From the time humans stepped into water with the benefit of the buoyancy of a hollowed-out log, seafaring has always been a saga of respect for skill and human spirit. In the Indian Ocean, littoral communities along the coast have been traversing the length and breadth of the oceanic space for the past few millennia. On Tuesday, at the opening day of the maiden National Maritime Heritage Conclave, discussions on coastal communities recognised their influence along the coast and across the seas. Day 2 will reflect the elements of gender in Indian Maritime History and Trans-oceanic Connectivity. It is apt to examine what is needed for one to dare to venture to the sea. A seafarer requires a balance of specialised skill set, which includes navigation, maritime law, meteorology, etc.
A careful examination of history reveals accounts of women involved in seafaring activity. Maritime women of the Medieval Era were feisty and adept in aptitude across a broad spectrum from administration to military. In the medieval era period, one such heroic figure was Rani Abbakka, a warrior queen who fought against the Portuguese. Her story stands out as an excellent example of administration and skilled military tactics. Yet the stigma of Samudrolanghan slowed maritime activities and a resulting fear of sea halted flourishing Maritime activities. These were largely confined to coastal communities.
In more recent times, the involvement of women in the Maritime Sector has gained momentum over the past few years. Common perception is that prior to 1988 there were limited opportunities for women in the Maritime Industry. The annals of the Royal Indian Navy, especially during World War II narrate the saga of Women’s Royal Indian Naval Service. It was established to support the war efforts even if not on the ships. After the start of a global programme for integration of Women in the Maritime sector established by International Maritime Organization (IMO) many opportunities arose for women in the Maritime domain. After 1992 the Indian Navy permitted women to join as Short Service Commissioned Officers in specific branches.
Recent news of Indian Navy women officers joining combat duties from the aviation cadre on Navy warships drew significant attention and inspiration. It is not a singular moment of engagement but a continuing evolution of opportunities for recognising skill over gender. It requires great strength and skill to brave the sea and even greater resilience to sustain its challenges. Day 2 of the ongoing National Maritime Heritage Conclave will bring first-hand experiences from our panel of Maritime women. In the skills for seafaring, sea does not recognise gender group or oceanic genealogy. Specifically, the role of women in Indian Maritime History is a prominent unsung frame in the annals of history
The third session progresses into another unsung frame of the Maritime Domain which is Trans-Maritime Connectivity across IOR. The landmass of India being largely surrounded by the water bodies makes the ocean a medium of connectivity to the world. This Maritime connectivity largely transgresses into India’s unsung Maritime History. India being a landlocked country the sea blindness of Indians comes as a shock. A detailed study of our country’s maritime history reveals a strong oceanic connect dating far back to the Indus Valley Civilisation, with Lothal being one of the oldest port cities of the world and Rig Veda having one of the earliest literary references to maritime activities of the country.
Oceans have played an important part in Indian philosophy and have been associated with a variety of celebrations and rituals across ages. These maritime practices throw light on how India’s seasonal festivals and associated rituals have a clear connection between the maritime voyages and the climatological time frames.
India has witnessed cultural and traditional exchange, trade and commerce through the oceans for a long period of time. Contrary to popular belief, the system of a maritime passage through the Indian Ocean evolved out of a gradual integration of trading port towns along the coastlines of Africa, Arabia, India, South East Asia, China and Europe! The Indian Ocean Region experienced extensive maritime trade and at its peak rivalled the Silk Route.
Ships traversing the Ocean carried valuable merchandise, skills, knowledge, civilisation, culture, religions ideas inventions, artistic style, philosophies, and social customs from one end to another. This maritime web of commerce and cultural exchange operated on seasonal monsoon winds. Oceanic activity in the region encouraged by the unique feature of monsoons allowed the countries involved to have an active participation in maritime trade, thus creating a long history of maritime activities covering a period of about five millennia. Maritime activities of the past and the present have led to a cultural migration and created a global commerce that has influenced the face of Indian history and culture. This lineage of maritime heritage and history is indeed a testimony of our strong connections and relationship with the sea.
India’s strategic position in the Indian Ocean Region has ensured that we have a list of maritime stories and heroes that have left an impressive wake. We can say that the world that we see today is a legacy of our Maritime excursions and its history. India has a very rich maritime history and we are just beginning to explore it. There was a golden age of Indian seafaring and a major part of it remains unknown or unexplored creating an opportunity for us at Maritime History Society to dive deeper.
Staying true to the mission of ‘awakening maritime consciousness’, Maritime History Society holds an Annual Maritime History Seminar each year on a selected Maritime Theme. This year’s 42nd edition which is envisaged as a National Maritime Heritage Conclave (NMHC) is being organised in collaboration with Gujarat Maritime University, Gandhinagar, All India Marine Pilot’s Association and The Daily Guardian. This two-day conclave honours the theme “Unsung Frames in Indian Maritime History’’. Even in the emerging season of a maritime resurgence, awareness of our seafaring past and affinity for traversing the oceans is not a common pull for the populace. In that context the conclave is showcasing frames of reference that have largely suffered neglect in scholastic enquiry and narrations.
Day 1 of the conclave had explored the influence and importance of coastal communities and ended on a high note of announcement of the winners of the JG Nadkarni Memorial Essay Competition and release of a special musical tribute to the Indian Malams (boatmen); today’s session reflects upon the synergy of skills in the seafaring world. The proceeding gave a glimpse of the diverse spectrum of segments that make up the maritime dimension. There is literally a rare sector of academics that fails to have a maritime connect. It is a recognition of the geographical, climatological and cultural spread of the oceanic medium in addition to many more frames of reference and context. Celebration of the lesserknown narratives and sections of India’s maritime world is aimed to promote sea mindedness, incite a curiosity, and create awareness about India’s maritime heritage. Join the conclave by visiting https://mhsindia. zohobackstage.in/NationalMaritimeHeritageConclave2020. For more information visit our website www.mhsindia.org. And for updates of the other events follow our social media. The sea is a vast medium of opportunities and collaborations. Together we can achieve a resurgence of interest, scholarship and attention towards the Maritime Heritage of India. Maritime History Society, determined to evolve into an international institution of excellence in the maritime dimension invites your interest, involvement and integration into its journey forward. Do join us to tend to the sails, hold the sheets and surge ahead in the voyage of Heritage Awakening our Maritime Consciousness.
Ashwini Nawathe is Archives & Collections Associate, and Saba Purkar is Academic Assistant, both at MHS.
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Two Al-Qaeda-linked terrorists killed in the J&K encounter
Ansar Ghazwatul Hind (AGH), an Al-Qaeda-linked terror outfit in Kashmir, has suffered a major setback. In an encounter on the outskirts of Srinagar, security forces killed two more AGH terrorists.
The AGH terrorists were apprehended after the army and police received specific information about their presence.
During the exchange of fire, forces killed two local Al-Qaeda-linked terrorists from AGH. Both terrorists are Pulwama residents who have been involved in a number of terrorist attacks.
According to police, the terrorists were also involved in an attack on a migrant worker in Pulwama.
N. Korea enacts law on preventive nuclear strikes, France calls “threat to peace”
France criticised North Korea’s adoption of a law announcing its preparedness to launch preventive nuclear strikes on Friday, calling it a “threat to international and regional peace and security.”
The announcement from the foreign ministry came after North Korean state media earlier on Friday reported that Pyongyang had enacted a law authorising preventative strikes, including in the event of conventional attacks.
“This new escalation on the part of the North Korean authorities represents a threat to international and regional peace and security,” said a ministry spokeswoman.
France “notes with great concern the increasingly aggressive declarations from North Korea,” she added.
The decision by Pyongyang practically puts an end to the possibility of denuclearization talks after leader Kim Jong Un said that the nation’s nuclear status is now “irreversible.”
The announcement comes at a time when the North and South are experiencing greater conflict.
In addition to conducting a record number of weapons tests this year, Pyongyang has blamed the COVID-19 outbreak in its territory on Seoul.
China has successfully tested its first solar-powered drone capable of acting as a satellite
A Chinese government official informed in a tweet that China has successfully tested its first fully solar-powered unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), named Qimingxing-50, which can fly for months and can function even as a satellite if required.
What is the significance of this test flight?
The Qimingxing-50, with a wingspan of 50 m, is a high-altitude long-endurance drone that is capable of high-altitude aerial reconnaissance, assessing forest fire and can also be used for communications.
This technology will bolster Chinese defences in space and at sea. It can be used in the fields of renewable energy, new materials, and aeronautical engineering. The Chinese official also asserted that this test flight is an important step towards sustainable development.
Use of the UAV as a satellite:
The UAV, whose name translates as “Morning Star-50” in English, is claimed to be capable of functioning uninterrupted for months. This capability of having a long-endurance flight gives it a use case of operating as a satellite.
Like satellites, it is fully electric-driven, powered by solar energy and can operate at 20 km above the Earth’s surface for an extended period of time continuously. It is also referred to as a “High Altitude Platform Station” or a “pseudo-satellite.”
It can be used when there is unavailability or disruption in satellite services. The report says that compared to the cost and complexity of installing a satellite in orbit, this UAV is much more cost-effective and easy to operate.
Strict security measures have been taken at the Central Vista ahead of the inauguration by PM Modi
As Prime Minister Nrendra Modi is going to inaugurate the newly revamped Central Vista on Thursday, over 1,500 police personnel have been deployed for security over there.
A senior official of Delhi Police who is aware of the security arrangements said that the area has been divided into eight zones, which will be manned all day by eight deputy commissioners of police (DCPs) and additional deputy commissioners of police (ADCPs).
The officer, on condition of anonymity, said, “Besides 17 assistant commissioners of police (ACPs), 43 inspectors and nearly 1,200 upper and lower-rank staff of Delhi Police will be patrolling in the areas. While ten Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) companies will patrol the area during the day, two additional CAPF companies have been deployed for security arrangements during the evening shift.As many as five patrolling teams in 10 mobile patrolling vans (MPVs) will be keeping a constant watch on all the public movement in the area.”
Another officer said that, “The Multi Zone Door Frame Metal Detectors (DFMD) have been installed at 90 points in 25 locations in the area. Apart from one anti-drone gun, one counter-unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) has also been installed in the area, to detect, track, and ultimately disrupt and destroy any suspicious aerial intrusion. While five teams of spotters will keep a strict vigil in the area, another five traffic decongestion teams have been deployed there to immediately remove any traffic bottlenecks in the area. As many as five SWAT teams have been deployed in the area to avert any emergency crisis.”
The official added that drones will not be permitted near Central Vista on Thursday.
Pakistani rangers opened fire on BSF patrolling party in J&K
As per the reports, Pakistani rangers opened fire on a Border Security Force (BSF) patrolling party in Jammu and Kashmir’s Arnia sector on Tuesday morning, prompting the BSF to respond appropriately to the “unprovoked firing”.
“Today morning the alert BSF Jammu troops gave a befitting reply to the unprovoked firing by Pak rangers on BSF patrolling party in Arnia Sector. No loss (of lives) or injury (reported) to the BSF troops,” a statement issued by a BSF spokesperson said.
On February 24, 2021, India and Pakistan agreed to strictly adhere to all agreements and understandings concerning cross-border firing along the Line of Control (LoC) and International Border (IB) in Jammu and Kashmir, among other sectors.
Other incidents of firing by Pakistani troops have occurred in the last year and a half, but Tuesday’s incident was “a major one” and occurred on a day when Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was in India for talks, an officer anonymously said.
According to a second officer, the Indian Army and BSF respond immediately and effectively to unprovoked firings and ceasefire violations by Pakistan along the LoC and IB.
Before the agreement in 2021, there were 5,133 ceasefire violations in 2020, 3,479 in 2019, and 2,140 in 2018. However, this number dropped to around 700 last year. Statistics for 2022 are not yet available.
The Indian government has maintained that it is Pakistan’s responsibility to create a conducive environment by taking credible, verifiable, and irreversible action to ensure that no territory under its control is used for cross-border terrorism against India in any way.
India sends the body of Lashkar terror operative via LoC in Poonch
Pakistan accepted the body of Tabarak Hussain, Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist operative via Chakan Da Bagh on the Line of Control in Poonch district on Monday.
“Officials of the Indian Army and civil administration took the body of slain terrorist in an ambulance to Chakan Da Bagh where it was handed over to Pakistani army officials,” said a senior official.
Tabarak Hussain, son of Mistri Malik of Sabzkote in PoK, was apprehended in an injured state by the army on August 21 in the Jhanger area of the Nowshera sector in Rajouri.
Tabarak was apprehended while allegedly infiltrating with a fidayeen terror group to attack Indian army posts along the LoC.
However, Indian army troops noticed the movement and opened fire on the intruding terror group, injuring Tabarak while other infiltrators fled to PoK.
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