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QUAD 2.0 or Tianxia: Options before the world

QUAD 2.0 has the toolkit to handle China. It needs to sit across the table and thrash out things. It would be prudent to get into a need-based partnership with focused objectives to bottle the Chinese genie.

LT GEN PR SHANKAR (Retd)

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As per Gordon Chang, “Xi thinks everyone should acknowledge not only Chinese hegemony but also China’s rule… China’s ruler has both the right and responsibility to rule Tianxia, or all under Heaven!” Does the world want to be in this Chinese hell? If not, it needs the QUAD. It is a global imperative.

The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD) was an informal strategic dialogue between the US, India, Japan, and Australia. It was born out of a disaster. The QUAD countries were the first and most active respondents of the 2004 Tsunami. They formed a “Tsunami Core Group”. It brought together the four nations best equipped to deal with the disaster. Incidentally, China has traditionally kept away from such relief activities. The first QUAD1.0 meeting was held on the sidelines of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) meet in Manila in May 2007. In September 2007, a Naval exercise was held in the Bay of Bengal as part of the 2nd Malabar Series. It featured the four navies, along with the Singapore Navy. QUAD1.0 had differing perceptions, lack of clear purpose or objectives. There was apprehension that it would become an Asian NATO. The Chinese objected vehemently. It dissipated in 2008

 In 2017, the QUAD had a second coming due to Chinese coercive behaviour in trade, Doklam, and South China Sea. Representatives of the QUAD met in Manilla again in Nov, 2017. From then, things have progressed incrementally. QUAD2.0 centered around “Free, Open and Inclusive Indo-Pacific Region”, stable balance of power, promotion of a rules-based system and limiting Chinese assertiveness in its territorial and maritime claims. However, differences on threat perception, capabilities, strategic compulsions, priorities, constitutional bindings, and culture persisted to limit QUAD2.0. The Chinese have been dismissive about it. Their foreign minister remarked that the QUAD will dissipate like sea foam. However, China’s actions in the recent past have changed the scene completely.

China is waging a multi domain war and has become dangerously militant. The BRI and debt trap diplomacy forces 70 odd countries to politically align with China. Of the balance 120 odd countries, it needs support of about 30 (25%) countries to have a simple majority in any world/ international forum to pass any resolution. Natural differences of opinions will give China these numbers. If WHO is any example, China has cornered enough heft in other international institutions to parrot its line. It is also a Veto holder. All put together it is at a stage to reframe the global rules. It is cornering most consumer nations to continue dependence on it for manufacturing and daily supply. It is aggressively using diplomacy and military power to scare off countries which can take on the relocation and decoupling mantle. Even if decoupling is possible, it will finance that effort in the relocated country. Hence the location might change but the manufacture and supply chain could still be Chinese. Its manufacturing web and BRI can potentially continue to power its monopolistic rise and give it control over world trade. The BRI debt trap has ensured raw material and energy in streams at depressed prices (for the next 25 years at least) from most Africa, Middle East, and South America. It has weaponised its markets as experienced jarringly by Australia. It has also weaponised the Wuhan Virus to infect the world and debilitate it. Chinese armed forces are in the process of usurping the ‘Global Commons’ of the China Seas. Hence major sea trade routes could be sovereign to China. Its ‘Three Strategies’ — public opinion, legal exploitation, and influence operations have undermined governments and subverted democracies. It is also on a data suppression cum theft spree through normal electronic gadgets. It aims to build the greatest military on earth. It has protected its flanks with two impoverished nuclear mavericks — Pakistan and N Korea. These China dependent wild cards are let loose on its competitors to keep them unpleasantly occupied. N Korea on Japan, S Korea, and the US. Pakistan on India. Military-Civil Fusion has ensured that it gets front end technology at no cost or risk by theft/compromise. The risk, effort, investment, and thought are of progressive western democratic nations against whom their own technology is used to their detriment at their cost! It is amply clear that China is on a high roll of global subsidy. Their model is perfect for 1.4 billion Chinese who will be subsided by 6.4 billion of the rest of the earth as underlings. Chinese ‘Tianxia’ will be communist. Welcome to a new Sinic Global Order protected by the Great Firewall of Information. If this juggernaut is not stopped, I might end up as an orderly of Xi, in this ‘Tianxia’. I am naturally worried! So should you be.

The US led the world out of all crises from the Great Depression to the 2008 Financial Crisis, However, it stepped out of the global leadership role ever since the Wuhan Virus stuck the world. The trend had started earlier with President Trump’s “America First Policy”. It was exacerbated with the US inability to deal with the Wuhan Virus, race riots unseen for a long time, preoccupation with presidential elections, and a general fogging of its global outlook and power. Suddenly the world does not have a leader. Number One is temporarily incapacitated. Number Two is the Global Villain. The international community is in choppy seas. It is also evident that the US alone will not have the power to stop Chinese machinations. Powerful democracies must come together to sort out the problem. An aging EU is not willing to even look at the gauntlet. There is no other option than QUAD2.0.

The overall objective of the Quad2.0 was ambiguous to start with. However, as international focus is sharpening on an aggressive China, clarity is emerging. Hence the primary focus and aim should be to stall China from putting us underneath their Tianxia. If it amounts to containing and bottling it up even by force so be it. The rest of the objectives like open seas and rules-based order will follow. The four leaders need to put their shoulders to it together.

QUAD2.0 must provide leadership to the world. A superpower and three middle level powers; all four vibrant democracies comprising three civilizations – Western, Japanese, and Indian are a strong combination. Already this is finding traction with S Korea. Vietnam and New Zealand who are now part of QUAD Plus. In due course if things are put together, the EU will eventually join in. The deteriorating Sino Indian and Sino US relations and China’s unrelenting belligerence will propel QUAD2.0 into Global leadership. The US has been upping the stakes in the South China Sea. This has already emboldened the Philippines to pivot away from China. Indonesia has followed suit by conducting a four-day exercise in the South China Sea. An uptick in alignments with the QUAD2.0 is visible. The converse is that once the QUAD takes up the leadership role, the US will automatically assert itself.

QUAD2.0 has tremendous military potential. The US and India have strong and experienced Armed Forces. Combined with forces from Australia and Japan, it will be an overmatch for China. Contrary to popular imagination, these countries need not even come to each other’s direct aid. A coordinated multidirectional threat/ application of force is enough. China needs to be forced to look at two or more fronts constantly. This paradigm is playing out now. It needs to be refined. QUAD2.0 will be best served if there is understanding and commonality of intelligence sharing, communication, and logistics with just operational coordination. Political consonance is more important.

 The economic dimension is more important than the military one. QUAD2.0 has three of the top five economies in the world. It is a healthy mixture of raw material, manufacturing, and consumer power with tremendous innovation capability. QUAD2.0 has the protective power of enforcing decoupling from China and creating alternative markets if it takes the PLUS countries along economically. US resolve and experience during the Trade War to challenge Chinese economic practices will be crucial.

While China’s greatest strength is its unitary Communist ideology, that is also its weakest link. QUAD2.0 has the global strength of being able to target the CCP. China’s game of dividing the opposition should be beaten through a unified approach. The US has already embarked on a program to attack the CCP. If QUAD2.0 de-legitimizes the ’One China’ policy and rejects ludicrous territorial claims, things will start falling in place. Tibet, Xinjiang, Hong Kong, and Taiwan are waiting for quadratic solutions. The Great Information Firewall must be broken.

The prospects for the QUAD2.0 look promising. For long, India was a reluctant partner due to its non-alignment history, deep relations with Russia and the need to balance relations with China. However, with ‘gloves off’ on the China front those decks are cleared. It is time that we move past historical baggage to secure our interests. QUAD2.0 must have a frank word with Russia. They are next on the Chinese hit list. Already a warning shot has been fired over their brow with Chinese claims on Vladivostok. Further, Russia has a long border with China. With its miniscule population Russia cannot defend its huge territories from Chinese expansionism. If put in the correct perspective, Russia will see the light.

However, there are other internal contradictions in the QUAD2.0. Japan has a pacifist constitution. How far will it go if the penny drops? Japan and India are the only countries with direct territorial disputes with China. Their interests and perceptions are different from the US and Australia who are extra regional players. The Australian problem with China is more economic and Pacific centered. The US sees direct competition from China and clearly wants to contain it. The US has historically preferred alliances however it is now diluting NATO. The ‘America First’ mantra of the US puts questions on its reliability as an alliance partner. Then there is a question whether there should be an alliance or a partnership. In my opinion these are good issues to handle and we must thank China for giving shape to QUAD2.0.

QUAD 2.0 has the toolkit to handle China. It needs to sit across the table and thrash out things. It is now widely accepted that an alliance is not feasible. It would be more prudent to get into a need-based partnership with focused objectives to bottle the Chinese genie. Alliances can be thought of later. “It’s time for free nations to act” as per US Secretary of State. The free nations must also decide whether to slide into the hell of a Chinese ‘Tianxia’ or bring the QUAD2.0 on.

Lt Gen PR 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 his blog www. gunnersshot.com.

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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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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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