Indian Navy makes right moves

The recent launch of INS Visakhapatnam is a landmark development in India’s aim to transform its navy from a buyer to a builder. From the arrival of INS Delhi two decades ago to INS Visakhapatnam now, there has been a steady focus on indigenisation, and rightly so. It is time that the levels of indigenisation are ramped up, especially considering that there has been a sea-change in geo-politics of the region around the subcontinent. No doubt, time, money, resources and technology are stumbling blocks in achieving optimal levels of indigenisation but these need to be necessarily overcome. In this context, it is indeed a matter of pride that the Directorate General Naval Design and the Defence Research and Development Organisation have gone all out to modernise the Indian Navy. Starting with the Delhi-class ships, the Organisation came out with the Shivalik-class followed by the stealth-featuring Visakhapatnam series. Complementing this are the giant strides in developing the indigenous nuclear submarine INS Arihant and the aircraft carrier at Kochi.

While the Indian Navy in recent times has been beset with a string of accidents and deaths causing conster-nation among the forces and the general public, the launch of Visakhapatnam is an opportunity for the naval arm to redeem itself and show it is capable of turning things around. There are at least 40 indigenous ships and submarines under various stages of construction, for example. When the naval variant of the Light Combat Aircraft is commissioned, that will be another huge step forward in the march towards indigenisation. The policy makers need to be complimented as the development of the Indian Navy is not an exercise in luxury, it is rooted in necessity. Given that India’s coastline is a massive 7,615 km with its exclusive economic zone stretching across 2.02 million sq m, it is imperative that its navy reflect the challenges that this poses to the country’s security and defence preparedness. Add to this the newfound activity and the focus on the region by China and Pakistan, you have all the ingredients needed for a well-rounded Indian Navy.

A positive spin-off of India’s move to indigenise its navy is the opportunity it opens up for the private sector. Already several Indian companies have forayed into defence production and the addition of a naval component can only be the beginning of good times ahead. With all governments, irrespective of which political party heading them, being aware of the need and importance of the Indian Navy and prepared to infuse funds to back up the vision, the country should see a powerful naval arm in the near future.

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