The foundation of the Indian Navy and how Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj laid it
New Delhi, Sep 02: The Armed Forces have moved on from its colonial past into a multidirectional future. The Saint George's Cross which was added to the Indian Navy's ensign has now been removed.
The Navy on Friday received its new ensign adorned with an Octagon, a symbol that represented the rule of the Marathas under Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. As he unfurled the new naval flag on the rear of the INS Vikrant, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that till today the Indian Naval flag carried a sign of slavery. This has now been replaced with a new one inspired by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.
Shivaji Maharaj had laid the foundation stone of the Indian Naval fleet by building it from scratch. He did so while negotiating the powers of the British and Portuguese who controlled the coastlines of India in the 17th century.
Shivaji's navy dates back to the 1650s when realised the importance of the Indian coastline which today extends over 7,000 kilometres. The British and the Portuguese were able to take control over the Indian coastline since Indian rulers after the Cholas had ignored this aspect.
Shivaji began work on the naval fleet from scratch. He learnt from the Portuguese and the Dutch, whose permission was needed at that time to use the ports and coastlines that belonged to India.
He used primitive technology and interacted with the foreigners about understanding their ways on how to build big boats and ships. He not only was successful in building sea forts but defended them and controlled the coastlines. These coastlines extended through Konkan. He also readied a fleet of over 50 ships which had 10,000 sailors.
In a span of two decades Shivaji had managed to raise a massive fleet before he was crowned king in 1674. His building of the Navy worried the Mughals as they felt that he could use waterways to reach land territories amidst his already successful conquests.
In 1664 he sacked the port of Surat which was run by Mughal captain Inayat Khan. He also realised the trade was being monopolised by the Dutch and Portuguese who had taken growing control over the Malabar coast and Goa respectively. Shivaji planned to extend his conquests over the Konkan coastal belt.
His naval force then entered Karwar in Karnataka which had key ports like Bhatkal, Mangaluru and Mirjan. While he did not manage to establish dominance he managed to raid several towns with his army in 1665. He also conquered Basrur with the help of the Konkanis who wanted to put an end to the rule by the Europeans.
Vaibhav Purandare, who has written extensively on Shivaji in his book 'Shivaji India's Great Warrior King told India Today that there was an admiral who commanded the fleet.
There were senior officers as well. However it was not fully institutionalised as today'sNavy. Shivaji also appointed two Muslims to the top rank-Daulat Khan and Darya Sarang. They were among his two top Navy advisors, he also said.
Shivaji's Navy had defined structures which were commanded by an admiral rank officer.
PM Modi said that Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj had build such a Navy on the strength of this sea power, which kept the enemies on their toes. He added that history is witness how strict restrictions were imposed on Indian ships and merchants by enacting a law in the British Parliament at that time. Today onwards inspired by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj a new flag will fly in the sea and sky, the PM also said.
The octagon on the Naval flag represents the eight directions signifying the multidirectional approach of the Indian Navy.