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Top Navy commanders discuss maritime security issues

New Delhi, May 8

Senior commanders of the Indian Navy began a four-day conclave here on Tuesday to discuss combat efficiency and military preparedness of the blue water force amid worries about an assertive China encircling India with its military and strategic assets in the Indian Ocean region and its neighbourhood.

The first edition of this year’s bi-annual Naval Commanders’ Conference is being held to review the Navy’s new “mission-based deployments philosophy that is aimed at ensuring peace and stability in the region”, a Navy spokesperson said.

“The Indian Navy’s focus over the past year has been on combat efficiency and materiel readiness and upkeep of its large fleet of 131 ships and submarines.” The spokesperson didn’t speak about China creating military and strategic assets in India’s close neighbourhood like in Bangladesh, Myanmar, the Maldives and Sri Lanka who have all signed up to Beijing’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

But the looming presence of Chinese warships on the high seas in the Indian Ocean has left India a lot worried, scurrying for strategic bases overseas—like the one New Delhi is now set to establish in the archipelago of Seychelles with which it signed a pact to build naval infrastructure in February this year.

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who inaugurated the May 8-11 conference, said the Indian “Navy will be a force to reckon with in the Indo-Pacific” region.

She parried a question on Chinese ubiquitous presence in the region including a deep-sea port at Gwadar in Pakistan and the establishment of a naval base in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa.

Asked about India’s border and maritime competitiveness with China, the Defence Minister said “there is no tension between” the two neighbours.

Probed further and asked what had militarily changed between India and China following official visits to China by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and by herself, Sitharaman said: “We are talking and meeting each other. That is a big change.”  She said she had “a very pointed discussion on the issues raised by the (Navy) commanders” who were open-minded about the issues concerning the Navy and in highlighting India’s maritime strength.

The conclave would also review the measures to ensure safety, continued training and checks and balances on crew proficiency on-board the Navy’s frontline warships.

Currently, 27 ships and submarines are under construction in Indian shipyards. These include the first indigenous aircraft carrier Vikrant.

The Navy has already promulgated the ‘Indian Naval Indigenisation Plan 2015-30’, laying down its 15-year plan.



About Editor in chief

Ashok Palit has completed his graduation from Upendranath College Soro, Balasore and post graduation from Utkal University in Odia Language and literture.. He has also carved out a niche for himself as a scribe of eminence after joining the profession in 1988. He is also an independent media production professional. He brings loads of experience to Advanced Media, Ashok Palit as a cineaste has been active in film criticism for over three decades. As a film society activist, he soared to eminence for his profound commitment to the art film appreciation and aesthetics of cinema. His mode of discourse is often erudite but always lucid and comprehensible marked by a perfect acumen so rare in the field. A film aesthete with an immense fond of critical sensibilities, he wrote about growth and development of odia cinema in New Indian Express, The Times of India, The Hindustan Times, The Asian Age and Screen. He has been working as an Editor for Cine Samaya from 2002-2004.. He had made solid contribution on cinema in many odia Dailies and weekly such as Samaj, Prajatantra, Dharatri, Samaya, Satabadi, and weekly Samaya.

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