While China consolidates it’s positions and makes new inroads (read waterways) into Indian ocean region. India is finally waking up to the challenge in ensuring it remains the key player in the ocean which China claims is not “India’s ocean”. After all, a lot of seas nearby are Chinese “traditional waters” and Indian ocean may find it’s way in the list (someday).
Defence News India report (New delhi): Increasing Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean Region has caught India napping. India has woken up by supplying naval vessels to its neighbors to retain its hold in the IOC region. A naval vessel is under delivery to Mauritius and India’s Goa Shipyard is expected to transfer an offshore patrol vessel to Sri Lanka in June this year. While the vessel going to Mauritius is 2nd fast patrol vessel which that country received from Indian shipyard. An OPV (offshore patrol vessel) in advanced configuration what Sri Lanka is to get soon. Both ships are ahead of schedule.
Sri Lanka also has another deal with India for a similar OPV which is scheduled to be delivered in 2018. These vessels got their keels laid in 2010 when India and Lanka sat down to ink the deal in an effort to get the best vessels for Sri Lanka and maintain a lead role for India in the Indian ocean region. China has been flexing it’s muscle in the region in terms of “string of pearls” and economic deals with countries in the region. This has been rightly seen by India as a threat to it’s maritime defence, as China is known to sail into foreign waters close home, calling them “traditional” Chinese “fishing grounds”. These “traditional Chinese waters” often go as far as deep into Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone! Ironically most of these “deals” have turned bad for the host countries, Sri Lanka being one of them (Lanka-China hambantota port debt issue).
A K Gupta, Secretary, Defense Production is quoted saying ”India has the capability to build such vessels and give them to friendly countries. We are cooperating with all our neighboring countries, and wherever we have weapons, we can cooperate and be a partner in their security setup. From that perspective, Sri Lanka is an important partner in our bilateral relationship and this OPV is a major milestone in our bilateral relationship,”. Well it’s never too late Mr. Secretary, we definitely do need more of such initiatives. This helps our friends and allies while keeping China under check.
Shekhar Mital, Chairman & Managing Director, GSL, said “Though Goa Shipyard is currently the largest exporter of ships in India, with 30% of turnover coming from exports, the orders are now drying up and Goa Shipyard could soon be operating at 50% of its production capacity if new orders do not pour in,” This is in line with GLS’s newfound policy of export orientation which patriot Indians like us want to see more of.