PAKISTAN: ANATOMY OF A U-TURN - The Daily Guardian
Connect with us

Defence

PAKISTAN: ANATOMY OF A U-TURN

A strong military in Pakistan and a strong political leadership in India were supposed to be the harbingers of a peace settlement between the two nations, but the politico-military leadership of Islamabad is weak.

LT GEN PR SHANKAR (Retd)

Published

on

As I keep reading Dawn, I come across some thought-provoking articles. I am sharing them with you. It will give you an insight into this troubled frontline nation which prided itself on the terrorists it produced as national assets rather than investing in vaccines. Like always there is nothing original in these articles except my comments.

WHY HAS PAKISTAN MADE A U-TURN?

Complete Solidarity with Kashmir @ https://www.dawn.com/news/1617119/army-huddle-reaffirms-complete-solidarity-with-kashmiris-in-struggle-for-self-determination

The Pakistan Army’s top brass on Thursday reaffirmed its “complete solidarity” with the people of Indian-occupied Kashmir in their struggle for the right to self-determination, the military’s media wing said. The support was expressed during the 240th Corps Commanders Conference chaired by Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa at the GHQ. 

My Comment: Pakistan Army will lose their reason to exist if they do not express complete solidarity with Kashmir. Every one forgets one thing above all, the Pakistani army wants revenge against all defeats they have suffered at the hands of India. Their only option is Kashmir. How will they give it up? Some things never change.  

U-turn on ECC decision @ https://www.dawn.com/news/1616152/u-turn-on-ecc-decision

The cabinet’s reversal of the Economic Coordination Committee decision on imports from India is a bizarre development—one that falls squarely under the unfortunate category of the left hand not knowing what the right is doing. Not only does it betray a lack of coordination within the government, it also points to poor decision-making on a serious matter that requires a sensible and level-headed approach. The episode raises several questions, and cannot be shrugged off by ministers. It points to a faulty system, creating the impression that the key job of decision-making is conducted in a juvenile manner. At the moment, this fiasco is casting a cloud of uncertainty over Mr Khan’s leadership skills. As demonstrated by this latest U-turn, communication problems, an inability to make and stick to decisions and poor conflict-resolution skills are becoming the hallmark of this government. The nation deserves to know who is responsible and what action will be taken to avoid such blunders in the future.

My Comment: The U-turn only indicates that a weak Pakistan—economically and politically—is not suited for peace. In fact a weak Pakistan can never be at peace with itself. How can it come to peace with India?  

A Line on the Map by Khurshid Kasuri @ https://www.dawn.com/news/1616153/a-line-on-the-map  

The formula had 11 or 12 important ingredients:

 (i) Substantial demilitarisation beginning with major urban centres with an agreement to keep troops to a minimum along the LoC.

(ii) Defining units of Kashmir: There would be two units for the purposes of the agreement regarding the disputed State of Jammu & Kashmir under the control of Pakistan and India(where) governments would be free to have more than one administrative region in the units under their control.

(iii) Maximum self-governance would be granted in legislative, executive, and judicial areas to each unit. A mechanism would be evolved to achieve this objective

(iv) A joint mechanism would consist of a specified number of elected members from each of the two units. It would be entrusted with the responsibility of increasing the number of crossing points, and encourage travel, trade and tourism. It was decided to further streamline transport services and encourage interaction between the peoples as well as exchange of commodities.

(v) This mechanism was to encourage the promotion of common policies towards the development of infrastructure, hydroelectricity, and exploitation of water resources.

(vi) Centres to wean militants away through DDR (de-radicalisation, disengagement, and rehabilitation).

(vii) Elections: Free and fair elections in the respective units would be held regularly. They would be made open to international observers and the media.

(viii) Monitoring and review process: Any solution that was presented could experience unanticipated difficulties. The foreign ministers of Pakistan and India would meet at least once a year to monitor the progress of the agreement and it would be subject to a review at the expiration of 15 years.

(ix) LoC – ‘A line on the map’ would cease to exist between the Kashmiris, and they would require no visas or passports to travel across the LoC.

(x) The signing of a treaty of peace, security and friendship like the Élysée Treaty between Germany and France.

(xi) Unwritten understanding/agreement that neither side would proclaim victory.

(xii) There would be equal self-governance in both units.

My Comment: The ‘Midnights Children’ have changed in four decades. As per Salman Rushdie, they have changed in a manner he never visualised. That is a fair comment. After all he is not god and 1.5 Billion people either side of the divide have a mind of their own and have morphed as per their wishes in four decades. In any case in the 17 years since this plan was conceived, the pace  of change in both countries has been great in diametrically opposite directions. Laudable as it seems, this peace plan is just a whiff  of an ill-fated romance  gone sour.    

Changing Security Paradigm @ https://www.dawn.com/news/1616292/changing-security-paradigm.

A series of recent events has led many to speculate that winds of change pertaining to the national security paradigm may be blowing in Islamabad’s policy corridors. From the Pakistan army chief’s calling on India and Pakistan to bury the past and move on, and the exchange of letters between the two countries’ prime ministers, to the renewed discourse on bilateral trade  despite the subsequent backtracking – it reflects Pakistan’s apparently changing and intertwined national security and economic diplomacy outlooks. On the whole, in Pakistan, democracy or democratic processes are hardly considered a factor in nurturing national cohesion, building trust among communities and bringing economic prosperity to the country. The existing power structure is not capable of conceiving new ideas nor can it implement even what it devices on its own. To handle its internal and external challenges, Pakistan needs a strong economy and good relations with the world, especially with its neighbours. Among the neighbours, India is the most critical challenge, mainly because of the Kashmir issue. To deal with India, there are several courses of action possible, including direct talks, mediation or complete disengagement. In that context, does there need to be a shift in Pakistan’s security approach? Does the conventional security paradigm not serve the purpose? If so, why, and what kind of shift does the power elite have in mind? These questions need an open discussion on public forums, media, and most importantly, in parliament. Pakistan has to focus more on transforming its economy, which may require good relations with India, Afghanistan and Iran. 

My Comment: This article gives you the sense that the Pakistani establishment can never ever get peace for Pakistan. Too coiled up. 

PDM Collapse No Relief For PTI @ https://www.dawn.com/news/1616291/pdm-collapse-no-relief-for-pti

Even when the opposition PDM alliance, in the form we have known it, is collapsing, the question being asked is if the governing PTI really needs enemies given its incredible propensity to cause self-harm as the events of the past few days have demonstrated again.

Take for example the lead headline in this newspaper’s April 1 edition that said: ‘Govt moves to restore trade ties with India’. It was based on the news conference of the newly crowned Finance Minister Hammad Azhar.

This seemed to be a natural progression from the main story the day before, on March 31, whose heading was: ‘Pakistanis want peace with India, Imran tells Modi’. The story summarised the letter of thanks the prime minister sent in response to a message of felicitation sent by his Indian counterpart on March 23.The March 23 message and its response, for their part, did not come out of the blue as earlier in the month addressing the Islamabad Security Dialogue the prime minister and then the army chief offered an olive branch to New Delhi which represented a policy rethink. The Islamabad Security Dialogue saw the two Pakistani leaders call on India to move towards a solution of all bilateral issues including Kashmir but a reference to Article 370 was missing. But then the day after the trade resumption headline, the main story in April 2’s Dawn, read: ‘Cabinet nixes ECC decision to allow imports from India’. Who knows what happened in the 24 hours that saw the decision announced and later rescinded. Perhaps, reminders in the media that Nawaz Sharif was vilified for trying to better ties with India and called a traitor, made key decision-makers nervous.

My Comment: Very clearly it is not the opposition which made Imran Khan take the U-turn.

Covid Registration After Eid @ https://www.dawn.com/news/1617103/govt-to-open-covid-vaccine-registration-for-all-citizens-post-eid-asad-umar

Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar has said that the government plans to open registration for Covid-19 vaccination for all citizens after Eid. “We will be able to vaccinate more than 125,000 people per day after Eid,” Umar told media representatives.

My Comment: For the next two months Pakistan will not have any vaccines, not even those ineffective Chinese ones. After that Pakistanis can register themselves however vaccines might not be available there is complete silence on any concrete plan this will only push Pakistan deeper into the hole that it is inbtw a study conducted by American newswire Bloomberg showed that it would take a decade for Pakistan to inoculate 75pc of its population despite the fact that over one million people have already been vaccinated against the virus…the hole has a long time span too.

Pakistan-India Peace @https://www.dawn.com/news/1617777/pakistan-india-peace

Even over the last few weeks there have been many ups and downs, with the first positive sign in a long time coming in late February, when both sides agreed to silence their guns along the LoC. This was followed by an exchange of pleasantries and public pronouncements calling for peace in the region from the highest offices in both capitals, along with a decision by Pakistan to import Indian sugar and cotton. However, shortly afterwards, the trade plan was nixed. Now, two fresh developments have posed further questions. Firstly, the Foreign Office has said the SAARC summit, due to be held in Pakistan in October, can take place if “artificial obstacles” are removed, in a thinly veiled reference to India. In the second, more ominous development, the US National Intelligence Council has said Pakistan and India may “stumble” into a large-scale war within the next five years.

My Comments: The US has started the old game raising bogeys of a nuclear holocaust remains to be seen whose arm it is trying to twist. The India-Pakistan fledgling peace process has hit a rude wall after the EEZ fracas; there is a need to remain careful as to whose bed we are getting into in the Quad, I mean.

Overall comments: A strong military in Pakistan and a strong political leadership in India were supposed to be the harbingers of a peace settlement in the India-Pakistan scenario but the politico-military leadership of Pakistan is weak. Make no mistake. A strong India will never compromise since any compromise on Kashmir is only feasible if the CPEC and China are out of Kashmir. Will that happen? The Pakistani expectation of a compromise involves rescinding Abrogation of Article 370. Article 370 is history; it existed once upon a time; it will not get reinstated. It brings us to the pointed fact that peace with Pakistan is a pipe dream. In fact it has gone out of the window. Let us not live in a fossilised world where peace with Pakistan continues to be a romantic obsession. All we can foresee is a no-war situation; let us be happy with that in the meanwhile. We need to see beyond Pakistan at the composite challenge presented by a predatory China and a toxic Pakistan. 

Lt Gen P.R. Shankar was India’s DG Artillery. He is highly decorated and qualified with vast operational experience. He contributed significantly to the modernisation and indigenisation of Artillery. He is now a Professor in the Aerospace Dept of IIT Madras and is involved in applied research for defence technology. His other articles can be read on www.gunnersshot.com.

The Daily Guardian is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@thedailyguardian) and stay updated with the latest headlines.

For the latest news Download The Daily Guardian App.

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

Published

on

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.

Continue Reading

Defence

AUSTRALIA ANNOUNCES THE INDO-PACIFIC OCEANS INITIATIVE PARTNERSHIP WITH INDIA

Ashish Singh

Published

on

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.

Continue Reading

Defence

PROTESTS BY TEHREEK-E-LABBAIK & ONGOING SITUATION IN PAKISTAN

Ashish Singh

Published

on

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.

Continue Reading

Defence

INDIAN NAVY SEIZES NARCOTICS WORTH RS 3,000 CRORE

Ashish Singh

Published

on

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.

Continue Reading

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

Published

on

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.

Continue Reading

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

Published

on

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

Continue Reading

Trending