A living embodiment of the Spirit of Panch Prans

A living embodiment of the Spirit of Panch Prans
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A living embodiment of the Spirit of Panch Prans

Highlights

The Indian Navy has inducted its first indigenously designed and built aircraft carrier INS Vikrant even as India seeks to not only modernize its forces, but also counter increased Chinese presence and influence in the Indian Ocean.

The Indian Navy has inducted its first indigenously designed and built aircraft carrier INS Vikrant even as India seeks to not only modernize its forces, but also counter increased Chinese presence and influence in the Indian Ocean. It should be noted that the ocean is India's supreme strength due to the country's strategic location and China knows that its biggest weakness will be this one.

The 262.5 meter-long ship has been commissioned to mark the 75 years of the country's independence by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It took 13 years to complete it – a delay of six years – nevertheless a great success story. It has undergone several tests and has cost the country Rs 200 billion. Stats reveal that the full-load displacement of it is nearly 45,000 tonnes. This is almost as much as the other aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya's capacity. Let us admit that it is smaller than the two in-service Chinese navy carriers and much smaller than China's third carrier that was launched in June. Vikrant will only have 30 aircraft on it including Russian-made fighters and early warning helicopters as well as US-made multi role choppers and locally developed light helicopters and combat aircraft. Some of the other specialties are 'ski jump' for launching aircraft and a set of arresting wires for the recovery on board. All this means that India has joined a select group of countries that have been able to design and build own aircraft carriers.

However, New Delhi is not just relying on its aircraft carriers to maintain the regional balance of power. The Indian Navy's modernization programme has also seen it field a growing number of new license-built attack submarines, as well as advanced homemade guided-missile destroyers, frigates and corvettes. India has also been acquiring assets specialized in anti-submarine warfare such as US-made MH-60R helicopters and long-range P-8I Neptune maritime aircraft. Moreover, the country, which has been testing its ability to forward-deploy submarines to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, is building what it calls "anti-submarine warfare shallow water craft" to hunt submarines in waters close to the shore.

Apart from these efforts to update itself with countering measures keeping in view its long-term requirement, India is also relying on some of its friends and allies in its anti-China stance. As a member of 'Quad' grouping of nations that comprises the US, Japan and Australia alongside India, it is also developing and promoting close ties with other friendly countries in the region which are wary of China's plans for the region. As has been rightly put by the Prime Minister at the time of commissioning, "Vikrant is not just a warship. This is a testament to the hard work, talent, influence and commitment of India in the 21st century. If the goals are distant, the journeys are long, the ocean and the challenges are endless – then India's answer is Vikrant. The incomparable Amrit of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav is Vikrant. Vikrant is a unique reflection of India becoming self-reliant." It produces electricity that is sufficient to power 5,000 households and the wiring used will reach Kashi from Kochi. INS Vikrant is a living embodiment of the Spirit of the Panch Prans that he proclaimed from the ramparts of Red Fort.

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