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Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich is readied to fly to Vandenberg for launch

Ashish Singh

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Airbus space engineers are preparing the European ocean satellite “Coper- helicopter nicus Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich” for its journey to the Vandenberg launch site in California. Next week, the satellite will be loaded into a cargo plane at Munich Airport and flown to the US. The Airbus-built satellite is scheduled for launch on 10 November 2020. 

The Copernicus Sentinel-6 will carry out high-precision measurements of ocean surface topography. The satellite will measure its distance to the ocean surface with an accuracy of a few centimetres and use this data to map it, repeating the cycle every 10 days, with the mission lasting up to seven years. It will document changes in sea-surface height, record and analyse variations in sea levels and observe ocean currents. Exact observations of changes in sea-surface height provide insights into global sea levels, ocean sea state, ocean wind speed, the speed and direction of ocean geostrophic currents, and ocean heat storage. These measurements are vital for modelling the oceans and monitoring/predicting rises in sea levels. In addition, Sentinel-6 will provide measurements over large rivers and lakes in support of water management applications. 

The findings will enable governments and institutions to establish effective protection for coastal regions. The data will be invaluable not only for disaster relief organisations, but also for authorities involved in urban planning, securing buildings or commissioning dykes. Global sea levels are currently rising by an average of 3.3 millimetres a year as a result of global warming; this could potentially have dramatic consequences for countries with densely populated coastal areas. 

The Sentinel-6 mission is part of the European Union Copernicus Programme for the environment. This mission comprises two satellites and is being developed under Airbus’s industrial leadership. While it is a European mission, Sentinel-6 is a true example of international cooperation: it has been jointly developed by E SA, NASA, EUMETSAT and NOAA, with support from CNES. Each satellite carries a radar altimeter, which works by measuring the time it takes for radar pulses to travel to the surface and back again to the satellite. Combined with precise satellite location data, altimetry measurements yield the height of the sea surface. 

The satellites’ instrument package also includes an advanced microwave radiometer that accounts for the amount of water vapour in the atmosphere, which affects the speed of the altimeter’s radar pulses. The satellite weighs approximately 1.5 tons. Starting with Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich, in November 2020, the Sentinel-6 satellites will collect satellite based measurements of the oceans’ surfaces, continuing a task that first began in 1992. The second Sentinel-6 spacecraft is then expected to follow in 2025.

 In January 2020, the satellite was renamed after Michael H. Freilich, who led NASA´s work in Earth science for many years. Sadly Michael Freilich passed away in August 2020.

Defence

74TH INFANTRY DAY CELEBRATED WITH GREAT GUSTO

Ashish Singh

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To commemorate the contributions of infantry, the largest fighting arm of the Indian Army, the Infantry Day is celebrated every year on 27 October. This day has a unique significance for infantry, as it was on this day in 1947 that infantrymen from the Indian Army became the first troops to land at Srinagar airport, an act which turned back the invaders from the outskirts of Srinagar and saved the state of Jammu and Kashmir from a Pakistan backed tribal invasion.

As part of the Infantry Day celebrations, a ‘Wreath Laying’ ceremony was held at National War Memorial to honour the martyrs of the Infantry, who made the supreme sacrifice on various battlefields in service of the nation. Gen Bipin Rawat, Chief of Defence Staff, and Gen MM Naravane, Chief of Army Staff along with all Army Commanders and Colonels of the Regiment, laid wreaths on this solemn occasion. Three decorated veterans of Operation Vijay and Operation Meghdoot Brigadier Umesh Singh Bawa, Vir Chakra (Retd), Subedar (Honorary Captain) Sansar Chand, Maha Vir Chakra (Retd) and Naik Jai Ram Singh, Vir Chakra (Retd) also laid wreaths on behalf of veterans of Infantry. In his message to all Infantrymen on this day, Director General of Infantry exhorted them to rededicate themselves to the core value of bravery, sacrifice, selfless devotion to duty and professionalism, and to remain indomitable in their resolve to defend the integrity and sovereignty of the country.

‘FIRE & FURY’ CORPS

The 74th ‘Infantry Day’ was celebrated yesterday by the ‘Fire & Fury’ Corps at Leh with traditional solemnity and reverence. Lieutenant General PGK Menon, General Officer Commanding, ‘Fire and Fury’ Corps laid a wreath at the War Memorial in Leh and paid homage to all the brave heroes, who have made the supreme sacrifice in the line of duty.

Indian Army celebrates 27th October every year as the ‘Infantry Day’, as it was on this day that the 1st Battalion of the SIKH Regiment landed at Srinagar airbase and displayed resoluteness and extraordinary courage to thwart the evil designs of the Pakistan Army, who had invaded Kashmir with the help of tribal raiders. The bold and gallant actions carried out by the Indian Infantry Battalions in the ensuing days ensured that the nefarious designs of Pakistan Army were forcefully defeated.

In the Ladakh Sector, Infantry battalions of the Indian Army have been part of every war fought in the Sector, bringing laurels to the Army and to the Nation. The saga of courage and sacrifice displayed during the battle of Rezang La in 1962 and more recently during Operation VIJAY in the Kargil Sector are testimonies to the spirit of sacrifice of the Indian Infantry soldier. Of the 21 Param Vir Chakras awarded till date, seven PVCs were awarded to officers and men who fought in the Ladakh Sector, including three posthumous awards.

In his message, Lieutenant General PGK Menon complimented the Infantrymen for their devotion to duty and indomitable spirit, while serving under trying and difficult conditions. He acknowledged their invaluable contribution in maintaining the sanctity of the nation’s borders in the Ladakh region, with fortitude and elan. He also called upon all ranks of the ‘Fire & Fury’ Corps to continue to draw inspiration from the heroic deeds of the brave-hearts and always keep ‘Nation First’ in all their endeavours.

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Defence

RADICALS ARE ON THE VERGE OF BEING RADICALLY RUINED

Writing is on the wall: There would be no place for radicals in this world. India, United States, France, UAE and Saudi Arabia have understood the reasons and are indeed trying to make the world a better place.

Shreedharan Raman

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“There will come a day that we will see far more radical extremists & terrorists coming out of Europe. Because of lack of decision making, trying to be politically correct or assuming that they know the Middle-East, they know Islam and they know the others far better than we do. Am sorry, but that’s pure ignorance.” ~ Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the United Arab Emirates at the 4th Tweeps Forum at Riyadh in 2016.

The words of the Minister left many West Asia watchers stunned. Especially from Europe and the US. This gave a sneak preview into that paradigm shift that is about to come in the next few years. Looking back at how things went, the reaction seems quite justified. Many times, people get confused about what is going on in Arab world. It is public perception that everyone is fighting everyone there. But then, the devil is in the fine print. The wars are moving up north and closer to Europe.

The war is slowly revealing the real enemy. The radicals. The pattern is evident. Whoever tolerates others, would survive. Rest would be decimated brutally. This is the pattern, from Saudi Arabia to Iran and everyone in-between. Globally too. Radicals are being crushed left right centre. Basically, music is stopping for radicals. They better mend their ways. This is exposing the game of those real radicals, those that are with power. With many magic hands shaping the feat of peacemaking from behind. Some are so important catalysts in the equation that are taking shape, that we simply can’t ignore them. Indian Government for example.

Many actions that seemed impossible a few years ago, are taking shape right now. It might sound totally disconnected. But, scratch a few layers, you would understand the tacit support that made it possible. In a way, the support has to be seen with transactional barter with a tinge of civilizational links. The way things are moving, we are expecting a non-radicalized Islam in West Asia, which would take path of becoming soft power in years to come. Giving importance to knowledge and contributing to human advancement. There are few well written pieces on New York Times on Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Zayed a.k.a MBZ.

Few months ago, was it even possible to think of an Israel-UAE peace treaty? Few good men made it happen. And the effort was a regional effort. Many bad apples were cornered.

What we know today is that Turkey wants to become a trans-Asian Nation – like the USSR. Raccip Tayyip Erdogan is trying to make an impact and influence states from Armenia and Cyprus to the West to Xinjiang in the east. He claims all of it. His hypocrisy can be best explained in one single statement. That is, while condemning Chinese illegal detention of Uyghurs in Xinjiang, he deports them back to Beijing via a third country. There are media reports on this. Just one problem here. Arabs would oppose this idea tooth and nail. Result: We’re seeing opposition to Turkey growing stronger and stronger day by day. Therefore, the Azerbaijan – Armenia war got complicated with Turkey’s involvement. This is where the UAE led alliance (with almost all of GCC members) is in effect an anti-Turkey & anti-radical. This is where everyone else is seen working out their differences in the region, to take on Turkey.

One after another, Arab states would embrace Israel as a long-lost cousin. Palestine would ultimately choose to be Israel’s friend in the region. Change is inevitable.

On the European side, with President Macron not in a mood to relent on radicals domestically and giving a tough resistance to Turkey and is taking them heads on across the region – from Cyprus to Armenia to Qatar & Libya, things are only looking bad for Turkey & more specifically Erdogan. Ultimately spreading thin the money, effort and troops from Cyprus to Libya to Syria to Azerbaijan. Over the past few months, US & Israel started moving away from Turkey. The EU has announced that it stands by France in case there is a flare up leading to France vs Turkey in Europe or elsewhere.

It is in this context that it is rather surprising that Erdogan is not seeing what is coming up for him and people whom he supports in due course. Ever wondered why there was little to no ISIS in UAE, Jordan & Oman? Think about it.

As they say it takes few good men to change the future. Here too, few good men stood up to radicalism and are making a huge difference to lives of common people from that community. And they have full support from Indian Government along with key partners of GCC. From the prospect of doom, Arab Nations are today seeing a ray of hope.

Our policy towards Gulf countries hasn’t changed much since the 1960s. We say ups and downs together in business. But one thing stood out. There was a parallel track encouraging each other’s development – beyond religion and business. Take for example UAE. It stood with us – like France, when we did nuclear tests in the 1970s.

At this point, we can only observe from grandstand those key discussions have indeed deeper understandings with New Delhi. We can certainly note that the meetings, summits and visits of the leaders of the region give you good insight. Arab nations seem to have understood the meaning behind the 2014 mandate for PM Modi.

First two years of PM Modi were dedicated to immediate neighbours. Though successful to a certain extent, things moved to an extended neighbourhood in the following years. France and UAE are the two nations it went to woo very deep. French President was invited as Chief Guest to 2016 Republic Day. Following year, UAE’s Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Zayed was invited. Within a few months, as if it was waiting next to be catapulted, MBZ was invited to White House in May 2017. This was a week before President Trump was to visit Saudi Arabia. A month later, in June 2017, Modi visits White House. Then, in July 2017, Modi makes the historic Israel visit. First ever by Indian PM. Few months later in 2018, Modi visited Palestine. And, while coming back to Delhi, PM Modi met Sultan Qaboos, one of the key architects of what is shaping West Asia today. Not many know that Sultan Qaboos is anti-radical and has kept Oman free of radicals.

Meanwhile, India has been inviting troops from Oman and training them. It is not out of thin air that Israel was able to normalize relations with its neighbours. Jordan, Oman, Saudi & UAE along with India played a huge role in it. (Source: LSEBlogs.com) Meanwhile, latest that India has said at UN is this: “India has been unwavering in its commitment to the Palestinian cause & continues to remain supportive of a peacefully negotiated resolution to the issue; India has supported the two-State solution as just & acceptable. We welcome the agreements for normalization of relations b/w Israel and UAE & Bahrain. India has always supported peace & stability in West Asia, which is our extended neighbourhood: Permanent Representative of India at UN Security Council open debate on situation in Middle East.”

This is an indication that India would treat Israel as an equal to Palestine. Fair & just. This changes a lot of things. India has created a space also to be critical of terrorist attacks emanating from Palestine. What is worth noticing is that, since UAE & Bahrain normalized relations with Israel, and that Saudi Arabia and few other nations might follow suit soon, the rocket attacks have ceased. Reason solely being the loss of protection they used to get riding the anti-Israel wave. Now, the Palestine State would have to be formed. Not after weapons and terror attacks. But, through dialogue.

While GCC is doing its bit to contain radicals from the region, France is acting against radical ideology from Turkey & Lebanon and stopping them from entering Europe. The US & Russia are acting against ISIS. India has its own trouble domestically through Pakistan funded radicals. Afghanistan is fighting its own battle. Rest of the world is busy with Chinese support to radicals across these non-civil states that propagate radicals.

Turkey may also stop propagating expansionism and come to the real world. Laying claim to lands as far as Xinjiang when Turkish military is stretched from Cyprus to Libya to Azerbaijan to Syria, not sure if Erdogan is the right person to lead a nation. Erdogan’s single biggest contribution to Turkey is that of turning a once liberal nation which acted as a bridge between Europe & Asia, into a radical theocracy without any room for reasonable opposition in a democratic setup.

Conclusion is that, going forward, there would be no place for radicals in this world. All those radicals in the region, Taliban or Pakistan supported terrorists or ISIS or anyone else who fall into that category anywhere in the world in general, won’t survive longer than a couple of years. Writing is on the wall. Better mend your ways. India, US, France, UAE & Saudi Arabia have understood the reasons and are indeed trying to make the world a better place. India and other like-minded free nations are in support of this great effort. Hopefully, we shall have a much better world in the coming years.

Shreedharan Raman watches strategic moves by countries around the globe, especially China and writes his opinions occasionally on shreedharan.com & can be contacted at write@shreedharan.com

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Defence

HOW DRAGON HAS BECOME THE MAIN DRIVER OF QUAD

The Quad is a work in progress. Currently it is an alignment hardening into an alliance without any treaty obligations. If China’s increasing threats lead to enhanced aggression against Taiwan or any other state, then the Quad will be the base on which an international coalition could emerge.

LT GEN PR SHANKAR (Retd)

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Once India invited the Australian Navy to take part in the Malabar 2020 exercise, QUAD has become a demi official. In addition, India has also indicated increased trade with Taiwan. China reacted, to state that it firmly opposes the move. The 2+2 Indo US dialogue is shortly on, immediately after the Quad foreign ministers meet. India is firming in towards China. Quad now, unambiguously means containing China through the Indo Pacific construct. China, despite showing signs of concern remains aggressive. In the process, China has become the main driver of the Quad. However, some sceptics feel: Why is India getting into the Pacific oriented Quad? The Quad vs China confrontation is not just Pacific story. Others—in and out of this region have stakes. Recently France and Germany/EU have come out with their Indo Pacific strategies. A wider understanding is important to peg the Indian role in the unfolding scenario.

THE INDO PACIFIC LANDSCAPE

The Indo-Pacific region stretches from the East Coast of Africa to the West Coast of American. The Indo-Pacific coastlines also touch Russia and the Gulf. The region has more than half of the global population, a growing share of world trade and increasing international influence. it includes six members of the G20—Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan and South Korea. Major Indo Pacific nations are part of it—US, Canada, Mexico and South Africa. The region has four nuclear powers—China, India, Pakistan and North Korea. Twenty of the world’s 33 megacities are located here. France and the UK have territories in the Indo-Pacific. The region has geopolitical tensions with open rivalries, conflicts (both internal and cross-border), boundary disputes, refugee movements and piracy issues. Regional crises and tensions have global implications. 2000 ships cross Malacca Strait in a day. With 25% of the world’s maritime trade, it is the most consequential passage on earth. From a political perspective, Indo-Pacific countries are generally stable but regionally in flux, due to growing differences and past conflicts. The region lacks institutional and normative mechanisms. It has escalating arms dynamics. Urbanisation and an emerging middle class of fast developing countries drive social issues. The Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the US, Japanese, Australian and Indian Indo-Pacific strategies, and ASEAN multilateralism, are geopolitical and developmental models intersecting in the Indo-Pacific region.

INTERESTS AND OUTLOOKS

Chinese Interests: China’s global and core interests include its perceived maritime rights and overseas assets. These interests and assets are beyond Taiwan, South China Sea and its peripheral islands. The Chinese geopolitical, economic and energy interests extend beyond the Indo Pacific. The sea lines of communication of the Indo Pacific are critical for Chinese. The BRI which rings the Indo Pacific region represents not only Chinese economic interests but it is the main vehicle of its geopolitical expansionism, influence and assertion. The ‘String of Pearls’ strategy to contain India hinges on Chinese ability to dominate the Indo Pacific. China has established a base at Djibouti and is in the process of establishing a base at Gwadar. It already has a port at Hambantota. Indications are that it will attempt to acquire an Island in the Maldives Archipelago for development into a military base. Its presence in the Indian Ocean is an existential fact. It is also active in the Pacific group of Islands to get a pivot to reach out to South America where it has huge interests. China also expands its influence in the Indo Pacific through its maverick and unpredictable nuclear allies – Pakistan and North Korea. North Korea enables extension of influence in the Pacific and Pakistan in the Indian Ocean. If China has to become a super power it must have unhindered presence and control over the Indo Pacific region. The rapid expansion of PLAN belies Chinese intentions. The Quad has to respond accordingly.

The Free and Open Indo Pacific (FOIP): A free and open FOIP architecture envisages upholding rules-based international order, underpinned by rule of law (including UNCLOS), transparency, freedom of navigation in international seas, respect for territorial integrity & sovereignty & peaceful resolution of disputes. It also includes connectivity and infrastructure development, security including counter-terrorism; cyber and maritime security; and the stability and prosperity in the region. This has been very well captured by our Foreign Minister during the Quad ministerial meet. Tanvi Madan’s tables succinctly capture the essence of the Quad architecture which emerged unspoken in Tokyo. Increasingly the FOIP architecture is a hardening of democracies with the Quad at the core to resist an increasingly assertive China and CCP’s expansion, exploitation and coercion.

US Presence and Strategy: The US is an extra regional player with military presence/arrangements with Japan, South Korea, Philippines, Indonesia, Taiwan, Vietnam, Australia and India. Military bases at Diego Garcia and Guam enable it to control the entire Indo Pacific region. The US is also deeply intertwined with Chin—joined at the hip as many put it. However, there is a clear and present challenge from China to displace the US. The US strategy is to prevent that was outlined by their Secretary of State. The US strategy could be construed as an overall Quad strategy with an US subtext. The US feels that China has violated all norms of acceptable behaviour and appeasement is no more the answer. It is of the view that Japan, Australia and India are capable nations with capable economies and security apparatuses. The US opines that Quad has already improved coordination of the group as a whole and between individual partners. Hence Quad will come up with practical implementation strategies when needed. The US envisages institutionalisation of the Quad will lead to a security framework to counter the Chinese challenge. The US also clarifies that security encompasses economic capacity, the rule of law, the ability to protect IPR, trade agreements and diplomatic relationships. It’s not just military but much deeper and broader. Quad represents the power of democracies which an authoritarian China can never have. Quad is going to support and work with regional countries and ASEAN.

French Perspective: France has large territory in this region. It includes 93% of its EEZ, 1.5 million French citizens and a military presence of 8000 troops. It has 7,000 subsidiary companies and 150,000 expatriates who are settled and trade in the area. In its view two striking regional phenomena are – increasing military assertion and global ambition of China and violent expression by Radical Islamism. It sees parts of the Indo Pacific region in turmoil. France perceives a growing role in this region as a mediating, inclusive and stabilizing power in settlement of regional crises, protection of shipping routes, fight against terrorism, radicalization and organized crime as part of global governance. Indo Pacific is a priority region for France. It intends to strengthen partnerships with regional players having same values and interests: Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore and South Korea. It looks at a cooperative and reciprocal relationship with China, within the EU framework. It seeks increasing engagement with regional organizations (particularly ASEAN) and an inclusive Indo-Pacific space in which no country should impose its hegemony.

Germany and EU view: Germany and EU are closely integrated with China. Germany views the future international order to be Indo-Pacific based dominated by China, Japan , USA and India. It prefers democracies with shared values. It opines that economic development and human rights are not mutually exclusive but complimentary. Its approach is ‘not that the law of the strong that must prevail, but the strength of the law should’. It questions China’s commitment to this concept. Simultaneously Germany and EU do not consider containment and decoupling strategies to be conducive. Germany believes disruption in maritime trade routes and supply chains would have serious consequences for Europe. Germany feels that the ASEAN-centric security architecture offers a valuable framework and wants to upgrade EU-ASEAN relations to the level of a strategic partnership. It wants monitoring of UN sanctions against North Korea and wants to support a substantive and legally binding Code of Conduct between China and the ASEAN for the South China Sea. It also seeks to reform the UN Security Council and strengthen its ability to act along with two India and Japan. Germany, envisages the enlargement of the UN Security Council to safeguard its representative function and thereby ensure its continued authority and legitimacy.

UK Stance: UK had a very great relationship going with China. However. Hong Kong, Huawei, and the Covid-19 pandemic have uprooted it. Hongkong’s freedoms being stripped and the “one country, two systems” being castaway by China, 27 years ahead of schedule, in violation of a treaty has catalysed change in UK. It has dumped Huawei and China. The UK will now press for a FOIP strategy. It will align with the region’s democracies—India, Japan, USA , Australia, South Korea, and Taiwan. The UK views that BRI has been the only infrastructure game in town and needs to be countered.

ASEAN Outlook: ASEAN countries have to live next door to an increasingly assertive China despite land and maritime borders and disputes. They will tread a line as per their collective and individual concerns and interests. Being proximal to China gives them an understanding as to how to deal with it. They will maintain a balance while being central to any Indo Pacific Strategy. The ASEAN has defined an Outlook on the Indo-Pacific. It is based on the principles of strengthening its centrality, complementarity with existing cooperation frameworks, relevant UN treaties and conventions, and various ASEAN treaties and agreements. It will have to tread a fine line.

Other Countries: Besides the major countries / organisations discussed above there are other countries who have stakes in the Indo Pacific. The ‘Quad plus’ envisages S Korea, New Zealand and Vietnam. Besides this, Canada. Sweden, and Russia will pitch in.

ANALYSIS

FOIP Scope: When the push comes to the shove, democracies and affluent countries will range against Chinese autocracy and in specific the CCP. It is also evident that the Free and Open Indo Pacific Concept is beyond the South China Sea with each country and area having large commonality of interests with subtle differences. These will ensure that Quad will be an umbrella arrangement rather than an Asian NATO. The partners will have a degree of autonomy of action. In the short term and initial stages, the focus will be on the Western Pacific. However, in the long term it will gravitate to the Indian Ocean. The Chinese bid for global geopolitical domination will be played out through the BRI in South Asia, Africa and the Gulf on the Indian Ocean end and South America on the Pacific end. As PLAN expands its activities and the CPEC and Gwadar start functioning, the tussle will intensify. The story is also about decoupling, relocation and realigning global supply chains away from China. The success of Quad will be predicated on it looking beyond Asia.

Evolution: The Quad is a work in progress. Currently it is an alignment hardening into an alliance without any treaty obligations. If China’s increasing threats lead to enhanced aggression against Taiwan or any other state, then the Quad will be the base on which an international coalition could emerge. Even otherwise, the weight and greed of Chinese intent will drive Quad into formality. From statements all around, it will evolve into a multidimensional forum encompassing DIME pathways (Diplomatic, Informational, Military and Economic) which will build upon existing strategic linkages between Quad partners within and outside. Quad alone has the heft to take the EU, ASEAN, Plus nations, South Asia, IORA, Gulf and African states along. In the current pandemic conditions no single nation can do that.

PROGNOSIS FOR INDIA

What does India Bring to Table?: India brings geographic centrality, democracy, military capability, soft power, consumption power, workforce, innovation and dependable partnerships. Very importantly, India brings trust and balance to the table through its diplomatic, cultural and historical relationships with Russia, Brazil, South Africa, Gulf, Rest of Asia and Africa. It brings the scalar capability to safely decouple which can be subverted in other countries by China. It is one country which can hold China militarily by its tail in the Himalayas as it is doing now and block its entry into the Indian Ocean. India gives the Quad a rear door entry into the Chinese backyard to make it look inward. India brings the power of vaccination and immunisation programmes—experience, production and distribution in the current pandemic conditions. That will be critical for global economic revival. What does India seek from the table? As with everyone else India seeks containment of China and to make it look inwards. This applies to Pakistan also. If these two countries are held in check, there will be global peace. India seeks reliable military, diplomatic and economic cooperation rather than assistance. It seeks reform of the UN to make it a wider representative body. It needs assistance to curb radical Islam and terror. It seeks to be a reliable partner in the global supply chain initiatives. India seeks to ensure that international institutions do not end up funding or bailing countries from the BRI debt traps. It seeks mutually benefitting relationships of long-standing nature. What India does not want is to be another China. A plural India needs to be accepted with its advantages and faults without being sermonised. India has to find its own solutions to its problems, not quick fixes from others.

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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INDIAN NAVY ALWAYS ROSE TO OCCASION IN COUNTRIES AT SEA

India’s participation in the UN peacekeeping missions is perhaps without parallel. Indian personnel displayed considerable resilience in facing dangerous conditions in these missions. India was one of the few troop-contributing nations to maintain its original presence until the end of that operation, even resisting domestic political pressure to withdraw its troops.

Commodore Odakkal Johnson

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For 70 years, the United Nations’ peacekeeping operations have stood as a beacon of multilateralism and international solidarity, the embodiment of the highest ideals of the UN. From Sierra Leone to Cambodia, Timor Leste, Namibia, El Salvador and elsewhere, UN peacekeeping has helped countries move from war to peace, proving to be one of the international community’s most effective investments in peace, security, and prosperity. India’s participation in this remarkable enterprise is perhaps without parallel.

India has been and remains one of the largest contributors of troops to UN peacekeeping missions, with more than 2,00,000 personnel deployed in operations since 1950, the most of any country. This is an incredible demonstration of India’s deep commitment not only to maintaining peace and harmony across the world but also of its belief in the UN Charter.

Indian peacekeepers have been deployed in some of the UN’s most dangerous and challenging missions—in South Sudan, Congo, Somalia, Central African Republic and ten other UN missions across the globe. As the demand for UN peacekeepers has risen steadily, India has responded to the call for service, reaffirming the strength of its relationship with the UN. As of June 2018, India was the third largest troop contributor in the world, with over 6,000 personnel stationed around the world, helping save lives, protect people and setting the stage for a lasting peace.

PEACE OPERATIONS AT SEA

India had till the early 1990s, provided an infantry battalion, military observers and a field ambulance unit in UN peacekeeping operations. These included ONUCA (Central America) in 1990-92, ONUSAL (El Salvador) in 1991 and UNOMIL (Liberia) in 1994. Indian Navy in a period of maritime resurgence progressed operations for good order at sea in four types of naval operations — Humanitarian, Low Intensity Conflict (LIC) operations against illegal and undesirable elements, Anti-Piracy and Deterrent.

It is in Somalia that the Indian Navy took an active part in the United Nations Operations in Somalia (UNOSOM) II, 1993-94. India contributed 5,000 personnel from all ranks and four Indian navy warships. Indian naval ships and personnel were involved in patrolling duties off the Somali coast, in humanitarian assistance onshore, and also in the transportation of men and material for the United Nations. They successfully combined the often conflicting roles of coercive disarmament and humanitarian relief to the civilian population. Indian personnel displayed considerable resilience in facing dangerous conditions in these missions. India was one of the few troop-contributing nations to maintain its original presence until the end of that operation, even resisting domestic political pressure to withdraw its troops.

Operation Muffet: The Somalia operation between December 1992 and December 1994 was the Indian Navy’s first ever overseas deployment in support of United Nations Humanitarian Relief Operations. Late Vice Admiral GM Hiranandani (Retd) narrated that a task force was formed comprising three ships, which was dispatched to Somalia. IN Ships Deepak, Kuthar and Cheetah constituted the task group and was commanded by Commodore Sampath Pillai who was designated as Commodore Indian Naval Forces (COMINF).

Operation Restore Hope: A Task Force comprising IN Guided Missile Corvette, LST and Tanker was immediately deployed off Somalia once the US led coalition force launched ‘Operation Restore Hope’ in Dec 92. This joint operation of the Indian Armed Forces as part of UN peacekeeping mission in the civil war-ravaged Somalia continued to be backed up by one IN warship on constant surveillance and patrol task off the Somalia coast along with the warships of multinational forces till Oct 93. The Indian Navy spent a total of 347 ship days maintaining vigil along the Somali coast and ports during 1992-93. The last remaining units of the Indian contingent were repatriated from Somalia on board Indian naval ships from Kismayo port. India demonstrated its capacity to provide an integrated force, comprising land and naval forces as well as air support.

Additionally, major maritime nations have supported and contributed to the United Nations peacekeeping efforts. They have contributed ships and personnel to support the maritime portion of the blockade in support of UN mandated sanctions against Iraq and Maritime Interdiction Operations in Afghanistan through the 1990s and beyond. Those maritime forces operations, sanctioned or supported by the United Nations, clearly identify the growing demand for, and renewed role of, maritime forces in conducting a myriad of peacekeeping operations in areas where land conflicts have been extended to adjacent waters.

INDIA’S ROLE IN SOMALIA

The scourge of piracy off Somalia posed a serious problem for safety of maritime traffic and the limited authority of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in Somalia became news of maritime concern by mid-2008. UNSC Resolution 1846 of 02 Dec 08 welcomed the initiatives of international navies (including India) for their pro-activeness in combating piracy and undertaking convoying operations. This resolution also authorised concerned naval forces to enter the Somalian territorial waters for repressing piracy and armed robbery at sea.

The scourge of piracy off Somalia posed a serious problem for safety of maritime traffic and the limited authority of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in Somalia became news of maritime concern by mid-2008. UNSC Resolution 1846 of 02 Dec 08 welcomed the initiatives of international navies (including India) for their pro-activeness in combating piracy and undertaking convoying operations. This resolution also authorised concerned naval forces to enter the Somalian territorial waters for repressing piracy and armed robbery at sea.

India deployed its naval assets under the UNSC mandate. Two interventions by the Indian Navy exemplify the naval role in peace and good order at sea. In the first ever deterrent action against Somali pirates undertaken by the navy of any country, INS Tabar destroyed a pirate ‘mother ship’ on 11 November 2008 285 nautical miles south west of Salalah Oman. The warship closed the vessel and asked her to stop for investigation. On repeated calls, the vessel’s threatening response was that she would blow up the warship if it closed her. Pirates were seen roaming on the upper deck of this vessel with guns and Rocket Propelled Grenade launchers. The vessel continued its threatening calls and subsequently fired upon INS Tabar and the warship retaliated, opening fire on the mother ship. After a fire and explosion due to stowed ammunition catching fire, the mother vessel sank. INS Tabar on the same day prevented hijacking an attempt on a Saudi Arabian flagged merchant vessel also. In another direct action on 28 May 2009, INS Talwar was escorting the MV Maud, a Liberia-registered cargo ship with two other merchant vessels, Southern Independence and Arames, along the north of the Horn of Africa.

The Maud sent a distress call around 12.50 in the afternoon. Its Indian captain reported sighting a skiff with eight armed men approaching the vessel at great speed. In response, INS Talwar, advised the Maud to increase speed and execute a sharp right turn in an evasive manoeuvre to avoid getting boarded. INS Talwar’s helicopter was launched with marine commandos embarked. The commandos sighted two men from the skiff attempting to board the vessel from the bow. They fired warning shots to deter the pirates.  The pirates were observed to disengage from the merchant ship. However, two pirates who were in the process of climbing the vessel fell into the water. A boarding party from the warship, thereafter, boarded the skiff and confiscated various weapons as well as equipment used by the pirates.

Approximately $110 billion of international trade passes through the erstwhile piracy infested waters off Somalia. India contributes around 7% of the world’s merchant mariners and thus has an abiding interest in their safety and security. In the UN and other multilateral forays, India has urged greater international cooperation in anti-piracy efforts, including welfare of the hostages. It was at India’s specific instance that the UN Security Council, vide resolution 1976 of April 11, 2011, for the first time strongly condemned the growing practice of hostage-taking by pirates operating off the coast of Somalia. India is a founder-member of the ‘Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia’ (CGPCS), established on 14 January 2009 pursuant to United Nations Security Council resolution 1851 (2008), is a voluntary, ad hoc international forum of approximately 70 countries, organizations and industry groups with a common interest in combating piracy in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean, and to facilitate the discussion and coordination of actions among  states and organisations to suppress piracy.

Typifying its commitment to use of naval resources to ensure good order at sea, Indian Navy has been fully engaged for a dozen years to stay engaged in the region. As a founding member of the CGPCS, India has actively contributed to the international efforts to combat maritime piracy Containment of the same off the coast of Somalia is an example of successful international collaboration of the UN and India in the area of maritime security.

CONCLUSION

Peacekeeping Operations (PKOs) have become one of the UN’s most important means of preserving peace and international security. Some of the greatest threats to international peace and security do not occur on ‘UN Member States territory’, but at sea. The internationally significant and long-standing phenomenon of maritime piracy initially led to international action off the coast of Somalia, but other regions affected by criminal acts at sea are reinforcing the need for international action.

The UN is likely to continue to conduct Traditional Peacekeeping operations and its most successful type of peacekeeping operation—Managing Transition—in cases where political settlements have been reached and outside assistance has been requested. However, the UN is likely to delegate significant military tasks to regional organisations and alliances in future. In such cases the UN will form only one pillar of a broader operation rather than enjoying overall control. India has played a detrimental and significant role with its constructive participation in International Peacekeeping by bolstering the anti – piracy operations at the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia. As reported in 2018 by Indian Navy, having escorted over 3,000 merchant marines during patrolling, not a single ship under the escort of Indian Navy since 2008 has been hijacked by the pirates. With proper naval systems, surveillance and maritime domain awareness India Navy had played a commendable job in Peacekeeping operations carried out at International Seas.

The ability to shape India’s maritime security environment requires the development of a credible naval presence with adequate assets commensurate with our defence and security interests as well as those required to discharge the role and responsibility expected of India by the international community like the UN. As a diplomatic instrument, the Navy has key attributes—access, mobility, reach and versatility. We need to embed these attributes within the larger vision of India›s role in the global arena. A flexible but proactive maritime international presence is essential to safeguard and project our national interests overseas.

India and UN@75 is a time to heed the international call to bring humane order and well-being through UN mandated Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Yet, in light of continued threats to good order at sea, India and its Navy must remain mission deployed in a collaborative maritime synergy to see that the sea lanes remain open for the arteries of maritime connectivity and trade.

Commodore Odakkal Johnson is the Director and Head of Research at Maritime History Society, an academic initiative of Western Naval Command of Indian Navy.

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Defence

Army Chief commissions INS Kavaratti in Visakhapatnam

Ashish Singh

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Chief of Army Staff General Manoj Mukund Naravane commissioned INS Kavaratti, the Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) stealth corvette built under Project 28 (Kamorta Class), at a ceremony held at the Naval Dockyard in Visakhapatnam on Thursday.

Vice Admiral Atul Kumar Jain, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Naval Command, Rear Admiral Vipin Kumar Saxena (Retd.), CMD, Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE) Limited, Kolkata, and other dignitaries were present during the commissioning ceremony.

The event marks the formal commissioning into the Navy of the last of the four ASW Corvettes, indigenously designed by the Indian Navy’s in-house organisation, Directorate of Naval Design and constructed by GRSE.

General Naravane was presented a guard of honour on arrival at the Naval Jetty. The inaugural address was delivered by Rear Adm Saxena (Retd), CMD, GRSE, Kolkata. Vice Adm Atul Kumar Jain FOC-in-C ENC addressed the gathering which was followed by reading out the Commissioning Warrant of the Ship by the Commanding Officer, Commander Sandeep Singh. Subsequently, hoisting of the Naval Ensign onboard for the first time and ‘Breaking of the Commissioning Pennant’ with the National Anthem being played marked the symbolic tradition of commissioning. The Army Chief later unveiled the Commissioning Plaque and dedicated the ship to the nation. He also addressed the gathering attending the commissioning ceremony.

Named after the capital of the Lakshadweep group of islands, INS Kavaratti has been constructed using high grade DMR 249A steel produced in India. The sleek and magnificent ship spans 109 metres in length, 14 metres in breadth with a displacement of 3,300 tonnes and can rightfully be regarded as one of the most potent Anti-Submarine Warships to have been constructed in India. The complete superstructure of the ship has been built using composite material. The ship is propelled by four Diesel engines. The ship has enhanced stealth features resulting in reduced Radar Cross Section (RCS) achieved by X form of superstructure along with optimally sloped surfaces. The ship’s advanced stealth features make her less susceptible to detection by the enemy.

The unique feature of this ship is the high level of indigenisation incorporated in the production, accentuating India’s national objective of ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’. The ship has high indigenous content with state-of-the-art equipment and systems to fight in Nuclear, Biological and Chemical (NBC) warfare conditions. Also, the weapons and sensors suite onboard are pre-dominantly indigenous and showcases the nation’s evolving capability in this niche area. Some of the major equipment/systems developed indigenously include Combat Management System, Torpedo Tube Launchers and Infra-Red Signature Suppression System, etc.

INS Kavaratti has a multitude of advanced automation systems such as Total Atmospheric Control System (TACS), Integrated Platform Management System (IPMS), Integrated Bridge System (IBS), Battle Damage Control System (BDCS) and Personnel Locator System (PLS) to provide a contemporary and process-oriented System of Systems for optimal functioning of the warship. Having completed sea trials of all her equipment, Kavaratti has been commissioned as a fully combat-ready platform providing a boost to the ASW capability of the Indian Navy.

The ship is the reincarnation of the erstwhile Arnala Class missile corvette of the same name (INS Kavaratti – P 80). Kavaratti in her previous avatar has had a distinguished service and her legacy outlives her service life of almost two decades. Her illustrious past includes participation in the 1971 war for the liberation of Bangladesh and many other operational deployments. During the 1971 war, she was deployed for contraband control in the Bay of Bengal and the support of mining of entrances to Chittagong. She captured the Pakistani Merchant Ship Baqir during this operation. In the present avatar, Kavaratti is equally powerful and packs an even more deadly punch.

The ship is manned by a team comprising twelve officers and 134 sailors with Commander Sandeep Singh at the helm as her first Commanding Officer. The ship would be an integral part of the Eastern Fleet under the Eastern Naval Command.

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Defence

INDIA AND THE UNITED NATIONS: PEACE AND GOOD ORDER AT SEA

India has been and remains one of the largest contributors of troops to UN peacekeeping missions, which is an incredible demonstration of the country’s commitment not only to maintaining peace across the world but also of its belief in the UN Charter.

Commodore Odakkal Johnson

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“Unlike peacekeeping operations which occur after a situation has degenerated into a violent confrontation, ‘keeping the peace at sea’ operations would be intended to prevent the degeneration in the first place. This is what effective policing is all about. It is the constabulary role, and it is one which navies have been doing almost continuously for millennia. Giving navies a more precise set of tools, specific UN tools, can bring “a security for such as pass on the seas upon their lawful occasion” into the 21st century.”

— Hugh Williamson (2011)

75 years ago, the formation of the United Nations Organisation was the second major effort to evolve an institutional comity of nations that reflects among others an Indian ethos. On 26 September 2020, Indian Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, painted a picture of India as an outward-looking country, with a commitment to multilateralism, and fundamental philosophy that is aligned with that of the UN, declaring, “we treat the whole world as one family” [UN News : Sep 2020]. Few realise that while India will celebrate 75 years of political independence only on 15 August 2022, it is one of the four nations that became a founding member of the UN despite the wait for independent dominion status. Earlier in June this year, India was elected as non-permanent member of the powerful UN Security Council for a two-year term, winning a record 184 votes in the 193-member General Assembly. It is apt that this article looks at the Indian perspective of peace and good order on the global stage at large under the UN Charter and peace operations at sea as one of it core philosophies.

The evolving and turbulent world order, has been marked by transitions from bipolarity to multi-polarity and new scenarios of contemporary attempts towards economic and territorial hegemony. The Wuhan originated pandemic has further complicated the delicate balance of connectivity and contestations that become most visible in the maritime segment of geo-politics. Despite the innate desire for peace and good order, military forces and in particular naval assets remain a national contribution to international peace. Indian articulation of SAGAR or Security and Growth for All in the Region stems from the larger vision of collaboration and inclusive world order.

Naval forces play a vital role as maritime sinews in a unique environment like the sea, spelling out their wide spectrum of involvement on the international stage. Sea has more bridges that build international neighbourhoods as opposed to division by conflict. A key aspect of trade in an emerging multi-polar global order is the need to maintain good order at sea. Versatility of maritime military elements and ability to calibrate their posture highlights their enduring role in peace and order in the international arena.

Historically there is a credible record of maintaining peace at sea through deployment of naval forces. There have been several occasions in the past wherein maritime forces have undertaken operations albeit at a relatively low level, keeping peace and good order at sea. Under the concept of conventional UN peacekeeping operations, these were regarded as primarily a ground force function. In fact, most of UN peacekeeping operations have been conducted with ground forces and assets. However, maritime forces have contributed a significant portion to such operations. There are many tasks that United Nations peacekeeping forces are expected to play on the oceans. 

UN archives indicate that the first UN peacekeeping mission was established in 1948, when the Security Council authorised deployment of UN military observers to monitor the Armistice Agreement between Israel and its Arab neighbours. Since then, there have been a total of 72 UN peacekeeping operations around the world, with 14 operations in progress today. Rumki Basu [1993] mentions that UN Peacekeeping Operations have enabled military forces to be used not to wage war, establish dominion, serve the interests of any power or group of powers but rather to control and resolve conflicts between states or communities within states. Alex Bellamy [2004] highlighted that Article 1(1), of the UN Charter, states that one of its central purposes, is ‘to maintain international peace and security, and to that end take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace’.

India and United Nation Peacekeeping Operations

Commencing with its participation in the UN operation in 1950 where it supplied medical personnel and troops to the UN Repatriation Commission in Korea, India has a long and distinguished history of service in UN peacekeeping. Since 1950, India has participated in 50 missions sending more than 2,08,000 troops. 168 Indians have sacrificed their lives in these peacekeeping operations, the largest sacrifice by any troop-contributing nation. Pallav Agarwal [2018] states that India has developed a well-rounded policy for participation in UN peacekeeping operations. United Nations peacekeeping operated in increasingly complex environment to which India was always a steadfast partner and contented its commitment with UN peace operations for long years. Acknowledging India’s contribution, UN secretary general Antonio Guterres said that it would be an understatement to say that India’s contribution to global peace has been remarkable. Pallav Agarwal (2018) points out that India has expressed that the UNSC should decide peacekeeping operations within 30 days or within 90 days in order to avoid delays leading to further deterioration. India has advocated the involvement of experts from all fields in peacekeeping to better manage new challenges.  India was one of the original members of United Nations even before its independence in 1947. In principle, only sovereign states can become UN members. However, although today all UN members are fully sovereign states, four of the original members (Belarus, India, the Philippines, and Ukraine) were not independent at the time of their admission. India signed the Declaration by United Nations on 1 January 1942 and was represented by Girija Shankar Bajpai who was the Indian Agent-General at the time. Afterwards the Indian delegation led by Sir Arcot Ramasamy Mudaliar signed the United Nations Charter on behalf of India during the historic United Nations Conference on International Organization held in San Francisco, United States on 26 June 1945. Sir A. Ramaswamy Mudaliar later went on to serve as the first president of the United Nations Economic and Social Council. Technically, India was a founding member in October 1945, despite it being a British colony. India, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia were all British colonies but were given independent seats in the United Nations General Assembly.

Source: https://www.thebetterindia.com/165334/vt-krishnamachari-panchayati-raj-india-village-news/

Post independence, India has been dedicated to the maintaining international peace and security, as well as one of the leaders in the fight against colonialism and apartheid which marked the post-WWII environment in the world. The country was among the most outspoken critics of apartheid and racial discrimination in South Africa, being the first country to have raised the issue in the UN (in 1946). Its candidature was unanimously endorsed by the 55-member Asia-Pacific Group in June last year. This is the eighth time India has been elected a non-permanent member of the UNSC.

Trajectory of India’s Peacekeeping Contribution

For 70 years, the United Nations’ peacekeeping operations have stood as a beacon of multilateralism and international solidarity, the embodiment of the highest ideals of the UN. From Sierra Leone to Cambodia, Timor Leste, Namibia, El Salvador and elsewhere, UN peacekeeping has helped countries move from war to peace, proving to be one of the international community’s most effective investments in peace, security, and prosperity. India’s participation in this remarkable enterprise is perhaps without parallel. India has been and remains one of the largest contributors of troops to UN peacekeeping missions, with more than 2,00,000 personnel deployed in operations since 1950, the most of any country. This is an incredible demonstration of India’s deep commitment not only to maintaining peace and harmony across the world but also of its belief in the UN Charter.

Indian peacekeepers have been deployed in some of the UN’s most dangerous and challenging missions – in South Sudan, Congo, Somalia, Central African Republic and ten other UN mission across the globe. As the demand for UN peacekeepers has risen steadily, India has responded to the call for service, reaffirming the strength of its relationship with the UN. As of June 2018, India was the third largest troop contributor in the world, with over 6,000 personnel stationed around the world, helping save lives, protect people and setting the stage for a lasting peace.

India and UN Peace Operations at Sea

India had till the early 1990s, provided an infantry battalion, military observers and a field ambulance unit in UN peacekeeping operations. These included ONUCA (Central America) in 1990-92, ONUSAL (El Salvador) in 1991 and UNOMIL (Liberia) in 1994. Indian Navy in a period of maritime resurgence progressed operations for good order at sea in four types of naval operations — Humanitarian, Low Intensity Conflict (LIC) operations against illegal and undesirable elements, Anti-Piracy and Deterrent.

It is in Somalia, that the Indian Navy took an active part in the United Nations Operations in Somalia (UNOSOM) II, 1993-94. India contributed 5,000 personnel from all ranks and four Indian navy warships. Indian naval ships and personnel were involved in patrolling duties off the Somali coast, in humanitarian assistance onshore, and also in the transportation of men and material for the United Nations. They successfully combined the often conflicting roles of coercive disarmament and humanitarian relief to the civilian population. Indian personnel displayed considerable resilience in facing dangerous conditions in these missions. India was one of the few troop-contributing nations to maintain its original presence until the end of that operation, even resisting domestic political pressure to withdraw its troops.

Operation Muffet: The Somalia operation between December 1992 and December 1994 was the Indian Navy’s first ever overseas deployment in support of United Nations Humanitarian Relief Operations. Late Vice Admiral GM Hirandani (Retd) narrated that a task force was formed comprising three ships was dispatched to Somalia. IN Ships Deepak, Kuthar and Cheetah constituted the task group and was commanded by Commodore Sampath Pillai who was designated as Commodore Indian Naval Forces (COMINF).

Source: Indian Defence Review

Operation Restore Hope: A Task Force comprising IN Guided Missile Corvette, LST and Tanker was immediately deployed off Somalia once the US led coalition force launched ‘Operation Restore Hope‘ in Dec 92. This joint operation of the Indian Armed Forces as part of UN peacekeeping mission in the civil war ravaged Somalia continued to be backed up by one IN warship on constant surveillance and patrol task off the Somalia coast along with the warships of multinational forces till Oct 93. The Indian Navy spent a total of 347 ship days maintaining vigil along the Somali coast and ports during 1992-93. The last remaining units of the Indian contingent were repatriated from Somalia on board Indian naval ships from Kismayo port. India demonstrated its capacity to provide an integrated force, comprising land and naval forces as well as air support.

Source: Indian Defence Review

Additionally, major maritime nations have supported and contributed to the United Nations peacekeeping efforts. They have contributed ships and personnel to support the maritime portion of the blockade in support of UN mandated sanctions against Iraq and Maritime Interdiction Operations in Afghanistan through the 1990s and beyond. Those maritime forces operations, sanctioned or supported by the United Nations, clearly identify the growing demand for, and renewed role of, maritime forces in conducting a myriad of peacekeeping operation in areas where land conflicts have been extended to adjacent waters.

India’s Role in Mitigation of Piracy off the coast of Somalia

The scourge of piracy off Somalia posed a serious problem for safety of maritime traffic and the limited authority of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in Somalia became news of maritime concern by mid 2008. UNSC Resolution 1846 of 02 Dec 08 welcomed the initiatives of international navies (including India) for their pro-activeness in combating piracy and undertaking convoying operations. This resolution also authorised concerned naval forces to enter the Somalian territorial waters for repressing piracy and armed robbery at sea.

India deployed its naval assets under the UNSC mandate. Two interventions by the Indian Navy exemplify the naval role in peace and good order at sea. In the first ever deterrent action against Somali pirates undertaken by the navy of any country, INS Tabar destroyed a pirate ‘mother ship’ on 11 November 2008 285 nautical miles south west of Salalah Oman. The warship closed the vessel and asked her to stop for investigation. On repeated calls, the vessel’s threatening response was that she would blow up the warship if it closed her. Pirates were seen roaming on the upper deck of this vessel with guns and Rocket Propelled Grenade launchers. The vessel continued its threatening calls and subsequently fired upon INS Tabar and the warship retaliated, opening fire on the mother ship. After a fire and explosion due to stowed ammunition catching fire, the mother vessel sank. INS Tabar on the same day prevented hijacking attempt on a Saudi Arabian flagged merchant vessel also. In another direct action on 28 May 2009, INS Talwar was escorting the MV Maud, a Liberia-registered cargo ship with two other merchant vessels, Southern Independence and Arames, along the north of the Horn of Africa. The Maud sent a distress call around 12.50 in the afternoon. Its Indian captain reported sighting a skiff with eight armed men approaching the vessel at great speed. In response, INS Talwar, advised the Maud to increase speed and execute a sharp right turn in an evasive manoeuvre to avoid getting boarded. INS Talwar’s helicopter was launched with marine commandos embarked. The commandos sighted two men from the skiff attempting to board the vessel from the bow. They fired warning shots to deter the pirates.  The pirates were observed to disengage from the merchant ship. However two pirates who were in the process of climbing the vessel fell into the water. A boarding party from the warship, thereafter, boarded the skiff and confiscated various weapons as well as equipment used by the pirates.

Approximately US $ 110 billion of international trade passes through the erstwhile piracy infested waters off Somalia. India contributes around 7% of the world’s merchant mariners and thus has an abiding interest in their safety and security. In the UN and other multilateral forays, India has urged greater international cooperation in anti-piracy efforts, including welfare of the hostages. It was at India’s specific instance that the UN Security Council, vide resolution 1976 of April 11, 2011, for the first time strongly condemned the growing practice of hostage-taking by pirates operating off the coast of Somalia. India is a founder-member of the ‘Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia’ (CGPCS), established on 14 January 2009 pursuant to United Nations Security Council resolution 1851 (2008), is a voluntary, ad hoc international forum of approximately 70 countries, organizations and industry groups with a common interest in combating piracy in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean, and to facilitate the discussion and coordination of actions among  states and organizations to suppress piracy.

Typifying its commitment to use of naval resources to ensure good order at sea, Indian Navy has been fully engaged for a dozen years to stay engaged in the region. As a founding member of the CGPCS, India has actively contributed to the international efforts to combat maritime piracy Containment of same off the coast of Somalia is an example of successful international collaboration of UN and India in the area of maritime security.

Conclusion

Peacekeeping Operations (PKOs) have become one of the UN’s most important means of preserving peace and international security. Some of the greatest threats to international peace and security do not occur on ‘UN Member States territory’, but at sea. The internationally significant and long-standing phenomenon of maritime piracy initially led to international action off the coast of Somalia, but other regions affected by criminal acts at sea are reinforcing the need for international action.

The UN is likely to continue to conduct Traditional Peacekeeping operations and its most successful type of peacekeeping operation – Managing Transition – in cases where political settlements have been reached and outside assistance has been requested. However, the UN is likely to delegate significant military tasks to regional organisations and alliances in future. In such cases the UN will form only one pillar of a broader operation rather than enjoying overall control. India has played a detrimental and significant role with its constructive participation in International Peace keeping by bolstering the anti – piracy operations at the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia. As reported in 2018 by Indian Navy, having escorted over 3000 merchant marine during patrolling, not a single ship under the escort of Indian Navy since 2008 has been hijacked by the pirates. With proper naval systems, surveillance and maritime domain awareness India Navy had played commendable job in Peacekeeping operations carried out at International Seas.

The ability to shape India’s maritime security environment requires the development of a credible naval presence with adequate assets commensurate with our defence and security interests as well as those required to discharge the role and responsibility expected of India by the international community like the UN. As a diplomatic instrument, the Navy has key attributes- access, mobility, reach and versatility. We need to embed these attributes within the larger vision of India’s role in the global arena. A flexible but proactive maritime international presence is essential to safeguard and project our national interests overseas. India and UN@75 is a time to heed the international call to bring humane order and well being through UN mandated Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Yet, in light of continued threats to good order at sea, India and its Navy must remain mission deployed in a collaborative maritime synergy to see that the sea lanes remain open for the arteries of maritime connectivity and trade.

Commodore Odakkal Johnson is the Director and Head of Research at Maritime History Society, an academic initiative of Western Naval Command of Indian Navy.

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