The Sameness of Being

At his first Navy Day press conference, Admiral R. Hari Kumar stressed on continuity

Smruti D

The stillness of winter had set in on the morning of December 3 in Delhi. The sun, burning through several layers of smog, made temperatures on the lawns of Kota house pleasant enough for Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral R. Hari Kumar’s first press conference. A day ahead of Navy Day, with a number of journalists and naval officers in attendance, the Chief declared the year’s Navy Day theme as ‘Indian Navy: Combat Ready, Credible, Cohesive Force’. Since Navy Day is celebrated on December 4 to commemorate the Indian Navy’s attack on Karachi harbour, 2021 marked 50 years of that event. It was being celebrated as the ‘Swarnim Vijay Varsh’ in India.

Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Hari Kumar addressing the press

In his opening remarks, Admiral Kumar said as a primary manifestation of India’s maritime power, the Indian Navy stands ready to fulfil its mandate to protect our national interests in maritime domain. Regarding the India-China standoff in Ladakh, he said, “Security situation on India’s northern borders has added to our security complexities.” As the conference progressed, the Navy Chief touched upon different topics concerning the Navy.

In terms of operational readiness, he said, “Our ‘Mission Based Deployment’ philosophy has enhanced the Indian Navy’s presence across the region, enabling rapid responses to emerging security challenges. The Indian Navy has established a persistent footprint in our areas of interest. Naval deployments also serve as a deterrent to inimical interests, clearly signalling the Navy’s reach, capability and intent.”

Regarding the navy’s efforts to combat Covid, he said that the Indian Navy had played a role of ‘care-giver’ during the pandemic. Listing the efforts, he said that 10 naval ships, under the aegis of Operation Samudra Setu II, transhipped more than 1100 Metric Tons of Liquid Medical Oxygen to India. “Missions Sagar III to VII,” he said, “reiterated India’s commitment to the region, as IN ships and aircrafts provided COVID assistance to eight friendly foreign countries across the oceans through deployment of Naval medical teams, medicines, vaccines and humanitarian aid.” He added that despite the disruptive impact of the pandemic, the navy had maintained its operational readiness and tempo through prompt implementation of preventive protocols. Our focus on maintaining combat and mission readiness resulted in deterring any misadventure in the maritime domain, while contributing to the national COVID effort—both internally and across the seas.”

Speaking about the reforms in defence, the chief of naval staff said, “I would like to reiterate the navy’s wholehearted support for reforms in our Higher Defence Organisation, and on enhancing tri-service synergy. We are looking at establishment of the ‘Maritime Theatre Command’ in the near future, which would further buttress ‘Joint planning and Joint application of force’ in the maritime domain. The details are being worked out and may be finalised by the mid of next year.” According to the Chief, the Navy’s commitment to ‘Aatmanirbharta’ will be reinforced by indigenisation of major equipment and systems through multiple avenues including the flagship ‘Make in India’ campaign. “We will continue with our sustained efforts to support the national initiatives such as Digital India, Skill India, Startup India and other GoI initiatives,” he said.

He briefly spoke about all these initiatives and the role that the navy is playing to support these. Regarding Start-Up India, he said that the navy in the past year had ‘supported, funded and hand-held more than 35 start-ups and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) for various projects towards developing niche technologies or products for the Navy.’ Last year, the Navy facilitated employment of 88 personnel to these MSMEs. Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) have recently been concluded with two companies through which close to 100 personnel are pursuing their second career options.

Regarding women officers in the navy, the CNS said, “We have taken measures towards providing additional opportunities for women officers in the Navy. Women officers have been appointed on-board almost all major warships.” Briefly touching upon recent developments in consonance with the government of India’s objective to empower women, Admiral Kumar said, “We have taken measures towards providing additional opportunities for women officers in the Navy. Women officers have been appointed on-board almost all major warships, the first woman Provost officer joined the specialization in March this year, and induction of women officers into the Information Technology Branch will commence from June next year.”

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