History is full of examples whenever the ambition of any autocrat grew beyond global tolerance, he became responsible for collapse of his regime, resulting in disaster of the country and its population, which emboldened him by mute tolerance. Today, despite facing unprecedented global anger for being the originator of novel coronavirus, the aggressiveness of the Chinese leadership on multiple fronts to suppress internal and external dissent has pushed the world against itself. Xi Jinping’s unfair adventurism for incremental encroachment to all its claim areas in continental and maritime domain, at a time when other countries are suffering from most dangerous pandemic of the century, with death toll rising every day, is amounting to inhuman aggression, junking all morals, international conventions, rules, treaties and forcing the world to reluctantly react against his regime.
Xi started his term by dreamselling that all rural Chinese living below the poverty line would no more be poor by 2020. Internationally he projected himself as the crusader for world peace and climate change, insurer of international order (Despite junking the ruling of PCA and violating UNCLOS), with a resolve to push through Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to fulfil Chinese dream of rejuvenation after century of humiliation. He indirectly declared himself as tallest leader on the planet. The manner he got himself re-elected for second term and did everything possible to make himself great, under the banner of ‘Making China Great’. He seems to assume that the world will accept him as the tallest autocratic leader, as Chinese people accepted him, without worthwhile checks and balances. Post 19th Congress of CPC, enshrinement of Xi Jumping’s thoughts and ideas like BRI in the Chinese constitution, resulted into his self-achievement of a parallel status to Mao Zedong in China. He has been on a title grabbing spree holding over 12 top class appointments in China including Commander in Chief of Joint Battle Command of PLA, reorganizing CMC as its Chairman, with his loyalists holding top hierarchy, to rein PLA for him. His anticorruption drive was most popular amongst masses seeing powerful people in jail, besides systematically eliminating the entire dissenting elements and all his possible competitors through this drive.
The Boiling Pot
He took over in 2012 with 7.9 percent GDP growth and led China to economic downslide thereafter. With failing BRI, mishandling of COVID-19, there is no worthwhile achievement to his credit except that he managed to eliminate dissenting elements better than others. His critiques in CPC feel that his real achievements do not match his elevation to the status of Mao, which has created some disgruntled elements/lobbies. They are still under check from his comprehensive surveillance, because disagreeing with Xi ‘The Core’ is antinational, leading to jail. By placing watchdog body ‘National Supervisory Commission’ above law Xi has indicated that dissent has no place in “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era” and adequate ‘Revolutionary Tampering’ will be resorted to quell dissent. In fact Xi is pushing his country to a state where there is only one leader and everyone else is a worker. It is quite clear to Xi Jinping and CPC, that so long he delivers economically, the people will tolerate his autocracy, and his opponents will be quiet. So long CPC ensures economic progress and the people of China get a decent life, they will continue with forced praises of Xi Jinping. Xi’s loyalists hold every key appointment in China including chiefs of State-Owned Enterprises (SOE’s), which are surviving on bank loans. When his regime stops delivering economically, the democratic winds will start flowing from Hong Kong and Taiwan, and the educated youth may not tolerate the autocratic system of Xi Jinping, having no worthwhile grievance redressal mechanism. After all China is third most popular educational hub, with largest number of PhD’s in the world, where population understands the entire power play. They cannot be assumed to be quiet forever. The biggest threat to China comes from within. The legal system stands hostage to party leadership justifies the boiling pot theory.
Making China overaggressive
Some of his actions like laying restrictions on religious practices and forced abortions for Uyghurs’ in Xinjiang, use of force in trying to prevent democratic thoughts and National Security Law for Hongkong, forcing Christians to replace Jesus Christ photos by Xi Jinping’s photo to avail government benefits, may be too risky as it may break the internal cohesion of China. Xi’s efforts like forcing students to read Xi’s thoughts (Equivalent of Mao Redbook) can be seen as an effort to change societal fabric do not go very well in China of New era with educated population. The strict censorship of media and internet, and electronic isolation of thoughts indicates attempt to bring societal changes to minimize unrests/disagreements. The viability of “Implosion theory” is feared to be a reality by a totalitarian regime; hence a dose of nationalism to be nurtured through external aggression playing a victim card supported by propaganda suits Xi Jinping’s hold on power.
China got over the pandemic cycle of novel coronavirus earlier than other major countries including India, while all its strategic contenders are still busy combating Covid-19. China has unfairly used it as an opportunity to assert itself on multiple fronts, including India China land borders to scrumptiously encroach some area not supposed to be held as per the mutually agreed CBMs, where both sides were free to patrol. This is a sequel to Chinese adventurism in Indo-Pacific at multiple places in South and East China Sea with greater assertion against other claimants like Vietnam, Indonesia and Philippines. Besides coercion of Taiwan, it has also taken away the autonomy of Hong Kong by passing draconian National Security Act unilaterally, bringing an end to One Country Two System, agreed upon at the time of reversion of Hong Kong to China. The rationale of China being over assertive at the time of pandemic comes from Sun Tzu’s thoughts of ‘strike adversary when it’s weak and preserve yourself when it is strong’. China is therefore speeding up its Incremental Encroachment Strategy in South China Sea as well as LAC.
Undeclared World War III
Most strategists normally call the present global situation as ‘Cold War 2.0’. Cold War, as per Cambridge Dictionary, is a state of extreme unfriendliness existing between countries, especially countries with opposing political systems that expresses itself “not through fighting, but through political pressure and threats”. This expression was usually used to describe the relationship between the US and the Soviet Union after the Second World War. The erstwhile Cold War did not see hybrid war of recent times. The present geopolitical situation witnesses hybrid war in different forms with changed instruments and dimensions. The incremental encroachment of territory by China in terms of features in South China Sea claimed by others junking PCA ruling, Economic war, Cyber and information war, and large scale military posturing in Indo-Pacific and physical land-grab offensive by China in Ladakh, using pandemic as a weapon and relative CNP as a force takes it beyond Cold War.
The global strategic situation described above is beyond the definition/bounds/ realms of cold war. It has graduated to conflicts, forceful occupation of territory like South China Sea, innumerable deaths beyond both world wars put together due to alleged biological agent spread in asymmetric manner and economic destruction; hence calling it Cold War 2.0 will be understatement. The possible alliances seem to be on the horizon are China, Pakistan, and North Korea. Russians and Iran have a forced marriage with China, due to sanctions from US and economic compulsions, but given the geostrategic situation, playing neutral, along with sale of weaponry/oil may be the best option for them. China will have to bandwagon most cash strapped partners through its dwindling economy, if it wants to count on them. In contrast the other axis seemingly developing is US-centred with Indo-pacific countries suffering Chinese aggression along with old alliances of the West like NATO. The reality check carried out from definitions of War, Cold War, Force, World War and Comprehensive National Power(CNP), clearly brings out that the global situation has every element of a World War, except that the dimension, instruments and modalities have changed, and the war has not been ‘Formally Declared’; hence it may not be wrong to call it “Undeclared Third World War with Changed Instruments and dimensions”. The world has already entered in preparatory phase of it, without recognising it to be so.
Opening multiple fronts
Benefitting from early recovery of pandemic, Chinese leadership has used the opportunity to up the ante and open multiple fronts for strategic gains to achieve their ambition to enhance their claims on territorial and maritime domain and encroach up to its ever increasing claim lines, making best of its relative advantage of resultant CNP, as the opponents struggle with pandemic. The strategic calculations of China seem to be ambitious, because in authoritarian state the sycophancy sometimes prevents leaders getting objective advices from subordinate strategists. When Hitler launched offensive in Russia in World War II, beyond its logistics limit for sustaining in winters, he overruled advices of subordinates and brought Germany to unprecedented disaster.
In case of China, Xi is emboldened by modernised arsenal and extensive exercises and propaganda is planning to take on some of the most experienced troops despite not having a single pilot in PLA with any operational experience. While its density of arsenal in South China sea and Eastern Sea board looks impressive, but its vulnerability of long Sea lanes of Communications in Malacca strait and Indian Ocean, coupled with the threat of blockading of its naval bases by hostile navies, can draw PLA out of its comfort zone, where it is no match to combined navies of hostile countries given the fact that defence budget of US has been many times of PLA over so many decades. The strong military posturing by navies from US, Australia, Japan, and regional claimants of South China Sea are enough for shadow boxing, because an all out war is recipe for mutually assured destruction (MAD) which Beijing cannot afford given the fact that it faces potent nuclear and space powers.
Pattern of global reaction
In continental domain its land grab efforts in Ladakh have been rebutted by India, which honoured its 20 fallen soldiers with state honours, whereas PLA chose to hide its fallen soldiers much more in number, creating another wave of anger amongst PLA veterans. The mutual disengagement is being viewed with suspicion as PLA demonstrated its unprofessionalism to the world by using barbaric tools for attacking Indian soldiers, junking the CBMs. India is certainly not going to take mini disengagement gestures for granted, unless PLA withdraws to pre-standoff positions and will be ready with all options on the table.
In maritime front, ASEAN, which has been muted by China so far by allurement of Code of Conduct and purse diplomacy, combined with coercion due to large power asymmetry, seems emboldened to talk about UNCLOS, demanding fair share of EEZ in case of affected countries. Taiwan, emboldened by national sentiments, leadership, US support through Taiwan Relation Act and NDAA has started identifying itself as a nation, junking One country two systems, ready to defend itself should a situation arise, besides granting asylum to willing people from Hong Kong. Japan is looking for strengthening its defence capabilities and some more adventurism by North Korea may see it going nuclear in future. Xi Jinping’s ambition has costed global loss of trust by China and the scenario in Indo-pacific is unlikely to be the same in future. Russians and to some extent Iranians have economic compulsion to be with China due to sanctions from the West, but given the geo-strategic situation, playing neutral along with sale of weaponry/oil may well be the best option for them.
On domestic front China may be able to implement the draconian National Security Act in Hong Kong, but it has to bear the cost of demise of its financial hub, with many countries inclined for economic distancing, shifting FDI, banning concessions granted to Hong Kong, granting citizenship to those willing to exit, thus creating ideal conditions for urban insurgency in times to come, besides the rural insurgency of Xinjiang. Suddenly the voices in support of Uyghurs and Tibetans and questions on ‘One China Policy’ have started becoming active, notwithstanding the threats of Chinese wolf warrior diplomats and state media global times, which are being rubbished as tools of propaganda warfare.
Xi Jinping’s Chinese dream of ‘Rejuvenation’ and his aim of ‘Prosperous Developed Society’ with a ‘War Winning Modern PLA’ by 2050 was achievable, had he not harboured dictatorial overambition to achieve these aims and dislodge US as superpower making unfair use of pandemic. In fact the first major conversion of features in South China Sea to military bases took place during last US elections, anticipating no big bang action from the US, worked as per his incremental encroachment strategy. This emboldened him to use pandemic unfairly to fulfil all his aims before time, without having capacity to protect its global shipping outside its eastern seaboard. With the kind of global anger he has generated against his regime, the lesson of diversification of global factory for the world, along with need of economic distancing from China, Xi has pushed his country on a path to disaster unless Chinese people wake up and shake up CCP to protect their dreams.
From Indian perspective, this is the time when Beijing is under maximum external and internal pressure since last five decades. If Beijing continues with its high headedness, it will invite further pressure. This may well be the time to push through border settlement or demarcation of LAC as the political cost of resolving the border/ LAC may be lesser than an active front with India. India should not settle down with token disengagement because unless the LAC is demarcated the standoffs will continue. For the time being India should not blink at the borders.
Maj Gen S.B. Asthana (Retd.) is a strategic and security analyst.
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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
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.
AUSTRALIA ANNOUNCES THE INDO-PACIFIC OCEANS INITIATIVE PARTNERSHIP WITH INDIA
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.
PROTESTS BY TEHREEK-E-LABBAIK & ONGOING SITUATION IN PAKISTAN
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.
INDIAN NAVY SEIZES NARCOTICS WORTH RS 3,000 CRORE
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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