Source: The Hitavada      Date: 29 Oct 2017 12:37:01

THE message delivered by the Defence Minister Mrs. Nirmala Sitharaman and the Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Sunil Lanba to the naval personnel during commanders’ conference was loud and clear. Both of them emphasised the need for combat readiness by naval personnel and harnessing of new technology to bolster the Navy’s operational capability. A new plan for deployment of warships in the Indian Ocean region to counter China’s growing presence in the Indian Ocean was also cleared at the conference, which is a significant step.

China is pursuing hegemonic policy in the region by staking a claim over disputed South China Sea islands and deploying more warships and submarines in the Indian Ocean. Obviously, China wants to dominate neighbouring countries on the basis of its ever increasing military strength. India, Japan, Vietnam, Australia and other countries in the region, however, are not paying any heed to the boisterous posture of China. Except Pakistan, which is getting massive financial, military, and developmental aid from China, all other nations in the region are against China’s expansionist attitude.

India being a prima donna of the Indian Ocean, its Navy has an important role to play in the region. China knows well that its oil supply could get affected if India blocks sea lanes in the Indian Ocean, in the event of a war. That is the reason, why China has developed facilities at the Gwadar port in the Arabian Sea in Pakistan, from where it intends to source its oil supply needs from the neighbouring Gulf region. Presence of China’s warships at Gwadar Port pose a security threat to India’s western sea coast and the sea lanes.

With the security scenario in the region undergoing a change, and China-Pakistan axis emerging strongly, it has become imperative for India to strengthen its Navy in order to meet new challenges. The deliberations held on the operational readiness of the Navy at the commanders’ conference and the new plan of ‘mission-based deployment’ of ships, aircraft and submarines beyond the immediate neighbourhood indicate that the Navy is abreast of the developments in the region and is all geared up to face the challenges.