[Answered ]Highlight the significance of the commissioning of INS Vikrant for India’s maritime strategy. What more needs to be done to strengthen India’s maritime power?

Introduction: Contextual introduction.
Body: Explain the significance of the commissioning of INS Vikrant for India’s maritime strategy. Also write some measures to further strengthen India’s maritime power.
Conclusion: Write a way forward.

The INS Vikrant, an indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC), is the first to be designed and constructed in India. The aircraft carrier is an essential part of any navy to be considered a ‘blue water navy’ which means that the navy has the capacity to project the country’s power across the high seas. It is the capital ship of a battle group and is escorted by a group of destroyers, frigates, missile cruisers, submarines, onboard fighter jets etc.

Significance for India’s maritime strategy:

  • In both peace and war, no platform provides access to littoral spaces as thoroughly and emphatically as the aircraft carrier.
  • Whilst ensuring effective sea command, it allows for a continuous and visible maritime presence that influences the cost-benefit calculus of the enemy commanders.
  • The aircraft carrier has the critical ability to alter the psychological balance in the littorals.
  • The aircraft carrier ought, also, to be located in a conceptual framework. A navy needs such assets for “power projection” – a crucial component of peacetime maritime strategy.
  • The commissioning of Vikrant will greatly boost India’s maritime capability and reinforce the country’s standing as the pre-eminent power in the Indian Ocean.
  • India needs the maritime muscle to shape the future outcomes in the region (China is arming Pakistan with naval capability to act as its proxy in containing India, great power rivalry between the US and China) and not allow itself to get shaped by them.

What more needs to be done to strengthen maritime power? 

  • India’s aircraft carriers could be used as versatile assets, switching between power projection and soft power diplomacy.
  • The Indian Navy must plan not only to project power and influence abroad, but also deter adversaries and mark its presence in the near-seas.
  • India must take necessary steps to increase investments in its navy as it looks to counter growing Chinese influence in the IOR.
  • India needs to fasten its projects like Chabahar (Iran), Agalega (Mauritius)and extend its reach further to places like Madagascar, Comoros and Socotra.
  • Selective investments in combat support infrastructure including logistics, command and control, and sensors at strategic locations.

The Indian Navy has played crucial role in realising the vision of ‘SAGAR’ (Security & Growth for All in Region). At the time when economic and political relations are fast changing, there is a need for Indian Navy to be strengthened further.

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