This week, on 15th August, India celebrated its Independence Day. During this Shubh week, the Kochi Shipyards of India delivered a momentous gift to the Indian people – India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier named INS Vikrant, or a “great step beyond” in Sanskrut ( therefore in all Indian languages derived from Sanskrut).
The prefix “Vi” is an intensifier and “Kraant” is a past passive participle of “kram” means “going beyond”. This is a perfect name because INS Vikrant represents a great step beyond the current capabilities of the Indian Navy and indeed of all of Asia.
Everything India does gets measured with corresponding Chinese achievements. And, by that measurement, INS Vikrant justifies its name because building it is indeed a step beyond what China has accomplished. This was confirmed on Chinese CCTV by Senior Captain Zhang Junshe, Vice-President of China’s Naval Research Institute, according to an article in India’s Economic Times:.
- “This bears great significance to Indian Navy. It makes India only the fifth country after the US, Russia, Britain and France to have such capabilities,”
- The Indian Navy will have lead over China as it will have two aircraft carriers by the end of this year with INS Vikramaditya, the refitted carrier from Russia joining INS Viraat, which is already in service even though Vikrant was expected to be operational by 2018, he said.
- “Which means by the end of this year India will become the only country in Asia to have two aircraft carriers. This will enhance the overall capabilities especially the power projection capabilities of the Indian Navy,” Zhang said..
Building an aircraft carrier is difficult indeed. But mastering the operational complexities of an aircraft carrier group at sea is just as complex. But as Stratfor wrote this week:
- “India has a long and proud carrier aviation tradition, dating back to its acquisition of the first INS Vikrant (formerly HMS Hercules) in 1961. Unlike China, India has decades of experience with flattops and carrier aviation.”
The successful building of an indigenous aircraft carrier is likely to have an impact on external providers to India according to another Chinese analyst quoted in the Economic Times article:
- “The new indigenous
carrier will further strengthen India’s naval power and also add some
bargaining chips with the world’s major military vendors such as
Russia,” Wang Daguang, a researcher of military equipment based in
Beijing told the Daily.”
The 40,000 ton INS Vikrant has a range of 7,500 nautical miles and will carry MIG-29 fighters, Kamov-31 helicopters and Anti-Submarine aircraft. An article in DefenseNews quotes retired rear admiral K. R. Raja Menon about INS Vikrant:
- “Its primary role will only be to defend our naval fleet and it will not be used for ground attacks, … It’s a defense carrier, so it will attack platforms that are coming to attack (our) naval fleet …”
INS Vikrant is expected to be commissioned in 2018. But what remains is very complex and we would not be surprised if the commissioning gets delayed by an year or two. Even then, the Indian Navy will have two aircraft carrier groups operating in the Indian Ocean by 2020 with the ability to project power into the Pacific Ocean thus earning the name Indo-Pacific for the integrated region.
Then finally, today’s India will regain the reach India’s Chola Empire had in 1030 CE.
Editor’s Note: Every US newspaper described Vikrant as a “Hindi” word meaning courageous or bold. We knew that was wrong. So we asked an authority in Linguistics, a professor emeritus at a major American University, to explain the construction and meaning of Vikrant. The Professor’s authoritative explanation is what we used above. Every casual observer of Sanskrut words knows that Vi is an intensifier – Vi + Jay = great victory, Vi + Naash means great destruction; Vi + Nayak means great leader. Students of literature will recall that Vikrant is often used as an adjective in the Maha-Bharat and of course in the First Chapter of the Bhagvat-Geeta,
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