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Sino-Indian logjam: Facts, risks, options and the sum of all fears

If winter is here, spring can’t be far behind for Indian Army to trounce China’s People’s Liberation Army. Indian forces should pay Chinese back in their own coin.

LT GEN PR SHANKAR (Retd)

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LAC standoff
LAC standoff

China may be reinforcing eastern Ladakh with additional troops, but it does not realise that high-altitude warfare is vastly different. Why? Simple. Difference between political and professional armies. Isolated more than ever before, China is already in a trap of its own making. Now, Indian forces should hold tight, maintain a low profile but stay vigilant till winter sets in. Once winter sets in, they should start harassing the Chinese in the rear and spook them in the front.

Battle Indicators: Global Times’ videos indicate that PLA is rehearsing for an offensive. Air defence drills around Lhasa. Fibre optic cables being laid in Spangur. Early battle indicators. The real indicator will be dumping artillery ammunition and build up. When that happens, real business is afoot. Till then relax or chew your nails. Notwithstanding, since the Chinese are chafing to teach us a lesson. So what is in the offing?

Hardening Defences: Indian Infantry has dug in at the heights for two weeks. The defences are hardening and getting coordinated. It means overhead protection, stocking and obstacle laying. A defensive fire plan is evolving with IAF, Artillery, Tanks and Infantry Mortars in the mix. Selected and surveyed targets would be Chinese assembly areas, routes of ingress, forming up places(FUPs) for assault, enemy gun areas, HQs and more. Suffice to say that the Chinese will get a hell of a whack. The Chinese have focused on mechanisation by rote. That is contained in their White Paper as a doctrine. They did not realise that High Altitude warfare is vastly different. Why? Simple. Difference between political and professional armies.

I hope that Global Times’ editor is around to photograph hilarious Chinese sergeant majors blowing whistles and trumpets to commence ferocious attacks. His story will be different now — how drones used for food are being multitasked for body bag delivery. Everyone says that China will attack and teach India a lesson. Good. Let’s do some honest analysis.

Isolation Reinforced: After Wang Yi’s visit to EU states, Germany has opted on the side of democracies in the Indo Pacific region. That was inevitable. Indonesia refused to provide any bases for the Chinese. They are now objecting to Chinese transgressions in the Natuna Seas. The spat with Australia is worsening. India and Japan have signed a defence pact. The Taiwanese have warned that any more violation of their airspace will invite retaliatory action. There are reports which say that a Sino-US armed conflict is getting more real. China is more isolated than ever. Internally, Inner Mongolia continues to fester. Tibet is getting revived. Xinjiang issue is on the verge of revival. India can help both along. Hong Kong is not out of the news. The right time to ramp up the conflict with another Nuclear Power? Great Chinese strategic thinking.

Lebensraum and Persecuted Victimhood: Before Nazi offensives and pogroms, Hitler sold the ‘Lebensraum Dream’ and the ‘Persecuted Victimhood Complex’ to Germany. Something similar is happening in China. Initially Xi Jinping sold the ‘China Dream’, pronounced a period of great strategic opportunity and started building the greatest military on earth. He brainwashed Chinese that the CCP way was the best during the Wuhan Virus crisis. Pogroms against the Uighurs are well documented. He has spoken of solidifying Tibet security and communising religion. Wayward Hong Kongers are brought in line. He pronounces that China will follow the Communist economic model come what may. He popularises himself with people by visiting them during floods. He is invoking people to overcome hardships due to denial of technologies – imported seeds for agriculture, critical components in manufacturing, dependence on oil imports, distribution of water resources and pharmaceuticals and medical equipment for an ageing population. The position of the CCP inside China is being constantly consolidated.

The emerging picture — ‘Persecuted Victimhood Complex’ of China being denied and pushed into a corner by a disintegrating and inimically jealous world. External picture. China is ordained to rule the world. Only China can win — at any cost. Every one falls in line. Political, economic, diplomatic or military coercion works, always and every time. China will expand based on some mythological irredentism. ‘Aggressive Lebensraum’. The world, ravaged by the Virus from China is being herded into a corner to establish Chinese supremacy. Everything is Xi centric to rule the world. A bipolarity is emerging. Internal portrayal of being unfairly cornered and an external reality of coercively cornering everyone. Such a diabolic schism was last seen in Hitler’s Germany. Nitin Gokhale was right. The transformation to Xitler is complete. We should know who we are dealing with. “The Man Who Would Be King” not by Rudyard Kipling!

Xitlerian Concept: In the Xitlerian concept, India has no right to defend itself. It must subjugate itself to the lord and emperor of the great Chinese people. If not, be prepared for punishment. The great PLA will defend every inch of Chinese terri- tory recently usurped from India by attacking and punishing India for India asking vacation of its territory. The Idea is to take what it wants. Force an unequal piece. After all, China is the greatest. Are there risks and options in this new one sided game? 

Risks: There are four risks in this attempt to teach India a lesson. Firstly, with the available troops India can- not be taught a lesson. The fight will be long, hard and bloody. Everything will be at a cost. That cost will be collected by the US in the South China Sea who will not miss the opportunity. A firefight starts there. Taiwan could declare Independence. End of superpower China.

Secondly, after the bloody battle, even if India is defeated, the long guerrilla campaign will start. Tibet and Xinjiang will be in flames. Srinagar Valley is only 15948 Sq km. Tibet is 1.22 million Sq km and Xinjiang is 1.6 million Sq km. See the difference? China, of the nose bloodied, will have to commit a lot more of PLA to handle the situation on a real long term basis. Its entire global plans go for a toss.

Thirdly, there are very good chances that China will be taught a lesson. In fact I am confident that could happen. If they start a shooting match and India finishes it, the next stop could be Rudok. That will automatically put Tibet and Xinjiang aflame. It could also end with the CCP control over society and lead to a collapse. Fourthly, what hap- pens if China cannot force victory? The saga of defeat continues. Pakistan has the best Army never to have won a war. China will compete for that honour with its rusty iron brother. Whichever way it goes, China’s dream will evaporate. Guaranteed. Risk a war? Go ahead China. You might collapse. BTW, when does the N factor kick in?

Options: China is reinforcing eastern Ladakh with additional troops. The area can hold that many troops only. Any further increase will diminish returns. Secondly, mountains are good for defenders. It is difficult to dislodge entrenched defenders unless there are repeated headlong attacks. China has to also decide where to attack. North of Pangong Tso or South of it. (see picture) North of Pangong Tso offers some scope for employment of armour in the Depsang Plains. However it is a shooting match without manoeuvre space. There is a fair bit of mountainous area North of Pangong Tso also. India can play some tricks, infiltrate and reverse the situation. While it may be feasible to get hold of some territory there is a good chance of losing it too for the Chinese. The key to the whole affair will be the Chusul Gateway, South of Pangong Tso. Can China dislodge us from the strategically important Kailash Range? In an area devoid of cover and a single avenue of approach the attacker is exposed (see picture — 3d view of area beyond Spangur). Headbutting will be very costly. Results will be minimal. Of course, China can expand into other sectors further South. In which case its commitment and imbalance will expand. It will slowly be sucked in and stretched to a point when a counter offensive will happen. Where? Has to be decided between USA and India. The short point is that China is already in a trap of its own making. So far China has used Sun Tsu’s maxim of winning wars without fighting. This is one war they will have to fight to win but will lose. Want to be a superpower? Bleed a little on the battlefield.

Own Option: What should we do? Hold tight. Till winter sets in maintain a low profile. Stay vigilant. Do not get complacent. The enemy is desperate. Do some talking. Stall for time. Play the Chinese game. Two steps forward and no step back. Once winter sets in, start harassing the Chinese in the rear and spook them in the front. Imbalances and opportunities will surface. Incremental actions to attain tactical and strategic significance or opening up offensive options will be of great value. Create small criticalities. No Hurry. Patience. Vigilance. Go for the kill. A discredited PLA will do greater damage to China. Their soft frontline troops should be targeted. They are our Centre of Gravity. Up front within reach. Mountains offer great manoeuvre space. Develop offensive options. Beyond the Kailash range there are no great obstacles or ridge lines till Rudok and the Western Highway. The Pangong Tso gives a secure flank. At some point we must go on the counter offensive. We need to generate some options to force a recoil. I might sound outlandish. However think coolly. We have their measure. Occupation of the Kailash range has opened up options. Exploit it. They have no defences or a firm base. There are three avenues of approach to hit the Western Highway (G219) look at the map. Manoeuvre through the hills. Force them into defence. Hats off guys. Well done.

Story of India: I need to tell a story. Summer of 99. Op Vijay broke out. My regiment (all Rajputs ) was mobilised overnight from the Eastern to the Northern sector. A number young soldiers on completion of post recruit training were posted to make good our strengths. All of them reported to Siliguri. Around a dozen of them with a couple of NCOs retuning from leave were dispatched to join the regiment in the staging area. War rumours were abound. At Delhi railway station, two young soldiers (from neighbouring villages) gave the slip and went AWOL. They went home and told their mothers that they came on leave. One of the mothers suspected something unusual and quizzed her son. Out came the AWOL story. She gave him a couple of tight slaps, took him to the other village and told the other boy’s mother about it. She in turn slapped her son. How could they become AWOL from the regiment when the nation was at war? One village elder was entrusted to deposit these young soldiers with the unit. He brought them to me and said: “CO sahab inko maaf kar dena. In dono ka mathaon ne inke saath bahut gussa kiya. Rajputon ka be-izzati ho gaya. Desh ka Rak- sha karna hamara kartavya hai. Bcahhe hain. Inko asli Rajput banao aur ladai mein sabse aage le jao.” That was that and life went on. When I last visited the unit those ‘boys’ are now experienced and tough gunners and junior leaders.

The Sum of All Fears: Indian mothers will send their sons to war as a matter of IZZAT and Desh ki Raksha irrespective of caste, creed, Arm or unit. Phillip Mason called it a ‘Matter of Honour’. This spirit of sacrifice is deeply ingrained in Indian blood streams even now. It was on display in Galwan. A country which has such deep-rooted patriotism cannot be defeated by some soft ‘one child Chinese’. Why am I recounting this story? Have faith in our men they will deliver. The sum of all my fears is that some weak bellied and ill-informed politician or diplomat will develop cold feet and fritter away the gains during negotiation. That is our history. We felt diplomacy and international stature will guard the Sino Indian border in 1962. We gave back Haji Pir in 1965. We gave back 93,000 prisoners in 1971. We even went about saving Chinese ‘face’ during Doklam despite stopping them in their tracks. How wrong were we? Totally. There is a palpable fear swirling around that some jittery character will give away everything we have gained by blood sweat and tears. ‘Status Quo Ante’ of April has lost value. The Kailash Range should not be traded at any cost. It is ‘off table’ in all negotiations. We need to look at a new status post ante. That should be northwards into Aksai Chin! Stay tight. This is a defining fight for India. There is more on the cards. The Chinese need a lesson and we will give it to them. Rub their ‘face’ in.

Pakistan Preoccupation: Where are the Pakistanis? Aah! Pak Generals… Lost half their country. Partner- ing with them, the US lost its war on terror. Their advice cost the Saudis two oil- fields. They are now advising Chinese. Any guesses? Well these deep state worthies of the frontline nation are at their frontline at Papa John’s having a board meeting of their remunerative businesses with Dawood as special consultant. What is on their menu? Chinese! What about war fighting? That is for idiots.

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

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Defence

CADETS OF NCC DIRECTORATE GUJARAT TO BE DEPLOYED AT SURAT IN SUPPORT OF THE CIVIL ADMINISTRATION FOR COMBATING COVID-19 AS PART OF EXERCISE NCC YOGDAN

Ashish Singh

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As the nation is going through the second surge in Covid-19, NCC Cadets of Gujarat Directorate have volunteered to support Civil administration in various activities as part of the Exercise Yogdan II. In response to the requisition from DM Surat, 56 highly motivated Cadets (both boy Cadets and girl Cadets) have volunteered to provide relief efforts and assist in functioning of agencies employed in Covid-19 at Surat. More Cadets of Gujarat Directorate are likely to volunteer as the Exercise Yogdan II commences. Only Senior Division Boys and Senior Wing Girl Cadets of Gujarat Directorate above the age of 18, are being deployed to support the administration as part of NCC Exercise Yogdan II. All the Gujarat Directorate Cadets deployed would be Senior Volunteer Cadets and with proper Covid safety precautions and adequate care. The Cadets have undergone a thorough training on DOs and Dont’s on Covid Protocols before being deployed.

In addition, on announcement of Tika Utsav by the PM , the Cadets of Gujarat Directorate actively participated in spreading awareness about the necessity of getting Vaccinated and following Covid appropriate behaviour, through door to door interaction and circulating a large number of videos and messages on social media. The Directorate General NCC at Delhi has also made provisions to insure the volunteer Cadets adequately. DG NCC at Delhi has been actively involved and focussed in giving the necessary permission for the employment of cadets. Major General Arvind Kapoor ADG, NCC Directorate Gujarat, Dadra Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu informed that last year during Exercise NCC Yogdan I, Cadets of NCC Directorate Gujarat were deployed in maximum numbers which was highly appreciated by the dignitaries and the people of Gujarat. He further assured that all safety precautions related to Covid -19 will be ensured for the Cadets and staff of Gujarat Directorate employed in Exercise NCC Yogdan II. He also complimented the parents to have come forward and given their consent for the Cadets to be deployed.

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Defence

AUSTRALIA ANNOUNCES THE INDO-PACIFIC OCEANS INITIATIVE PARTNERSHIP WITH INDIA

Ashish Singh

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Australia’s High Commissioner to India, Barry O’Farrell AO, launched the Australia-India Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative Partnership (AIIPOIP) grant program to help support a free, open and prosperous Indo-Pacific underpinned by the rule of law and respect for sovereignty. “This AUD 1.4 million (INR 8.12 crore) grant program is a practical initiative to advance Australia and India’s shared vision for the Indo-Pacific”, High Commission O’Farrell said. “Through this program, we are seeking new proposals on how Australia, India and other regional partners can advance our shared maritime objectives”, he added.

 

The AIIPOIP grants program will help deliver practical outcomes under the Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI), launched by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the 14th East Asia Summit in November 2019. “Australia is proud to be co-leading with India the marine ecology pillar of the IPOI”, High Commissioner O’Farrell said. The first phase of this multi-year grant program will encourage proposals from Australian and Indian stakeholders to share expertise and resources, complementing the work under existing regional mechanisms such as ASEAN, the Indian Ocean Rim Association, and the Pacific Islands Forum. AIIPOIP is an outcome of the Australia-India Joint Declaration on a Shared Vision for Maritime Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, signed by Australia’s Foreign Minister Senator Marise Payne and India’s External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar in June 2020, as part of the Australia-India Comprehensive and Strategic Partnership Agreement.

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Defence

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

Ashish Singh

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Tehreek-e-Labbaik, Pakistan (TLP) which draws its ideology from the Barelvi sect of Sunni Islam is a far-right Islamist political party in Pakistan, founded by Khadim Hussain Rizvi on 1 August 2015. TLP is known for its countrywide street power and massive protests in opposition to any perceived change to Pakistan’s blasphemy law or disrespect to Allah/Prophet Muhammad. Its first demonstration of street power came to light following the execution of Mumtaz Qadri the bodyguard of Salman Taser, the Governor of Punjab, who killed the Governor for publicly voicing his support for Asia Bibi (Aasiya Noreen). Qadri was hung on 29 February 2016, after which TLP supporters took to the streets across Pakistan, proclaimed him a martyr, chanted anti-government slogans and clashed with the police. A TLP patron, Pir Abdul Qadri, also called for the killing of the Supreme Court justices who ruled on the case and the Army Chief.

TLP, among other extremist religious outfits, was manoeuvred into mainstream politics by the country’s Army brass as one of its tools of political engineering. It was thought that carving out the far-right fringe from the conservative voter base of the PML-N, would damage it in the 2018 general elections, which proved correct & many PML-N candidates lost to PTI, as the voter base of PML-N gravitated towards PTI. Pak Army’s support for TLP was evident during their protest which took place from 8th November 2017, at Faizabad contesting changes in the Elections Bill 2017, demanding resignation of Minister for Law and Justice Zahid Hamid. DG of Punjab Rangers, Major General Azhar Navid Hayat was seen distributing envelopes containing Rs 1,000 notes to the protesters. The ISI then ‘brokered’ a deal between the TLP and the government. Wrapping up the suo-moto case of Faizabad protests, the two bench judge which included Justice Qazi Faez, directed DG ISPR & ISI amongst others to operate within their mandate. The said Judge is now facing various charges of corruption reportedly on the behest of Pak Army & the ISI.

In October 2020, a teacher, Samuel Paty was beheaded in Paris by an Islamist terrorist reportedly for displaying a cartoon of Muhammad. French President Emmanuel Macron defended freedom of expression and the rights to publish such cartoons, after which widespread protests took place in Pakistan, with calls to boycott French products and sever diplomatic ties with France. In November 2020, activists of TLP demanded the expulsion of French Ambassador from Pakistan. The protests were called off on 16 November 2020 after the Government of Pakistan reached an agreement with TLP by seeking more time to discuss the matter in Parliament.

On 11 April 2021, TLP leader Saad Hussain Rizvi (son of founder Khadim Rizvi) released a video message asking TLP activists to launch protests across Pakistan if the government did not expel the French Ambassador from the country by 20 April 2021. On 12th April 2021, after Saad Rizvi was arrested in Lahore, protests broke out across the country, with TLP activists blocking roads and cutting off Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar and Gujranwala from each other. The protests turned violent with reports of stone pelting; at least two people were killed in the riots on 12 April 2021. In addition, TLP claimed that two protesters were shot dead in Faisalabad and Karachi. On 13th April 2021, one police officer was beaten to death by the rioting mob in Lahore, while 40 others were injured. TLP spokesperson Tayyab Rizvi claimed that the number of TLP workers “martyred” in the protests by the second day had increased to 12. A spokesperson of Punjab Police confirmed that two cops were killed by the protesters who used clubs, bricks and firearms to attack them. Paramilitary forces were brought in to assist the local police across various cities including Lahore, Gujranwala, Rawalpindi and Bahawalpur. On 15th April 2021, the French embassy in Pakistan advised French citizens and companies to temporarily leave Pakistan “due to serious threats”. Pak Government formally banned TLP under Anti-Terrorism Law. On 16 April 2021, Pak government blocked several social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp and YouTube for around four hours fearing call of protests by TLP. Situation turned extremely violent on 18th April 2021, at Yateem Khana Chowk, Lahore where three people were killed and hundreds of others, including 15 policemen injured in a clash between TLP protestors and police. It was reported that the TLP workers took five policemen, among them a DSP, hostage after an attack on a police station. It has also been reported that the protesters have taken a 50000 litre petrol tanker with them precluding any massive operation against them for fear of collateral damage.

Tanzimat Ahl-e-Sunnat leader Mufti Muneeb-ur-Rehman has called for a nationwide shutter down strike on 19th April 2021, against the Lahore incident. It has also been reported that that the protesters will march with the dead bodies of their colleagues to Islamabad, demanding expulsion of French Ambassador, release of all TLP members jailed in various parts of Pakistan and action against Pak’s Interior Minister Mr Sheikh Rashid. JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman also supported Mufti Muneeb’s call for the shutter down strike showing growing collusive support for the protests among other radical Islamic groups in Pak. The protest that started over a cartoon of Muhammad in France has brought the entire nation to a standstill. The Pak social media is replete with hashtags like #CivilWarInPakistan, #Stop_Gov_Terrorism, #Lahore, #LahoreBurning, #iStandWithTLP, etc.

There have been widespread reports of Pak Army and police personnel defecting from the forces and openly coming out in support of the protesters. The military-intelligence establishment’s pathological obsession with legitimising groups that provide their own warped-version of Islam, has made the foundation of Pakistani society unstable and unpredictable. While PakistaniEstablishment is trying to enforce writ of the Government& present a positive image to the international audience, given its precarious economic condition, the possibility of the ongoing protest looming into a major crisis for Pak cannot be ruled out.

There have been widespread reports of Pak Army and police personnel defecting from the forces and openly coming out in support of the protesters. The military-intelligence establishment’s pathological obsession with legitimising groups that provide their own warped-version of Islam, has made the foundation of Pakistani society unstable and unpredictable.

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INDIAN NAVY SEIZES NARCOTICS WORTH RS 3,000 CRORE

Ashish Singh

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New Delhi: Indian Naval Ship Suvarna, whilst on surveillance patrol in the Arabian Sea, encountered a fishing vessel with suspicious movements. To investigate the vessel, the ship’s team conducted boarding and search operation, which led to the seizure of more than 300 Kgs of narcotics substances. The boat with its crew have been escorted to the nearest Indian Port of Kochi, Kerala for further investigation. The approximate cost the catch in the international market is estimated to be Rs 3,000 crore. This is a major catch not only in terms of the quantity and cost but also from the perspective of disruption of the illegal narcotics smuggling routes, which emanate from the Makran coast and flow towards the Indian, Maldivian and Sri Lankan destinations. Apart from the human costs from drug addiction, the spoils of narcotics trade feed syndicates involved in terrorism, radicalisation and criminal activities.

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RAJNATH SINGH REVIEWS PREPAREDNESS OF MOD AND ARMED FORCES AMID SPIKE IN COVID-19 CASES

The Defence Minister asks them to aid civilian administration to tide over the current coronavirus situation; gives go ahead for emergency procurement of critical medical supplies.

Ashish Singh

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Defence Minister Rajnath Singh held a virtual meeting to review the preparedness of Ministry of Defence and the armed forces to deal with the recent spike in Covid-19 cases across the country, in New Delhi on Tuesday. Defence Secretary Dr Ajay Kumar, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Karambir Singh, Chief of Army Staff General M.M. Naravane, Director General Armed Forces Medical Services (AFMS) Surgeon Vice Admiral Rajat Datta, Secretary (Defence Production) Raj Kumar, Secretary Department of Defence R&D and Chairman Defence Research and Development Organisation Dr G. Satheesh Reddy, Financial Adviser (Defence Services) Sanjiv Mittal and other senior civil & military officers attended the meeting via video conferencing.

Rajnath Singh was briefed about the measures taken by AFMS, DRDO, Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs), Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) and other organisations of Ministry of Defence such as National Cadet Corps (NCC) in providing aid to the civil administration in this hour of crisis. The Defence Minister was informed that a COVID care centre established by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is active in Bengaluru assisting the civil administration. He was informed that arrangements are being made by the DPSUs to buy oxygen plants that will help them in production of oxygen cylinders at a faster pace. The Defence Minister asked the DPSUs, OFB and DRDO to work on war footing to provide oxygen cylinders and extra beds to civil administration/state governments at the earliest. Rajnath Singh called upon the Armed Forces to be in close contact with the state governments and be ready to provide any required assistance. In a significant decision, the Defence Minister directed the Armed Forces and other stakeholders to go ahead with procurement of critical medical requirements under emergency powers of procurement.

DRDO Chairman briefed that a Covid-19 facility, developed by DRDO, has again been made functional in New Delhi and efforts are being made to soon increase the number of beds from 250 to 500. Dr Sathish Reddy informed the meeting that the ESIC Hospital, which was converted to Covid hospital in Patna, has started functioning with 500 beds and a Covid hospital will soon be made functional at Muzaffarpur in Bihar. He also informed that work is on at war footing to set up a 450-bed hospital in Lucknow, 750-bed hospital in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh and 900-bed hospital in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. Rajnath Singh was also informed that based on the On-Board Oxygen Generation Technology developed for LCA Tejas, a 1000 litre/minute capacity oxygen generation plants technology has been given to the industry and the Uttar Pradesh government has placed order of five such plants with the industry. Dr Reddy informed the Defence Minister that more plants can be supplied by the industry to cater to the hospital requirements. He further said SpO2 (Blood Oxygen Saturation) based supplemental oxygen delivery system developed for soldiers posted at extreme high-altitude areas can be used for Covid patients as their conditions become similar. The product will be available soon in the market from the industry as per technology provided by DRDO. The Defence Minister was informed that the AFMS has mobilised its man power and other resources in various military hospitals dealing with Covid patients. To augment the manpower if required, the minister suggested to utilise the services of vaccinated retired Armed Forces personnel to assist the civil administration/state governments to deal with the current situation. During the meeting, Rajnath Singh also discussed ways to contain the spread of Covid-19 among the Armed Forces personnel and the officers/staff working in Ministry of Defence. He focused on Covid-appropriate behaviour at the work place, stressing on the need to strictly follow all the Covid protocols such as wearing of masks at all times and maintaining physical distancing.

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Defence

HERITAGE AS LEGACY IN THE EVOLUTION OF INDIA: CASE STUDY OF NAVAL DOCKYARD IN MUMBAI

The Indian terrestrial approach lured us away from the seas which were left almost unprotected.

Janhavi Lokegaonkar

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India is a maritime nation with a rich heritage. History records our oceanic links with other nations of Indian Ocean and beyond from the Harappan civilisation and lasting through the centuries. Indian maritime influence can be seen in all walks of Indian history. Our development is owed to the maritime economy and a gradual advancement of maritime infrastructure along the coastal frontiers. If we are to learn from our history, the biggest lesson is that the Indian terrestrial approach lured us away from the seas which were left almost unprotected. The failure amongst the Indians to perceive the potential threat from the maritime frontiers and percolate a maritime vision and policies among the masses was one of the grave problems that led to the rise of Colonial rule in India. This article highlights one facet as an outcome of “Manthan” or churn of the sea saga of Indian journey.

Under the Company and the Crown, the city of Bombay was developed further taking into consideration of all the physical features it had which gave it an edge. Even with self-gain as the motive, the emerging vision aided colonial officials to analyse the importance of the geography of Bombay and developed it as ‘Urbs Prima in Indis’-the premier city of the Empire.

Today as we traverse the heritage precinct of Fort area in South Mumbai, we are reminded of the lasting legacy that is the built heritage across the city’s waterfront. The Naval Dockyard that stands tall as a custodian of Mumbai’s coastline is a heritage facility in itself. The Wadia Master builders were commissioned to develop this shipbuilding and docking facility (erstwhile Bombay Dockyard) in Bombay in 1735. Today, this is used by the Western Naval Command of the Indian Navy that upholds its heritage and continues to maintain its legacy.

With the Industrial revolution in Europe, change was inevitable. In the wake of Industrialisation in England, there was a paradigm shift in the realms of production. Technology took over and since then it has only developed. Ironically, this phase also marks the deindustrialisation in the Indian subcontinent in order to facilitate and furnish the English industries. The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 and the need for better docking and banking facilities at such a juncture is self-explanatory. The undertaking of construction for new dock building and related facilities was deemed necessary and beneficial for improving the efficiency of the maritime trade and commerce.

Bombay Dockyard and nearby facilities made ‘Ships-of-the-Line’ for the Royal Navy that were considered to be of superior quality and craftsmanship. The skills and nautical expertise of the Indian shipbuilders was a legacy in itself. But, the Indian shipbuilding industry that was once sought after met its downfall as the sail ships were replaced with the steam vessels. Despite such setback, this never deterred the Indian shipping industry. Bombay faced economic repercussions but the indomitable spirit of the city as we see today was blazing even then. After an initial slump in the shipbuilding industry, the Dockyard and other facilities gave rise to a number of other associated industries that aligned with the needs of the shipping sector thereby creating a market for economy with wider avenues. Soon, the docking facilities were equipped and gained momentum as a ship repair and refits industry which made a lot of progress.

Built heritage and maritime affairs intermingle with economic matters-thus creating a legacy and building a stronger future of our nation. A gradual progression in the maritime infrastructure and its resultant impact on the economy has played a vital role in the development of the Indian shipping sector. Promotion of our maritime heritage and traditions by a holistic development of the coastal communities by integrating them in the mainstream policies will ensure the promotion of our rich maritime legacy.

The evolution of the Mumbai city is owed to the maritime economy and due to harnessing of its maritime connect and development of the infrastructure. The role and contribution of the maritime sector in developing the city to what it is today must be acknowledged. The mushrooming of allied industries in the shipping industry is a subsequent factor. The economy of Bombay strengthened which led to the creation of an industrial infrastructure. This was the rise of a modern SEZ i.e. Special Economic Zone, a precursor to the modern metropolis that Mumbai has become today.

Shortly after the World Heritage Day commemorated on 18 April 2021 this week sees launch of a multi-stakeholder initiative to revive maritime consciousness in form of a unique workshop titled “Indian Maritime History : A Manthan”. In the two day workshop, 21 – 22 April 2021, Dr Malini Shankar, IAS (Retd), Vice Chancellor, Indian Maritime University will deliver the Keynote Address while Commodore Odakkal Johnson, Director, Maritime History Society will mentor the proceedings and provide the thematic setting. The contents will benefit students, faculty & maritime enthusiasts. The workshop will evolve elements of an approach towards a long-term facility for excellence in Maritime History as envisaged in Maritime India Vision 2030. Maritime History Society and Indian Maritime University invite an enthusiastic response toward the resurgence of Sea Mindedness through participation, promotion and resource infusion into the journey to enhance influence for greater maritime consciousness in India.

Janhavi Lokegaonkar is a Research Associate at Maritime History Society with a focus on modern aspects of Indian Maritime History

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