South Asia and Beyond

Evacuation Launched But Regular Operations Continue, Says Navy Vice Chief

NEW DELHI: As part of the world’s biggest evacuation operation to bring back Indians stranded abroad due to the pandemic, four ships of the India Navy have already been pressed into service. While two of them—INS Airavat and INS Shardul— have already set sail for the Gulf, another two—INS Jalashwa and INS Magar—are en route to the Maldives, Navy Vice Chief Vice Admiral G Ashok Kumar told StratNews Global. In an exclusive interview to Editor-in-Chief Nitin A. Gokhale, Adm Kumar said these ships can do multiple trips and, if need be, more warships are ready for deployment in what is called Operation Samudra Setu. If all goes as per plan, the ships sent to the Gulf can head back home with 250-275 evacuees (per ship) as early as tomorrow evening. The tentative travel time is three days and a half, he said, adding that the journey from Maldives would take less time (nearly two days) but INS Jalashwa can accommodate as many as 750 evacuees. And while the Navy carries out evacuation, it has taken care that its regular operational tasks are not hindered. As Adm Kumar says: “We have ensured that our guard isn’t put down at all”.

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Nitin A. Gokhale

Left to himself, Nitin A. Gokhale would rather watch films and sports matches but his day job as a media entrepreneur, communications specialist, analyst and author, leaves him little time to indulge in his primary interests. Gokhale in fact started his career in journalism in 1983 as a sports reporter. Since then he has, in the past 41 years, traversed the entire spectrum across print, broadcast and digital space. One of South Asia's leading strategic analysts, Gokhale has moved on from conventional media to become an independent media entrepreneur running three niche digital platforms—BharatShakti, StratNewsGlobal and Interstellar—besides undertaking consultancy and training workshops in communications for military institutions, corporates and individuals. Now better known for his conflict coverage and strategic analyses, Gokhale has lived and reported from India’s North-east for 23 years between 1983 and 2006, been on the ground at Kargil in the summer of 1999 and also brought us live coverage from Sri Lanka’s Eelam War IV between 2006-2009.    An alumni of the Asia-Pacific Centre for Security Studies in Hawaii, Gokhale now writes, lectures and analyses security and strategic matters in Indo-Pacific and travels regularly to US, Europe, Australia, South and South-East Asia to take part in various seminars and conferences. Gokhale is also a popular visiting faculty at India’s Defence Services Staff College, the three war colleges, India's National Defence College, College of Defence Management and the IB’s intelligence school.