Commissioning the aircraft carrier INS Vikrant to the Navy on Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a veiled reference to China’s maritime aggression and said the indigenous aircraft carrier will dominate the Indo-Pacific and the Indian Ocean regions and benefit India and other friendly countries to increase their trade, exports, and production.

The PM’s speech at the Cochin Shipyard Limited, which partnered with Navy to deliver the largest warship ever to be built in India having a displacement of close to 45,000 tonnes, was a commentary on India as an emerging power which he said was in the interest of the world.

28 Knots speed

The Prime Minister commissioned to the Navy the 262-meter-long and 62-meter-wide Vikrant, which will become fully operational next year. It has a maximum designed speed of 28 Knots with the endurance of 7500 NM and will be armed with fighter jets and helicopters along with missiles and surveillance systems.

“In the past, security in the Indo-Pacific region and Indian Ocean region was ignored. But, now this region is a priority for the country. For that, to increase the budget of the Navy and its capability, we are working in every direction. Whether it is offshore patrol vessels, submarines, or aircraft carriers, the Indian Navy’s power is increasing incrementally. Due to this, in times to come, our Navy will be further strengthened. Better sea lanes, better monitoring, and better surveillance will lead to an increase in trade, exports, and production. This will open up new routes of trade and prosperity not only for India but for other countries of the world, especially friendly neighbouring countries,” Modi emphasised.

In sharp contrast to this, said the Prime Minister, power in the “hands of the wicked” creates conflicts, money for arrogance, and power for harassing others. Modi was apparently making a reference to China’s recent aggressive moves in wresting control in South Asia and the Indian Ocean even as it face conflict and hostility in Taiwan, Hong Kong and the wider pacific. A Chinese research ship Yuan Wang 5 has recently docked in Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port despite Indian concerns.

“Durjan (wicked) knowledge is for creating conflicts, their money for arrogance and power to harass others. Similarly, power in the hands of good men is for knowledge, donation and helping the weak. This is the culture of India. For that, the world needs a strong Bharat,” he stressed sourcing it from tradition and shastras.

The Prime Minister also recalled his conversation with President APJ Abdul Kalam to state that the venerated scientist had told him that ‘shakti’ (power) and ‘shanti’ (peace) complement each other. India is treading on the path of ‘bal’ (power) and ‘badlav’ (change). “I’m of the firm opinion that ‘shashakta’ (powerful) Bharat will lay a path for peaceful and safe world,” he at the conclusion of his address to the gathering which included tri-services chiefs, present and former Navy officers, and other personnel.

Sharing the dais with him were Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Minister of Ports, Shipping and Waterways Sarbananda Sonowal, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Governor Arif Mohammad Khan, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral R Hari Kumar, among others.

The Prime Minister remarked that when Vikrant descends to protect our maritime zone, many women soldiers of the Navy will also be stationed there. The Indian Navy, which has a strength of 600 female personnel, has decided to open all its branches for women, he said.

New ensign of Navy

The PM unveiled a new ensign of Navy to decolonise its flag. At the same time, he dedicated the INS Vikrant to Chhatrapati Veer Shivaji Maharaj, who, he stated, had built a navy on the strength of sea power, which kept the enemies on their toes.

In his address, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh termed the commissioning of INS Vikrant as a testament to the government’s strong resolve to ensure the safety and security of the nation in the next 25 years. “INS Vikrant is a glowing symbol of aspirational and self-reliant ‘New India’. It is an icon of pride, power and resolve of the Nation. Its commissioning is an unprecedented achievement in the path of building indigenous warships,” Singh stated.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the commissioning ceremony of the first indigenously designed and built aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant, at Cochin Shipyard Limited in Kochi, on Friday

Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the commissioning ceremony of the first indigenously designed and built aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant, at Cochin Shipyard Limited in Kochi, on Friday | Photo Credit: -

Indian Navy’s tradition is ‘old ships never die’. And, this new avatar of Vikrant, which played a stellar role in the 1971 war, is a humble tribute to our freedom fighters and brave soldiers, he pointed out.