The use of oceans, seas and waterways is as old as human existence itself. They have been the medium through which humanity, culture, ideas and trade have travelled across the globe. This would not be a counterintuitive idea given that two-third of the globe is covered with water. It is said that while borders on land divide, the oceans of the world unite. This quality of the oceans brings great significance to all nations, more so to a maritime nation such as ours.
The history of the world is replete with examples of seafaring and maritime nations that progressed and gained ascendancy by powering their national progress through the oceans. It was in the late 19th-early 20th century that Alfred Thayer Mahan (1840 – 1914) articulated the concept of the ‘maritime virtuous cycle’. This comprised three variables: industrial and agricultural production; merchant and naval; and markets. The maritime virtuous cycle operates within these elements with the merchant marine carrying goods to and from trading nations, creating national wealth and engendering national prosperity. As trade expands, the prosperous nation funds and maintains a naval force, which in turn ensures and protects national commerce.
The basic tenets of the maritime virtuous cycle have not changed in the hundred years since it was postulated. However, the maritime environment is very different today. As oceans facilitate access and create the global commons for humanity, being unregulated and unowned they also become the medium of source for threats to national security and prosperity. Historically, this has been well documented – be it the arrival of the Portuguese in the Indian ocean in the late 15th century or the ensuing loss of control of our oceans for the next three hundred years to the present day, when our coastal cities remain vulnerable to a few marauders in a small boat, albeit with support from inimical nations.
With the articulation of the maritime vision of India as SAGAR—Security and Growth for All in the Region—our maritime awakening is indeed well on its way. While we move outwards from our coast to reach out to our maritime neighbours, as we have done for many centuries before colonial rule, the spectrum of challenges our nation faces from the sea has also multiplied.
The Navy Day is celebrated every year on 4 December to commemorate the pivotal role of the Navy in the 1971 war with Pakistan. While this is the commemoration of a military victory at sea, the Navy is and must be seen as much more than a security force. It is a force for nation-building and contributes to strengthening our nation in many ways, in addition to providing a safe and secure maritime environment for the socio-economic prosperity of our citizens.
Oft repeated facts about our maritime domain are that India has a coastline of about 7,500 km with more than 1,100 islands and an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of over 2 million sq km with a vast seabed area that is rich in resources. Over 97 per cent of our national trade is carried by sea routes – this in itself calls for a modern, mission-capable and forward-deployed Navy.
The manner in which the Navy contributes to both the hard and soft power of our nation is best understood by an examination of the various roles of the Navy. In simple terms, the Indian Navy and indeed most navies of the world have four predominant roles: Military, Diplomatic, Constabulary and Benign. While the military role is easily seen and understood, the latter three roles are as important and are a significant measure of national power.
It is said that it takes a lifetime to build a Navy. And our naval planners have always created a force structure keeping in mind the roles the Navy will be called upon to perform in service to the nation. Today, the Indian Navy is the preeminent element of our national diplomatic outreach in the Indo-Pacific Region, enabling and supporting the amalgamation of like-minded nations facilitating a convergence of ideas on maritime security and national prosperity. With regard to the constabulary role, the Indian Navy is the agency tasked with coordinating national coastal defence and has also been at the forefront of providing constabulary support to our friendly maritime nations through coordinated patrols and EEZ patrols, on request. Thus, not only does the Navy keep our own maritime environment safe, it also extends the umbrella of security to other maritime nations.
The benign role of the Navy has been in the news in the recent past, with Operation Samudra Setu, bringing home many thousands of our stranded citizens when the world was in lockdown as the pandemic raged incessantly. With Operation Sagar, the Navy also reached out as a nation to maritime neighbours and extended a helping hand to their own national efforts in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic. The Navy’s will, cooperative posture and national outreach have earned the nation and the Navy the rightful sobriquets of ‘Preferred Security Partner’ and ‘First Responder’ in our maritime neighbourhood.
The contribution of the Indian Navy in nation-building can be expressed in more tangible terms too. The Navy today is a force comprising over 90,000 men and women in uniform and supporting staff. The Indian Navy, therefore, provides the opportunity to our citizens to serve the nation with pride, thus creating generations of skilled and disciplined men and women who continue to maintain and uphold high professional and moral ideals that reflect the ethos of the Navy.
As mentioned earlier, it takes a lifetime to build a Navy and this where the Indian Navy has been a most significant contributor to nation-building through shipbuilding. Even a cursory look at the maritime nations in the world will reveal that shipbuilding is the backbone of a nation’s maritime strength. This significance did not escape our naval planners who have, since Independence, focussed on indigenous shipbuilding to build our navy. Today, the Indian Navy is proud to be a ‘builder’s navy’ rather than a ‘buyer’s navy’. The link of shipbuilding with nation-building is not as tenuous as would be believed. As a fully mission-capable navy, the Navy’s shipbuilding efforts are focused on indigenous shipbuilders. More than 60 percent of the Navy’s budget is reserved for creation of assets and almost 70 percent of this is spent on indigenous shipbuilders—who in turn create an ecosystem of smaller industrial enterprises. Thus, the Indian Navy’s focus on indigenous shipbuilding spurs economic growth, engenders industrial skilling and creates strategic outcomes by sharing shipbuilding capacity with our friendly maritime neighbours.
The Indian Navy comprises a patriotic, motivated and capable cross-section of our nation’s youth and is cognisant of the nation’s faith in the Service. The investment of national resources in the Navy is significant and the Navy remains committed to plough back this investment to the maximum extent to the nation. The Indian Navy stands prepared and willing to rise to the nation’s defence no matter the cost, and to deliver help and support to our citizens across our entire maritime domain. While the oceans span outwards from our shores, the Navy not only keeps a firm eye on the maritime environment but has always been ready and willing to contribute to nation-building in the aftermath of calamities.
On the occasion of Navy Day 2020, the Indian Navy rededicates itself to the service of the nation and I conclude with the Vedic expression ‘Sham No Varunah’—may the Lord of the Seas be auspicious unto us—a reminder of our rich maritime heritage.
Commodore Susheel Menon is a serving Indian naval officer presently posted at Naval Headquarters and has interests in geopolitics and maritime strategy. The contents of this article are the personal views of the author and do not represent official position of the Indian Navy or the Government of India.
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INS TABAR PARTICIPATES IN MARITIME EXERCISE WITH ALGERIAN NAVY
The Ministry of Defence informed on Tuesday that the Indian Navy Ship (INS) Tabar took part in the maiden Maritime Partnership Exercise with the Algerian Navy on 29 August.
INS Tabar participated in the exercise during its ongoing goodwill visit to Europe and Africa. “The landmark exercise held off the Algerian coast and saw the participation of a frontline Algerian Naval Ship (ANS) ‘Ezzadjer’,” said the Ministry of Defence in a statement.
As a part of this exercise, several activities including coordinated manoeuvring, communication procedures and steam past were undertaken between the Indian and Algerian warships.
“The exercise enabled the two navies to understand the concept of operations followed by each other. It also enhanced interoperability and opened the possibility of increasing interaction and collaboration in the future,” the statement added.
Home Ministry appoints Rajwinder Singh Bhatti as Border Security Force ADG
NEW DELHI: Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has appointed Rajwinder Singh Bhatti, a 1990-batch IPS officer, as ADG Border Security Force (BSF) on a deputation basis up to 30 September 2025, his date of superannuation or till further orders.
According to the official statement, “Ministry of Home Affairs appointed Bhatti, a 1990-batch IPS officer, as ADG Border Security Force, on deputation basis, up to 30 September 2025, the date of his superannuation or till further orders.”
The Home Ministry has also written to the Bihar government to relieve him at earliest.
The state government is requested to relieve him immediately to enable him to take up his new assignments at the Centre, as per the official MHA statement. Bhatti, a Bihar cadre officer, is currently posted as Director General, Bihar Military Police, at Patna.
NO SECURITY THREAT AT PANGODE MILITARY STATION, CLARIFIES DEFENCE PRO
Reports carried by a section of the online media related to the security of the Pangode Military station here are ‘’unsubstantiated,” a Defence PRO said on Tuesday. “No security threat at Pangode Military station”, the Defence wing said in a release.
It said the news carried by the online media does not hold credibility due to lack of authentication and supporting evidence and warned that appropriate action would be initiated against any entity that peddles fake news, especially that which jeopardises security.
The office of the Defence PRO, in its official capacity, scrutinised the validation of the contents of the news segment publicised online from varied official agencies who proclaimed that the news is unsubstantiated.
“It is needless to emphasise that publicising such fake news in any media platform is against media ethics and is a serious breach of security”, said the release issued by the Defence wing.
The reports had claimed that the Pangode military station was facing a ‘’security threat’’.
CYCLING EXPEDITION FLAGGED OFF BY ITBP TO MARK ‘AZADI KA AMRIT MAHOTSAV’
SILIGURI: To celebrate the 75th Independence Day anniversary, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) commenced a cycle rally from Siliguri on 31 August and it will culminate in Patna on 8 September.
The cycle rally, which is a part of Azadi Ke Amrit Mahotsav, originally, started from Itanagar and culminates in Delhi’s Rajghat on 2 October, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. From Siliguri, as many as 12 ITBP personnel, including officers and jawans, were part of the cycle rally.
Talking about the motive, RPS Raghubangshi, DIG, ITBP-Gangtok told ANI, “The motive of the cycle rally is to connect with the locals and common people.” Meanwhile, in Ladakh, the cycle rally of ITBP personnel started the rally from Sakti village and reached Leh as of 31 August, covering over 236 km in total, tweeted from ITBP’s official Twitter handle. –
FIRE AND FURY CORPS CELEBRATES 22ND RAISING DAY IN LEH
PRO, Defence, Srinagar informed that ‘Fire and Fury Corps’ celebrated its 22nd Raising Day, on Wednesday, in Leh with a solemn Wreath Laying ceremony held at War Memorial.
Lieutenant General PGK Menon, General Officer Commanding, Fire and Fury Corps laid a wreath at the Leh War Memorial on behalf of all ranks of Fire and Fury Corps to honour the brave soldiers who made the supreme sacrifice during various operations in Ladakh. According to Srinagar Defence PRO, the corps was raised on 1 September 1999, in the aftermath of the Kargil War. Since its raising, the Corps has successfully ensured sanctity of both, the Line of Control with Pakistan and Line of Actual Control with China while maintaining eternal vigil at some of the highest battlefields in the world including the Siachen Glacier.
The Corps since its raising has been instrumental in the development of infrastructure in Ladakh for the common use of the Army and civilians, thereby promoting development in Ladakh.
The Corps has stood steadfast with the people of Ladakh in times of natural calamities, providing assistance and support in relief, rescue, and rebuilding of infrastructure.
“On the auspicious occasion of the Raising Day of the Corps, all ranks once again pledged to defend our borders with their blood and reaffirmed their wholehearted support to the people of Ladakh”, the statement read.
FORCE WELL-TRAINED, PREPARED TO DEFEND BORDERS: OUTGOING ITBP DG
The outgoing Director-General of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) that primarily guards 3,488 km long India-China borders ranging from Karakoram Pass in Ladakh to Jachep La in Arunachal Pradesh, while referring to the safety of the borders stated that the force is well-trained and always prepared to defend our international border in all situations.
Surjeet Singh Deswal, who retired, on Tuesday, as the ITBP DG while speaking to ANI said, “Whether there is an agreement or no agreement. We go by the needs on the border. India is a law-abiding nation. We respect our bilateral agreements. We respect our international conventions and the conduct which should be there between the two countries. We have never violated our bilateral agreements, our promises to our neighbours. We have always respected our neighbours. But we are always prepared to defend our border in all situations.” Responding to a question that there is a policy of no use of firearms on the Indo-China border and if in such a situation, if the Chinese attack the Indian side, what will India do, Deswal said, “Till our bilateral agreements are respected, we will keep on respecting. In case of need, we are prepared for all situations.”
On the India-China disengagement process and friction points between the two countries, he said, “Such border issues across the world take long to settle down. Our efforts in totality are the might of the forces, the diplomatic strength, our economic strength, the total collective forces of the country are on the job and to negotiate. Times are not as important as our claims are. We have to pursue our negotiations so that, at the end of the negotiations, our claims are with us.”
India and China have already disengaged from the banks of Pangong lake after extensive talks and the Gogra Heights and Hot Springs areas are left to be resolved as these friction points were created post-Chinese aggression last year. 20 Indian soldiers were killed in violent clashes with Chinese troops in the Galwan Valley in June last year.
The two countries have been engaged in a military standoff for almost a year but disengaged from the most contentious Pangong lake area last month after extensive talks at both military and political levels.
“I’m retiring after 37 years in the uniform. I served for 27 years in the Haryana state police and 10 years with GoI. For the last three years, I was heading ITBP which is an elite force of the country, looking after the India-China border in very tough topographical, geographical conditions. The force is well-trained for that terrain and is comfortable staying there and complete its mandate of protection of the international border. ITBP soldiers and officers are trained for all kinds of situations,” added Deswal.
Deswal is an Indian Police Service officer. He did his graduation (B.Sc.) from Panipat and LLB from Kurukshetra University. As Superintendent of Police, Deswal served in several important districts of Haryana such as Karnal, Rohtak, Kaithal, Bhiwani and Fatehabad and Commandant 5th Battalion of H.A.P, Madhuban. He joined the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the year 1994 and served as Superintendent of Police till 1998 in the All India Anti Corruption Unit. He was promoted to DIG, Railways and Tech.
As Inspector-General of Police, Deswal held the charge of important ranges like Ambala and Rohtak. He worked as Commissioner of Police of Gurugram, from 2009 to 2011.
Deswal worked as Director-General of State Crime Branch and Haryana Armed Police. He was awarded the Indian Police Medal for meritorious service in 2001 and President’s Police Medal for Distinguished Service in 2012 for dedicated service to the Nation.
Deswal joined Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) in December 2015 and served as Additional Director General (ADG) till October 2017. He served as ADG and Special DG (Operations) in Border Security Force (BSF) for a year. Deswal was appointed DG SSB on 30 September 2018 and appointed DG ITBP on 31 October 2018.
He retired after his three years of service to the force as its Director-General. Deswal handed over the customary baton to senior Indian Police Service (IPS) office Sanjay Arora at the force headquarters.
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