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MULTIPLE FRAMES FOR MARITIME CONSCIOUSNESS

Several factors such as the growing economic interdependence in the post-globalisation world, the rise of China, and India’s slow but steady presence in the strategic scenario have brought the significance of maritime connectivity back to the fore.

Commodore Odakkal Johnson

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In the words of Late Prof B. Arunachalam, “Long before man learnt the art of saddling a horse, he had learnt the skills of paddling in waters.” Eventually, man became more terrestrial. An increasing sea blindness directed our attention to the mainland. Yet, flourishing movement and migration, trade and commerce and cultural exchanges have an undeniable maritime connect. Sufficient literary and epigraphical evidence offers a panoramic view of India’s rich ancient maritime history which has waxed and waned. Indians by no means stopped sailing altogether or deviated entirely from the maritime medium. Maritime Studies is a multi-frame space gaining momentum in academic deliberations. India, a maritime nation is surrounded by oceanic expanse on three sides and must own the rich maritime heritage and legacy we withhold. There is an imminent need to reset the frames of our history with the full spectrum of maritime consciousness.

It is time to introspect India’s engagement with the Indian Ocean and understand conventional and emerging perspectives on nautical activities in the Indian Ocean region. Remnants of material culture that can be found in distant shores testify to the maritime trade links and the subsequent cultural engagements. The Indian Ocean is the third-largest body of water in the world, covering about 20% of the Earth’s water surface. It provides major sea routes connecting the Middle East, Africa, and East Asia with Europe and the Americas. Peninsular India is the most prominent geographical feature in this oceanic space, even as these waters wash the shores of the entire East Coast of Africa, the South Coast of Arabia, the Southern shores of Iran and Baluchistan, the Malaysian Peninsula and Indonesia’s Sumatra. Indian Ocean has always been regarded as an area of great geopolitical significance and India its centre of gravity. Unique feature of the monsoons and a distinct civilisation around this Ocean enhanced maritime activity and traditions in this region. Centuries prior to seafaring in the Aegean Sea, the littoral states of peninsular India had already built up their oceanic traditions.

Research studies and material evidence affirm the presence of a flourishing Sindhu-Saraswati civilisation. Indian maritime history recognises Lothal is the link between the settlements in then Harappa, current Gujarat and a time lapse across the region. The excavation and discovery of Lothal was a result of the need for exploring India’s ancient past. A testimony to the maritime prowess of the Indians, Lothal continues to add to our national memory of our maritime past. The efforts to develop a National Maritime Museum in the vicinity of Lothal is eagerly awaited as the coalescing of long overdue material tribute to a significant legacy.

Tamil Sangam literature of a few centuries before and after the Common Era, especially Silappadikaram and Manimekhalai, testifies to the great overseas trade of the ancient Indian mariners. The Indo-Roman trade was a very intensive maritime venture. There was an established maritime trade network in India. Maritime trade was regulated by the merchant guilds that played a crucial role not just in maintaining trade-inland and overseas-but also provided proper protection to the commodities and actively participated in the development of the places that they traded from.

From the West to the East, Indians dominated the Indian ocean waters with their navigational expertise. We have the account of the Cholas who subjugated the Sri Vijayans and established their control on trade routes which shows the understanding of the geo-politics and foresight in order to improve their monetary benefits. The naval expeditions of the Cholas should be studied as with the ones that were undertaken due to motivation for removal of interference from the flourishing Chola Maritime trade establishing their supremacy in the Bay of Bengal region.

India has a sociological lineage of seasonal festivals and associated rituals among certain coastal communities that had a flourishing maritime practice that compensates for the lack of literary and documented sources. A few of these indicate India’s clear maritime connect with countries afar. The festival of Boita Bandana celebrated on the Odisha coast during Kartika Purnima is a classic example of it. We tend to neglect the voice of the subaltern communities along the coast who essentially have been practitioners and guardians of the traditional maritime legacy. These communities harnessed essential nautical skills with multi-dimensional maritime knowledge to build a framework of sea-mindedness that is still to fully emerge.

Amidst a turbulent socio-political metamorphosis of hinterland rulership through the medieval era, one can notice that a sea-going nation is suddenly found challanged in the clutches of social taboos like Kalapani and people begin to dread crossing seas or water bodies because such an act was tantamount to losing one’s respectability. By and large, the shipping and maritime sector remained largely confined to the coastal communities with their practice diminishing from large trade to fishing for subsistence. The space vacated by Indian mariners was filled in the oceanic routes by Arabs, Malays and the Chinese. In the aftermath of this confluence of oceanic interactions there is a watershed moment with the European advent in India. It brought in a period of conquest, commerce and colonisation. Indian history and historiography changes.

An era of native maritime resurgence spans across the Malabar and Konkan Coasts. Heroic instances of the Kunjali Marakkars to Sarkhel Kanhoji Angre’s strong Naval fleet, and unsung accounts of Colachal and Rani Abakka together point out to our extensive maritime valour. Sadly, these regional histories are only now emerging on a nationwide framework. The unrecognized and silent brave hearts who played a vital role in our ancient past deserve all accolades for their sheer administrative and governance ingenuity and for us to learn from their mistakes and omission of those in present times for a better future.

In modern times, we see a resurgence in Indian shipping sector from shipbuilding that reached a new zenith under the Wadia shipbuilders to the making of the indigenous state-of-the-art vessels. Post the transition from steam to steel vessels, our indigenous shipbuilding industry did incur a severe setback. Although there is a decline in the art of making traditional ship-crafts, with proper support, we can ensure its sustainability. Today, we have a renewed sense of pride about the Make-in-India initiative, but it was said and done by the the Indian Navy, with the saga of INS Ajay, the Nilgiri Class and the amazing Godavari series. That is a story of genuine maritime pride.

India’s geographic location in the Indian Ocean naturally renders the Indian Navy as one of the key players in the region, and an important partner for the Indian Ocean community to keep the area stable and secure. The Indian Navy continues to protect our water frontiers and safeguards our maritime interests. India has one of the largest fleets in the world today that continues to commission a number of indigenously built vessels, warships and submarines in service.

Concepts have been interpreted differently by historians at different times to give a comprehensive view of the past. We are familiar with political history, social history, economic history and administrative history. Maritime history is a larger and inclusive canvas, which has been gaining momentum and currency these days. The seas and the coast have drawn fresh focus by several Indian historians who are interested in understanding the transitions and intrusions of Maritime History. The study of oceanic space enables us to come closer to the crucial dynamics of our journey through time. Knowledge and skill-based examination with community practices will enrich the enquiry into India and the Indian Ocean studies. It has relevance in the exchange of culture, the establishment of political power, the dynamics of society, trade and commerce and religion of these areas.

One challenge that India faces is to reset the apathy towards our maritime past in the context of the huge groundswell of interest. There is a dire need to enhance a maritime consciousness amongst people. We have to explore the myriad opportunities and lessons that the sea has to offer through multiple disciplines that are untouched and untold. It’s a long way and we have a proactive role to play in exploring, conserving and passing the legacy of the maritime heritage of India. With a renewed sense of maritime consciousness, we can relook at the traditional narratives that have shaped our history and historiographies; the application of a sea minded approach can help us look at how the maritime medium has influenced all walks of our life.

We, at Maritime History Society, take pride in being a premier institute in what can be called as an established legacy for matters maritime. An article in a leading daily that bemoaned the lack of attention to the preservation of our maritime heritage was all that it took to stimulate and germinate an idea that led our Founder Chairman & Patron Emeritus Late VAdm MP Awati (Retd), PVSM, VrC to start the Maritime History Society on 12 May 1978. With a view to promoting a learned understanding of the vast maritime expanse and the rich Indian maritime history, the journey began forty years ago. Today the Maritime History Society has crossed four decades; much more than what was originally expected. It has conducted over a hundred monsoon lectures and has published more than 20 excellent works on Indian Maritime History with some more projects in the pipeline. It continues a rich journey of promoting Indian maritime wisdom through a variety of means and services.

MHS holds seminars and leads initiatives to showcase the maritime heritage and share its research and collaborate with eminent scholars in the maritime domain. Maritime Research is a continued effort. Keeping this in mind, MHS Manthan- our in-house Research initiative got underway to promote research and writings in maritime history. The vibrant team at MHS faced initial setbacks during the pandemic and lockdown. But, in their resolve to promote a maritime consciousness, the obstacles were turned to opportunities. Right from putting up interesting content through Blogs, short Vlogs to conducting webinars, MHS also continued the traditional Monsoon Series Lecture that has been an annual routine albeit it was the first time it was on a digital platform; conducted as a four-part Monsoon Musings series that remains available on our website and social media platforms.

Today, MHS seeks to draw attention to the lesser-known snippets from the Indian Maritime history that remain unsung or are barely mentioned as a footnote in the annals of our Indian history and their role in India’s long maritime past. There is a wide chasm in our historical narratives as it overlooks and undermines the subaltern narratives of the coastal communities. Oceans are our Great Commons and it is important to look at all the aspects it touches. When six Indian Naval Officers; an all-women crew circumnavigated the globe in INSV Tarini, history was created. They defied all odds and proved that Sea knows no gender. Defying the social construct of gender, their momentous feat also broke the barriers of sailing and navigating that was an all-male business.

Another important aspect of seafaring history is maritime connectivity in the Indian Ocean. It becomes vital as it has garnered renewed focus over the last few years. Despite the fact that seas and oceans have always had an impact on civilisations, for many decades during the latter half of the past century the attention of states had shifted from a maritime perspective to a continental one. Several factors such as the growing economic interdependence in the post-globalisation world, the rise of China, and India’s slow but steady presence in the strategic scenario have brought the significance of maritime connectivity back to the fore. Within the IOR, maritime connectivity holds the key to act as the forerunner for enhanced bilateral and multilateral engagement. Indian commitment to a ‘Free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific’ builds further from ‘Act East’ policy and enhances ‘Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR)’ approach as envisioned by India are gaining traction. In this context, convergence and collaboration explicate the importance of maritime connectivity.

This is the century of the seas, with multiple sea-based trade conduits connecting the states, compounded with the constantly increasing significance of the maritime chokepoints and the international sea lanes. The concept of ‘Maritime Consciousness’ has been gaining prominence among the various jargons used in the maritime domain. Any country seeking a strong influence in the global high table must remain committed to ensure the security of the seas and sustainably exploit marine resources. Efforts for preserving good order at sea to realise this common interest has found momentum across the globe. Achieving maritime consciousness, covering awareness, immersive engagement and skilful harnessing the dimension, can genuinely catalyse such efforts. Being a country, which is excessively reliant on the maritime trade routes, the need to develop a comprehensive maritime consciousness has been critical for India.

Maritime History Society, India as an organisation has envisaged on following important aspects

•To promote awareness of and debate in all aspects of India’s maritime interests, especially in the field of naval, geo-strategic, maritime history, Shipbuilding and heritage.

•To generate awareness of and research in India’s maritime heritage and related history.

•To foster an environment of informed maritime opinion among the various maritime interests pertaining to history and archaeology

•To engender awareness for Maritime Sustainability and Consciousness.

With the regular Annual Maritime Seminar scaled up to the first National Maritime Heritage Conclave, the objective is to stimulate deliberations on the under-explored dimensions of Indian maritime history and enhance the direction of maritime history as a discipline in India so that it may include areas neglected previously. A two-day National Maritime Heritage Conclave 2020 is envisaged on the theme of “Exploring Unsung Frames in Indian Maritime History” on 18-19 November 2020 from 1000h to 1300h on both the days. The online Conclave is curated around the themes of Coastal communities, Gender in Maritime history and Trans-maritime connectivity in the Indian Ocean Region. It has a vibrant lineup of deliberations that includes established academicians who have contributed to the vast body of knowledge and young research minds that look forward to interchange ideas by sharing this platform to disseminate maritime consciousness. It will benefit a wide segment of enthusiasts. Visit www.mhsindia.org/events/ to know more and register.

MHS continues its commitment to supplement more pronounced research in the realms of maritime studies and promote a maritime consciousness amongst people. We make an earnest appeal for your support. Do participate in our events and spread a good word about us. Quality research requires your help in every way possible. Follow us on our social media pages for latest updates of events and content. Do become a part of our sustainability campaign. We urge you to network us towards increasing our sustainability. We urge you to help us continue to pursue the mission of letting heritage awaken our maritime consciousness.

The writer is Director, Maritime History Society (MHS).

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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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Defence

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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Defence

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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Defence

RAJNATH SINGH REVIEWS PREPAREDNESS OF MOD AND ARMED FORCES AMID SPIKE IN COVID-19 CASES

The Defence Minister asks them to aid civilian administration to tide over the current coronavirus situation; gives go ahead for emergency procurement of critical medical supplies.

Ashish Singh

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Defence Minister Rajnath Singh held a virtual meeting to review the preparedness of Ministry of Defence and the armed forces to deal with the recent spike in Covid-19 cases across the country, in New Delhi on Tuesday. Defence Secretary Dr Ajay Kumar, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Karambir Singh, Chief of Army Staff General M.M. Naravane, Director General Armed Forces Medical Services (AFMS) Surgeon Vice Admiral Rajat Datta, Secretary (Defence Production) Raj Kumar, Secretary Department of Defence R&D and Chairman Defence Research and Development Organisation Dr G. Satheesh Reddy, Financial Adviser (Defence Services) Sanjiv Mittal and other senior civil & military officers attended the meeting via video conferencing.

Rajnath Singh was briefed about the measures taken by AFMS, DRDO, Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs), Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) and other organisations of Ministry of Defence such as National Cadet Corps (NCC) in providing aid to the civil administration in this hour of crisis. The Defence Minister was informed that a COVID care centre established by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is active in Bengaluru assisting the civil administration. He was informed that arrangements are being made by the DPSUs to buy oxygen plants that will help them in production of oxygen cylinders at a faster pace. The Defence Minister asked the DPSUs, OFB and DRDO to work on war footing to provide oxygen cylinders and extra beds to civil administration/state governments at the earliest. Rajnath Singh called upon the Armed Forces to be in close contact with the state governments and be ready to provide any required assistance. In a significant decision, the Defence Minister directed the Armed Forces and other stakeholders to go ahead with procurement of critical medical requirements under emergency powers of procurement.

DRDO Chairman briefed that a Covid-19 facility, developed by DRDO, has again been made functional in New Delhi and efforts are being made to soon increase the number of beds from 250 to 500. Dr Sathish Reddy informed the meeting that the ESIC Hospital, which was converted to Covid hospital in Patna, has started functioning with 500 beds and a Covid hospital will soon be made functional at Muzaffarpur in Bihar. He also informed that work is on at war footing to set up a 450-bed hospital in Lucknow, 750-bed hospital in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh and 900-bed hospital in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. Rajnath Singh was also informed that based on the On-Board Oxygen Generation Technology developed for LCA Tejas, a 1000 litre/minute capacity oxygen generation plants technology has been given to the industry and the Uttar Pradesh government has placed order of five such plants with the industry. Dr Reddy informed the Defence Minister that more plants can be supplied by the industry to cater to the hospital requirements. He further said SpO2 (Blood Oxygen Saturation) based supplemental oxygen delivery system developed for soldiers posted at extreme high-altitude areas can be used for Covid patients as their conditions become similar. The product will be available soon in the market from the industry as per technology provided by DRDO. The Defence Minister was informed that the AFMS has mobilised its man power and other resources in various military hospitals dealing with Covid patients. To augment the manpower if required, the minister suggested to utilise the services of vaccinated retired Armed Forces personnel to assist the civil administration/state governments to deal with the current situation. During the meeting, Rajnath Singh also discussed ways to contain the spread of Covid-19 among the Armed Forces personnel and the officers/staff working in Ministry of Defence. He focused on Covid-appropriate behaviour at the work place, stressing on the need to strictly follow all the Covid protocols such as wearing of masks at all times and maintaining physical distancing.

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Defence

HERITAGE AS LEGACY IN THE EVOLUTION OF INDIA: CASE STUDY OF NAVAL DOCKYARD IN MUMBAI

The Indian terrestrial approach lured us away from the seas which were left almost unprotected.

Janhavi Lokegaonkar

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India is a maritime nation with a rich heritage. History records our oceanic links with other nations of Indian Ocean and beyond from the Harappan civilisation and lasting through the centuries. Indian maritime influence can be seen in all walks of Indian history. Our development is owed to the maritime economy and a gradual advancement of maritime infrastructure along the coastal frontiers. If we are to learn from our history, the biggest lesson is that the Indian terrestrial approach lured us away from the seas which were left almost unprotected. The failure amongst the Indians to perceive the potential threat from the maritime frontiers and percolate a maritime vision and policies among the masses was one of the grave problems that led to the rise of Colonial rule in India. This article highlights one facet as an outcome of “Manthan” or churn of the sea saga of Indian journey.

Under the Company and the Crown, the city of Bombay was developed further taking into consideration of all the physical features it had which gave it an edge. Even with self-gain as the motive, the emerging vision aided colonial officials to analyse the importance of the geography of Bombay and developed it as ‘Urbs Prima in Indis’-the premier city of the Empire.

Today as we traverse the heritage precinct of Fort area in South Mumbai, we are reminded of the lasting legacy that is the built heritage across the city’s waterfront. The Naval Dockyard that stands tall as a custodian of Mumbai’s coastline is a heritage facility in itself. The Wadia Master builders were commissioned to develop this shipbuilding and docking facility (erstwhile Bombay Dockyard) in Bombay in 1735. Today, this is used by the Western Naval Command of the Indian Navy that upholds its heritage and continues to maintain its legacy.

With the Industrial revolution in Europe, change was inevitable. In the wake of Industrialisation in England, there was a paradigm shift in the realms of production. Technology took over and since then it has only developed. Ironically, this phase also marks the deindustrialisation in the Indian subcontinent in order to facilitate and furnish the English industries. The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 and the need for better docking and banking facilities at such a juncture is self-explanatory. The undertaking of construction for new dock building and related facilities was deemed necessary and beneficial for improving the efficiency of the maritime trade and commerce.

Bombay Dockyard and nearby facilities made ‘Ships-of-the-Line’ for the Royal Navy that were considered to be of superior quality and craftsmanship. The skills and nautical expertise of the Indian shipbuilders was a legacy in itself. But, the Indian shipbuilding industry that was once sought after met its downfall as the sail ships were replaced with the steam vessels. Despite such setback, this never deterred the Indian shipping industry. Bombay faced economic repercussions but the indomitable spirit of the city as we see today was blazing even then. After an initial slump in the shipbuilding industry, the Dockyard and other facilities gave rise to a number of other associated industries that aligned with the needs of the shipping sector thereby creating a market for economy with wider avenues. Soon, the docking facilities were equipped and gained momentum as a ship repair and refits industry which made a lot of progress.

Built heritage and maritime affairs intermingle with economic matters-thus creating a legacy and building a stronger future of our nation. A gradual progression in the maritime infrastructure and its resultant impact on the economy has played a vital role in the development of the Indian shipping sector. Promotion of our maritime heritage and traditions by a holistic development of the coastal communities by integrating them in the mainstream policies will ensure the promotion of our rich maritime legacy.

The evolution of the Mumbai city is owed to the maritime economy and due to harnessing of its maritime connect and development of the infrastructure. The role and contribution of the maritime sector in developing the city to what it is today must be acknowledged. The mushrooming of allied industries in the shipping industry is a subsequent factor. The economy of Bombay strengthened which led to the creation of an industrial infrastructure. This was the rise of a modern SEZ i.e. Special Economic Zone, a precursor to the modern metropolis that Mumbai has become today.

Shortly after the World Heritage Day commemorated on 18 April 2021 this week sees launch of a multi-stakeholder initiative to revive maritime consciousness in form of a unique workshop titled “Indian Maritime History : A Manthan”. In the two day workshop, 21 – 22 April 2021, Dr Malini Shankar, IAS (Retd), Vice Chancellor, Indian Maritime University will deliver the Keynote Address while Commodore Odakkal Johnson, Director, Maritime History Society will mentor the proceedings and provide the thematic setting. The contents will benefit students, faculty & maritime enthusiasts. The workshop will evolve elements of an approach towards a long-term facility for excellence in Maritime History as envisaged in Maritime India Vision 2030. Maritime History Society and Indian Maritime University invite an enthusiastic response toward the resurgence of Sea Mindedness through participation, promotion and resource infusion into the journey to enhance influence for greater maritime consciousness in India.

Janhavi Lokegaonkar is a Research Associate at Maritime History Society with a focus on modern aspects of Indian Maritime History

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