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The volume “Transition to Guardianship : The Indian Navy 1991-2000” is the last of the trilogy by the author, the first two being “Transition to Triumph” (1965-75) and “Transition to Eminence” (1975-1990) portraying the history of the Indian Navy on a wide canvas covering 35 years.
The period 1991-2000 was a challenging time due to the sweeping changes in the geopolitical and economic fronts. In the wake of Gulf War, the world witnessed the spectre of spiralling inflation due to a hike in oil prices. The unprecedented spike stunned the defence budgets which called for extraordinary abilities to cope with the grim circumstances in the face of limited funding for defence projects. It was a time of trail for the Navy as it was called upon to do ‘much more with much less’. The situation was aggravated with the disintegration of the USSR, India’s biggest defence supplier. It led to the discarding of the existing Rupee Rouble agreement and a demand for hard currency for defence procurement.
It is testimony to the Navy’s tenacity and resolve that it yet performed with aplomb. Using innovative means, the force level decline was effectively arrested by preserving equipment, innovating to produce in-house designs, encouraging indigenous production and by an improved Public–Private Industry partnership in defence production.
The Navy’s efforts were in tune with the imperative of a realigned geopolitical world order that necessitated the forging of new relations. The initiation of ‘Look East Policy’ helped fashion strong bonds with countries in the Indian Ocean. The assistance in the UN Peacekeeping Mission in Somalia (1992-94) and the emphatic intervention in safely de-inducting forces was a prime example of its new proactivism. The interception and capture of pirated Japanese MV Alondra Rainbow in the high seas, 1999, only went on to underscore the eminent role that it was to play in safeguarding the Indian Ocean SLOCs.
The decade marked the coming of age of the Navy – showcasing it as an able and powerful, but balanced and equanimous entity.
Author: Vice Adm GM Hiranandani,PVSM, AVSM, NM, PhD
Features: Large Format, Size 11.5" X 8.5", Photos: Colour & B/W,