The Tiranga being hoisted on six continents by seven Indian Naval ships on August 15 this year was also reflective of the Indian Navy’s ability to deploy far and wide across our areas of interest
This occasion grants us an opportunity to take a closer look at the year gone by. In this period, our ships, submarines, and aircraft have sustained a high operational tempo. Our units have maintained a mission ready presence across vast sea areas that impact our national interests. Our extensive operational deployments and exercises have honed our skills and polished our procedures – keeping the sword sharp. Our personnel have trained hard, practiced diligently, and performed magnificently at sea, under the sea, in the air, as well as wherever duty called. The Navy has remained a Combat-ready, Credible, Cohesive, and Future Proof force – enabled by what we call our SHIPS FIRST outlook – where every single action that we take is aimed to enable our women and men in operational units – mandated to go into harm’s way when needed.
While the past year has been operationally busy and satisfying, it has also been transformational in many ways. I will highlight only a few aspects in this regard, and the rest will be covered during the subsequent presentation.
The most notable aspect was commissioning of India’s first indigenous Aircraft Carrier INS Vikrant on September 02 this year - without a doubt a seminal event in the history of the Nation and the Navy
The most notable aspect wascommissioning of India’s first indigenous Aircraft Carrier INS Vikrant on September 02 this year - without a doubt a seminal event in the history of the Nation and the Navy. Vikrant’s commissioning was a manifestation of sustained efforts of generations of naval leadership – planners – designers – yard workers – industry partners – and numerous others. The ship will remain the torch bearer of Atmanirbhar Bharat, inspiring our future generations towards self-reliance.
At the same time, Vikrant’s commissioning, was also marked by another momentous change, as the Navy adopted a new Naval Ensign. This change, reflecting the larger National intent to shed colonial vestiges, was brought about in a swift and decisive manner – reflecting the Navy’s organisational agility and responsiveness. Vikrant, for the foreseeable future, will remain a shining symbol of aspirational India, and will contribute to enhancing India’s global stature, proudly flying our Tiranga across the far reaches of the world’s oceans.
As regards flying the Tiranga, a notable achievement for the Indian Navy was the Tiranga being hoisted on six continents by sevenIndian Naval ships on August 15 this year.This was also reflective of the Navy’s ability to deploy far and wide across our areas of interest.
This ability to deploy extensively and project our capabilities is underpinned by a clear-eyed focus on Atmanirbharta across all sectors, including fostering R&D in niche technology
This ability to deploy extensively and project our capabilities is underpinned by a clear-eyed focus on Atmanirbharta across all sectors, including fostering R&D in niche technology. Towards this end, we conducted the ‘Swavlamban Seminar’ during which the Prime Minister unveiled 75 challenges for the defence industry. I must say that the response thus far has been overwhelming and we look forward to inductingsome of these ‘Made in India, Made by India, and Made for India’ security solutions.
In driving self-reliance and technology development, the Indian Navy is well established on a path of budget optimisation. The Navy’s share of the Defence Budget this year was 17.8 %, and in using this judiciously, we have achieved a Revenue to Capital expenditure ratio of 32% - 68% - which accords us flexibility in pursuing our capability developments plan.
A critical aspect related to capability accretion, is human resource development. Towards this end, implementation of Agnipath has been a much-needed transformational change. We have already inducted our first batch of Agniveers – comprising 3000 recruits who are currently undergoing training at our training base - INS Chilka. Importantly, this batch of Agniveers include 341 women trainees – once again – a transformational step. While we already have women officers posted on frontline units, they will soon be joined by women in all ranks.
It has been our effort to constantly query and challenge the ‘status-quo’ to ensure that the Navy remains on an aspirational and dynamic trajectory in to the future. In this regard, traditionally, the President of India would grace an event held at the Navy House in New Delhi on December 04, each year to join the commemorations of the Navy Day. With a view to take these commemorations to other Naval Stations, this year, the President has kindly consented to join and witness an Operational Demo and other events at Visakhapatnam - underscoring the Navy’s commitment to driving and adopting change.
Our first batch of Agniveers include 341 women trainees – once again – a transformational step. While we already have women officers posted on frontline units, they will soon be joined by women in all ranks.
As you would realise, a lot has changed in the past year. I have briefly touched upon some salient aspects that will bear influence on the Navy of today and the one of tomorrow. I will now highlight the broad way-points that we will pursue to navigate the future.
First and foremost, maintaining credible deterrence, while remaining ready to go into harm’s way to protect, preserve, and promote our national interests will remain our principal priority. Our vision of being a ‘Combat Ready, Credible, Cohesive, and Future-proof Force’ underpins this aspect.
As recent global events have amply underscored, this vision cannot be met in letter and spirit if we remain dependent on others for our security needs. To that end, the Government has clearly spelt out the need for Atmanirbharta. The Indian Navy, on our part, has made an unequivocal commitment to be fully Atmanirbhar by 2047.
The rapid pace of advancements in technology – spanning a wide array of sectors – impose the inescapable need for us to, not only catch-up with the developments, but to go above and beyond them. We will passionately pursue and adopt niche and disruptive technologies. Towards this end, we will follow SPRINT or ‘Supporting Pole-Vaulting in R&D through iDEX, NIIO and TDAC’ approach. The aim is to seamlessly meld the elements of ‘innovation’ ‘indigenisation’ and ‘self-reliance’.
The Indian Navy, on our part, has made an unequivocal commitment to be fully Atmanirbhar by 2047
In terms of fiscal resources, it is well appreciated that, budget always has to be balanced between a host of national imperatives – security, development, social, etc. The Indian Navy will continue to focus on making every valuable rupee count towards enhancing our combat readiness.
Both these aspects – budget and combat readiness – are now increasingly being looked at ‘jointly’ by the three Services. To my mind, jointness is the only way forward, as we prepare to fight and win the wars of tomorrow. The Late General Bipin Rawat had laid the foundations for increased synergy between the Armed Forces, and the present CDS, General Anil Chauhan, has provided renewed impetus to this effort. The Indian Navy remains fully committed to greater jointness and cohesion towards collective and effective outcomes. This could be gauged by the Navy instituting a trophy in the memory of Late General Bipin Rawat - one at INS Chilka – the sailors’ ab-initio training establishment, and one at the Naval War College, Goa – a premium training institute for strategic and operational leadership.
As far as inspiring initiatives go, the Prime Minister articulated PanchPran from the ramparts of the Red Fort, which included Gulami ki Mansikta Se Mukti. In pursuance of that end state, the Navy will continue to proactively identify redundant or archaic practices, process or symbols that could, either be discontinued, or modified in consonance with modern day realities.
The Indian Navy remains fully committed to greater jointness and cohesion towards collective and effective outcomes
Among modern day realities, one is the increasing recognition of the vast potential of the oceans – be it Blue Economy, our trade and energy lines, or scope for enhanced maritime connectivity. Concomitantly, there is greater emphasis and acknowledgement of the criticality of maritime security - the Prime Minister chairing a meeting on Maritime Security at the United Nations, during India’s presidency of the Security Council last year, is reflective of this. Clearly, as India grows, our maritime interests and investments will also expand proportionately which, in turn, will mandate expansion in the Indian Navy’s responsibilities and operational footprint to protect these interests. At the same time, as a responsible maritime power, with significant capabilities at our disposal, India also endeavours to be the Preferred Security Partner as well as First Responder in the region – guided by the overarching vision of SAGAR – Security And Growth for All in the Region. In furthering and strengthening these vital goals, the Indian Navy will remain diligent in pursuit of building bonds of friendship and operational cohesion with like-minded nations across the Indo-Pacific and beyond.
These are some of the strategic lines of effort that the Navy is committed to follow, in pursuit of remaining a ‘Combat Ready, Credible, Cohesive and Future-proof Force’.
I would like to place on record my appreciation to the media for your continued efforts in kindling maritime awareness across India, as well as, for keeping our fellow citizens accurately informed about naval and maritime issues.
Last but not the least, I wish to convey the Navy’s eternal gratitude to our veterans, who sailed these waters before us and stood firm at the helm, and whose efforts are seen today in an eminently capable, powerful and reliable maritime force, serving the Nation with pride and strength.