‘Indian Navy is battle arm of the future to take on China’

Today, sea lanes are as crowded as Delhi’s traffic lanes, said a Brigadier at the Military Literature Festival in Chandigarh.

chandigarh Updated: Dec 08, 2017 22:28 IST
Yojana Yadav
Yojana Yadav
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Military literature festival,Chandigarh,Punjab
From left: Lt Gen Aditya Singh, Commodore (Retd) Ranjit B Rai, vice-admiral Satish Soni , and Brigadier RJS Dhillon during a panel discussion on the ‘Shape and Contours of the Indian Navy of the Future’ at the Military Literature Festival in Chandigarh on Friday.(Anil Dayal/HT)

Any power that has ruled the world has done so on the strength of its navy. Yet the Indian Navy, seen as the neglected service among the three arms of battle, is now proving to be vital for the progress of India, the only country that has an ocean named after it.

It is in this backdrop that vice-admiral Satish Soni set the ball rolling at the panel discussion on the ‘Shape and Contours of the Indian Navy of the Future’ at the Military Literature Festival in Chandigarh on Friday.

“With the blue economy taking shape and over 90% of trade through sea in a not-so-friendly neighbourhood up North, the enormous responsibility of securing the coastlines rests with the navy,” said Soni.

“Post-26/11, the Indian Navy can raise the threshold of any adversary,” he said.

Being Ambitious

The recent inauguration of the first phase of the Chabahar port, opening up a transit route between Iran, Afghanistan and India that bypasses Pakistan, also shows the change in perception. Brigadier RJS Dhillon said, “Today, sea lanes are as crowded as Delhi’s traffic lanes. Monitoring is tough. An all-out war is not feasible but to maintain supremacy we need, what US president Woodrow Wilson said in 1918, ‘absolute freedom at all times in peace and war beyond eight nautical miles’.”

Dhillon added, “It’s the Indian Ocean but not India’s ocean. Build combat capability but be ambitious and take on China’s growing influence. We need a relook beyond the Straits of Malacca. Force structuring for the long term and working on economic and industrial modernisation should be the strategy.”

Best to indigenise

Lt Gen Aditya Singh, a former commander-in-chief of the Andaman and Nicobar Command, said, “India was troubled by land borders so the attention went there. The spin-off of the neglect is that the navy has been the best to indigenise and is the most self-contained of the three services.”

Commodore Ranjit Rai, whose book was released by Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh, said that the navy had become the epitome of construction and had produced its own nuclear submarine and underwater missile in Sagarika.

First Published: Dec 08, 2017 22:05 IST