential for Indian-Greek relations is limitless. Greece offers India access to European Union and Southern European markets via the Port of Piraeus, as well as supporting Indian interests in the European Union and NATO. India offers Greece investments, technology and new products. Undoubtedly though, the most immediate priority is consolidating and strengthening Indian-Greek relations in the military sphere. Both countries have revisionist and aggressive neighbours that openly declare they support each other’s aspirations for territorial expansion — against India in Jammu and Kashmir in the case of Pakistan, and against Greece’s maritime space and Eastern Aegean islands in the case of Turkey.
With both countries identifying that they face a collective threat, Jaishankar’s visit to Athens and the following joint military exercise just days later demonstrates that the two countries have much to gain from close relations. Mitsotakis stressed to Jaishankar the ancient civilisational ties between India and Greece, and it is from this very foundation that the new relations between these two modern democracies will be built upon.
Paul Antonopoulos is a Doctorate researcher based in Athens. He has a special interest in international relations, with a particular focus on multipolarity and the geographic space between ancient civilizational countries stretching from Greece to India. He frequently appears on television, radio and online/print media as a geopolitical expert.
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AIR MARSHAL SURAJ KUMAR JHA ASSUMES CHARGE AS AIR OFFICER IN CHARGE PERSONNEL
Air Marshal Suraj Kumar Jha has assumed the appointment of Air Officer in Charge Personnel at Air HQ. The Air Marshal was commissioned in the Fighter stream of IAF on 08 June 1984. In a career spanning 37 years, the Air Officer has flown over 2900 hours, including operational flying on a wide variety of fighter aircraft in the inventory of IAF.
During his career, the Air Officer has held numerous important appointments. He was the Commanding Officer of a front-line fighter squadron and has also commanded a premier fighter base. As an Air Vice Marshal, he held the coveted appointments of Air Officer Commanding Advance Headquarters, Commandant of College of Air Warfare, Assistant Chief of Integrated Defence Staff at Head Quarter IDS and Joint Secretary (Air) at the newly established Department of Military Affairs under Ministry of Defence. As an Air Marshal prior to taking over the present appointment, he was Deputy Chief of the Air Staff at Air HQ. The Air Marshal is an alumnus of Defence Services Staff College Wellington. In recognition of his service, the Air Marshal was awarded Mention-in-Despatches in 1999 for Kargil Ops and Ati Vishisht Seva Medal in 2021.
INS KHANJAR MAKES MAIDEN VISIT TO GOPALPUR PORT
Indian Naval Ship Khanjar becomes the first Indian Navy ship to call at the heritage coastal port of Gopalpur in Odisha. The two-day visit which concluded on Monday was organised as part of Aazadi ka Amrit Mahotsav as well as Swarnim Vijay Varsh celebrations to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Independence and the 50th anniversary of the 1971 War. The maiden visit of the Naval Ship was aimed at enhancing ties and spreading awareness with the local populace on aspects of coastal security and maritime operations.
During the visit, ship’s officers interacted with Port Officials and discussed aspects related to berthing facilities for OTR of Naval ships and security overview of port infrastructure. The ship’s team also undertook a cleanup drive at Gopalpur beach and tree plantation in the port premises. In addition, books and dry provisions were distributed to Samarth Orthopedically Handicapped Welfare Association, at Chatrapur in Ganjam district.
SWARNIM VIJAY VARSH VICTORY FLAME RECEIVED BY ANDAMAN AND NICOBAR COMMAND
The Victory Flame of Swarnim Vijay Varsh, commemorating the 50th anniversary of India’s victory in the 1971 war, was received by Commanding Officer, 231 Transit Camp, Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC) Col Gyan Pandey on behalf of ANC in Chennai. The Victory Flame, after covering 3,000 km on the mainland, is scheduled to travel 700 nm (1300 km) in the sea onboard the Indian Naval Ship Sumedha and reach Port Blair. On reaching Port Blair, the Flame will be received by the Lieutenant Governor, A&N Islands, Admiral (Retd) DK Joshi who would then hand it over to Commander-in-Chief, Andaman and Nicobar Command (CINCAN) Lieutenant General Ajai Singh for the conduct of commemorative activities under the aegis of ANC.
The Victory Flame would be taken to the towns of Port Blair, Mayabunder, Baratang, Diglipur, Hutbay, Car Nicobar and Campbell Bay, wherein it would be hosted by local defence establishments and would be on display for visitors and war veterans. Various events such as interaction with War veterans/Ex-serviceman/War widows, showcasing of the flame through the important streets, culture/entertainment programs, and cycle expeditions are planned at various stations. The flame will also be taken to Landfall Islands, the Northernmost deployment of ANC; Barren Island, India’s only active volcano and Indira Point, the southernmost point of the country. The journey aims to spread the message of India’s victory and the sacrifices of our war heroes to the remotest areas and shores of the country.
In December 1971, the Indian Armed Forces had secured victory over the Pakistan Army, and a new nation ‘Bangladesh’ was created. The victory resulted in the largest military surrender post World War II wherein approximately 93,000 soldiers of the Pakistan Army surrendered to the Indian Army. The ‘Swarnim Vijay Varsh’ celebrations began with Prime Minister Narendra Modi lighting the Victory Flame on 16 December 2020. The Victory Flame was lit from the eternal flame of the National War Memorial, signifying the bravery of the soldiers of the war. Since then, the Victory Flame is travelling across the length and breadth of India and a large number of commemorative events are being conducted during its journey.
NAVIES OF INDIA, INDONESIA UNDERTAKE 36TH EDITION OF COORDINATED PATROL
Indian Naval Ship (INS) Saryu, an indigenously built Offshore Patrol Vessel, is undertaking coordinated patrol (CORPAT) with Indonesian Naval Ship KRI Bung Tomo last weekend. The 36th edition of CORPAT between India and Indonesia will also witness the participation of Maritime Patrol Aircraft from both nations. The exercise, being conducted as a ‘non-contact, at sea only’ exercise in view of the Covid-19 pandemic, highlights the high degree of mutual trust and confidence, synergy and cooperation between the two friendly navies.
India and Indonesia have been carrying out Coordinated Patrols along the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) twice a year since 2002, to keep this vital part of the Indian Ocean Region safe and secure for commercial shipping, international trade and conduct of legitimate maritime activities. CORPATs help build understanding and interoperability between navies and facilitate the institution of measures to prevent and suppress Illegal Unreported Unregulated (IUU) fishing, drug trafficking, mari-time terrorism, armed robbery and piracy.
As part of the Government of India’s vision of SAGAR (Security And Growth for All in the Region), the Indian Navy has been proactively engaging with countries in the Indian Ocean Region to enhance maritime security in the region. India and Indonesia have traditionally enjoyed a close and friendly rela-tionship covering a wide spectrum of activities and interactions, which have strengthened over the years. Maritime interactions have been growing steadily between the two navies with frequent port visits, bilat-eral exercises and training exchanges. The 36th edition of India-Indonesia CORPAT seeks to bolster the maritime cooperation between the two navies and forge strong bonds of friendship across the Indo Pa-cific.
DEFENCE SECRETARY LAUNCHES WEBSITE ON 75TH INDEPENDENCE DAY CELEBRATIONS
The mobile app of the IDC 2021 platform will be launched in the coming days.
India is celebrating ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’, marking the 75th year of Independence from the foreign rule. The whole country is gripped into a patriotic fervour. To mark this momentous occasion, Defence Secretary Dr Ajay Kumar launched a website on the 75th Independence Day Celebrations 2021 (IDC 2021), https://indianidc2021.mod.gov.in, in New Delhi on Tuesday. It is a platform to connect Indians from the world over to celebrate the National Festival. The mobile app of the IDC 2021 platform will be launched in the coming days. The platform is freely accessible to all and provides updates and information regarding activities centred on the IDC 2021. It encompasses the entire Indian diaspora as if they were a part of the celebrations in person. It is an attempt to engage people of all ages, especially the youth.
For the first time ever, the platform will live stream the Independence Day Celebrations from the majestic Red Fort on 15 August 2021, in Virtual Reality (VR) 360 degree format. People can use this feature with or without VR Gadget. The platform also provides features like a special IDC Radio, Gallery, Interactive filters, E-books on deeds of Gallantry, 50 years of 1971 victory and Blogs on the Freedom Movement, Wars and War Memorials. Netizens can also log on to know the information related to the Independence Day event including minute-to-minute programme, route map, parking details, RSVP and details of other activities. The programme calendar for all initiatives taken by various ministries to mark the occasion is also available on the platform. Around 40 events are being organised across the country by the Armed Forces and various other segments of the Ministry of Defence, including Border Roads Organisation (BRO), National Cadet Corps (NCC) and Indian Coast Guard (ICG). Under the unique web-based RSVP system, a QR code will be affixed on each invitation card which is to be scanned by the invitee using his/her smartphone. On scanning the QR code, a web link will be generated through which the invitee will be directed to the web portal. On the portal, invitees can submit their willingness to attend the function.
Speaking on the occasion, Defence Secretary Dr Ajay Kumar said, the platform aims to imbibe the culture of togetherness among the masses so that they can celebrate this landmark occasion and unite under the common identity of being Indians. He shed light on the number of activities planned in the run-up to IDC 2021, including all women mountaineering expedition at Mount Manirang, 75 medical camps being organised by BRO and statue cleaning activities to be carried by NCC cadets at 75 places across the country. Dr Ajay Kumar added that people will soon be able to pay online tribute to the fallen heroes at the National War Memorial (NWM) in New Delhi. Interactive kiosks are being set up at NWM where people can pay homage to the brave hearts through digital means, he stated. The Defence Secretary also said that motivational talks with gallantry awardees or their next-to-kin and Veer Naris are also being organised as part of the IDC 2021. The details of the events are available on the website.
VICE ADMIRAL GHORMADE ASSUMES CHARGE AS VICE CHIEF OF THE NAVAL STAFF
Vice Admiral SN Ghormade, AVSM, NM has assumed charge as the Vice Chief of Naval Staff from Vice Admiral G Ashok Kumar, PVSM, AVSM, VSM, ADC at a formal ceremony held at South Block, New Delhi. Vice Admiral G Ashok Kumar is retired after glorious service of 39 years.
Vice Admiral SN Ghormade is an alumni of the National Defence Academy (NDA), Khadakwasla, Naval Staff College at the United States Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island, and the Naval War College, Mumbai. The Flag Officer was commissioned in the Indian Navy on 1st Jan 1984 and is a Navigation and Direction specialist. The Flag Officer has had extensive operational tenures onboard frontline warships of the Indian Navy. During his career spanning over 37 years, he has been through a myriad of operational and staff appointments. His important operational appointments include Commands of Guided Missile Frigate INS Brahmaputra, Submarine Rescue Vessel INS Nireekshak, and Minesweeper INS Alleppey, and Second-in-Command of Guided Missile Frigate INS Ganga. INS Nireekshak was awarded the Unit Citation for the first time during his command.
His important staff appointments ashore include Assistant Chief of Personnel (Human Resources Development), Principal Director of Personnel, Director Naval Plans and Joint Director Naval Plans at Naval Headquarters as separate assignments, Director (Military Affairs) at the Ministry of External Affairs (Disarmament & International Security Affairs), Local Workup Team (West), and Instructor at the Navigation Direction School and the National Defence Academy. The officer also held the coveted appointments of Flag Officer Commanding Karnataka Naval Area and Flag Officer Commanding Maharashtra Naval Area. In the rank of Vice Admiral he has held the challenging and coveted appointments of Director General Naval Operations, Chief of Staff Eastern Naval Command and Controller Personnel Services. The Flag Officer was holding the tri-service appointment of Deputy Chief (Operations & Training) at Headquarters Integrated Defence Staff prior taking over the present appointment as Vice Chief of the Naval Staff at IHQ MoD(N).The Flag officer was awarded the Ati Vishisht Seva Medal on 26th Jan 17 and Nausena Medal in 2007 by the President of India, and Commendation by the Chief of the Naval Staff in 2000.
He has succeeded Vice Admiral G Ashok Kumar who retires after more than 39 years of illustrious service. During his tenure as VCNS, the Navy saw an increase in budget allocation with 100% utilisation of allocated budget with impetus on capital acquisition. He proactively pushed for adopting ‘AtmaNirbhar Bharat’ Mission with Navy allocating more than 2/3rd of capital procurement from indigenous sources, 39 out of 41 ships and submarines for Indian Navy are being constructed in Indian Shipyards. The first ever procurement case under the Strategic Partnership Model for Project 75(I) was successfully progressed for issuance of RFP during his tenure. Many other instances of technological advancements, capability enhancements and research and development projects with DRDO and DPSU were progressed during his illustrious tenure.
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