On the eve of Navy Day, what is your message to the nation and its Navy?
India has emerged as a credible and responsible power, and is making significant strides towards realising its rightful place in the world order. Since 95% of India's trade by volume, which is about 68% by value, is transported over the seas, security and stability in the Indo-Pacific Region, and our ability to guarantee that is pivotal to the economic growth of the nation. However, traditional threats from potential adversary states and diverse non-traditional threats like terrorism, transnational crime, piracy etc. impinge on maritime security in the region, and could threaten our national interests.
The Indian Navy is responsible for overall maritime security including coastal and offshore security. Focused on this objective, the Indian Navy's Theme for the year is "Mission Deployed and Combat Ready". This guiding mantra embodies our commitment to maintaining persistent presence wherever the nation's maritime security may be challenged. We are deployed and ready at all times to ensure the safety and security of India's interests. We are committed to working in close coordination with the other Armed Forces, Government Agencies and other like-minded navies in the region to ensure a secure and stable maritime environment that supports our national endeavour. We are also committed to optimum use of available resources to meet any emerging situation most effectively in the shortest possible time.
Our Navy's plans for capability development are based on the twin pillars of Indigenisation and Self-Reliance. These plans are closely aligned to the 'Make in India' initiative so as to harness the immense potential of our indigenous talent, and play a more significant role in the nation building efforts of the Government of India. We continuously seek to deepen our interaction and mutual understanding with the Academia, Defence Industry, including the Private Sector and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), and Government Organisations. We are confident that these efforts will manifest in our achieving the levels of technological self-reliance expected from the Navy of one of the World's leading Nations.
We seek to engage the vibrant and dynamic youth of the nation by offering unmatched opportunities of leadership in a wide variety of challenging situations, while working with cutting-edge technologies. Every member of Team Navy remains ever committed to its core ethos 'Duty, Honour, Courage'. I assure the proud citizens of our great nation that the Indian Navy is ever alert and combat ready… ensuring that our seas are always secure.
Under your able leadership, what are the major changes that have been introduced in the overall functioning, training, force multification and acquisition in the Indian Navy and also which are the areas of concern in the way of operational preparedness?
The Indian Navy has continuously evolved and improved its structures and processes, in keeping with the changing strategic imperatives and requirements of modern warfighting. In the same vein, there have been some transformative initiatives which we have implemented in the past few years, to further optimise our effectiveness and preparedness for any eventuality. Two significant measures were the 'Maintenance-Training-Operations-Transition Cycle' and the 'Mission-based Deployments'.
The Transition Cycle ensures an integrated effort by all departments of the Service to ensure that every ship undergoes comprehensive crew training, safety certification and equipment performance checks before it is declared 'ready for deployment'. There is significant focus on all aspects of Combat Readiness and Safety, materiel as well as procedural, in this process. This ensures that every ship which sets sail is always ready to undertake the complete spectrum of naval missions, from combat to humanitarian assistance.
These ships are then tasked for 'Mission-Based Deployments' wherein they ensure continuous Indian naval presence in our areas of maritime interest, while providing credible response options for a wide range of situations and contingencies. More importantly, these deployments enable us to monitor all extra-regional naval activity in our neighbourhood.
Safety has been another focus area and we have instituted an Indian Naval Safety Team at Kochi, which is coordinating actions across the Navy to continuously enhance safety standards. In training, we have significantly enhanced the practical component of our curriculum at all levels, by inducting new technologies for training, including simulators. This ensures that our highly skilled and technically proficient personnel are optimally equipped with knowledge and skills to operate and maintain their state-of-the-art systems, even in the most challenging conditions at sea.
Our acquisitions are being progressed in accordance with the Long Term Integrated Perspective Plan, which is a joint capability development plan of the Armed Forces. Our long term plans are designed to ensure continuous presence of one Carrier Battle Group on each seaboard to ensure that our national interests in the maritime domain remain safe and secure at all times. We have also made progress in addressing existing gaps in our capability, such as multi-role helicopters, mine counter measure vessels and submarines, all of which will be addressed shortly.
It is also our continuous endeavour to maximise joint acquisitions, so as to achieve a higher degree of cost-effectiveness and interoperability with the other Forces.
On the occasion of Navy Day 2018, kindly comment on how successful has the Indian Navy's Transformation been with Modernisation and Expansion Plans for the future? Please elaborate on the Indian Navy's Warship building Projects, important milestones and recent inductions, and those planned for the near future?
The Navy is being modernised to create capabilities for accomplishing a range of missions across the entire spectrum of threats and challenges. Indian Navy has kept pace with the developing security situation in the region. Towards that, the present force levels are being augmented and modernised according to a laid down long term plan and is undertaken in an incremental fashion continuously.
The Indian Navy accords high priority to developing indigenous shipbuilding capability. Presently, 34 ships and submarines are under construction for the Navy, of which 32 are being built in various Indian shipyards. The new Aircraft Carrier, IAC-1, is under construction at M/s CSL, Kochi. Four destroyers of Project 15B Class, and seven frigates of Project 17A Class are also under construction in shipyards at Mumbai and Kolkata. These will be delivered commencing 2021. Five Naval Offshore Patrol Vessels (NOPVs) are under construction at M/s Reliance Naval and Engineering Limited (RNEL), Gujarat. In addition, Kalvari class submarines are under construction at M/s Mazagaon Dock Ltd. The first submarine of the Project, INS Kalvari, was commissioned on December 14, 2017.
The contract for eight Landing Craft Utility (LCU) MK IV ships was concluded with M/s GRSE. The first four ships have been commissioned and the next four ships are scheduled for delivery in 2018-19.
Further, Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) has been accorded for 53 ships and six submarines. All these platforms will replace the existing old ships and submarines and will also augment our force levels.
Additionally, contracts have been signed for procurement of four additional P8I and 12 Dornier aircraft and 16 ALH and eight Chetak helicopters. Further, AoN for 24 Multi Role Helicopters (MRH) and 111 Naval Utility Helicopters (NUH) has also been accorded, with the NUH being the first to be pursued under the Strategic Partnership Model.
We are, therefore, poised for a significant capability upgrade in the coming years.
What mechanism does the IN have to interact with their retired community?
The Directorate of Ex-Servicemen Affairs (DESA) provides a single window interface for retired personnel to establish communication with the Navy to seek inputs/ share views/ disseminate latest updates on policy matters/ other welfare related issues. In order to reach out to the veterans and disseminate information of relevance to the retired community, DESA operates a dedicated website, blog and toll-free helpline. It regularly publishes an e-newsletter while also undertaking direct interaction with our veterans and veer naris. The Indian Navy has several fora for engaging with the veteran community such as Naval Regimental System, Navy Foundation, Veteran Sailors Forum, Indian Naval Placement Agency, etc. All issues highlighted by veterans are responded either directly or taken up with concerned agencies for redressal.
How do you prepare personnel for other career options post retirement?
Re-skilling our personnel to avail career options post retirement is embedded in our exit procedures. With the aim of providing a second career to retiring officers and sailors, Director General Resettlement (DGR), IHQ MoD(N)/DESA and Commodore Bureau of Sailors (CABS) have been facilitating resettlement courses through DGR in various disciplines. As part of our resettlement courses initiatives 104 officers and 1,259 sailors availed resettlement courses conducted by DGR in the premier institutes during the year April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018. The SSC officers are also availing various resettlement courses which directly result in getting good placements. This in fact, has been projecting SSC entry in the Navy as an attractive career option amongst the youth. DESA also interacts regularly with DG Shipping and stake holders of shipping industry to resolve issues of smooth transition of IN officers to Merchant Navy wherein certification at appropriate level with minimum time frame is being sought.
As part of the 'Skill India' mission, the Navy has taken various initiatives to facilitate skill development of retiring personnel. A skill certification programme under the concept of 'Recognition of Prior Learning' has been implemented in partnership with the National Skill Development Corporation.
Navy operates Indian Naval Placement Agency (INPA) to assist the retired/ retiring personnel and their dependents to secure placement. A placement portal for naval veterans, veer naris and their dependents is operated by INPA in collaboration with Monster.com (https://www.indiannavy.nic.in/inpa).
Ensuring that our retiring personnel are adequately equipped for a 'second career' is one of the cornerstones of our HR policy.
What is being done to ensure that retiring naval personnel get jobs commensurate with their capabilities?
Officers/sailors retiring every year comprise a rich reservoir of knowledge and experience along with their 'young age' profile. They possess an array and multiplicity of skills acquired during various in-service training courses, the usage and application of which in various services and industries can be gainfully utilised for nation building. Specific initiatives such as skill recognition and placement assistance have already been covered previously during the interview. The corporate and private sectors have shown interest in participating in the joint effort by MoD and Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) to facilitate skill development and employment of Ex-Servicemen. The Indian Naval Placement Agency provides the interface between our retiring personnel and potential employers in the public and private sectors.