Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday attacked China’s expansionist policy in the Indo-Pacific region without taking its name, saying some “irresponsible nations” for their partisan interests give inappropriate interpretations to international laws.
Speaking during formal induction of Indigenously developed Ship Visakhapatnam into Indian Navy in Mumbai, Singh said, “Some irresponsible nations, for the sake of their narrow partisan interests, keep on giving new and inappropriate interpretations to these international laws from hegemonic tendencies.”
“The arbitrary interpretations create obstacles in the path of a rule-based maritime order. We envision a rule-based Indo-Pacific, with freedom of navigation, free trade and universal values, in which the interests of all the participating countries are protected,” he said.
Singh reiterated that India, as a responsible maritime stakeholder, is a supporter of consensus-based principles and a peaceful, open, rule-based and stable maritime order.
“In the ‘United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea’ (UNCLOS) of 1982, territorial waters of nations, exclusive economic zones and the principle of ‘Good order at sea’ have been propounded.
The defence minister emphasised on the need to keep the Indo-Pacific region open, safe and secure, terming it as the primary objective of the Indian Navy.
He asserted that India’s interests are directly linked with the Indian Ocean and the region is crucial for the world economy.
“Challenges such as piracy, terrorism, illegal smuggling of arms and narcotics, human trafficking, illegal fishing and damage to the environment are equally responsible for affecting the maritime domain. Therefore, the role of the Indian Navy becomes very important in the entire Indo-Pacific region,” he added.
Singh presided over formal induction of the naval ship, first of the four Visakhapatnam class destroyers, indigenously designed by the Indian Navy’s in-house organisation Directorate of Naval Design and constructed by Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited, Mumbai.
Named after the historic city of Andhra Pradesh on the east coast, Visakhapatnam, the ‘City of Destiny’, the ship has a total complement of about 315 personnel.
During his address, Singh termed INS Visakhapatnam as a symbol of the growing maritime prowess of the country and a major milestone in achieving Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of ‘Make in India, Make for the World’.
He added that the ship is a reminder of ancient and medieval India’s maritime power, shipbuilding skills and glorious history.
Singh exuded confidence that the state-of-the-art ship, equipped with latest systems and weapons, will strengthen the maritime security and protect the interests of the nation.
He defined the ship as one of the most technologically advanced guided missile destroyers in the world which will cater to the present and future requirements of the Armed Forces and the nation as a whole.
He appreciated the self-reliance efforts of the Indian Navy, terming navy’s order of 39 of the 41 ships and submarines from Indian shipyards as a testament to their commitment towards achieving ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’.
He described the development of Indigenous Aircraft Carrier ‘INS Vikrant’ as an important milestone in their path to achieve ‘Atmanirbharta’.
“The carrier will increase our reach from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean. Its commissioning will be a golden moment in the history of the Indian Defence. It will be the best occasion to celebrate the 75th anniversary of India’s independence and the 50th anniversary of India’s victory in 1971 war,” he said.
Singh praised the Indian Navy’s consistent efforts to participate in various outreach programmes of the industries and increase indigenised items under ‘Float’, ‘Move’ and ‘Fight’ categories. Stressing on the need to maintain the momentum, he expressed confidence that “the steps taken by the government will continue to provide boost to the self-reliance efforts and we will soon build ships not just for India, but for the entire world”.
He assured of government’s continuous support to achieve this vision.
Saying that global security reasons, border disputes and maritime dominance have forced countries to move towards strengthening their military power, Rajnath Singh exhorted the public and private sector to take advantage of government’s policies, work together and make India an indigenous shipbuilding hub.
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