New Delhi, Oct 31 (UNI) Defence Minister A K Antony today said the presence of the Indian Navy in the Gulf of Aden area will help protect the country's sea-borne trade, instill confidence in its sea faring community and will function as a deterrent for pirates.
''Being the largest country in the region with a strong Navy, we will be expected to play an important role in several areas such as humanitarian assistance, providing relief in times of disaster and maintaining good order at sea,'' Mr Antony said while addressing the Naval Commanders' conference here.
India has deployed a naval warship, with helicopters and marine commandos on board, for patrolling the strategic Gulf of Aden, following the hijack of a Japanese merchant vessel with 18 Indian crew members on board. The Gulf is a major strategic choke point in the Indian Ocean region and provides access to the Suez Canal through which the sizeable portion of India's trade flows.
Mr Antony drew the attention of the top brass to the delay in execution of certain infrastructure projects of the Navy and asked them to ensure that these projects are completed on schedule without time and cost overruns.
Giving the example of the new Naval Academy at Ezhimala, he asked the concerned senior officers to complete the project as per the extended deadline and ensure that it is ready by January next year.
He expressed confidence that the new Academy will be of world standard and one of the finest in its class.
Commenting on the unprecedented number of orders for warship and submarine construction given to Public Sector Shipyards, the Defence Minister expressed the confidence that they will able to deliver on contractual timelines. He also stressed the need to modernise and adopt best practices so that the shipyard remain competitive and responsive.
Urging the top brass of the Indian Navy to be sensitised about the condition of Personnel Below Officer Ranks (PBORs) and take care of them, Mr Antony said no Force can progress without it.
"While the government is committed to the welfare of our Armed Forces, unless senior officers of the Navy are sensitised about the condition of the PBORs, no Force can progress. The human dignity and individuals have to be respected. The onus is on the senior officers to take care of the PBORs," he said.
The Defence Minister said the Ministry had taken several steps in recent times to improve upon the basic requirements of Navy personnel in areas such as ration and clothing. Hoping that this will meet the aspirations of both the sailors and officers of the Navy, he said, ''our sailors and men must be provided with best quality of clothing and uniform.'' He reiterated the Government's commitment to improve the service conditions of the Armed Forces and recounted some of the vital decisions taken in the recent past.
He said the adoption of the phase II proposals made by the AV Singh Committee will help in substantially improving the promotional and growth opportunities for the officers in the middle and upper echelons. It will also help in improving greater cadre mobility and reducing stagnation. A total of 342 posts in Navy comprising the ranks of Captain, Rear Admiral and Vice Admiral have been approved for upgradation, the Minister added.
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