As IDF welcomes His Excellency Mr. Jair Messias Bolsonaro, President
of Brazil as India’s Chief Guest to India’s hospitality and strategy on its 71st Republic Day parade IDF recounts that on the military front India got her first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), to enable the armed forces to implement coordinated defence doctrines and procedures while fostering joint-manship. India also got her first National War Memorial and PM Modi dedicated to the nation at the India Gate in New-Delhi, where he will pay homage (Sharandhjali) to those who gave their all for us.
India also added strategic infrastructure post Doklam. Bridges came up, one km long Ujh bridge in Kathua and 617.40m long Basantar bridge in Jammu & Kashmir, Col Chewang Rinchen bridge connecting Durbuk and Daulat Beg Oldie in Eastern Ladakh and Sisseri river bridge connecting Lower Dibang Valley with East Siang in Arunachal Pradesh were inaugurated by the Defence Minister as part of strategic outreach. India-US 2+2 Dialogue and Indian-Japan moved ahead in January 2020. Army added 155mm guns.
The 100 paged pocket sized year book with 70 ‘land mark’ photos of Indian, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Iran and PLA Navies (10 pages on PLAN) opens with messages by Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Karambir Singh and Director General Indian Coast Guard K Natarajan which are themselves elaborate statements on their respective Arms wishing the Year Book well.
The book is to support the Navy one served, and the Nation one loves and the outside world to appreciate India’s small Navy of 65,000 with 132 ships and 200 aircraft with a below $ 7 bill budget at 13% of the Defence Budget when Army has 52% and Air Force 22%. This year IDF looks forward to the 2020 budget on 1st Feb. Navy can no longer be starved for Nation’s future is a judgment to be made by readers.
The book in a piece welcomes Gen Bipin Rawat as India’s First Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) in the post of a Secretary which he was as 27th COAS, but with a Department of Military Affairs with two Joint Secretaries with Advisory authority in MOD to synergise and bring about Jointness in the Armed Forces. CDS will also head IDS but with no Command function and DG Acquisition will retain Acquisition powers and functions. Hence CDS will be Double Hated and Year Book with wishing him Following Seas & Fair Winds. A view is tabled that as Gen Manekshaw acted as a self styled CDS it is personality that will also matter ! This is a trait in India’s higher leadership.
Book accepts India’s forces are strong and technology has galloped but Indian Armed Forces never thought of exports so costs of equipment made in India especially in PSUs never mattered. India’s Defence runs vide Art 53 of India’s Constitution with Cabinet Control under the Prime Minister. The Defence of India as in the Business Rules is under the Defence Secretary, and the President of India is India’s Supreme Commander but has no Executive or Command powers and exercises Ceremonial functions.
Fortunes change but Author explains in a forward that India’s maritime geography is India’s permanent fortune in the Indian Ocean Region(IOR). Vice Admiral Satish Soni missed getting a shot of becoming the Chief of Naval Staff by seniority as Adm DK Joshi resigned. He covers the importance of the Indian Ocean as the gateway to the Atlantic and the Pacific, which is becoming an arena of contestation between extant and emerging powers. The volume of merchandise carried across this region raises the stakes in the security of trade as over 1,00,000 ships transit across annually. Since mid-90s, trade between Indian Ocean littorals and China, Korea, Japan, Taiwan and the South East Asian countries has been increasing exponentially, and consequent higher need for fossil fuels and resources. India is poised to play a pivotal role in shaping the destiny of this maritime landscape which has now coalesced into the ‘Indo-Pacific’.
Mahendra Ved writes how Navy Acted East Promptly In The 2004 Tsunami Hadr Operations & The Nation Learnt & Appreciated The Need To Support India’s Navy—— In December 2004, the over thirty Navy’s ships sailed out and to Southeast Asian shores; it was neither for war nor for re-creating the ancient trade and cultural voyages in what came to be called “Vishal Bharat.” It was for a massive humanitarian effort that deserves telling in this year book. After that CNS Adm Robin Dhowan and Vadm Soni steered IFR 2016 and earned the respect of the world navies for India’s Navy. CM Chandrbabu Naidu dod wonders to make Vishkapatnam look clean like Singapore.
Uday Bhaskar discusses the address of Adm Karambir to media during Navy Week 2019 and the need for a better budget for the Indian Navy. He is convinced that the current level of the budget in the planning of the country at 13% of the defence budget is hopefully inadequate. Admiral Pradeep Chauhan DG of the national Maritime Foundation gives a livid account how India’s Maritime strategy should be urgently chalked out. It is well known that Niti Aayog has as a proposed Maritime strategy but has not yet been able to progress it NSAB has also proposed a strategy which includes strengthening of the Indian Navy but that too who has not been made public.
Group captain TPS Srivastava also looks at National strategy and proposes and an Air Sea doctrine for battle in the year book and hope it is taken in the national spirit of Jointness. The book has got details of ships and aircraft of the Indian Navy and in another part of the book has articles by Prasun Sengupta which discuss the advances made in the Pakistan, Bangladesh Navy and Iranian Navy with author’s comments for good measure.
I met Yogesh Joshi as a young budding pain staking scholar, when he came to me when he was doing his Phd in JNU on Nuclear submarine co-operation with USA which Homi Bhaba began but President Johnson stopped and how Soviet Union helped India with the ATV programme and INS Arihant culled specially for the Year Book from his research. He got American and translated documents from Russia and introduced me to the Archives of PN Haksar in Nehru Memorial and Archives of India on Janpath. IDF has seen him blossom and get married and do his parents proud. He is currently in Stanford.
On a personal note having been Commander at the Indian Naval Academy the author has spelled out the story of the officers who one trained and six trained in Vladivostok for over 2 years and served in Chakra-1 (1987-91), the ATV and helped construct SBC 2 in L&T. . IDF’’s Navac wards did well and with wives invited IDF and wife to four days of get together in Cochin and Allepey and Nostalgia to relive how they were trained to beat NDA guys( like IDF). Their escapades and saving of INS Chakra1 from disaster made me write the Story of the Chakradharians. Commodore CD Balaji and his wife Rama was there and as he was of the same Navac in my time I saluted him as a Scientist G(Vadm) and the story of the Naval LCA he steered that landed and took off from INS Vikaramaditya and gave IAF LCA Mk1 and credit to CAS ACM Raha too.
Coimbatore CG Balaji give the brief account of the naval version of the light combat aircraft and how it has been a success bi landing and taking off from INS Vikramaditya finally a few paragraphs from the authors comments and concluding remarks complete the review of the Indian Navy Year book 2020. Shan No Varuna.