India sheds its ‘landlocked mindset’

Discussion in 'Defence & Strategic Issues' started by arnabmit, Jul 6, 2013.

  1. arnabmit

    arnabmit Homo Communis Indus Senior Member

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    India sheds its 'landlocked mindset' - Latest - New Straits Times

    TIMES A-CHANGIN': The Indian navy and army are looking East and pursuing strategic defence ties with regional allies.

    FOUR Indian Navy ships' voyage last month through the strategic Malacca Straits, calling at Port Klang, Da Nang and Manila, though not extraordinary, points to a significant trend.

    Slowly, India seems to be shedding what critics call its "landlocked mindset" and is surveying the vast expanse of water around it.

    A country conducting maritime trade from times immemorial rarely flaunted its naval power. Its navy came into being, thanks to the British East India Company only four centuries ago.

    Till Europeans came by the sea, invaders were from the mountains in its northwest.

    Even today, India's adversarial neighbours are along the Line of Control (Pakistan) and the McMahon Line (China). This has blinded Indians to the geographical reality that they are actually a maritime nation. That leaves them little scope to look at those who are not, in other directions.

    Times are a-changing. Some 48 nations, many of them with thriving navies, are engaged or have shown interest in joint military exercises.

    The Indian navy regularly deploys and operates across the world in different oceanic areas to update operational knowledge, test its reach and endurance.

    Constructive engagement is its principal weapon during peacetime. The idea is to hone inter-operability skills for Humanitarian Assistance for Disaster Relief (HADR), as was done during the 2004 tsunami. According to a former navy chief, Admiral (rtd) Sushil Kumar: "With the Indian subcontinent positioned dominantly astride the vital sea lanes of communication (SLOC) -- which include China's new silk route through the Indian Ocean -- it is not India but China that finds itself on the back foot. That the Chinese have a healthy respect for the Indian navy's capability has been well established."

    He recalls that "in September 2000 when the Indian navy deployed a task force of submarines and destroyers to exercise in the South China Sea, there were misgivings in certain political circles.

    "To those who understand what sea power is all about, it came as no surprise that this task force, which operated for more than a month in the region, was finally received by the Chinese at the Shanghai naval base with full military ceremony."

    Those dynamics have changed and so have threat perceptions. The Indian air force has set up its first fighter air station in the southern peninsula at Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu, deploying Sukhois. This futuristic arrangement is to provide maritime security cover to all strategic and vital installations in the region.

    India is also building strong maritime security bridges with countries like Japan and Vietnam in a bid to counter China's "string of pearls" maritime construct in the Indian Ocean rim (IOC).

    In Tokyo last month, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh emphasised on strong mutual strategic interest to expand cooperation on maritime security and promoting regional stability.

    India views Japan as a "natural and indispensable partner" in the quest for stability and peace in Asia. Ensuring sea lanes remain open and free is vital for the region's prosperity, given its dependence on oil imports from the Middle East.

    Manmohan said: "We have also sought to assume our responsibility for stability in the IOR (Indian Ocean region). We are well positioned, therefore, to become a net provider of security in our immediate region and beyond."

    Since trade depends on the sea lanes, their security and freedom of navigation is critical to economic and overall security.

    India supports that freedom be exercised in accordance with the principles of international law.

    With Singapore, India's defence cooperation has been unique. Bilateral agreements for utilisation of facilities in India by the Singapore air force and army and the pact for training and exercises of Singapore air force in India, extended to 2017, point to this.

    With Australia, India is to continue ongoing bilateral naval exchanges to build confidence and familiarity between the navies and work towards a bilateral maritime exercise in 2015.

    It is also committed to continue to cooperate in the Asia-Pacific region bilaterally and through various multilateral fora, including the East Asia Summit, Asean Regional Forum and Asean Defence Ministers' Meeting.

    Overall, the objective is to enhance security and stability in the entire IOR by engaging with regional and extra-regional maritime powers.

    The Indian navy is committed to combating piracy and maritime terrorism in the Indian Ocean, especially in the Gulf of Aden, and safeguarding vital trade and energy flow destined for India and Southeast Asian economies.


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  3. W.G.Ewald

    W.G.Ewald Defence Professionals/ DFI member of 2 Defence Professionals

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    Navy concerned over India's depleting submarine fleet | NDTV.com

     
  4. W.G.Ewald

    W.G.Ewald Defence Professionals/ DFI member of 2 Defence Professionals

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