Address by Shri Jagdeep Dhankhar, Honourable Vice President at the launch of the warship Mahendragiri in Mumbai on September 01, 2023

Mumbai | September 1, 2023

The launch of Mahendragiri is a significant milestone in our maritime history. It is the last of the seven warships of the Nilgiri-class stealth frigates built under Project 17A. Last month, Hon’ble President, Smt. Droupadi Murmu ji launched ‘Vindhyagiri’, the sixth frigate and the predecessor of this ship, which was built by Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers Ltd. in Kolkata, the City of Joy.

A pleasant coincidence, a year ago, we had attained a new milestone. On 2nd September 2022, Hon’ble Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi ji had commissioned the country’s first indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant at Cochin Shipyard Limited. It was just a year ago. Reflecting the aspirations of new Bharat, Vikrant stands as a symbol of indigenous potential, indigenous skills and our ambitions to ride over high-tides.

Let me share another accomplishment today that makes us all proud.  It reflects our technological promise and deep penetration. UPI recorded over 10 billion transactions worth Rs. 15 trillion as of August 30, according to data issued by National Payments Corporation of India. Friends, this will make all of us very proud. Indeed a phenomenal feat that epitomises a big change taking place all over India.

The launch of a warship - Mahendragiri - is some kind of record, this indicates the best of progress we are having in this country, and this will mean five launches of the same class of warships in about 15 months- a feat that makes us all proud.

The warship Mahendragiri, named after a mountain peak in Eastern Ghats located in Odisha, is an engineering marvel, with state-of-the-art features and cutting-edge technologies. This majestic warship is a remarkable symbol of our nation's strength and maritime prowess. A testament to the unwavering commitment and indomitable spirit of the Indian Navy that has ever made us proud in all kinds of situations.

The speed of manufacturing warships has improved ever since the new method of “integrated construction” has been adopted and this has yielded geometric results for the nation's welfare.

The Nilgiri-class warships have been designed in-house by the Indian Navy’s Warship Design Bureau, the pioneer organisation for all warship design activities. Friends, this was not without many that the Naval Chief said ‘Made in India, Made for India, Made by India.’ And that is something which you could not object or contemplate a few decades ago. This is a great moment of joy for all of us.

Aligning with the country's resolute commitment to 'Aatma Nirbharata', a substantial 75% of the orders for equipment and systems of the Nilgiri class have been made to indigenous firms. This is an important, but what is more important, what is more significant, the greatest impactful situation is that this job has been given to small, micro and medium enterprises; their contribution in this state of art Mahendragiri is commendable, which speaks about inclusive growth and involvement of our small enterprises.

The launch of Mahendragiri is an apt testament to the incredible progress our nation has made in building a self-reliant naval force. Amid evolving power dynamics in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), this launch gains added strategic importance. India’s recent phenomenal economic rise and global ascendancy imperatively call for a modern Navy to protect its maritime interests and shoulder additional responsibilities, particularly in the current geo-political and security situation that prevails in the Indian Ocean region. It is soothing to note that the issue is being very well attended by the Government and the Navy.

Congratulations to all officials, engineers, workers and all other small and micro enterprises that have fructified this great occasion today. It is only apt that this symbol of India's growing maritime power is being unveiled here in Mumbai.

The docks with a rich history of 250 years, will make anyone proud in the world and the journey of 250 years has been negotiated, traversed by the skill, hard work, dedication of the human resource and the competent leadership that has resulted in this great day. Therefore, it is very apt, befitting, and imminently stable that this is taking place in Mumbai. The docks with a rich history of a social and economic trajectory of the Diamond City and of the nation.

There is no city in the world as vibrant as Mumbai. Mumbaikars are never in complaint mode. They are always in gear to perform. This is one such testimony.

Friends, not many countries have the kind of history which we have. Our civilization dates back to thousands of years but when it comes to the maritime past, oceanic influence has been there for 2000 years.

Since the time of Indus Valley Civilization, we have been a seafaring nation. One of the earliest docks in the world was at Lothal– which connected the city to an ancient course of the Sabarmati River on the trade route between Harappan cities in Sindh and the peninsula of Saurashtra. Today, our nation stands at the cusp of remarkable growth.

The Naval Chief focused that we are going to be the third largest global economy. In September, 2022, we became the fifth largest global economy and in the process we all took over our colonial rulers; they ruled us for 200 years. उनको  पछाड़ कर, पांचवे पायदान पर आना, हर भारतीय के लिए गर्व का मौका है और ये हमने तब हासिल किया जब कुछ दशकों पहले इसकी कल्पना नहीं की जा सकती थी। The credit goes to the Government, the leadership, the vision, and every Indian who has contributed to this great growth.

Friends, by all consideration India will be the third largest global economy by the end of this decade. Now, when the economy grows, when trade grows, what we are doing today has great relevance. A growing economy means higher volumes of trade. Over 90% of the India’s trade by volume and over 68% by value, moves through maritime routes at present. This further underlines the importance of Navy and what we are doing today. हर भारतीय आज एक बात देख रहा है कि दुनिया में जो भारत का नाम है वो परकाष्ठा पर है। भारत के पासपोर्ट की क्या कीमत है, भारतीय होने में क्या अभिमान है, वो हम अपनी आँखों से देख रहे है। In such a situation, our eyes are well set for Bharat@2047 - the centenary celebration of its independence. I have no doubt some of us may not be around but youngsters will be around, Bharat will surely emerge as a global leader and a stabilizing force.

India’s maritime strength is quintessential for our economic and strategic upsurge. It is heartening to note that the stealth frigates of Project 17 Alpha have over 75% indigenous content. This is a significant contribution towards Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi ji’s vision of Make in India & ‘Aatma Nirbhar Bharat’. These are not empty slogans, these slogans have resulted in mega big ticket infrastructure projects in this country, what we have is at par with the best in the world today.

It shows the steadfast dedication to foster and believe in our own skilled people, their technique, their contribution, their innovation, and this is taking place in different sectors as well. The multi-mission frigates of this series would be capable of dealing with all kinds of threats to our maritime interests. The threats are multiplying and the role of India is increasing. The world is looking at us to secure these areas and it is gratifying to note Bharat has risen to the challenge, Indian navy has risen to the challenge, Mazagon Dock builders has risen to the challenge and that is why our country will ever be on the rise. The rise is unstoppable.

The Government of India has created an enabling policy architecture to promote the domestic defence sector. Go to Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu you’ll see the defence corridors, they are functional, they indicate the times that are being seen by us.

It is indeed a matter of pride that the value of defence production in India has crossed the figure of Rs. One lakh crore for the first time ever during the financial year 2022-23 on our home front which is bound to geometrically increase. I have no doubt about it.

The Government had launched the Innovations for Defence Excellence (i-DEX) scheme to involve Start-ups, research institutions and academia in designing innovative solutions for our defence sector. This has resulted in big impactful development. More than 300 Start Ups have been engaged through i-DEX. Each of them will be contributing qualitatively in a significant area.

I congratulate the Indian Navy that they have the Directorate of Indigenisation – with the motto ‘Ideate, Innovate, indigenize’. This is an impactful step in the right direction. This motto very captures what Bharat is today.

Friends, when there is increased capability, when there is growth, when the world looks up to you, when you become a real global power, the challenges are not far behind. The challenges pursue you, they call upon you to be ever prepared to sustain the place and enhance your position.

India has emerged as a Net security provider in the Indo-Pacific region. Thanks to the capability of our naval force and its infrastructure. Today, we are an important global player to secure and ensure a peaceful, Rule-Based Maritime Regime across the nations. When there is something in the ocean, it becomes very imperative to ensure there is Rule-Based Maritime Regime, which is under stress at the moment, which is challenging at the moment. Therefore, what we are doing today is a step in the right direction to sustain, generate, and evolve a wholesome mechanism of Rule-Based Maritime Regime.

The security in the Indian Ocean Region, and the larger Indo-Pacific has diverse challenging aspects. That is known to all connected with the geopolitics of the region. This has attracted global attention also, as it has an element of strategic and economic aspects. These encompass concerns like piracy, smuggling of narcotics, human trafficking, illegal migration and natural disasters. All these are up to the Navy to perform, and the good part is that our Navy has vindicated in an exemplary fashion, thanks to the commitment of the Human Resource involved therein.

The discharge by the Indian Navy of the mandate to protect, preserve, and promote India’s maritime interests, could not have been more able. It is at the highest peak. I congratulate our naval force, I have full confidence that they will keep improving themselves for the security of the world at large.

Friends, like our country, like our civilizational ethos, like our belief that the world is one family, we stand for peace, harmony and global development. Our Navy has been a vehicle of peace and goodwill during the crisis. As Governor, state of West Bengal, I can tell you, I had first-hand experience of seeing the performance of our Navy and Coast Guard. There was not a single mortality on the high seas, when we had a number of cyclones. The damage to property was also absolutely limited.

Under the overarching vision of SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region), India is cooperating with multiple partners to ensure economic growth & security in the region while also tackling threats.

Ladies and gentlemen, going beyond cutting-edge technology, the key asset that gives the Indian Navy an edge over others is our rich human resource. Their courage, competence and commitment make them the Navy's true force multiplier. Other things can be there, but if there is no spinal strength of human resource, things can't be productive. We as a nation are lucky that our human resources are dedicated, competent, skilled and quick to learn, we are proud of it.

We are also proud of the significant and laudable role that the women are playing in our defence forces. A few decades ago, when I was elected to the Parliament in 1989, this was unthinkable, I am a product of Sainik School, Chittorgarh, but it was beyond our contemplation that women would be playing such a significant role. Look at where we have come now. With a strong presence of over ten thousand women across the army, navy, and air force, the Indian armed forces have made considerable strides in gender equality.

We are an example to the developed world, with the kind of assignment that women are handling. Notably, women are now actively serving in combat roles in all branches, underlining their capabilities and commitment to serving the nation. The cementing of women's position in the Indian Navy showcases a remarkable timeline: from the establishment of Short Service Commission in 1992, to June 2023, which saw the integration of women into all branches, cadres, and specializations of the Navy and other defence forces. Today, women are ably taking up roles on-board warships. This is a qualitative change because we are having involvement of 50% humanity. This is a turning point.

The launch of the warship today carries the clear message that India will continue to invest in her maritime power. It was a proud moment for me as Rajya Sabha Chairman, when the Hon’ble Defence Minister responded, "When it comes to the Defence budget, we do not go by the percentage of budget spending, we go by what is needed & it shall be done". That was a Policy statement, reflecting the attitude of our government that our defence aspects are always a Priority and shall never be compromised.

This will further the nation’s strategic reach while ensuring safe and prosperous maritime order for all. I am sure that Mahendragiri, once commissioned, will proudly fly the Tiranga across the oceans, as an ambassador of India’s maritime might. When it comes to Tiranga, when it comes to Shiv Shakti point, you know what we saw recently, we stamped these two very important aspects even on the moon, something the world has never seen before.

Once again, congratulations to the Indian Navy, MDL, the designers, engineers, workers and everyone involved in the construction of this magnificent warship. Bharat is really proud of all those who have toiled hard to bring this ship to reality.

May Mahendragiri prove - Jalameva Yasya Balameva Tasya! (जलमेव यस्य, बलमेव तस्य)- जिसका समंदर पर कब्जा है वही सबसे बलवान है!

मेरे मन में कोई शंका नहीं है, हजारों साल पहले जहां भारत था, विश्व की पराकाष्ठा पर था, विश्व का Economic Giant था, ज्ञान का भंडार था, दुनिया हमारी तरफ देखती थी. अब बदलाव आ गया है, जो लोग हमको राय दिया करते थे, वह हमसे आज राय लेते हैं, वह दिन दूर नहीं है… We will be at Number-1, and that will be the best that can happen to this planet because we stand for peace, prosperity, harmony and growth of all and treat world as one family.

Jai Hind!