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Friday, January 2nd 2004, 3:58pm

Indian News Wrap-up, Q4/21

Again, with the caveat that I may react to specific Nordmark events as they occur...

AWNR India: Q4 News Wrap-up

October 18

The submarine IX-1 has commissioned into the Indian Navy. The boat, built by South Africa in its Uruguay facilities, is the first submarine to enter service with India. The submarine will remain in South African waters for the remainder of the year as its shakedown cruise begins, before making the lengthy journey back to India.

The submarine will not have a combat role and will ultimately be based at Sikkwe. Admiral Sanjay Das commented, “IX-1 will have three roles during the early years of her life. First, she will be a centerpiece of our anti-submarine training program for the surface fleet. Second, she will be used to develop a pool of submarine-trained crewmen and officers for future deployments. Finally, her operational experiences will be used to develop Indian submarine strategy and the designs necessary to undertake them.”

November 9

India is postponing its planned withdrawal from the town of As Salif. An average of one thousand soldiers and pioneers have been in the Red Sea town since the Indian “police operation” of November 1920.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Prakash Zinta told AWNR that India is not comfortable with the situation in the Arabian peninsula. “At this time we are seeing evidence of a war in which different families are fighting for control of the land; it has been bloody and chaotic. Refugees have been arriving in As Salif for months now, and we have had clashes with soldiers of the various factions. On the whole, we think our presence is promoting stability in the area, and that it would be in the best interests of its inhabitants that we continue that presence.”

For the moment, the withdrawal has been delayed to May 1922. The announcement is expected to draw criticism from Great Britain, which has expressed prior concerns about the Indian military presence in the past year.

December 1

The Indian Navy has released its estimates for 1922. The document indicates that the navy will split its budget approximately equally between infrastructure development, ongoing construction, and new construction.

Admiral of the Navy Sanjay Das commented, “The focus for 1922 is on building up our capacity to defend our own coastal waters. This will include the construction of seven minesweepers and four sloops in our own facilities, and the purchase of twelve motor torpedo boats from a commercial yard in Cochin.”

The program is drawing fire from some critics who believe the navy needs to be spending more on building up the navy’s heavy forces. “We have a great ways to go toward reaching our Cleito Treaty limits”, commented Sourav Karat, a professor of maritime history at the University of Columbo. “At present, the navy is using just half of its capital ship allotment, and less than two thirds of its cruiser allotment. These offer a measure of deterrence that sloops and minesweepers do not.”

Admiral Das replied, “It is true that we have work to do in our major warship categories, but that work can wait while we spend the next year or two evaluating the designs and doctrines already in place. Frankly, we also want to analyze any information that comes out of the South Atlantic before committing ourselves to new designs.”

The program does include funds for a new light cruiser, as well as three destroyers and two tenders.

December 3

India is condemning the recent treaty between Australia and Great Britain. The treaty would see up to 20% of the Royal Navy’s battleline stationed at Australia, to facilitate the defense of that nation and other regional British possessions.

The Raj said, “The last thing the Pacific needs is more foreign battleships. The Australian navy is a strong regional power in its own right, and its neighbours - South Africa, the Netherlands East Indies and Japan - are all law-abiding, respectable nations. I don’t see what Australia has to worry about.”

With three centuries of generally acrimonious relations between India and Britain, there is a degree of mistrust on the Raj’s part. “The British continue to oppress and exploit the people of Asia through its colonial empire; I can’t help but wonder if these battleships are there in part to suppress the independence movements of these captive nations, through some form of gunboat diplomacy.”