Alfred Thayer Mahan stated that “Whoever rules the waves rules the world”. It emphasises on the role of naval power for an ambitious superpower aspirant.
State of Indian Navy
The Indian Navy, the smallest but most strategic of the three services, is suffering from chronic malnutrition, with its share of defence allocations cut from 18 per cent, four years ago, to just 14.5 per cent today.
In dealing with a Chinese military offensive, the army and air force will be on the defensive. The navy alone can take the offensive, with its control over the Indian Ocean trade routes providing an instrument to throttle China’s economy.
How to modernise the Indian Navy?
- The navy needs more warships to discharge the multiple responsibilities of a regional security provider — dominating two seas and an ocean, counter piracy duties, humanitarian aid and disaster relief (HADR) missions, showing the flag in port visits across the world and growing bilateral and multilateral exercises like Malabar.
- A simultaneous focus must ensure full operational capability in warships in service.
- Focused attention is needed on procuring “naval multi-role helicopters” to be deployed on capital warships for airborne early warning, anti-submarine warfare, (added comma!) and search and rescue.
- Another focus area must be fleet-support ships, essential for a “blue water navy” to operate far from the mainland. Fleet support ships carry the logistics support — such as fuel, stores and repair facilities — that sustain a naval flotilla on long deployments.
- Finally, we must focus on quickly beginning the construction of six submarines under the long delayed Project 75I. This will boost the submarine arm, which dwindled to just 13 boats, when INS Sindhurakshak sank after an explosion in 2013.
A thriving economy attracts multiple green-eyed adversaries which may drag it into the seas of distress. Perils of the sea in the shape of piracy, human trafficking, terrorism and strategic alignments consistently pinches India to upgrade its naval capabilities. Although an immediate traditional warfare is not in sight, the preparation of it requires an enhanced naval power. To rephrase Benjamin Disraeli – “Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst”.
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