India Readies Itself for Unpredictable Future
Defence Minister (Raksha Mantri) Rajnath Singh reviewed the operational capabilities of the Indian Navy during the Naval Commanders’ Conference held aboard India’s first Indigenous Aircraft Carrier INS Vikrant on March 06, 2023. He interacted with the Naval Commanders and witnessed the operational demonstrations at sea, highlighting the Navy’s capability to undertake multi-dimensional missions towards safeguarding the maritime interests of the country.
In his address to the Commanders, the Raksha Mantri lauded the Navy for standing firm and protecting national interests with courage &dedication. He exhorted them to continue focussing on futuristic capability development to effectively overcome the emerging security challenges in the maritime domain. “Future conflicts will be unpredictable. The constantly-evolving world order has forced everyone to re-strategise. Constant vigil on the Northern & Western borders as well as the entire coastline must be maintained. We need to be ready to deal with all future challenges,” he said.
Shri Rajnath Singh described secured borders as the first requirement to ensure social and economic progress, asserting that India, under Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s leadership, is moving forward in ‘Amrit Kaal’ with renewed thrust & zeal to achieve this objective. Emphasising that economic prosperity and security scenario go hand-in-hand, he pointed out that the defence sector has emerged as a major demand creator, which has been boosting the economy and ensuring the country’s development.
“In the next 5-10 years, orders worth over $100 billion are expected to be placed through the defence sector and it will become a major partner in the economic development of the country. Today, our defence sector is on the runway, soon when it takes off, it will transform the country’s economy. If we want to see India among the top economic powers of the world by the end of ‘Amrit Kaal’, we need to take bold steps towards becoming a defence superpower,” the Raksha Mantri said.
Shri Rajnath Singh also made special mention of the credible and responsive presence of the Navy in the Indian Ocean Region. He stated that Mission-Based Deployments of the Navy have strengthened India’s position as a ‘Preferred Security Partner’ of friendly foreign countries in the region.
The Raksha Mantri reiterated the need for a huge country like India to be completely self-reliant and not dependant on others for its security. He listed out numerous steps taken by the Government to achieve ‘Aatmanirbharta’ in defence, including notification of four Positive Indigenisation Lists, increase in FDI limit and creating a favourable environment for Indian vendors including MSMEs. He termed the recent announcement of earmarking record 75% of the defence capital procurement budget for domestic industry in 2023-24 as a testament to the Government’s firm commitment to achieve self-reliance in defence manufacturing.
Shri Rajnath Singh commended the Navy for being at the forefront of indigenisation and innovation through inductions of ships & submarines and development of niche technologies, in consonance with the ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ vision. On the commissioning of INS Vikrant, he stated that it further reinforced the belief that India’s Naval designing and development is at a promising stage and more progress will be made in the times to come.
The operational demonstrations witnessed by the Raksha Mantri included complex Aircraft Carrier and Fleet operations, weapon firings by ships & aircraft and Underway Replenishment at Sea. In addition, a demonstration of indigenous products, including spotter drone, fire-fighting bot was witnessed by the Raksha Mantri. The strides taken by the Indian Navy towards ‘pole-vaulting’ the technological curve, through indigenous sources in the domains of Big Data Analytics, Artificial Intelligence, Laser technology and cryptography were also demonstrated.
It may be noted that the occasion was the first edition of the Naval Commanders’ Conference of 2023. The conference serves as a platform for Naval Commanders to discuss important security issues at the military-strategic level as well as interact with Senior Government functionaries through an institutionalised forum.
The novelty of this year’s conference lies in the fact that the first phase of the Commanders’ Conference was held at sea, and for the first-time, onboard India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant.
The Chief of Defence Staff and the Chiefs of the Indian Army and Indian Air Force also interacted with the Naval Commanders on subsequent days to address the convergence of the three Services vis-à-vis common operational environment, and avenues of augmenting Tri-Service synergy and readiness towards the defence of the nation and India’s national interests.
The Chief of the Naval Staff, along with other Naval Commanders reviewed major Operational, Materiel, Logistics, Human Resource Development, Training and Administrative activities undertaken by the Indian Navy in the last six months and further deliberate upon future plans for important activities and initiatives.
During the conference, Naval Commanders were also provided with an update on ‘Agnipath Scheme’ executed in the Indian Navy in Nov 22 (the first batch of Agniveers, which also includes the first batch of women Agniveers of the Indian Armed Forces is scheduled to pass out from INS Chilka in end Mar 23).
Due to the prevailing geostrategic situation in the region, the Conference has its own significance and relevance. The Navy has witnessed significant growth in its operational tasking over the years in consonance with India’s growing maritime interests. The Commanders thus deliberated on the Navy’s readiness to address the challenges to our Maritime interests.
It is a matter of great comforts that The Indian Navy remains focused on being a combat-ready, credible, cohesive and future-proof force and continues to assiduously execute its mandate as the maritime security guarantor of the country.