The wars of the future will be fought on the high seas, that is an assessment that most military experts of India agree with. There are two reasons for that, one is global trade. Ocean shipping is the main mode of transport for moving goods, about 90% of the world’s goods are moved through the seas. Reason number two is conflict. Some of the most contested disputes today are water conflicts. A strong navy is now a prerequisite for any major power in the nation.
It strengthens the nation’s position as a maritime force. INS Vikrant has finally become a part of the Indian Navy. It is also an event where India breaks away from the shackles of its colonial past. The nation has entered an elite league of the world’s naval powers.
INS Vikrant – A defining moment for India
Journalists worldwide have reported on the story and described the nation’s new warship in different ways. India’s first indigenously built aircraft carrier, the second carrier in the Indian naval fleet, and the seventh largest carrier in the world. But perhaps the most fitting description for INS Vikrant is – this new warship is India’s pride!
Here are a few things that one must know about INS Vikrant-
- INS Vikrant is the name, where Vikrant is a Sanskrit word that stands for courageous.
- It is the nation’s 2nd aircraft carrier. The 1st one was INS Vikramaditya. It was built on a Russian platform. Indian Navy has 10 destroyers, 12 frigates, 20 corvettes, and now two aircraft carriers with the addition of INS Vikrant.
- INS Vikrant is the largest one to be built in the nation, 262 long and 62 meters wide. It is the first indigenous aircraft carrier.
- The warship took 13 years to build and with its induction, India entered an elite club of Nations, a club of countries that can design and construct their aircraft carriers. Five countries could do it namely Russia, France, the United Kingdom, and China. Now, India has joined the list.
- INS Vikrant is a state-of-the-art warship. Almost 1600 crew members can stay on board, and can also host up to 30 aircraft that include big fighter jets and helicopters.
But not all kinds of warplanes would be able to operate from this carrier. The country needs deck-based aircraft and we are in the process of procuring some.
The legacy of the Vikrant of India’s Navy
The Indian Navy had a warship by the same name. The nation bought the 1st INS Vikrant from the United Kingdom and there is an interesting story behind it. This ship was built for the British royal Navy in the 1940s. It was supposed to be used for the 2nd world war. But, it never made it to the battlefield, soldiers won the war without it. In 1957, the nation bought the same ship in an incomplete state. It was refitted in Ireland and the warship finally joined the Indian Navy in 1961.
The 1st INS Vikrant saw a lot of action in the 1971 war with Pakistan. It played a significant role in India’s victory and helped in blocking the supplies to the Pakistani army. It led to the liberation of Bangladesh. The first INS Vikrant was decommissioned in 1997.
This new warship is very different from the last one. It will also help the Nation shed the baggage of its colonial past. The Indian navy is taking a step in a new direction. India’s credentials as a maritime power are about to get stronger. Why is that important? Let’s talk about this aspect. Today, navies are an important part of any country’s defense. We have destroyers, submarines, and aircraft carriers. All of these are made from cutting-edge technology. But, centuries ago navies looked very different.
Our maritime history dates back to 3000 BC. The Indus Valley Civilisation had contact with Mesopotamia, an example is Lothal. It is a historical site located in the state of Gujrat. Then we have the Cholas, one of the longest-ruling dynasties in southern India. They had one of the strongest navies at the time. They sailed the Ganges and sent expeditions to present-day Indonesia.
Our country is no stranger to the seas and there’s a reason for that. With the long coastline, our nation is what we call a peninsula. Since independence, the Indian Navy has come a long way. INS Vikrant symbolizes that growth. It shows the gradual evolution of India’s defense from a buyer to a producer.
Maybe not to dominate the world, but at least to dominate the Indian Ocean region, a strong navy is the need of an hour. Almost 90% of trade happens via sea. To the west, there is a hostile Pakistani Navy. To the east, China is building ports in Myanmar and Bangladesh. So, India needs a strong navy. The equation is pretty simple.
The Nation needs one carrier for the eastern flank, one for the western, and the third as a backup. But, these carriers cost around 20,000 crores rupees. So, developing counties must balance defense spending with welfare priorities. But, these steps have to be done just for the guarantee of peace and assurance of safety from all directions.
edited and proofread by nikita sharma