Raksha Mantri, Rajnath Singh inaugurated the new Administrative & Training building at the Naval War College (NWC), Goa on March 05, 2024. The modern edifice, named the ‘Chola’, pays homage to the mighty maritime empire of the Chola dynasty of ancient India. In his address, the Raksha Mantri lauded the Navy for creating a world-class state-of-the-art training facility that resonates with India’s stature among the maritime powers of the world.

Rajnath Singh described Chola Bhawan as a symbol of the aspirations of the Navy and India’s legacy of maritime excellence. It is also a reflection of India’s new mindset of coming out of the mentality of slavery and feeling proud of our rich historical heritage – a clarion call made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi from the ramparts of the Red Fort, he added.

The Raksha Mantri also spoke about the shift in dealing with the threat perception under the visionary leadership of the Prime Minister, which is now covering land-based as well as maritime challenges. “Earlier, almost all the governments focused on strengthening land borders, but maritime threats were not given as much importance. In view of the increased movement of our adversaries in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) & the commercial importance of the region, it was necessary to re-assess our threat perception and accordingly re-balance our military resources & strategic attention. Under the Prime Minister’s guidance, we not only re-imagined India’s role in the IOR, but also strengthened it. Due to these efforts, India has today emerged as the first responder and preferred security partner in the IOR,” he said.

The Raksha Mantri added that it has been ensured that rules-based maritime order can be strengthened in the IOR. “India is ensuring that all the neighboring countries of the Indian Ocean should be helped in protecting their autonomy and sovereignty. We have ensured that no one exercises hegemony in the region,” he said.

Rajnath Singh highlighted that due to the Navy’s readiness, India is fulfilling its responsibility in the IOR by providing full assistance to the littoral countries. He stated that the Navy is ensuring that no country, with its overwhelming economic and military power, is able to assert dominance over friendly countries or threaten their sovereignty. The readiness with which the Navy stands with the country’s allies provides substantive strength to India’s global values, he said.

The Raksha Mantri pointed out that through the mantra of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’, India has given to the world the unique value of taking everyone together. If India becomes stronger, not only the areas around it will progress, but democracy and rule of law will also be strengthened, he said.

Underlining the growing prowess of the Indian Navy on the back of a strong Naval industrial base, Rajnath Singh emphasised that the idea is not to achieve dominance, but to create an environment of peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific. “The increasing naval power not only protects us from our adversaries, but also provides an environment of security to other stakeholders in the Indian Ocean,” he said.

The Raksha Mantri reiterated India’s commitment to work towards strengthening the economic & security co-operation with its maritime neighbours, in line with the Security And Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR) vision of the Prime Minister. He commended the Navy for fulfilling this commitment, adding that India’s stature at the global level will increase if the Navy becomes stronger.

Underscoring the transformative strategic thinking of ‘New India’, Rajnath Singh asserted that “we were once known as a ‘landlocked country with sea shores’, but now we can be seen as an ‘island country with land borders’”. He stated that the resources and opportunities available in this region will be the factors of India’s prosperity, which makes the Indian Navy’s role even more important in the future.

The Raksha Mantri added that most of the goods trade takes place through the sea route, with the Indo-Pacific region emerging as its hub. He highlighted that due to the increasing goods trade, many threats such as incidents of piracy and trafficking have come to the fore.

Rajnath Singh praised the Navy for strengthening the security environment in the region and generating goodwill for India on the global canvas its through its anti-piracy and anti-trafficking operations. He stated that while these incidents have been reduced due to the promptness of the Indian Navy, the threats cannot be ignored. He referred to the recent attacks on the undersea cables, terming such incidents as a direct attack on strategic interests. He urged the Navy to remain prepared to deal with such challenges.

The Raksha Mantri exuded confidence that the new building at NWC, Goa will go a long way in training the officers on the growing and crucial role of the Indian Navy in the Indo-Pacific Region. He hoped that the NWC, through its innovative training, will not only enhance the military capability of the trainees, but also make them aware of the new perspective and focus on the country’s economic interest.

On the occasion, Rajnath Singh inaugurated two major piers in Naval Base, Karwar in the presence of Admiral R Hari Kumar, Chief of the Naval Staff and other senior officers. The Aircraft Carrier Pier is capable of simultaneous berthing of two Aircraft Carriers and one Landing Ship Tank (Large). The Auxiliary vessel Pier would host Fast Attack Craft, Interceptor Craft and Auxiliary Craft. The piers would also provide various shore-based services, such as power, potable water, chilled water for air conditioning and other domestic services to the ships.

These infrastructure developments are part of ongoing Phase IIA of Project Seabird which will accommodate 32 ships/submarines, 23 yardcraft, a dual-use Naval Air Station, a complete Naval Dockyard, four covered dry berths and logistics for ships/aircraft. It will house around 10,000 uniformed and civilian personnel with families, significantly boosting the local economy and industrial growth. The Naval Air Station with Civil Enclave is anticipated to enhance tourism in North Karnataka and South Goa. The ongoing construction has created 7,000 direct and 20,000 indirect jobs. The Project aligns with ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’, sourcing over 90% of materials domestically.

The Raksha Mantri stated that Project Seabird, brought as the largest Naval infrastructure building project of the country, is working to increase the capacity of the Indian Navy. He expressed confidence that both the piers will further strengthen the strategic presence on the western coast of the country.

Delivering the keynote address, Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral R Hari Kumar drew the attention of the audience to the evolving security challenges, particularly in the maritime domain. He highlighted the indispensable role of higher military education in countering these challenges. He expressed confidence that the new training facility will serve as an icon of the country’s resurgence as a maritime power by serving as a Gurukul for learning and sharing maritime perspectives, not only for the officers of Indian forces but also for maritime neighbours.

The Raksha Mantri also interacted with the personnel involved in the project’s execution and complimented them. An inaugural special postage stamp was also released to commemorate the event. He inspected the Guard of Honour before dedicating the Chola building to the Armed Forces.

The inaugural ceremony was also attended by Goa Chief Minister Dr Pramod Sawant, Union Minister of State for Tourism & Ports, Shipping and Waterways Shripad Naik, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral R Hari Kumar and Flag Officers Commanding in Chief, Western & Southern Naval Commands. The event marked a significant milestone in the history of the NWC, reinforcing its commitment to excellence in military education and nurturing maritime thought.


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