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Maritime Bulwark

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Since time immemorial whenever man sought to find out what lay on the other side of the ocean cataclysmic events occurred. The New World was discovered; the United States of America created; the Bull (Edict) of Pope Alexander the Sixth divided South America between Spain and Portugal. Those eager to find India via the west route bumped into the Caribbean islands and they named them West Indies on realising their mistake. The Brits came eastwards and found the real India (where it had always been) and colonised it. No matter which direction one travelled it seemed that even then India was central to their endeavour. France and Portugal have left spoors of history on its shores.

 

Before this, Indian culture had already left its imprint on what is now known as Southeast Asia ranging from Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia in the near horizon to the “Indochina States” of Kampuchea (Cambodia), Laos and Vietnam bordering the Pacific Ocean as is evident in the ruins of the temples of the Angkor Wat genre and the living, vibrant performing arts in which the enactment of the Ramayana is a central theme. Now, in the twenty-first century the words of US military strategist Alfred Mahan have a familiar ring. He had said: ‘Whoever controls the Indian Ocean will dominate Asia, the destiny of the world will be decided on its waters.’ This is being vividly underscored by the current struggle for maritime influence in the region.

India which is surrounded by seas from three sides has the most preeminent position in the Indian Ocean littoral. Its long coastline leaves it vulnerable to infiltration by terrorists and smugglers as witnessed in two attacks on Mumbai. The nation has celebrated Navy Week to mark one of the most audacious operations executed by the Indian Navy with its attacks on Karachi harbour in 1971. We took the opportunity to interview the Chief of Indian Navy Admiral Sunil Lanba and Director General of Indian Coast Guard Organisation Rajendra Singh. I am sure you will appreciate the candour of their responses.

So happy reading, dear readers!

Jai Hind!

 


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