A Departure from the Stereotype

Indian Navy: A Perspective  by Dr Baldeo Sahai;  published  by  Publications  Division,  Ministry  of  Information  & Broadcasting, Govt. of  India;  price : Rs 300.


Indian Navy : A Perspective, authored by Dr Baldeo Sahai, gives a lucid account of the evolution of India's maritime culture and traditions right through ancient civilisations to the present times. Most of the writings tend to view this subject through an Anglo-Euro perspective, thus depriving the readers of a genuine insight into the seafaring activities of our region. Dr Sahai's book is a distinct departure from a stereotype treatment of this important aspect. It offers a well researched exposition of the oriental maritime culture which dates back to Vedic times establishing its extent, richness and antiquity and the building of a technology intensive fleet of the Indian Navy.

The book establishes that the concept of navigation on oceans actually finds mention in the Rig Veda. According to this, the history of the Indian Navy actually began, not in 1830 AD as is popularly known, but in the 6th century BC, when a prince of Gujarat set sail to subjugate Java and when a prince of Sangha dynasty in Orissa too sailed with his fleet to Sri Lanka. The author then traces its growth under the British rule through its avatars as the Bombay Marine, the Royal Indian Navy and ultimately through independence in 1947 to the modern Indian Navy.

An important point that emerges while going through this account is that the economic development and prosperity of a region is closely linked to its maritime culture and seafaring tradition and, their neglect has invariably led to its decline and subjugation by foreign powers - something that our defence and security planners would do well to take note of. Emphasising the importance of the seas in present times and sustainable exploitation of their resources, the author makes some pertinent suggestions - a significant one being that of the setting up of a National Ocean or Maritime Commission to be able to holistically deal with issues related to maritime.

Dr Baldeo Sahai is an eminent scholar and a Fellow of Indian National Science Academy. He has fondly cherished an intimate relationship with the Armed Forces, having served as Information Officer in the Directorate of Public Relations (MoD) from 1964 to 1969. He has won many awards and is member of several cultural and research organisations. He is also the founder President of the Upanishad Society. In his late eighties, Dr Sahai displays a rare verve and passion for writing and affection for the Armed Forces.

-Capt Vinay Garg

Caring Force

That the men in shining gold and white are a benevolent lot was at display when on the occasion of the Children's Day on November 14,  they showed that they care.

The Indian Navy organised a touching event for the not-so-privileged children. About 50 special children were taken out for a day of fun and frolic to Appu Ghar. INS India, the administrative and logistics base of Indian Navy, conducted the event as a part of its activities preceding the Navy Week celebrations.

The President of Naval Wives Welfare Association (NWWA), Mrs Maria Teresa Mehta graced the occasion and spent time with the  children as they enjoyed joy rides, magic show and puppet show. A similar picnic was conducted on November 20 for 65 underprivileged children from Gyanshakti Vidyalaya Sankalp (Gurgaon) and ANAFCA. Melodies of both the present and past era including tapping, classical and popular filmi tunes were played by the famous Naval Band comprising about 30 musicians, composers and conductors. One of the finest, the band has given international performances at New York, Washington, London and a number of other countries.

A medical camp at MCD School, Shahdara included free medical-check up by specialists, issue of health cards to students, lecture for parent/students and teacher, first aid training to teachers as also a street play to improve awareness.