Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said that India is a responsible maritime stakeholder

New Delhi: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday addressed the naval commanders during the inaugural session of the Commanders' Conference and interacted with them on matters pertaining to national security.

The Defence Minister said the role of the Indian Navy becomes more important in ensuring the security of the Indian Ocean Region and expressed happiness at the Navy effectively carrying out these responsibilities.

The conference is being attended by all operational and area commanders of the Indian Navy to review major operational, materiel, logistics, human resource development, training, and administrative activities.

"This conference is a very important opportunity to share our views on the key issues facing our country and our Navy. The geographical location of our country is something that makes it unique in many ways. Surrounded by the vast expanse of ocean from three sides, our country is very important from the point of view of strategic, trade and resources," the minister said.

He said that as a responsible maritime stakeholder, India supports consensus-based principles and a peaceful, open, rules-based and stable world order.

The minister said it envisions the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) with the universal values of rules-based freedom of navigation and free trade in which the interests of all participating countries are protected.

"Being an important country in this maritime route, the role of our Navy becomes more important in ensuring the security of this region," he said.

According to a Defence Ministry release, the minister expressed happiness at the Navy effectively carrying out these responsibilities.

Speaking about rapidly changing economic and political relations across the world, Rajnath Singh said that these economic interests do cause some stress in the relations and there is a greater need to maintain peace and stability within the Indian Maritime Zones in order to boost the trade and economic activities.

He said Indian Navy's role in ensuring maintenance of this peace and stability in the region is going to increase manifold in the times to come.

"Only those nations have been successful in gaining dominance across the world, whose Navies have been strong and I am happy to say that our Navy is playing an important role in our maritime and national security," he said.

The minister said that in consonance with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision of 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat', the Navy has been ahead in the field of self-reliance, indigenisation in shipbuilding, and manufacturing of submarines.

In the last five financial years, more than two-thirds of the Navy's modernisation budget has been spent on indigenous procurement.

"It is a matter of great pride to know that out of 41 ships and submarines ordered by our Navy, 39 are from Indian shipyards. This is a testament to the Navy's commitment to 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat'. It is important for us to maintain the momentum of the success we have achieved so far and I am sure that the steps taken by the government will give it more strength," he said.

Rajnath Singh also launched the 'Integrated Unmanned Road Map for Indian Navy'.

This publication aims to provide a comprehensive unmanned systems roadmap in consonance with the Indian Navy's Concept of Operations and chart out a capability development plan for the Indian Navy.

A reference version of this roadmap will also be promulgated for the benefit of industry, which will promote India's 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat' mission, the release said.

It said that the conference will focus on addressing the contemporary security paradigms while seeking ways to enhance the combat capability of the navy and make operations more effective and efficient.

A detailed review of the performance of weapons, sensors, the readiness of Indian Navy's platforms, ongoing naval projects with a focus on ways to enhance indigenisation through 'Make in India' will also be undertaken by the commanders.

The conference would also dwell upon the dynamics of the geostrategic situation of the region in the backdrop of recent events.

The Chief of Defence Staff and the chiefs of the Indian Army and Indian Air Force would also interact with the Naval Commanders to address the convergence of the three services vis-à-vis the operational environment, and on avenues for augmenting tri-Service synergy.