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Remembering the Admiral who shed his vice and built the Navy

Admiral Adhar Kumar Chatterji, the revered icon of Indian Navy, departed from this world on 6 August 2001, but Indian Navy continues to bear his imprint even today.

Cmde Srikant B Kesnur

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Admiral Adhar Kumar Chatterji at Southern Naval Command, Kochi

“Son, I may have long left the sea… But the sea has never left me.” That’s exactly what crosses our mind as we go down the memory lane remembering Admiral Adhar Kumar Chatterji, the revered icon of Indian Navy. India’s greatest son, Admiral Chatterji may have departed from this world on 6 August 2001, but Indian Navy continues to bear his imprint even today. He may have bid goodbye to the world and with that to the marine defence but the naval force never left him. The direction he had given as a stalwart of naval forces continues to be followed even today in Indian Navy. Epitome of multifaceted talents and vision, Chatterji continues to be remembered as a guiding force of Indian Navy even today.

In true traditions of the silent service that is the Navy, Chatterji has remained largely unknown outside the domain of the white uniformed fraternity. The Independence Day celebrations today give us an ideal occasion to remember people like him who made trail blazing contributions to the navy and the nation but have not been sufficiently recognised.

The Admiral back home from the erstwhile Soviet Union.

 A.K. Chatterji (or AKC as he was often referred to) was the third Indian Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) assuming office in the rank of Vice Admiral on 4 March 1966. Halfway through his tenure the Government took the decision to make the appointment of CNS tenable by a full 4-star Admiral and bring him on par with the other two services. Consequently, on 01 Mar 68, AKC became the first CNS in the rank of Admiral. Many newspapers then reported the event with the humorous headline: “The Admiral Sheds his Vice”, which, many years later, also became the title of an anecdotal biography of AKC.

Young Adhar as Lt Cdr with Madhobi Chatterji.
Admiral A.K. Chatterji in his civil avatar

What the papers did not report then and what needs to be underscored is that the Admiral who shed his Vice also built the Indian Navy and can be considered to be the architect of its growth and development. While making due allowance for the fact that all such growth stories are about continuity, team work and multifaceted contributions of many, some people stand out for their vision, pioneering initiatives and ability to think far ahead of their times. AKC was one such.

Admiral Adhar Kumar Chatterji in Navy uniform.

Thus, the promotion to Admiral was not matter of mere pomp or protocol. 01 Mar 68 was the day of restructuring of Indian Navy. It was the day when the Western Naval Command, the Eastern Naval Command and the Western Fleet were formed and plans made for the formation of the Eastern Fleet, which took shape couple of years later. These developments underlined that the fledgling Indian Navy, the smallest among the three services, had grown its wings and was now ready to take off. The year 1968 marks that point when the Navy turned a decisive corner and propelled itself into a higher orbit. And, in many ways, AKC was the man responsible for this transformation.

Today, the Indian Navy is an internationally highly regarded professional force with three dimensional capabilities. The 140 ship Navy of today with aircraft carrier and nuclear submarines in its arsenal is a far cry from the Navy of 1947 that consisted of less than half a dozen sloops. The narrative of its growth has also seen other success stories, such as its achievements in indigenisation wherein it pioneered making in India or its impressive world class niche capabilities in fields such as hydrography, underwater medicine, diving and ocean sailing to name a few. More importantly, as matters maritime become increasingly important in International affairs and India becomes an important player in the Indo-Pacific as well as a preferred security partner in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), the Navy is set to become a significant asset in our foreign policy and international cooperation matrix.

 In some ways, much of this spectacular success owes to the seeds that were sown in 1968. At the dawn of independence in 1947-48, the Indian Navy had authored a Plan Paper that was audacious in scope and which envisaged a two Fleet Navy with two aircraft carriers, two light Cruisers, eight submarines and several blue water surface ships. The Government approved the planned force levels without any financial commitments. Given the situation over next two decades on our land frontiers and other development imperatives of a newly independent nation, the Navy faced huge budgetary and other constraints. The sea remained a distant horizon for our political apex and the Navy grew at a snail’s pace, despite the best efforts of its top leadership.

 In March 1966, Vice Admiral A.K. Chatterji took over the reins of the Navy. The strategic situation then was fraught with uncertainty. Britain had indicated its desire to withdraw west of Suez, the cold war was in full swing and USA and USSR were competing to extend their influence in IOR. Indian politics was entering an era of uncertainty after the long tenure of Jawaharlal Nehru and the sudden demise of his successor Lal Bahadur Shastri. Within the Indian Navy there was considerable disquiet about not being given an opportunity for action in the 1965 war with Pakistan. During the war, the lack of a submarine in Indian Navy’s inventory was acutely felt and this became a top national priority immediately after.

A year later, in Oct 1967, an Israeli Navy destroyer Eilat was sunk, off Port Said, by missile attacks, from small Egyptian missile boats. This was to change surface warfare forever with surface to surface missiles launched from ships as a new potent weapon. Indian Navy and AKC were closely following all these developments as they chalked out Navy’s development plans.

It is one of those great coincidences of history that Chatterji as a Commander had been the lead author of the aforementioned Plans paper of 1948 as the first Director of Naval Plans and Intelligence at the relatively young age of 32. Now he was in a position to be the principal architect and bring the grand design to fruition. He did so in splendid fashion. In November 1967, the Navy’s fleet tanker INS Deepak was commissioned giving the Fleet much needed mobility. Admiral SM Nanda, who was Flag Officer Commanding Indian Fleet (FOCIF) at that time and who succeeded AKC as Navy Chief says in his book The Man who bombed Karachi, that with this development: “Ships got proficient in the process of underway replenishment at sea and were enabled to stay out for prolonged periods. The helicopter on board came in handy to deliver mail and essential stores at sea and often pitched in to evacuate patients whenever the aircraft carrier was not in company”. Thus, Fleet Operations started taking a new hue.

In December 1967, India entered the submarine age with the commissioning of INS Kalvari in the erstwhile Soviet Union. Kalvari reached Visakhapatnam in July 1968 and the submarine arm was formed. The Navy had now become truly three dimensional. October 1968 witnessed another momentous event — the launch of INS Nilgiri, the nation’s first indigenous major warship. The keel of the second ship in this class, INS Himgiri was laid a month later in Nov 1968. In quick succession in Dec 1968, the Navy commissioned the submarine depot ship INS Amba, two anti-submarine frigates — the Petyas, and the second submarine INS Khanderi. The Petyas (three more joined before 1971) were to form the fulcrum of Eastern Fleet in later years. The submarine and surface ship acquisition also saw the Navy turn away from its traditional supplier United Kingdom to the Soviet Union; it was a course alternation that would result in other acquisitions, new doctrines, Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and, verily, a new culture.

 The decision to buy OSA class missile boats around the same time from the Soviet Union was amongst the most significant. Fondly named AK boats (after the initials of the CNS A.K. Chatterji) by the service, they were to prove decisive in the 1971 war in setting ‘Karachi ablaze’ and forcing a quick resolution of the conflict. The Navy day is celebrated every year on 4 December to commemorate that attack and, in the process, raise a silent toast to AKC for the foresight shown in acquiring these small but formidable ships.

In 1967, after lot of discussion and tarrying, the government approved the ten year defence plan 1966- 77 which gave the Navy its impetus for expansion and modernisation. In the words of Adm Nanda the emphasis was on ‘self-reliance, selfsufficiency and indigenisation”. It needs emphasis that since its earliest days the Indian Navy was a ‘pioneer of ‘Making in India’ and ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ contributing not merely to its own growth but also to national technology ecosystem.

The decision to acquire a submarine rescue vessel and Sea King anti-submarine helicopters were also made in 1968, the latter fetching up just before the 1971 war. That year also saw two new maritime reconnaissance Alize aircraft with modern sonobuoys added to the Navy’s inventory. A little later, in March 1969, the Navy’s Alouette helicopter squadron was commissioned. The maritime soul of the nation, long dormant, was slowly being stirred into consciousness.

The other momentous events and initiatives in 1968 or thereabouts, included the launch of the Naval Dockyard in Visakhapatnam which in turn made it possible for Navy to establish the Eastern Fleet there three years later just before the onset of the 1971 war and thereby realise our long held dream of a two-fleet Navy; the setting up of Naval Academy, then in temporary barracks in Kochi and which today is the pride of our nation at Ezhimala in North Kerala, the setting up of Boys Training Establishment for streamlining the training of Sailors, the expansion of Naval design organisation which today boasts of outstanding indigenous ship designs, streamlining the officer cadre with rational promotion policies and unique personal numbers to all, the creation of the rank of Master Chief Petty Officer to retain sailors with expertise and introduction of trousers in white uniform which is the standard outfit today.

It may thus be seen from the above that the restructuring of the Navy on 1 March 1968, were not mere cosmetic changes but formed the template that lasts till today and has provided the Indian Navy with the framework to transform itself into a world class force. The visionary changes of more than fifty years ago bear the imprint of Admiral Chatterji and continue to serve the navy well even today.

But what about the man himself? Surely, we ought to know more about someone who transformed the Service. AKC was born on 22 Nov 1914 in Dhaka (now in Bangladesh). Known to be very bright in studies he topped the Federal Public Service (FPSC, predecessor of UPSC) examination in 1933 for selection to the Royal Indian Marine (later Royal Indian Navy and, on 26 Jan 50, the Indian Navy). He was commissioned on 01 Sep 1935 and after four years of afloat training selected to specialise in Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW). As the preface to his autobiography brings out “the British officers greatly appreciated the sharp intellect, grasp of naval warfare and leadership qualities in this young officer. On completion of the course in Aug 1940 his outstanding performance was recognised when he was immediately appointed as instructor in HMS Osprey, the ASW school of UK. It was indeed a rare honour for an Indian officer in pre-independence era”. An interesting piece of trivia is that one of his ‘students’ for a week long ASW orientation course was then Capt Lord Louis Mountbatten.

His ASW expertise was brought to bear upon in his subsequent appointments on the sloop HMIS Sutlej which undertook Atlantic and other convoys in dense submarine environment giving him experience of the War, as the first Officer in Charge of India’s ASW school established at Castle Barracks (today’s INS Angre) in Mumbai and as the Staff Officer responsible for fitting ASW equipment on ships. In 1944-45 he assumed Command of Fleet minesweeper HMIS Kathiawar and participated in the Burma campaign. His technical bent of mind made him a good choice to head another institution, the Navy’s Radar School HMIS Chamak in Karachi before he was deputed to UK for his Staff Course in Jan 1947.

On his return to India he was appointed as the Director of Naval Plans as hitherto mentioned. Here his colleagues were Lt YN Singh (regarded as the pioneer aviator of Indian Navy) and Lt Cdr N Krishnan who rose to the rank of Vice Admiral and distinguished himself as Navy’s great combat leader. In his autobiography ‘A Sailor’s Story’, Krishnan regarded as one of Navy’s bright sparks, talks of the esteem and affection for AKC and says “Adhar was an extrovert, supremely confident of himself. He had good reason to be so, because he had a brilliant brain backed by phenomenal memory. He could read pages from the seamanship manual and repeat them from memory that was word perfect”.

AKC’s brilliance is, in fact, a constant theme among officers of that generation. Admiral JG Nadkarni considered one of Navy’s most erudite officers said of him “he was undoubtedly one of the finest officers of the Indian Navy. He was certainly the most intelligent”. Talking of his plan paper Nadkarni says “the plan not only became a foundation on which all other plans were based but became a model of how these papers should be prepared. The plan has never been bettered”.

After this stint, AKC was appointed to the cruiser INS Delhi as her Executive Officer (Commander) and soon thereafter took over as the Commanding officer, becoming in the process the first Indian to take over as the Captain of a Capital Ship. From there he did a two year stint as our Naval Adviser in London (a first again) before returning to command the INS Delhi for a second time. Apart from his professionalism and intelligence another aspect of his came to fore on INS Delhi – his reputation as a ship handler par excellence. To again quote Nadkarni, “we used to watch with mouths agape his easy handling of the Cruiser”. A stern board entry (going in reverse) in Malta harbour with AKC giving engine orders looking at his stopwatch was talked about in the Navy for many years for the élan and precision. AKC himself recollected that “my two spells on board the Delhi were perhaps the most enjoyable and most instructive phases of my naval career”.

His subsequent tours of duty in the intervening years between 1953 and 1966 as Combay (Commodore in Charge, Bombay), participant at the Imperial College of Defence Studies (now RCDS), Deputy Chief of Naval Staff (DCNS), Flag Officer Commanding Indian Fleet (FOCIF) and Commandant, National Defence College (NDC), further burnished his image of a tech savvy, highly professional, far sighted person who was also an extremely warm and affectionate human being. As Krishnan recollects ‘working with him was always an exhilarating experience’. Respected strategic thinker, Vice Admiral PS Das, who was the Flag Lt to AKC when the latter was FOCIF recollects “His memory was razor sharp and his knowledge of tactical publications unmatched. He was a Staff Officer’s nightmare one moment but a caring person the next”. Cmde KK Sanjana, CO Mysore when AKC was Fleet Cdr adds “AKC was undoubtedly one of our most distinguished officers of the time and had a reputation of being a highly professional Admiral”.

Thus, when he became the Chief there were huge expectations from him. It was not easy translating his ideas for the Navy in a system plagued by several constraints – continental mindset, distractions on land borders, ill-informed criticism of the Navy’s defensive role in 1965 war, reduced budget and competing demands on the polity. Rahul Roy-Chaudhury, one of India’s leading strategic analysts brings out the problems in his introduction to AKC’s biography “On the role of Naval forces in the changing strategic environment, the Indian Navy and Government held opposing views”. Chatterji thus had the onerous burden of advocating the Navy’s view, persuade them to implement Navy’s expansion plan and restore the fighting spirit of the force.

On some occasions AKC did court controversy but with the good of service and nation at heart. In the very first year of his tenure as CNS he wrote a forceful article in ‘The Hindu’ newspaper (‘India and Seapower’, 11 Dec 66) arguing that the vacuum of maritime power by withdrawal of Britain west of Suez had implications for India’s maritime security and advocated expansion of Indian Navy to act as a moderating force in the vast (Indian ocean) region. A little over a year later, on 04 Mar 68, he claimed that “Indian Navy would assume complete charge of Indian Ocean in the wake of Britain’s military withdrawal from the area”.

The government of the day disagreed with AKC and his assessment, rejected the notion of a power vacuum, dismissed the need for a two Fleet navy and remained unsympathetic to his point of view. But, as has been pointed out by many, his advocacy needed to be seen in the context of his being a strategist of repute and proponent of naval expansion, as rhetoric ‘to goad the government into some sort of action rather than as intent of policy’. Furthermore, as Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat brings out ‘the straightforward AKC implied that ‘the vacuum would have to be filled albeit steadily’ and he was misunderstood. Another eminent academic Prof GVC Naidu too terms the statement as ‘considerable exaggeration’ but one that gave an indication of Navy’s vision.

But if history is any judge, it would seem that AKC stands vindicated. The militarisation of IOR that he had alluded to came true with several extra regional navies now operating here. Meanwhile, for us, the two Fleet Navy is now a reality and as India moves to become the preferred security partner in IOR with the Indian Navy as its most predominant vector in the maritime domain, one would have to admire the perspicacity of AKC.

Most importantly though, the pieces slowly fell into place and as the plans got approved despite the headwinds, the higher political and military apex started to see a role for the Navy ‘beyond as the defence of shores’. As brought out by Prof Naidu in his book ‘Indian Navy and South East Asia’, huge expansion took place in the Indian Navy between 1965 and 1971, both in terms of manpower and hardware. This can be majorly attributed to AKCs indefatigable efforts at being both planner and implementer. A small instance of this is how, after having inducted submarines in our inventory, he was able to negotiate special submarine pay for the submarine cadre personnel in the teeth of some opposition from others in the Ministry.

Thus, it may be seen that AKC was blessed with several attributes. Apart from what has been brought out hitherto, his colleagues and juniors describe him variously as: ‘most mathematically minded’, ‘analytical bent of mind’, ‘progressive approach’, ‘ardent advocate of indigenisation’, ‘excellent manager of time’, ‘gifted with remarkable memory’, ‘supremely confident of his facts and figures and able to quote facts to second or third places after decimal’, ‘of mercurial temperament but he cooled down quickly’, a very ‘well-read person who could speak at ease on any subject’, ’kind and considerate’, ‘easily approachable’, ‘universally popular’, ‘equipped with pithy sense of humour’, ‘great extrovert’, ‘full of hearty laughter’, ‘lover of technology’, ‘great eye for detail’, ‘devoted family man’, loving husband and father’ and similar such encomiums. This is rich praise indeed.

While he may have been conscious of his own brilliance AKC was also encouraging of others views and perspectives. As Krishnan brings out “Chatterji was a man of considerable strategic acumen and receptive to ideas both conventional and unconventional”. Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat, a Chief known for his intellectual bent of mind, who was the Flag Lt to AKC when the latter was the Chief, brings out “Despite their imposing personalities, officers like AKC and many Admirals of that generation were liberals and open minded professionals and appreciated young officers and their strategic and tactical thinking”.

AKC retired on 01 March 1970 at the relatively young age of 55. However, he led an active post retirement life. He wrote and commented on matters of national security in many articles for various journals and newspapers. He also joined the Birla Institute of Scientific Research and Birla Economic Research Foundation as Adviser. He authored four books on maritime issues: Indian Navy’s Submarine Arm (1982), Naval Aviation – a World History (1985), Monsoons, Cyclones and Floods (1992) and The Oceans (1992). Nadkarni described the naval aviation book as ‘a textbook on the subject’, while Asha Rani Mathur, a writer and editor said of his books that “she was impressed by the logical presentation and flow of matter and the text’s concise explanations”. Always ahead of his times, he was also a big votary for India to acquire nuclear submarines and actively lobbied for them.

Illustrating his versatility, post retirement, he also became a gourmet cook bringing his perfectionist attitude to make a range of marmalades, jams, jellies, pickles, sauces, kebabs, biryani, Sandesh, other Bengali sweets and numerous other dishes. He also was a keen photographer, inveterate traveller and lover of nature and he indulged in these passions with gusto. Cmde VK Sharma another of his Flag Lieutenants says of him “He was a true Indian at heart, and for all the time he had spent in Britain, he retained the native charm in his accent and way of life in general”. Vice Adm MP Awati, a navy legend himself, described AKC to this author as ‘a giant of a man, most bright and with an endearing Bengali accent”.

To come back to the beginning, AKC will be remembered above all and most fondly for his plans paper at the dawn of independence and for his stewardship of the Navy at a crucial juncture in the sixties. As VAdm Krishnan sagely reminds us “although such exercises as planning come naturally to us in present day, at that period of time we were venturing forth into uncharted waters. And yet they were able to bring out an ambitious document, led by AKC, because ‘we were clear in our minds that the Indian Ocean was no longer a British lake…. India occupied a position of strategic pre-eminence in the vast ocean of her name. The use of this ocean without let or hindrance was vital not only to our economy but our every existence as a free country”.

Lest it be concluded that he was revered only by the earlier generation of officers It is interesting to read what his biographer Cmde AP Golaya, an officer of recent vintage, commissioned in the eighties, has to say about him. Golaya confesses to being a sceptic and not wanting to be taken in by the halo effect of the Admiral. And yet about AKC’s prescience he says “His foresight was immediately apparent. Much of what he had written may seem obvious, even trivial, today. The beauty is that it was written decades back. The fact that it should seem obvious today adds, not detracts, from its value…. The precise nature of the man is apparent when reading his work….. We, in the Navy, need to discover AKC – and many others like him who shaped not only the Indian Navy but also the naval thought process as we know it today.” In fact, as Golaya brings out, on a range of issues as diverse as importance of maritime trade, exploitation of oceans for economic reasons (today often used in context of Blue Economy), maritime diplomacy, use of satellites for oceanic surveillance and meteorological and hydrological ocean phenomenon, AKC could gaze far into the future and predict their possible impact.

AKC passed away on 06 Aug 2001. His foresight, vision, intellectual depth, range of interests, planning ability and steadfastness in the face of challenges mark him out as truly one of the great Indians and maritime heroes. However, he was more than that. Beyond a mere listing of his many attributes and achievements is the acknowledgement that he was the architect of modern Indian Navy. A true renaissance man with eclectic interests and passions, he would in the opinion of this author occupy the same place as Homi Bhabha, Vikram Sarabhai, Satish Dhawan, MS Swaminathan as a leader par excellence, pioneer and builder of modern India. Let us doff our caps in tribute to AKC.  The Independence Day is an apt occasion to reflect on and celebrate his legacy.

Cmde Srkiant Kesnur is a serving Navy officer with interest in contemporary naval history.

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Defence

CHINA VS CHINA: UNRAVELLING AN INTERESTING BATTLE

China, as we see it today, will not be the same in another five years. India needs to be cognisant of this fact and script a long-term strategy to handle the emerging Dragon.

LT GEN PR SHANKAR (Retd)

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Galwan happened last year. A lot of water has flown in Indus. Sino Indian animosity is ascendant. Beyond a doubt, China is inimical to India’s interests in every respect. Chinese hatred of India was evident in the picture of a Chinese rocket at take-off besides a burning Indian pyre. China mocked India during our grief of the second wave. It also ensured that help does not reach India on one pretext or the other. Further, China does not understand another civilisation antithetical to its own in all respects — religion, culture, practices, ethnicities, and politics. A singular and homogeneous China and a heterogeneous and plural India have no common ground. Indian democracy has strengths far beyond the authoritarian CCP. India is a major threat to China in ways beyond our own self-deprecating and dismissive imagination. George Fernandes once said, “China is India’s number one enemy”. We should treat it accordingly.         

As we move into the second year of the Covid-19 pandemic, new equations are emerging. China was projected as a technological, economic, and financial giant. The Chinese dream was being rejuvenated through the greatest military on earth. The general belief was that China is the next superpower, set to dominate the world. A reality check is needed. Contrary to popular perception, emerging challenges faced by China are more than the opportunities presenting themselves. People might not agree with me. However, like the Chinese, I would like to see things in the long term.

China has entered its historical phase of ‘China vs China’. We need to understand this phenomenon. Historically, one generation of communist China has seeded major problems for the next generation. Mao’s ‘Great Leap Forward’ led to the great famine where millions perished in hunger. It generated widespread poverty till the next generation. Deng Xiaoping, accredited with opening up China, also started the ‘One Child Policy’. It is now propelling China into a demographic disaster. Xi Jinping’s ‘Rejuvenation of China’s Dream’ program marked by aggression and assertion has already put the next generations at risk. China’s naked ambition has put it under severe scrutiny, which it had escaped so far. There is a discernible switch from ‘aided’ to ‘impeded’ growth. ‘Cooperation’ has turned to ‘contestation’. Major fault lines — short and long term — crisscrossing each other have emerged.    

Demography: South China Morning Post published a series of 16 articles on China’s demography recently. It has not published a 16 series analysis so far in the past two years. This unprecedented analysis indicates the bleakness of the future with no solutions offered. The graph published recently by Renmin University defines the problem. The Renmin University figures are doctored to show the ‘State’ in a good light. Hence the problem is even graver. China’s population is shrinking irrevocably. The current fertility rate is 1.3 children per woman, which is well below the replacement level of 2.1. In just five years, the ratio of working population to non-working (dependent) population will be 60: 40 and will continue to reduce further. Working hands which have already reduced from 10:1 to 5:1 will further decrease. The situation, as per many analysts will be far worse. The recently enunciated ‘three child policy’ is a panic reaction. It is not a solution. People cannot afford to raise one child leave alone three. Girls do not want to get married. The gender ratio is skewed with 30 million unmarried men. Life expectancy has increased to 80. Old people are increasing and social security is inadequate. China will have to spend phenomenal sums on pensions. Pension funds are emptying and risk running dry. China’s younger workforce is decreasing. The middle and old age workforce are not suited for disruptive technologies. Technological superiority is a chimaera. China has a zero migration policy hence population inversion cannot take place as it does in the US. Further, even PLA does not have quality recruits. It has already lowered education, height and eyesight requirements. Look at it anyway — reducing population, reducing the workforce, shrinking pool for high technology, increasing old people, lowered standards for the army, reducing marriages, and reducing childbirths. Combine it with the headwinds on the economic front and its increased global footprint. People are the base for any nation. That is irretrievably skewed.  

Virus and Vaccines: The inefficiency of Chinese vaccines is now admitted by Chinese themselves. This is now proven by a rethink in Seychelles, the UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the Philippines and others. It also highlights the weaknesses of China’s technology. It will have a diplomatic fallout. The important issue is the internal effect. The virus is mutating with a shorter incubation period, faster transmission, greater virulence and higher viral load. New mutations are clearly beyond the Chinese vaccines. Chinese people remain unvaccinated. “China is at a very critical moment,” Zhong Nanshan, their top respiratory disease expert, said in a recent interview. “When other countries have been very well vaccinated, and China still lacks immunity, then that will be very dangerous”. The Chinese playbook of vast testing, strict movement controls and intense scrutiny of international arrivals will now impede economic growth. The new outbreaks suggest that the virus will circulate in China for a long. Look at it from any point of view — economic, technological, diplomatic or political- the law of diminishing returns is setting in for the Chinese. China will not break free ahead of others. 

Viral Stigma: There is no doubt that the Virus originated in Wuhan. The question is whether it was a natural zoonotic transmission or an engineered one which leaked out? Was it biological warfare? The lab leak theory, though based on circumstantial evidence, is getting stronger by the day. There has been no logical explanation about the natural origins of the Virus. Scientific investigation indicates that something fishy was going on in the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV). That is reinforced by the fact that China has sealed all data of the WIV and is refusing to part with any information. China has hidden a lot. Hereafter, whether it is confirmed or not, China will be blamed and lampooned for the origin of the virus — officially or unofficially. Theories of biological warfare will abound. Chinese secrecy, aggression and attitude will enhance the perceptions. Loss of face in private is assured if not in public. China will carry the cross of this virus to stigmatise future generations. More the denial, greater will be the sticking power. China will be equated to the virus eventually. This will start appearing in all kinds of literature, school and history books. Repercussions will be wide-ranging and well into the future. 

Afghanistan: The moment of reckoning for China —the wannabe superpower, has arrived. Till now China had the insurance of the US’s presence in Afghanistan. That will vanish in September. China has to protect its interests on its own hereafter. It must secure its borders and stop extremism spilling over into Xinjiang. Its $3 billion investment in a giant copper mine in Aynak must be secured. It has to prop up a failing Pakistan to keep the CPEC and BRI going. It has already established a military base 12-14 Km from the Tajik-Afghan border and 30 km from the Tajik-China border in Gorno-Badakhshan province around 2019. It is in the process of constructing a road through the Wakhan Corridor. Chinese commitment in Afghanistan is set to increase in ways unknown. China is coming into the military centre stage wittingly or otherwise. Inevitably, it will have to shed blood to protect its interests. Slowly this military involvement will spread internationally. The military costs will go up and overstretch will commence. 

Outlook and Image: The images and epithets associated with China are wolf warriorism, assertion, aggression, debt-trap diplomacy, IPR theft, currency manipulation, untrustworthy, coercion, threats, corruption, and human rights abuses. Overall, a negative image has developed over the past year. Chinese actions have matched these descriptions in the South China Sea, Hongkong, Eastern Ladakh, Paracels, Australia, EU, Taiwan, Senkaku’s, Xinjiang, Tibet, and many more. The Chinese are also attempting to repair their image. Despite that, China continues with its arrogant outlook and ideology. For example, China came to an understanding with the EU on a new investment pact. It was touted as a diplomatic coup. EU imposed some sanctions due to severe human rights abuses in Xinjiang. China retaliated with sanctions on some EU politicians and entities. In response, the European Parliament paused the ratification of its new investment pact with China. China has now started shooting itself in its foot. It is a typical China vs China story. 

Exclusion: Throughout last year, the expectation was that China will be isolated. In a globalised and interconnected world, China has created multiple dependencies. Isolation will never occur. That is clear. However, something else is taking shape. The leaders of ‘G7’ (Germany, Japan, France, the UK, Canada, the US, Italy and Canada) plus Australia, South Korea, India and South Africa met recently (11 to 13 June). This is the first major meet of the world’s powerful democracies during the pandemic. The focus was on China, alternate supply chains and rivalling the Belt and Road. The significant issue is that in a year, two frameworks – ‘QUAD’ and ‘G7 Plus’ have evolved from which China has been excluded. The larger implication is that China might see the birth of international systems from which it is excluded and in which it is the main antagonist. China has to swim against the very current which helped its rise. The portents are ominous.

View it from any angle. All the issues which have been highlighted are interrelated and interdependent. They will detract from the Comprehensive National Power of China. Very importantly, China has no control over them. They are autarkic and will run their course in different directions. Issues related to economics, BRI, pollution, food security, energy security, environment, and climate change have not been factored in. Many of these issues were analysed in an earlier article. Everyone talks of the great military, but most of it can hardly be used. This is the great superpower which we will have to contend with. In a decade our adversary will be old and not rich. I had written about the  Chernobyl factor in an article. I am more than convinced that it will come true. The China we see today will not be China in another five years. China vs China is an interesting battle that is unfolding. India needs to be cognisant of these facts and script a long term strategy to handle the emerging China.     

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 www.gunnersshot.com 

China does not understand another civilisation antithetical to its own in all respects—religion, culture, practices, ethnicities, and politics. A singular and homogeneous China and a heterogeneous and plural India have no common ground. Indian democracy has strengths far beyond the authoritarian CCP. India is a major threat to China in ways beyond our own self-deprecating and dismissive imagination. 

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Defence

ANDAMAN & NICOBAR COMMAND CELEBRATES WORLD HYDROGRAPHY DAY

Ashish Singh

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Lieutenant General Ajai Singh, Commander-in-Chief Andaman & Nicobar Command (CINCAN) participated in commemorating the Centenary of the World Hydrography Day on Monday. The occasion is celebrated by the Hydrographic fraternity of the Indian Navy every year through a series of coordinated events at the respective Commands to spread awareness of hydrography and its contribution in ensuring safe navigation at sea as well as to showcase achievements and contributions of the Indian Naval Hydrographic Organisation. The theme for the event this year is “100 years of International Cooperation in Hydrography”.

The CINCAN appreciated the yeoman service by the Indian Naval Hydrographic Organisation in capacity building initiatives among littorals in the Indian Ocean Region through hydrographic surveys and providing world-class training to personnel from friendly foreign nations. The surveys help in augmenting the Sagarmala project under the NITI Aayog for the sustainable development of A&N Islands.

The Hydrographic Survey Unit at Port Blair under HQ ANC is responsible for the surveys around the A&N Islands and is fully equipped with state-of-the-art equipment for the conduct, analysis and preparation of reports of hydrographic surveys. HSU (PBR) participates in various joint operations with the Indian Army and Indian Air Force within the Andaman and Nicobar Command. The Unit has successfully conducted surveys for RCS 3.0 — UDAN, the prestigious Government of India project under regional connectivity by playing a vital role in identifying suitable seaplane landing sites at four locations in the Andaman group of islands at Shaheed Dweep, Swaraj Dweep, Hut Bay and Long Island, which will boost regional connectivity and tourism.

Indian Navy hydrography ships Sutlej from Southern Naval Command and Nirupak from Eastern Naval Command are currently deployed for hydrographic survey in Andaman and Nicobar Islands since April 2021. These ships utilise state-of-the-art Multi-beam Bathymetric Data Acquisition Systems to survey and update navigational charts of the A&N Islands. All Covid protocol measures were followed by the personnel present at the event.

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Defence

INS SHIVAJI ORGANISES VARIOUS ACTIVITIES TO MARK YOGA DAY

Ashish Singh

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The International Yoga Day celebrates the physical and spiritual prowess that yoga has brought to the world stage. While it is an important source of exercise and healthy activity, there are many benefits of practising yoga daily. This is a useful way to connect the body, mind, and soul in a way that exists for centuries. INS Shivaji undertook various activities towards the celebration of the International Yoga Day at Station Lonavla from 19 to 21 June. Keeping Covid-19 protocols in mind, a yoga workshop and seminar for personnel and trainee officers and sailors in the cohort group was conducted by a qualified yoga instructor.

As part of virtual yoga practice, yoga sessions were conducted for Naval personnel as available in the Namaste Yoga app launched by the Government of India. Personnel and families also undertook yoga sessions offered by the Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga at their respective residences. Quiz and essay competitions were conducted for trainee sailors to educate them about the importance of yoga in daily life. To enlighten the significance of yoga, home guidelines and a list of digital resources available in the open network were uploaded on the unit LAN/website. Towards awareness of daily yoga practice, banners with the theme “Be with Yoga, Be at Home” were displayed at prominent locations.

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Defence

NORTHERN COMMAND CELEBRATES YOGA DAY

Ashish Singh

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Amidst strict Covid-19 protocols, yoga camps were organised on the occasion of International Yoga Day on Monday in all Army formations and units of Northern Command across the entire UTs of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh including “Siachen Glacier”, the highest battlefield. All ranks & families attended the Yoga camps with great enthusiasm. A number of aasanas, pranayama, and dhyan were practised and their benefits towards health and in disease prevention were shared by qualified Yoga instructors.

The theme ‘Yoga for well-being’ with the aim to promote the holistic health of troops was emphasised. The Covid-19 crisis has caused psychophysical, emotional and physical impact on the people across all ages in the country. Our troops have been successfully kept shielded from such effects to a great extent as a result of practicing Yoga on regular basis despite all challenges. The celebration of International Yoga Day is a reminder for all ranks to incorporate yoga in daily routine for a happy and stress free life.

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Defence

HOW INDIAN NAVY CELEBRATED 7TH INTERNATIONAL YOGA DAY

Ashish Singh

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The International Day of Yoga was celebrated at Western Naval Command (WNC), Eastern Naval Command (ENC), and Southern Naval Command (SNC).

The International Yoga Day was celebrated at WNC, with all serving naval personnel including Defence Security Corps (DSC), the Military Engineer Services (MES), Defence Civilian Employees and their family members enthusiastically participating in the 7th International Day of Yoga on the theme ‘Be with Yoga, Be At Home’.

An online yoga session was conducted under the aegis of the Navy Wives Welfare Association (Western Region) for the naval community in South Mumbai to encourage all personnel and their family members to practise yoga regularly for bolstering their health and boosting immunity, especially in these trying times. Various asanas were demonstrated through digital platforms and replicated by the enthusiastic participants. Additionally, all sea-going units in the WNC also took part in celebrating the day by conducting yoga sessions at the unit level, both at sea and in harbour, with due observance of all Covid protocols. Yoga has been formally assimilated into the Navy’s physical fitness regime and had been found to be beneficial to men at sea given the paucity of space onboard ships.

The International Yoga Day was celebrated by all units under ENC, where naval personnel including Defence Security Corps, Defence Civilian Employees and their family members enthusiastically participated in the Yoga Day on the theme ‘Yoga For Wellness’ on Monday. All units under the ENC spread across the Eastern Seaboard from West Bengal to Tamil Nadu participated in various yoga-related activities.

All participants practised yoga asanas at their respective residences/units in accordance with the guidelines promulgated by released by the Ministry of AYUSH, Government of India with strict adherence to Covid protocols. The yoga sessions included standing and sitting yoga postures, pranayama — breathing techniques followed by meditation. Ships of the ENC on Mission Deployments at high seas across the Indian Ocean region participated in the Yoga sessions in the true spirit of Yoga Day.

International Yoga Day was celebrated at SNC, where Naval personnel including Defence Security Corps (DSC), The Military Engineer Services (MES), Defence Civilian Employees and their family members enthusiastically participated in the Yoga Day celebrations . Vice Admiral AK Chawla, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief (FOC-in-C), SNC and Mrs Sapana Chawla joined families of Southern Naval Command in a virtual yoga session.

Simple and easy to do asanas were demonstrated on a digital platform and replicated by the participants in accordance with the guidelines on the Namaste Yoga app and by the Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga at their respective residences. The yoga session included standing and sitting yoga postures, pranayama and breathing techniques. It was followed by meditation techniques, based on the common Yoga protocols released by the Ministry of AYUSH, Government of India. All units under SNC spread across different states of India also participated in various yoga-related activities. Special yoga-related quizzes, posters, essay competitions and lectures by yoga experts for adopting yoga as a way of life were also organised. Towards spreading awareness of daily yoga practice, banners with the theme were displayed at prominent locations along with the distribution of yoga mats with International Yoga Day logos to encourage more personnel to take up yoga.

Various ships under the Southern Naval Command on mission deployed at high seas across the Indian Ocean region and beyond, in the true spirit of International Yoga Day, participated in the yoga sessions. Vice Admiral AK Chawla encouraged SNC Parivar to practice yoga regularly and to make yoga a way of life.

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Defence

EASTERN FLEET AWARDS FUNCTION TO RECOGNISE OPERATIONAL ACHIEVEMENTS

Ashish Singh

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Fleet Awards Function 2021 was held to celebrate the operational achievements of the Eastern Fleet during the last year. Fleet Awards Function marks the culmination of the Operational Cycle of the Eastern Fleet and recognises accomplishments of the ‘Sword Arm’ of the Eastern Naval Command (ENC). Vice Admiral Ajendra Bahadur Singh, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief ENC was the Chief Guest at the event hosted by Rear Admiral Tarun Sobti, Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Fleet.

As compared to previous years, the Fleet Awards Function was held as a modest event with full observance of COVID protocols. The function culminated with the distribution of sixteen coveted trophies covering the overall spectrum of maritime operations. INS Sahyadri was adjudged as the Best Ship of the Eastern Fleet amongst Capital ships, INS Kamorta as the Most Spirited Ship for displaying indomitable spirit and grit whilst undertaking a plethora of challenging missions and Best Corvette trophy as won by IN Ships Kiltan and Khukri amongst Corvettes and similar classes of ships.

The year gone by was a challenging one for the Sunrise Fleet. Even as the COVID pandemic gripped the world, Eastern Fleet went about its operational responsibilities and maintained a forward active posture. Sustaining high operational tempo, the Fleet ships participated in numerous operations, exercises, and humanitarian assistance missions. The Eastern Fleet ships participated in several major bilateral and multilateral exercises such as Malabar-20, La Perouse, PASSEX with various navies and undertook Op Sahayam and Mission Sagar for delivery of HADR stores and Op Samudra Setu for evacuation of stranded Indian citizen from overseas. In the second wave of COVID-19 as Op Samudra Setu II, Eastern Fleet ships acted as the mainstay for enhancing oxygen delivery to the Eastern seaboard emphasising its role as a professional and credible force.

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