As China continues to maintain its stance in the border areas of the Doklam plateau in Sikkim and the Line of Actual Control in the Leh region of Kashmir, the Indian Navy is flexing its muscles for a firmer grip over the Indian Ocean Region.
India and China have been locked in a standoff over the Doklam plateau for over two months now.
The dispute began when the Indian soldiers stopped Chinese troops from constructing a road in the Bhutanese territory. India feels the construction in the region will seriously affect the security in the tri-junction and the sensitive chicken's neck (Siliguri Corridor) that connects the northeast with mainland India.
Bangladesh to head IONS
A large naval drill seems to be round the corner with Bangladesh, which heads the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS). All is set to organise a large naval exercise with the help of the Indian Navy.
The 'Indian Ocean Naval Symposium' (IONS) is a voluntary initiative that seeks to increase maritime cooperation among navies of the littoral states of the Indian Ocean Region by providing an open and inclusive forum for discussion of regionally relevant maritime issues.
The IONS was formed when China's navy was strengthening its influence in Indian Ocean region.
More than a dozen countries are expected to participate in the drill that will be held in the Bay of Bengal. As the IONS was last held in 2012, the participants are looking forward to the drill and brace up its objectives.
"We have decided to revitalise the platform," a senior Ministry of Defence official told India Today. He also took a dig at China and said, "a large exercise with the participation of several littoral countries sends a tacit but a clear message."
The Sambandh initiative
The Indian Navy is also launching the Sambandh initiative, wherein Naval officers and cadets from countries that do not have big navies will now be welcome aboard INS Vikramaditya – India's aircraft carrier, the Kolkata class destroyer — the state of the art stealth guided missile destroyer, INS Kalvari — a Scorpene Class diesel- electric submarine and others, reported India Today.
"Cadets and officers of smaller navies will get a flavour of blue-water navy and how big navies are organised," a senior officer said. Navies from Bangladesh, Kenya, Oman, Tanzania, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam will be participating in this new initiative.
The Indian navy is also gearing up to send teams to neighbouring countries to train their navies as a part of outreach programmes.
"Many countries aren't able to send their officers, cadets to a foreign country for training, this initiative will be plug that gap," a senior officer said.
These Mobile Training Teams (MTT) comprising 8 to 10 officers will train officers at their home. In fact, Bangladesh has already asked India to set-up its submarine naval training school.
But Indian Navy is not the only armed forces department that is gearing up amidst the reeling tension in Doklam. The Indian Air Force in the east is adding more teeth to the Air Force Station Arjan Singh in Panagarh, about 150km northwest of Kolkata.
The Indian Army is also acquiring Apache attack helicopters from US-based manufacturer Boeing, in order to modernise and enhance its offensive capabilities.