It is time once again to celebrate the Indian Navy Day, marked on the 4th of December every year to remind us of the Navy’s successful missile attack on Karachi during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War.
Our Officers and Personnel of the Navy give us the guarantee of a secure India, a secure life, to guard us, the citizens of India, from the dangers of vicious hostility around us. That the country is proud of its armed forces, Navy, Army and Air Force, does not need to be stated.
There is another big role the Navy plays, that of Disaster Relief. Ever since the 2004 Tsunami in the Indian Ocean, and several other mishaps on the Indian coast and around India, the Indian Navy has played a stellar role in saving and helping people. The latest example is the relief for those trapped in a couple of islands in our Andaman and Nicobar islands.
It is time also to think of the modernisation, or lack of it, of the Indian armed forces. Ever since the acquisition of Bofors guns in 1986 drew allegations of corruption, and also of poor quality and performance by VP Singh who successfully succeeded in replacing Rajiv Gandhi as the Prime Minister on this plank, the modernisation process of the armed forces has been hit. It takes long and long and long for any clearance as most officers, particularly those in the civil services, fear to take decisions and append their signatures on files.
All the three Services have suffered. The Indian Air Force, for instance, has mostly outdated aircraft in its inventory and in some cases, its requirement for their modernisation also has been pending for years. Modernisation of Jaguars, or their replacement, and same for helicopters for the three Services, is an urgent issue. The Navy’s requirement even for 16 multi role helicopters, with 8 options, has been pending for years. The higher authorities in the Government, the Prime Minister and the Defence Minister, can perhaps pay attention to the large number of pending requirements for the three Services, and have them cleared one way or another.
Of course, money has to be found. But then, there is a 30-year backlog in requirements, due to the post-Bofors paralysis, and it needs an extraordinary will and effort to be removed once and for all. The armed forces must get the best possible contemporary and futuristic technology weapons to deter or delete an enemy.
Coming back the Indian Navy, one good thing about it is that it has been involved in designing and building ships for several decades, and is now working towards the second Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC-2) for delivery before 2035. It appears that the Government is clearing the proposals in this regard on a fast track basis, and there should be good news soon.
The new Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral Sunil Lanba, has also expressed hope for early decisions. On this Navy Day, we wish him, and all the Officers and Personnel of the Indian Navy Smiles and Strength Always.
Gulshan Rai Luthra